Perhaps this is a bit late but before Bubba Watson hangs the green jacket in his closet and this year’s tournament fades from view I wanted to share my thoughts on the Masters digital experience.
The leadership of Augusta National has been rightfully criticized in my view for their unwillingness to expand the television windows. Not allowing CBS to hit air before 3:30 on Saturday was laughable. The rationale completely escapes me. Clearly CBS and ESPN would jump at the chance for more broadcast hours. These unnecessary limits are one Masters tradition we could all do better without.
However, fair is fair, the keepers of the green jacket have created a masterful (sorry, couldn’t resist) experience for fans following the tournament on an iPhone or iPad.
The interface was uncomplicated and highly intuitive. It captured the spirit of the Masters brand perfectly. Too often designers of sports apps overwhelm users with data and information. The makers of the Masters app pulled off the neat, all-to-rare trick of presenting lots of great content without overwhelming users.
For me the video functionality of the app was the highlight. Augusta National posted videos about the tournament’s history and greatest moments that brilliantly set the mood and built anticipation in the days before the tournament. It was easy for a golf fan to lose a couple of hours at work enjoying those videos.
During the tournament you could choose to watch one of two featured groups, follow the action on Amen Corner or the 15th and 16th holes. This was huge considering the on-air windows were limited. The talent and production quality for the app-only video was broadcast quality. Throughout the day they posted highlight packages for the top golfers and extended clips from post-round press conferences.
The timeline feature was another treasure trove for those interested in the tournament’s rich history. The course tab included gorgeous photography, flyover video and the history of every hole. And the app’s leaderboards were outstanding. Their layout mirrored the classic look of the leaderboards posted around the course and included easy functionality such as quick access to shot-by-shot video for critical holes.
It’s one of life’s funny, little ironies that an event often accused of being stuck in the past has created one of the best app experiences in the sports world. While I still hope someday I can watch the leaders live on my flat screen from start to finish, the tradition of the “Masters App” works for me.