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PGA TOUR Studios ushers in new era of golf media

6 Min Read



    Written by Michael LoRé

    While PGA TOUR players prepare to vie for valuable points and position in the FedExCup standings as the summer swing heats up ahead of the FedExCup Playoffs, the PGA TOUR is preparing to usher in a new era of golf media with the opening of its state-of-the-art studio.

    Not only will PGA TOUR Studios be home to the largest library of golf footage in the world, the 165,000-square-foot facility set to open in early 2025 will house all PGA TOUR Media operations, including live production for PGA TOUR LIVE, PGA TOUR Champions and Korn Ferry Tour, as well as the social media, digital operations and international media teams.

    A testament to the TOUR’s forward-thinking and innovation while leveraging new and emerging technologies, the main priority of the new PGA TOUR Studios is to enhance the viewing experience for fans, both domestically and abroad.

    “Ultimately that’s the goal — to reach the fans and to improve the experience for the fans by giving them better content,” said Luis Goicouria, PGA TOUR Senior Vice President of Media. “Everything we’re doing is to increase our fanbase and better serve our fanbase.”

    So how does the new PGA TOUR Studios empower the TOUR to do just that?

    Fore the Fans

    First conceptualized in 2018 leading into media rights negotiations, as one of the largest production facilities of its kind in the Southeast United States, PGA TOUR Studios will become the one-stop shop for everything PGA TOUR media, especially after the TOUR assumed responsibility for the technical infrastructure of co-sponsored golf events produced by broadcast partners Golf Channel, NBC and CBS starting in 2022.

    Coupled with the migration of PGA TOUR LIVE, the TOUR’s OTT service, to ESPN+ as well as the TOUR acquiring a minority investment in European Tour Productions, the European Tour Group’s media production company, an across-the-board production infrastructure upgrade was a necessary investment in the ever-changing media landscape.

    “When PGA TOUR Studios launches next year, it will help us bring live golf and other live content to our fans in a more dynamic way, bringing them closer to our players and closer to our sport,” PGA TOUR Commissioner Jay Monahan said.

    Breaking ground in 2022, the three-story PGA TOUR Studios adjacent to the TOUR’s 187,000-square-foot Global Home in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, will feature seven studios (with potential for 12), 15-20 TV cameras, eight production control rooms (with potential for 13), 22 audio, edit and graphics rooms (with potential for 26), 3-5 LED walls with graphics systems, and eight voiceover rooms.

    Powered by 44,500 LF of fiber optic cable and eight generators, 250-300 employees and freelancers will call this futuristic facility home once doors are opened in early 2025.

    Significantly multiplying the size and capabilities from the existing 35,000-square-foot PGA TOUR Entertainment facility that features one studio, two production control rooms and two to three cameras, the new PGA TOUR Studios will be capable of broadcasting up to 144 cameras or live feeds, ensuring that the fans never miss a shot across the PGA TOUR, Korn Ferry Tour and PGA TOUR Champions.

    Evolving from the current facility’s 1080i SDR (standard dynamic range) content, the new PGA TOUR Studios will be equipped to produce 1080p HDR (high dynamic range) content to enhance the viewing experience complemented by stereo, 5.1 and even Dolby Atmos audio formats, bringing the audience closer to the action using augmented audio technology.

    “When we began working with the TOUR to bring PGA TOUR LIVE to ESPN+, we knew they shared our penchant for innovation and a drive to develop new ways to serve fans,” said Senior Vice President at ESPN+ John Lasker. “Over the last couple of years, together we’ve established a new standard for golf fans — streaming four separate feeds at each PGA TOUR LIVE event, more than 4,300 hours of live coverage every year — and we’re looking forward to continuing to push the envelope as they get the new PGA TOUR Studios up and running.”

