PGA deploys ruggedized handhelds for tournament scoring

Hoping to cut costs and improve efficiency, the PGA of America will use a slew of rugged handheld devices for tournament scoring and other tasks during its 2013 season.

The association of professional golfers, made up of 27,000 golf pros, decided in 2011 to purchase Intermec CN50 handhelds for real-time scoring. Since then, the group has also rented Intermec CK71 rugged handhelds, which have gun-like grips, and uses them primarily to scan tickets, cutting down the time that golf fans have to stand in line.

The PGA said it expects use of the devices will enable it to save $3 million by 2016, partly by writing its own data capture software.

Volunteers use the CN50s to keep score as they follow players throughout matches, according to Lou Manz, the PGA's director of IT. "The apps on the device have to be absolutely user-friendly," he said, because some volunteers may have very rudimentary tech skills.

Other considerations, he said, include ensuring that scoring can be done quickly and accurately and that updates can be passed along quickly to news outlets. The devices also have to be able to function in "drizzle, the pouring rain and the baking sun," Manz said.

Before each tournament, around 50 volunteers are trained in a two-hour class that includes a three-hole practice round. Some savvy handheld users need only a 20-minute session.

Previously, the PGA paid a third-party company more than $120,000 per tournament to tabulate scores and collect other data.

This version of this story was originally published in Computerworld's print edition. It was adapted from an article that appeared earlier on Computerworld.com.

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