LPGA Investing Shot Tracking Technology in a Bid to Grow Sports Betting Stake

Posted on: January 24, 2019, 11:26h. 

Last updated on: January 24, 2019, 11:26h.

Count the LPGA among the professional sports leagues embracing the new sports betting landscape. The association has revealed that it is investing in sophisticated shot tracking technology that will provide it with real-time data.

LPGA shot tracking
LPGA officials are making a significant investment in shot-tracking technology in the name of sports betting growth. (Image: LPGA.com)

The lady’s tour currently has no equivalent of the PGA’s ShotLink System, technology which records dozens of data points on every ball struck on the men’s tour.

The LPGA is working to acquire its own shot-tracking data data, with the intention of leveraging it when the popularity of real-time betting on the sport starts to hit its stride.

“Regardless what I think of legalized gambling, it’s here, and it’s only going to get more significant,” LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan told The Golf Channel. “You can stick your head in the sand and act like it’s not going to happen, but you’re still going to have betting issues. So, wouldn’t you rather get control of it?”

Whan is making no bones about the fact that this data would be used specifically for the sports betting market. The constant influx of information would allow odds makers to offer lines and prop bets during live tournament play, providing bettors with the information to knowledgeably place wagers in the heat of tournament competition.

The sport is widely expected to be one of the biggest beneficiaries of the growth in the sports betting industry.

Baby Steps

Betting on golf in real time presents a much different challenge than a sport like football, for example, which features around 100 plays per game.

Whan points out that in most sports, there are dozens of cameras trained on one ball in a confined setting. On the LPGA Tour, there may be as many as 144 balls in play over a six-mile course.

That makes real-time data tracking and the subsequent offering of bets a considerable technical challenge. And because of that, Whan says their aim is to start small.

“Maybe I don’t need to figure out a way to do 18 holes and 144 competitors,” he said to SportTechie.com. “Maybe the last four holes of every LPGA event are going to be the ones I really focus on, and I become the best sports information [source] in the world on a few holes, not on 18 holes.”

The ultimate goal? Grow the ladies’ golf tour on an international scale.

All About Asia

The US may be the world’s newest sports betting market, but it’s far from the only one. Asia, in particular, is a primary target for the tour.

Believe it or not, the LPGA is actually more popular than the PGA tour in places like Korea, Taiwan, China, Japan, and Thailand. A major reason for that is the overwhelming number of Asian women doing well on the tour.

  • More than 60 of the women ranked in the top 100 are Asian
  • Those players are hugely popular in their home countries and are often treated and marketed like rock stars
  • The LPGA will hold six tournaments in Asia in 2019, compared to just two in the PGA

Whan points out that, since the Asia-Pacific region currently accounts for about 47 percent of the world’s sports bets, their existing popularity in the area could give them a huge advantage in the live-betting market.