The Masters 2013: Why this year's coverage will be Sky Sports' most advanced yet

Sky is the first foreign broadcaster permitted to use hardware on the Augusta National course during this year's Masters Golf Tournament from 11 to 14 April.

It will be placing ball flight-tracing cameras behind the tees on the 10th and 13th holes, next to those used by US broadcaster CBS, and these will make up only part of Sky's most tech-heavy coverage of the sport yet. As the executive producer of golf at Sky Sports, Jason Wessely explained to Pocket-lint in a one-to-one chat, even a sport so steeped in tradition is moving with the times.

"The Protracer camera is a small Sony that you sit behind each of the 10th and 13th holes. We take the feed directly into our truck and it follows the golf ball and adds a yellow graphic arc. This allows you to see which way he's hit it," said Wessely.

"Augusta is very meticulous about what is allowed and what isn't allowed on the golf course. The former chairman didn't like the Protracer technology, but Billy Payne does quite like it, so I managed to put it on for Sky."

Jason Wessely, executive producer, Golf, Sky Sports

The on-course cameras are only one of the latest in a series of technological advancements to have improved television coverage of golf and the Masters over the past few years. The number one of those, said Wessely, is high definition.

"HD is probably the biggest advancement. If you look at a standard definition golf broadcast now it's often grainy and you really don't want to watch it," he told us.

Sky is big on its 3D coverage too, having started to broadcast the Masters on its 3D channels last year. It will be doing so again for the 2013 tournament.

"Golf looks fantastic in 3D," said Wessely. "You can get the low angle and make it different to the 2D broadcast. You can bring the viewer right up to the bunkers and the greens and see the undulations.

"The only problem is that it is very expensive. You have to do a standalone, autonomous production from the  2D. It does look great though. Golf is definitely cut out for 3D. It's probably one of the best, if not the best sports in 3D."

The Sky Sports for iPad app will also offer multiple camera angles and statistics via its dedicated Masters 2013 section

Sky's use of technology in its coverage is not limited to filming and broadcasting the footage, however. Sky Sports has long been known to be at the forefront of using modern gadgetry to help it tell the story of sporting events from the studio itself, through touchscreen displays and more. The Masters is no exception.

"We've got touchscreen at the Masters," said Wessely. "I only tend to use touchscreen if we've got build-up programming. Often our golf coverage starts with no run-in, but at the Masters and the Ryder Cup we have build-up programmes that are allowed to enjoy the studio environment, the chat and the discussion and the touchscreen.

"Mark Roe, our touchscreen expert, shows the holes, examines the players' form. And we've got a new function this year called 'in the bag' where a carousel-type display allows us to go through the players' clubs, show the viewers what clubs they use and why they use them."

Pocket-lint also found out more than we wanted about Sky Sports' Masters Shot Centre, the giant golf simulator it uses to illustrate shots around Augusta National during its TV broadcast. Having had a go, we almost took out a light, production assistant and commentator Ewen Murray. The ball landed before we even managed to shout "fore".

Think we'll leave it to the professionals next time.

You can watch all four days of the Masters live on Sky Sports in 3D, HD and on PC, laptop and mobile devices via Sky Go and Sky Sports for iPad.



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