    While the facility’s current capabilities and technologies are certainly extensive — including being the home for Pro Shop, the new media company founded by "Full Swing" producer Chad Mumm, nearly 20 percent of the PGA TOUR Studios’ square footage is comprised of areas deemed “future unallocated,” giving the flexibility to fulfill future needs depending on demand and emerging technologies.

    “We designed this building in terms of space but also technologically so we can upgrade it very easily,” Goicouria said. “We can’t see with perfect clarity where things are going, but we can certainly see and have a general idea of the higher definition and some of the standards even most broadcasters in the U.S. aren’t using yet, but eventually will.”

    An inside look at PGA TOUR Studios. (Ben Jared/PGA TOUR)

    An inside look at PGA TOUR Studios. (Ben Jared/PGA TOUR)

    An inside look at PGA TOUR Studios. (Ben Jared/PGA TOUR)

    An inside look at PGA TOUR Studios. (Ben Jared/PGA TOUR)

    The exterior of PGA TOUR Studios. (Ben Jared/PGA TOUR)

    The exterior of PGA TOUR Studios. (Ben Jared/PGA TOUR)

    An inside look at PGA TOUR Studios. (Ben Jared/PGA TOUR)

    An inside look at PGA TOUR Studios. (Ben Jared/PGA TOUR)

    An inside look at PGA TOUR Studios. (Ben Jared/PGA TOUR)

    An inside look at PGA TOUR Studios. (Ben Jared/PGA TOUR)

    U.S. and Beyond

    Not only will the enhanced PGA TOUR Studios benefit golf fans domestically, but internationally as well. With current players hailing from 28 countries and with 44 partners broadcasting tournament programming in more than 200 countries and territories in 30 languages, the TOUR has global appeal.

    Currently, international audiences receive an enhanced version of the domestic broadcast feed, but the new PGA TOUR Studios will change that. Initially, a world feed produced for international broadcasters with specific cameras focused on international golfers and a customized graphic package will be created to serve every country outside of the U.S. thanks to the new facility’s vast capabilities and technologies.

    The idea is that eventually the TOUR will tailor that broadcast to specific countries with keen eyes on international players whether they’re from Norway, Japan, Australia or elsewhere around the world.

    “When any of these international players are doing well, we see huge spikes in ratings in those respective countries,” said Thierry Pascal, PGA TOUR Senior Vice President of International Media. “Therefore, if we show more content from homegrown players to their fans in their countries, everything is going to get better, not just the quality of the product, but audience engagement will be higher, which benefits our broadcast partners.”

    Commitment to the Future

    In its purest form, golf is man vs. nature as a player analyzes topography, undulations and obstacles while attempting to repeatedly execute the perfect shot.

    Technological advancements have given golfers an advantage, whether it’s utilizing GPS and shot-tracking applications to confirm variables like yardage, slope and winds or to record and scrutinize over the game’s minutiae all in an effort to score lower each outing.

    The same can be said for how people consume golf content. Thanks to the rise of second-screen viewing and social media, fans are longing for more than a single broadcast feed. In partnership with broadcast partners including Golf Channel, NBC, CBS and ESPN+, the PGA TOUR has evolved how it broadcasts, shares and presents golf to fans through linear TV, OTT services or across social media.

    PGA TOUR Studios is the next phase of golf media, following in the footsteps of other technologically focused efforts by the TOUR to engage fans, whether it’s through augmented reality at The PLAYERS Championship, PGA TOUR Scramble on Roblox in the metaverse or via the first-ever VR FedExCup Playoffs in GOLF+.

    “Everything that we’re doing in terms of forward thinking and new technologies is about serving the fans and meeting them where they are by customizing content so it’s maximized for any individual platform,” Goicouria said. “Some of the technologies coming out now will be really important and some won’t. Of course you can’t tell where the fans will be, but there’s a lot of cool things you can do around golf, so the idea for us is to use some of these new platforms and technologies to show off our game and show off the beauty of our sport.

    “Every one of these things that we’re doing is with the fan in mind and trying to give the fan the best possible experience and engage them as long as possible.”

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