Geo Week News

January 11, 2011

New EA Sports golf game touts laser scanning

Golf Green Deliverable - Pool

Tiger Woods 12 comes with completely accurate Augusta National; golf market bounce on the way?

REDWOOD CITY, Calif.—The gaming world was abuzz this week with news that EA Sports’ newest golf game, Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12: The Masters, would for the first time allow players to test their mettle against Augusta National Golf Club, home to the Masters and one of the most storied courses in all of golf. Up until now, the course had not been available through any gaming system.


Notable for 3D imaging professionals was this nugget from the press release announcing the new game:

“For the first time ever, EA Sports utilized a new state-of-the art laser scanning technology at Augusta National Golf Club to laser scan every hole featured in the game. This will provide players with the most authentic digital representation of the Tournament and Par 3 courses. Every tree, every azalea and every undulation in every green was recreated down to the smallest detail.”

As with BIM projects and other modeling-intensive deliverables, it wasn’t the scanning, however, that took up the most time and resources. According to Peter Moore, EA Sports president, the laser scanning took 10 days. Modeling the course itself? The equivalent of 10 people working around the clock for a full year on nothing but Augusta National.

A deliverable from Scott Pool's GreenScan3D
Here is a sample of the deliverable that GreenScan3D will give to courses, a contour map. The green sections would be good for pin placement. The red? The ball will roll right off.

Nor is this the first time, recently, that golf courses and laser scanning have been linked in the news. On April 28, the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences handed an Emmy to Scott Pool, golf course architect by training and now president of GreenScan 3D, a firm that specializes in laser scanning golf courses. His work scanning greens is vital to the work done by AimPoint Golf, which supplies digital models of greens so that golf broadcasts can accurately predict which way putts will break.

So, does this mean the golf market is heating up for laser scanning service providers?

No, “the golf stuff just isn’t a great market,” said Pool. In fact, despite the name of his company, golf only accounts for about 20 percent of his revenue, he said.

Generally, as real estate goes, so goes golf, which is why it shouldn’t be surprising that the construction of golf courses in the United States has gone from a high of somewhere near 400 new courses a year to what’s believed to be fewer than 20 in 2010.

“The only ones interested in what I do are basically the older, established courses,” Pool said. “They want to preserve their greens.”

With a completely accurate model of the greens, they can be exactly replicated when they need to be periodically rebuilt. “A crew that’s never done it before can have it figured out by lunch and put it right back where it was,” Pool said.

So why doesn’t every municipal course use such technology? Pool said it’s not a matter of price, as he’s got the service price down around the price of a new sprinkler head, but there are other factors to consider.

For the contractor, the company may not be comfortable using technology that will require and make possible accuracy of 1/8 of an inch, when before the standard was a stake in the ground every 10 feet.

For the course architect, there’s the fear that nothing new will ever be needed.

For the course owner, there’s the simple matter of not knowing about the technology and being dubious of its benefits.

“When I first got the scanner I thought people would be beating my door down,” Pool said, “but it’s taken quite a while to educate the market and let people know that this is good to have even for the architects, who need a good as-built model. They were afraid of it before, but now they’re starting to embrace it.”


See our archive here for the first time we wrote about Scott Pool’s efforts in the golf world with laser scanning.

Want more stories like this? Subscribe today!

Read Next

Related Articles


Join the Discussion