For those of you who have tuned out the golf world, the most prestigious tournament in golf, The Masters, is this weekend.
To mark its 72nd year, Augusta is turning up the heat on its online presence. With partner IBM, Augusta National is offering a rich online experience for golf lovers. While the online coverage still does not rival what is offered currently on broadcast TV, it's great for the times in which national TV is not covering the event, or for sneaking a peek at work.
This is not the first year for online coverage of The Masters. They debuted the service back in 2006, but it's been improved upon and tweaked to the state that we see it in today. Unfortunately, the available video streams are limited to Amen Corner (holes 11, 12, and 13) and an additional stream of holes 15 and 16.
Over time, I think that it is safe to assume that we will see complete coverage of the tournament online, since it has been steadily adding streams since the service debuted. Rounding out the online offering is a nice slide-out, customizable leaderboard, with live stats.
I really have to applaud The Masters on this Web offering. This sort of online content is very unexpected from an organization like Augusta National, which is notorious for the control that it demands over live TV broadcasts of the tournament.
Online coverage of sports is a very exciting field, with a lot of potential. I think that this will become really clear when we see the Silverlight-powered online coverage of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing this summer. With a wealth of options for viewing video, side by side with statistics and a variety of other information, services such as this one from The Masters, the 2008 Olympics, and MLB.tv are taking the experience of watching sports online to the next level.