(from Sports Business Journal, May 6, 2013) In the world of sports, change is inevitable. Just ask the PGA, who is continuing to allow for ever increasing Wi-Fi access to fans who attend their various tournaments across the country in the form of mobile Wi-Fi hotspots. After only allowing fans to bring their cell phones on the greens as recently as 2011, the golf giant is now encouraging fans to bring their laptops, tablets, and of course smartphones with them as they enjoy the action on the fairway. Recently, at the Time Warner Cable sponsored Wells Fargo Championship in Charlotte, fans had access to Wi-Fi on 11 of 18 holes, the driving range, the clubhouse, and every densely traveled area, such as concession stands.
This push into the 21st century for the PGA is largely a result of sponsors, who have agreed to pony up the dollars to outfit these tournaments with the necessary technology to allow for Wi-Fi access, as was the case with Time Warner Cable and their Wells Fargo Championship. Time Warner’s Wi-Fi allows for customers to engage with Time Warner content, right from the greens. It isn’t unrealistic to imagine a PGA fan catching up in the happening in the MLB while he waits for Phil Mickleson to tee off. Rich Ruggiero, Time Warner Vice President, agrees, “With the explosive growth of Wi-Fi enabled devices, customers want to take their Time Warner experience outside of the home.”
While most in the PGA remain uncertain about the future of Wi-Fi on the tour, it is obvious folks at the top are interested, “I don’t really know if there’s a big Wi-Fi demand for spectators or not, but most people now understand they have the ability to use their mobile device,” said Clair Peterson, director of the John Deere Classic in July, “It’s certainly something that we’re all watching.”