SMT (SportsMEDIA Technology) is once again on hand at The
Open, supporting The Royal & Ancient Golf Club’s efforts by providing the
official scoring system and also helping turn that data into onscreen graphics
displayed on leaderboards across the course and in the media center. And this
year’s Open also coincides with two new events for the company: a five-year
renewal of its contract with the R&A that extends through 2021 and the
announcement of the opening of the company’s first new office in London.
“For years, we have been servicing clients in the UK and
Europe, and everyone is asking for other products and services,” says Gerard J.
Hall, CEO/president, SMT. “Now we will be able to service them better by being
located in the same geography.”
Major clients in Europe already include The Open
Championship, Wimbledon, Roland Garros, NBC at the Tour de France, and WTA
events. The new office is expected to have 20 staffers — business development,
engineers, support staff — by the end of the year. That, says Rallis Pappas, president
of the Jacksonville, FL, office, will go a long way toward servicing those
clients and also finding new ones.
“Some clients are reluctant to do business with our offices
in the U.S. so having an office here takes that out of the equation,” he says.
The key to SMT’s business is its ability to track sports in
real time, including ball and player position. For example, at The Open, an SMT
staffer or volunteer is assigned to walk the course with every group of players
and use a PDA to enter shot data and scoring information. That information is
transferred via wireless systems to nodes on the course, which take that data
and deliver it to the SMT scoring computers inside the Ladies Putting Club
“When the data comes in, it triggers the content that is
shown on the LED leaderboards on the course and in the media center,” says
Pappas. “If everything is working well, that will happen a second to a second
and a half of the score’s being entered.”
SMT is also involved with Championship Information Systems,
cutting video clips that are also fed to the Website. Data points related to
pace of play are also reported and used for internal use by the R&A.
The work at the R&A builds off similar systems that SMT
has created for the PGA Tour, The Masters, and the U.S. Open.
“The data collected here is not as detailed,” Pappas adds.
“For example, they don’t collect fringe information.”
The SMT team also witnesses firsthand the push and pull
between the majors.
“The R&A really gets it and understands it’s all about
fan enhancement,” says Hall. “We’ve been doing this event since 2010, and,
every year, the R&A provides more and more value to the fans with WiFi
across the course, mobile apps, and more. And the U.S. Open gets it as well:
they came here and saw what the R&A was doing with LED displays and added
those to their event this year.”
The advances being made on the client side are a major
reason SMT is bullish on the future.
“We’re providing a great service and will be in a better
position to provide that level of service to more clients,” says Hall. “We
intend to grow.”