Golf Channel Goes Virtual With ‘World Tour Golf’ Video Game
The video game world and real golf continues to blend. Golf Channel, a division of NBC Sports, is giving its viewers a chance to play some of the best golf courses in the world for free through a new partnership with WGT, makers of the free-to-play online game World Golf Tour.
Beginning today, visitors to www.golfchannel.com/virtualgolf will be able to play free online golf and compete in the Golf Channel Virtual Tour, which – as part of World Golf Tour – offers members opportunities to play famous golf courses online for free, challenge their friends, improve their play with access to virtual golf equipment, and win prizes by entering exclusive tournaments and sweepstakes.
The Golf Channel Virtual Tour will be promoted both online and on air, with Golf Channel’s morning show, Morning Drive, taking the lead. Co‐hosts, including Gary Williams and Holly Sonders, will talk about their favorite World Golf Tour courses, favorite holes and may even compete against each other virtually. The online game will also offer virtual avatars of show hosts, providing another way for Golf Channel commentators to interact with their fans.
“The growth of online gaming has been impressive, and this partnership gives Golf Channel not only a new way to interact with a growing community of passionate golfers, but also offers another way for our viewers to enjoy the game in a relevant and authentic way,” said Mike McCarley, President of the Golf Channel. “As the best‐in‐class among online golf gaming platforms, World Golf Tour offers our users unmatched service and experience. And to have the experience to compete against the team from Morning Drive is a unique opportunity only Golf Channel and the World Golf Tour can provide.”
Currently, World Golf Tour can be played online with a web browser or via a mobile app available for iPhone or iPad. WGT already partners with the United States Golf Association (USGA) on the Virtual U.S. Open online golf championship every year, which allows fans to compete on the same course as the pros during the tournament for the chance to win real prizes.
“We are thrilled to bring World Golf Tour to the Golf Channel family,” said YuChiang Cheng, co‐founder and chief executive officer, WGT. “Both companies have large audiences of golfers, so there’s a natural fit for customers and great cross‐marketing opportunities.”
WGT reports that 94 percent of their more than 6 million registered users also play real‐world golf. Users spend more than 35 minutes per online visit, playing a long list of famous courses like The Old Course at St. Andrews Links, Oakmont Country Club, The Ocean Course at Kiawah Island Golf Resort, Bethpage Black, Royal St. George’s Golf Club, Congressional Country Club, and The Olympic Club, host of the 2012 U.S. Open Championship. Each course is captured in high definition photography from myriad angles, which provides gamers with a real‐life golfing experience.
WGT has built its own social network into www.wgt.com, which has emerged as the number one online golf website in the world with over 2.5 million unique monthly visitors (more than Golf.com and PGA.com).
In 2012, WGT launched WGT Baseball: MLB on Facebook, in partnership with Major League Baseball. This free online baseball game uses the same photorealistic technology as the golf game to bring all the baseball parks to life in HD.