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View Masters: Historic golf tournament can now be seen in VR

In an attempt to reach a younger audience, the 82-year-old event will be broadcast in virtual reality for the first time.

One of the oldest events in professional golf is learning a new trick.

The Masters Tournament, which starts Thursday, will be broadcast in virtual reality for people using Samsung's Gear VR headset and a compatible smartphone. VR content developer NextVR has installed 360-degree cameras on tee-boxes and greens at popular holes 6 and 16, where spectators historically gather.

"We'll be right in the thick of it," said NextVR co-founder David Cole. NextVR aired last year's US Open golf tournament.

Bringing VR to the Masters marks a sea change for a sporting event that's bound in tradition, including the winner's donning of the green jacket, one of the most prized awards in sports. Hosted by the Augusta National Golf Club, the Masters, which started in 1934, has been reluctant to change. The mostly male club in Georgia just began admitting female members in 2012, among them former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

A new view: The Masters golf tournament will be broadcast in virtual reality for the first time.


This year, the organizers realized the event needs even more change if it's going to remain relevant with a broader and younger audience. The sport's most popular players -- Jordan Spieth, the defending Masters champion; Jason Day, the world's number one ranked player; and Rory McIlroy -- are all under the age of 30.

For the Masters, NextVR will be using real-time data provided by IBM, a longtime sponsor. IBM will run the tournament's website and provide apps for Apple and Android smartwatches to monitor score updates and player info.

Track, IBM's shot-following feature, will be available for the first time on Apple's iPhone. Track also has new enhanced picture-in-picture and player comparison features for Apple's iPad and desktop versions.

"The fans want more content in more ways," said John Kent, who works with IBM's sports sponsorship team.

The Masters will also be broadcast by CBS, which owns CNET.