By Timothy Prentiss on Thu, 04/09/2009
You know it's spring when you can hear the birds sing at Augusta National during the quiet Masters Golf Tournament telecasts. But how can you keep up with the action during the workday?
With the iPhone, of course. The stodgy, old-fashioned Masters is the first PGA tournament to provide live streaming video – but for iPhones only.
The free app features video from Amen Corner (holes 11, 12 and 13), holes 15 and 16, and highlights. The Leader Board offers pairings and tee times (so you know when to tune in for Tiger) and photos of the golfers with personal info available.
The Course section gives you an overall course map and individual hole layouts – including a note on which players are currently on that hole. Cool!
I caught some video of the young Englishman Ross Fisher on Amen Corner – leading the Masters on his first competitive round, and visibly having some fun. None of this frowning and grimacing you see from some golfers.
The only problem I had with the video feed (even over 3G, though you can select WiFi or Edge in the Settings) was the 15-second audio delay. You can be watching someone lining up a tricky little downhill putt and you're hearing a 110-mph drive. It's disconcerting. I don't know if that's a technical issue, or if they're afraid one of the golfers will say a bad word. It's strange to know what's going to happen when you look back at the (2.5-inch) wide-screen video.
Battery life isn't very good with the streaming video, either. I'll have to plug it in so I have enough power to see more action this afternoon. All-in-all, though, this is a great app, especially considering the price: Free!
UPDATE: The sound was synchronized better in the afternoon. Probably a first-day shake-down issue. In fact, the sound was just about the best part. Hearing the twittering of the birds through my earbuds made the workday a bit more pleasant.
UPDATE II: Is it possible there was a bandwidth blowout on the Masters streaming video today? Might have been my (bad) connectivity, but I saw Tiger Woods thinking about an approach to hole 15 (with that shot over Rae's Creek) for 15 minutes! It looked like they were waiting for the green to clear and it was taking forever. The camera lingers behind them, as golf broadcasts do: Tiger and Stevie. Still Tiger and Stevie. Finally the little screen refreshes and I see him already up there, just off the green, putting for eagle. Wonder what that shot looked like? Missed it, unfortunately. And not because I was paying attention to my work...