Golf Channel Tees Up Virtual Green Technology in Studio Shows
Custom installation offers a realistic green for putting instruction and demos
As winter keeps many golfers indoors, Golf Channel is integrating everything golfers love — and love to hate — about the short game into its studio shows. The network, which provides news, lifestyle, and instruction programming for golf fans, recently installed Virtual Green’s indoor-golf technology into its main studio to enable more-realistic putting instruction and demonstrations.
Virtual Green technology, which comprises a series of hydraulic lifts beneath a putting surface that can mimic various breaks, hills, and lies and is controlled via touchscreen, replaces the studio’s flat putting surface.
“We’ve had a putting green in the studio since we launched the current set for Golf Central in 2010, but it’s basically flat, and we did not have the opportunity to build in a break and have the instructors teach relative to uphill, downhill, right to left, all kinds of things,” explains Dan Overleese, VP, television network operations, Golf Channel. “I saw this green, and it was fascinating to me that, via a touchscreen, they were able to manipulate the surface.”
To see Virtual Green in action, CLICK HERE
After encountering Virtual Green at last year’s PGA Merchandise Show, Overleese’s team immediately began conversations with the company on how to integrate Virtual Green into the existing studio space. Keeping the shape of the studio’s original putting green, Virtual Green customized its product to fit into the 5-in. elevated floor (usually, Virtual Green requires 7 in. of clearance).
“They completely redesigned their product to fit in our studio,” says Overleese, “which is the sign of a great partner.”
Virtual Green installed 118 hydraulic lifts, which were daisy-chained together and overlaid with layers of material to form a smooth putting surface. By manipulating the jacks, Golf Channel instructors can create left-to-right and right-to-left breaks, as well as uphill and downhill putts. Because the jacks are controlled by touchscreen, the network opted to accelerate an existing touchscreen project in order to make the rollout of the Virtual Green technology as seamless as possible.
Virtual Green was installed during the network’s December hiatus. Golf Channel worked with Mystic Scene Studios to remove the previous putting surface, prep the studio for the installation, and ensure throughout the process that the new putting surface fit aesthetically within the studio.
Golf Channel added three Optika touchscreens — two 85-in. displays and one 65-in. — to the studio and worked with KVM manufacturer Guntermann & Drunck to reconfigure the signal flow and distribution and enable each screen to control the putting surface.
“G&D did a custom build for us on some of their smaller-form-factor KVM receivers where we can mount those KVM receivers to the back of the touch monitors and break down the USB control from Cat 5 or Cat 6 back in the USB touch,” explains Eric Gardner, senior director, engineering, Golf Channel. “The beauty of this design, essentially, is, we have three brand-new touch monitors; we’ve got three runs from the KVM matrix to those monitors. Now we’ve got expansion capability where we can add more and more touch sources or touch devices in the future, but we don’t have to do home runs. It’s all routable by our operators and our technicians.”
Golf Channel expects that Virtual Green will enhance a wide range of studio shows, including Morning Drive, The Golf Fix, and School of Golf, as well as its vast library of instruction programming on GolfChannel.com and the Golf Channel Academy App.
All photos courtesy of Golf Channel