Over the course of the 2023 competition, DP World Tour, Dubai had 10,000 unique clients connected, generating a total throughput of 14TB of data, with an equivalence of 15.5 years connection time, making it one of the largest BYOD deployments for a sporting event in Dubai.
The DP World Tour Championship, Dubai is the final Rolex Series event of the DP World Tour and marks the culmination of the season. As the main men’s professional golf tour of the European Tour group, the DP World Tour boasts a global schedule that featured a minimum of 39 tournaments in 26 different countries across the 2023 season.
This year’s DP World Tour Championship was the 15th edition of the tournament and welcomed the top 50 players in the Race to Dubai Rankings in partnership with Rolex, competing on the Earth course at Jumeirah Golf Estates. Denmark’s Nicolai Højgaard won his first Rolex Series title in style with a two-shot victory ahead of Ryder Cup team-mates Tommy Fleetwood and Viktor Hovland, and third round leader Matt Wallace.
The four-day tournament has continued to grow in popularity year on year following the inaugural competition in 2009. This year’s event attracted in excess of 79,000 spectators, the highest in the history of the tournament and a more than 14% increase on 2022, with record crowds welcomed every day throughout the tournament.
Undoubtedly one of the biggest events on the UAE sporting calendar, the DP World Tour Championship features many of the best golfers in the world while also attracting huge global brands, such as Rolex, BMW, Emirates and Hilton, from a partnership perspective.
Recognising the Middle East is a pivotal region for golf, we are using the DP World Tour Championship as a key technological platform for driving greater regional interest and global growth in golf. We actively encourage fans to use their phones and take advantage of the technology on offer, so they always know what is going on across the site and feel as close to the action as possible.
This platform extends across four key pillars.
Re-imagining spectator experience
Greater connectivity, enhanced navigation and interactive communications to optimise the tournament experience, enabling fans to spend more time watching golf, soaking up the atmosphere and immersing themselves in the unique experience.
This included new every-shot commentary displayed across the digital screens, a virtual twin animation which takes spectators into a parallel digital experience if they cannot see a whole live in person, and gaming features such as Nearest the Pin.
The intelligent course
Technology ensured this DPWT Championship was the most data-driven ever by implementing a visualisation platform which meant fans and staff could make smarter real-time decisions. Examples included using the player locator app, fans could see where each match was via a map and their latest through scores.
The DP World Tour continues to roll-out a best of breed networking infrastructure, which will see Wi-Fi 6e and a true environmental IoT platform rolled-out across our tournaments in the Middle East from 2025. Fans will experience a more highly secure and easier-to-get-connected experience than ever before, and possibly the first ever solar-powered Wi-Fi in the Middle East too.
The DP World Tour Championship benefited from our remote monitoring intelligence wall which enabled proactive monitoring of the technology across the course and ensured robust deployment.
Technology investments and assets
Using the combination of cloud-based services and edge devices, this is a classic edge-to-cloud deployment, whilst leveraging remote and on-course support. Critical connectivity is enabled via a 500Mbps dedicated Internet circuit with two backup business ADSLs of 1000mb/100mb, for resilience and installed for the period of the tournament to service all requirements.
The HPE Aruba Central cloud platform is the backbone for the wired and wireless network. Gateways, switches, x32 and access points, x202 are configured and managed directly within DPWT’s HPE Aruba Central portal, and provides a single pane of glass. HPE Aruba ClearPass provides a policy management platform, enabling the on-boarding of devices onto the network, application of security policies and ensuring devices are compliant.
Fortinet provides a security wrap, with a robust integration of Fortinet security fabric devices, including cloud-based Fortinet Firewall gateways, FortiClient VPNs and a range of Fortinet management tools.
Over the course of the competition, we had 10,000 unique clients connected to the infrastructure, generating a total throughput of nearly 14TB of data. This is an equivalence of 15.5 years connection time across all devices, and one of the largest BYOD deployments for a sporting event in Dubai.
Social media made up the majority of accessed applications. However, based on mobile-first philosophy, access was also recorded for our Referee App, for pace of play, Marshall App, for your volunteer, Player Portal and the evolutionary spectator App with continuous new features being released.
Generating technological intelligence is at the heart of our strategy
How do you sync technology investment with growth of the tournament?
Golf is a technically complicated sport, and it is not surprising that technology for golf is therefore complicated too. Its role is to enhance the field of play for players, create compelling content to engage our fans, and also to help simplify our business through greater automation and integration in the way we work. Generating technological intelligence is at the heart of our strategy.
The business processes to support these incredible operations and complexities are immense.
I think it is fair to say that golf was widely seen by some as a technology laggard in the industry. However, in the past few years, the European Tour group has stepped up and accelerated this digital transformation and we are now widely seen as a leading advocate on the adoption of technology, not only in golf, but in sport too.
Please describe the challenges in meeting expectations and the strategic vision?
Golf needs to change from being just about sport for loyal fan experiences to becoming a true spectator experience for new audiences, and particularly in the Middle East. Golf needs to develop with different formats, targeting different audiences, and technology is a key enabler in achieving that.
As such, we at the DP World Tour are focused on changing the conversation in golf, reflecting that we are an entertainment company, and golf simply provides the product and the platform.
Golf is certainly at an inflection point and must weigh up the value of reach versus quality of engagement. Just trying to maximise reach is not a viable long-term strategy. Attracting younger audiences can be a challenge due to the constraints of traditional formats in terms of the time and duration of events.
So, we invest heavily in fun and engaging short form social media content, and we have pioneered the experimentation of shorter tournament formats.
Is technology or business leading the current positioning of the tournament?
Technology and the business of sport are new bed-fellows, with technology driving fan engagement and new consumer-based sources of income, helping to fuel continued media interest and broadcast rights, whilst also providing technological innovation opportunities for technology partnerships.
Ultimately, our strategy is three-fold, and it is a vision that can apply to any sport. It is to roll-out a converged and extended infrastructure, to ensure a truly connected course, with a layer of insight to create the intelligent course, because through technology we can change the conversation in golf.
Then finally, to industrialise the solution to ensure it can be deployable across our full schedule of tournaments, which can only be achieved by delivering more cloud-based services, what I call TAAS – delivering Tournaments-as-a-Service across the Middle East and all our events globally.
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