The Alexandra Institute // Right Now // News // 2015 // Interactive course guides provide new opportunities for golfers

Interactive course guides provide new opportunities for golfers



Interactive course guides provide new opportunities for golfers

The Alexandra Institute's Computer Graphics Lab is helping the Danish company Ingenium Golf to improve the graphics on their digital course guides. Data from Denmark's new elevation model helps to create an interactive 3D experience, which means that golfers will be able to do a virtual fly-over of the courses and get a realistic sense of how undulating the course is, how deep the bunkers are and how high the grass is.

Traditionally, a course guide is a piece of paper that gives golfers an overview of how to play the holes. Ingenium Golf has energised the traditional course guides and provides a digital course guide where golf clubs can show the course layout on both smartphone and on the their websites.

The company was founded by 29-year-old Jacob Markussen and is currently getting help to improve the graphics on the digital course guides. The end product will be an interactive course guide with 3D graphics of all the elements of the course such as low and high grass, bunkers, bushes and trees.




















This before and after image from Himmerland Golf Club shows how the course will look after Computer Graphics Lab has helped improve the graphics.

- Currently 30 Danish, two Swedish and one German club have bought our platform, and we can see that the visual quality of the course layout means a lot to the clubs because they use it to promote themselves. At the same time, we can see that only a few big clubs can afford to show off their courses with great 3D graphics, where you can see the contours of the course and have the opportunity to do a virtual fly-over. This we would obviously like to provide, he says.

Safe and obvious collaboration

Originally, Jacob Markussen graduated in IT product development at Aarhus University and therefore he has a good knowledge of the environment in Computer Graphics Lab at the Alexandra Institute. So it was an obvious choice when the company was looking for an experienced partner who could handle the job of making their course guides interactive. He explains:

- We wanted to grow and speed up the process, and therefore we could see the advantage of choosing an environment, which is geared to innovate and that has broad experience with interactive 3D graphics and large amounts of data.

Ingenium Golf has already hired Sunday Studios, which makes traditional visualisations, to create a visual guide to how to present golf courses. According to Jesper Mosegaard, lab manager for Computer Graphics Lab at the Alexandra Institute, it is about making the same visual experience interactive, so it can run on both the web and smartphone.

- It is very much about showing light, shadows and complex models such as bunkers, trees and bushes in the same visual style that Sunday Studios has made, and at the same time do it with 30 or 60 frames per second, he explains.

Fortunate to live in a country with free terrain data

To give an idea of how undulating the terrain is Jesper Mosegaard’s lab pulls data from Denmark's new elevation model with aerial photos from all over the country. He explains:

- We are building on a technology called WebGL, which is a way to access the accelerated 3D graphics, so it both works online and on the smartphone. It can also be used to pull data from the terrain map and from the GPS data that Ingenium Golf delivers. All this helps to create an interactive visualisation.

Jacob Markussen is particularly pleased that we live in a country where terrain data is freely available.

- Denmark is at the forefront of terrain data, and obviously we should exploit this. For golfers, it means that they can see the contours of the course and better assess if it is exciting. For coaches, it becomes easier to communicate whether the course is difficult, and how to play the various holes, he explains.

Big steps but still with limitations

Although the data helps to create new opportunities to digitise the experience on the golf courses, there are still limitations.




















This before and after image from Lyngbygaard Golf Club shows how the course will look after Computer Graphics Lab has helped improve the graphics.

- As the rules are today, we cannot tell the player what the height difference is. We can only show it visually. Nor can we show the wind direction. But there has been a softening. The Royal and Ancient Golf Club (The R&A) in Scotland that sets the bar for the international golf rules, has permitted the use of smartphones. This is a big step, because before that decision was made, it was a major topic of discussion. This means that you can use the GPS for distance measurement and be told that you are currently 187 metres from the hole and therefore should use a 4-iron, says Jacob Markussen.

- However, the accelerometer on the smartphone must be switched off, because otherwise you will be able to see the slope of the course, and we are not allowed to use some of the smartphone's other sensors such as compass and barometer. But the softening of the R&A is a step in the right direction, and we always keep in mind, how we can best help the player without breaking the rules and of course without taking the sport out of golf, he says.

Ingenium Golf develops digital golf experiences for players and clubs. Their digital course guides are part of an overall solution and platform, INGO Course Manager (CM), which is designed to make the workday easier in the golf club. On the platform, the club manages its sponsors and the data underlying the course guides, area calculations and green accounts.

The Alexandra Institute's Computer Graphics Lab has a unique expertise in providing real time visualisation and interaction with large amounts of data, independent of platform.

Ingenium Golf’s collaboration with the Alexandra Institute is funded via the InnoBooster scheme. If you have a good idea within software, user involvement, business development, security or interaction design, please contact Peter Andersen, who can tell you more about the scheme.

You can read more about the scheme here (in Danish).

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