At Chrome Unboxed, we’ve never shied away from loving the open web as a platform. Ultimately, we all feel that ChromeOS and the Chromebooks that run it are primarily portals to this vast, powerful, and expansive ecosystem. Not tied to any app store, operating system or manufacturer, the open web is capable of amazing things when in the hands of true masters.
Yesterday, as the 2022 Masters got underway, we were clearly looking for the best way to watch the tournament here at the office. Initially there was Paramount Plus and ESPN+, but I headed to masters.com just to get an idea on a few tee times as we were deciding where to look. Primarily, like many others, I just wanted to see how best to see Tiger Woods’ return to the golf tournament play out on screen.
Masters.com is a masterpiece
What I wasn’t ready for was the technical prowess I was going to encounter on the site, and I was quickly blown away. Where I expected to get details of the course, ideas of places to watch and great content about the legendary 88-year-old golf event, Instead, I spent at least 30 minutes in jaw-dropping amazement as I navigated one of the most comprehensive examples of the power of the web in 2022.
First, we need to give a nod to design and user experience. As soon as you load masters.com, you have a drop-down leaderboard at the top that works with touch input or, when hovering, with arrows for mouse input. It’s the quickest way to see where the leaders are on the long journey to the green jacket, and it’s conveniently attached to the top of the screen on all of the site’s internal pages. The clean white, gray and green aesthetic continues on the page as you encounter all the live viewing options and a basic news/content feed. Simple, clean and elegant, just like the revered golf course it represents.
Functionality at its best
Honestly, that would be enough for a website for a once-a-year golf tournament, but the clean design is just the start here. The magic really happens in the player profiles, live video streams and shot tracking which are all available directly on the site. Let’s take a quick look at each piece.
If you click on a player’s profile from the leaderboard at the top or from the menu, you’ll get a detailed overview of their Masters history, a bit about them as a player, a nice visual display of their current stats for the weekend, and any related media coverage they have so far. This stuff is awesome, but you also get tons more in these profiles, and this is where masters.com really starts to blow your mind.
At the top of each player profile – each of them – is their live scoreboard and shot-by-shot video coverage of each player and shot tracking. This data is almost live and it is not a simple replay machine. Instead, the video player cuts from shot to shot on any hole you highlight on the scorecard. There’s a timer underneath that lets you quickly switch between shots and see the whole hole played in seconds.
Then there’s the 3D shooting tracker on the right. This view gives you a 3D preview of the shot and plots each shot on the canvas for you to see. Either view can be zoomed or displayed side-by-side for the ultimate statistics experience. The 3D Viewer works with both mouse and touch navigation, allowing panning, zooming and rotating the map in any way imaginable. It’s so smooth and fun to use on both desktop and mobile that it feels completely native and truly app-like.
Then, using the favorites feature (just click on the star next to the player’s name), you can easily return to this page to watch every move of your favorite players, whether or not they’ve been deemed worthy. on the major diffusion possibilities.
Finally there is the main live video player which gives you the option to watch the main broadcast, a view of only holes 4, 5 and 6, a preview of the players on the driving range, Amen Corner, holes 15 and 16, feature groups or – more specifically – a custom feed called “My Group”. This is where a lot of the magic of this website comes together. In this “My Group” feed, you only see photos of all your favorite players and can essentially see a personalized broadcast featuring the players you want to follow the most.
Add to all that the fact that the video player allows viewing up to 4 screens at a time as well as the ability to choose one of these streams and have it appear in a picture-in-picture style player and you have a masters base coverage headquarters on hand to follow just about any game of this tournament all weekend.
Simply a master class in web technology
Of course, it’s all the more interesting for us because we love golf, but even if you don’t, there’s no denying that the technology presented with masters.com is incredible. From site layout to player profiles to live streams and live 3D tracking, I have never seen a sporting event covered in such a perfect way for its viewers. As someone attending the event, I’m blown away by the number of hits I’m getting and feel incredibly connected to the event and the players in a way I’ve never felt before. I may never be able to attend the Masters in person, but with this management from a digital standpoint, I am less upset by this truth than I have ever been. And it’s all happening on the open web. Just unreal.