Screen gems

by / Tuesday, 22 December 2015 / Published in Feature Articles, GoVision News

Those big video boards at TOUR events don’t just pop up overnight. Here’s how the digital magic happens.

See if this sounds like your dream job.

Wake up at 4:45 am pretty much every day when you’re on the road. Deal with every element Mother Nature can toss at you. Interact non-stop with clients, fans and enough cabling, tiles and modules to light up a small city.

Go to bed around midnight. Rinse and repeat.

Where do we sign up?

OK, so not exactly at the top of the most-awesome-job list, but it’s one Brett Amman wouldn’t change for all the Pro V1s on the planet.

Amman is the lead salesman, lead operations guy and basically chief bottle washer for GoVision, the company that’s behind the fancy and very helpful portable videoboards and LED boards that have become commonplace around the PGA TOUR.

The two-decades-old company provides digital boards to approximately 15 PGA TOUR events, two Champions Tour events, as well as 18 LPGA events.

Along with the TOUR’s consummate scoring system ShotLink, GoVision helps enhance the fans’ experience by bringing them updated player information no matter where you are on the course.

As is the case with other major sports, video technology is no longer a nice-to-have.

“It’s definitely here to stay and it’s only getting bigger and better with each passing season,” Amman said. “We challenge ourselves to bring our clients at these events innovative new ideas that fans can enjoy. Then we have to get it done week after week.”

Getting it done sometimes means Amman and his four- to five-man crew rushing around the course bagging hundreds of TV sets in hospitality villas. So, yeah, it’s not always a glamour job.

“Rain and heat. Those are No. 1 and 1A nemesis at every event,” Amman said. “There’s just no defense for either when it’s extreme conditions.”

Amman’s scout of a new event usually starts two to three years in advance. He’ll often attend a tournament to see the logistics for himself. He’ll take pages of notes so he knows the type of equipment to bring and the complications that will come into play.

“We need to know the sizes of screens they want, the resolutions that will work and, of course, the locations we’ll be installing for them,” he said.

At some tournaments, that can mean three or four big screens. At others such as the AT&T Byron Nelson or the Colonial Invitational, that might mean 10 to 15 screens. Not coincidentally, GoVision’s headquarters office is located just north of Fort Worth so Texas is certainly in their blood.

Most weeks, the heaviest lifting is done by one 18-wheeler that makes its way around the country every week with different shapes and sizes of equipment headed for another event. Ever need a double swivel cheeseborough coupler clamp? Well, at the BMW Championship, GoVision needed 120 of those bad boys. They also needed 296 GV6 Hex Cap Screws, which sounds like enough cabling to hook up an apartment complex with HBO for a year.

Upon arrival at their destination, the team sets up shop for a week-plus.

“We typically want to do a complete run through the Saturday or Sunday before the event. We’re at full speed starting with the Pro-Ams and then the weekend of the tournament,” Amman said. “By the end of the week, we’ve spent six to seven 15-hour days on the grounds.”

The 2014-15 season marked GoVision’s first at the BMW Championship at Conway Farms outside Chicago. The 15-foot high by 40-foot wide screen that dominated the 18th hole received rave reviews throughout the event.

Their other screens were set up in the media center and in the main fan interactive area – also known as the beer garden.

“We’re seeing every tournament really focused on one upping each other when it comes to social media,” Amman said. “The more fans interacting with the technology by sharing the opinions and photos, the better everyone enjoys the experience.

“TOUR events are really pushing the envelope in this area and it’s fun to be part of it.”

Once everything is plugged in, powered up and ready to roll, the GoVision system often times links up with ShotLink to broadcast the latest pairings, every statistic any golf fan would want on their favorite players and video interviews from around the course.

Some tournaments are deploying inventive LED banner boards in prominent locations to bring a new dynamic to the surroundings. And as every event seeks more fan engagement, look for guys like Amman to have their hands full — provided he can find room on his calendar, of course.