You don’t have to be an economist to know that the Masters thrives on scarcity. There’s only one Augusta National, only a small group is welcome to stroll down Magnolia Lane on a (normal) tournament week and fewer still who don green jackets.
Heck, it’s even in the branding. Every year, those who aren’t lucky enough to land a coveted spot among the patrons are greeted by Jim Nantz’s proclamation of “a tradition unlike any other.” The beauty, the history and, of course, the golf — all of it a testament to Augusta National’s awe-inspiring rarity.
But in 2019, the Masters bucked the trend, dabbling in excess the likes of which most diehards had only ever dreamed. For all four days of the tournament, every shot from every player on every hole was available to be seen on the Masters app and Masters.com.
It wasn’t easy, with camera operators and editors working around the clock (and with eye-popping expediency) on most tournament days and a herculean level of coordination needed between two of Augusta National’s oldest partners, CBS and IBM.
Yet, 20 minutes after history unfolded for Tiger Woods on Sunday in April 2019, another improbable feat occurred on the mobile app. For the first time, each of the Masters’ 22,118 shots was viewable with the tap of a screen. Here’s how they did it.
1. THE PLAYER
To begin the chain reaction, a player addresses his ball and makes a stroke.
2. CAMERA OPERATORS
With 110 cameras spread across 18 holes (including dozens of operators carrying cameras on foot), CBS uses its Super Bowl–sized infrastructure to grab shots of every tee box, fairway and green. Of course, scale has its limitations — operators are often left framing shots on their own, without the help of a director.
Footage is uploaded to on-site servers, where asset-management software sorts each clip by camera, time taken, time uploaded and, later, time exported. As the footage uploads to the servers in Augusta, live-scoring information is overlaid on each clip, producing a shot sheet for editors and expediting the time it takes to access various shots.
4. REMOTE SOFTWARE
Proprietary remote software allows off-site editors to access CBS’s Augusta-based servers from multiple locations around the world.
5. QUALITY CONTROL
Editors located at CBS offices in New York, Atlanta and the UK comb through player footage and prepare it for the Masters app by selecting the best shots, applying the appropriate tags and queuing each clip’s “in” and “out” points. From here, clips are sent to Los Angeles, where a quality-control team ensures the footage maintains the Masters’ rigorous standards.
After a clip has been cleared, it is exported back to the Augusta servers in two formats — the first, broadcast-quality high definition for the CBS and Augusta National archives; the second, a lower resolution presentation used for Every Shot, Every Hole.
With the footage cleared, it is passed off to IBM for transmission to the mobile app. Watson technology scans each clip as it is uploaded for visual and audio cues that decipher highlights from normal shots.
7. THE APP
The video is now available for the world to see. In total, the process typically takes less than 20 minutes from swing to app, with a new clip created an average of every six seconds. Later, each player’s day is edited down to a 20-minute full-round video and a three-minute highlight reel.
To stream hours of Masters content and see more green jacket innovations, download the Masters app in the App Store or Android store, or head to Masters.com.