Making an Ace
Exciting PGA TOUR Partnership Highlights I.T.’s Next-Gen Golden Tee
For more than 30 years, Golden Tee Golf has provided entertainment for millions of players. In that time, the popular video game from Incredible Technologies has been placed in more than 50,000 locations and been a fixture in many bars and restaurants around the world.
It has also found a home on the USS John C. Stennis aircraft carrier, on ESPN and even in the popular game Fortnite, which showcased the 2019 Golden Tee World Championship event inside its app last year.
In 2021, however, the factory says the game is going to a place it has never gone before.
The Golden Tee PGA TOUR Edition is targeting a release in the second quarter of this year. It will be the first time in the game’s history where I.T. partnered with the PGA TOUR to bring players real-life golf courses. It will also bring with it a new, cutting-edge cabinet, 4K graphics and a foundation poised to bring the game to new heights, the company says.
In 1989, Golden Tee Golf made its debut. The original goal was to create a golf simulator, although that concept was quickly abandoned to create a unique arcade experience where players could use the now-legendary, three-inch trackball to control their swing.
After finding success in arcades of the early 1990s, I.T. partnered with PGA TOUR pro Peter Jacobsen in 1995 to release the next generation, Golden Tee 3D Golf. I.T. co-founder Richard Ditton worked to create a revolutionary, phone-linked tournament system, ultimately known as the International Tournament System, to take the franchise to new heights.
Golden Tee evolved into its next generation in early 2000 with Golden Tee Fore! This version took the tournament system to the next level – connecting 20,000 cabinets across the globe.
Golden Tee LIVE, which debuted in 2005, brought the tournament mentality to life with real-time tournaments. In 2008, I.T. moved the platform to the Showpiece cabinet, which delivered the game in high-definition. And over the last 15-plus years, Golden Tee LIVE has enjoyed a variety of graphical, hardware and feature upgrades that have allowed it to thrive in more than 15,000 locations across North America.
Since its inception –– and across five platforms –– Golden Tee has been played by more than 10 million players, awarded more than $150 million in prizes in online contests and skill tournaments, and helped generate over $1 billion in food and beverage sales.
All that said, Incredible Technologies is now preparing for what it calls its most ambitious platform yet – the PGA TOUR Edition.
For more than two years, Incredible Technologies and the PGA TOUR worked toward a licensing agreement that could bring both golf brands together. The goal was to combine audiences and the spirit of both products – a relationship where fantasy golf and real golf could align.
“As we looked at the future of Golden Tee, we were delighted at the idea of partnering with the PGA TOUR,” said I.T. President and CEO Elaine Hodgson. “Our goal was to maintain the creativity that has carried the game for so many years but also inject it with a certain authenticity and prestige.”
The Golden Tee PGA TOUR Edition, an officially licensed golf simulation arcade game, will launch with over 80 Golden Tee fantasy courses alongside three licensed PGA TOUR courses: TPC Sawgrass, TPC Deere Run and TPC Boston.
Using real course topography data, Incredible Technologies has recreated all licensed PGA TOUR courses to ensure they play like they do in real life. That means every bunker and every water hazard… and every trademark hole, including the infamous island green at Hole 17 at TPC Sawgrass.
“It is without a doubt the most popular request we have received across three decades when it comes to Golden Tee,” said Adam Kramer, the company’s vice president of amusement. “People have long asked when our game will feature real-life courses. And now, we can very proudly say that time is here.”
Graphically, the Golden Tee universe will be delivered in stunning 4K. Overall, the presentation of the game has undergone an overhaul – from the sounds and way the game is presented to a new golfer that was built from the ground up.
“We are proud and excited to share what we’ve been working on for so long,” Kramer added. “But we also have enormous future plans when it comes to the way Golden Tee is played and presented. This is just the beginning.”
It’s never just been about the courses or the graphics. For Golden Tee, the connection to the cabinet and the trackball – the overall user experience – has been as integral as the software it houses, the company says. Building a new cabinet fit for both the times and the partnership took years of research, trial, error and exploration.
“We set out to do something that could change the way arcade games are played,” said Golden Tee co-creator and vice president of engineering Larry Hodgson. “And while we challenged ourselves to innovate, we also wanted to stay true to who we are because it allowed us to reach this point.”
The Golden Tee PGA TOUR Edition cabinet will come with a refined control panel that features a 5” touchscreen display. This touchscreen will replace the keypad to allow players to login into their accounts. In the future, it will also allow quick access to other elements inside the game.
The cabinet will also debut a Near-Field-Communication (NFC) device for contactless login and payments, which will allow players to check-in and pay from their Apple and Android devices. A new companion app will be available to create an expedited login experience.
The cabinet will also include LED lighting, cupholders and a 55” 4K commercial-grade television that will optimize the visual and audio experience.
“The new technology is incredibly exciting and has been largely customized for this product,” Kramer said. “We want players to immerse themselves in their games quicker. At the same point, we wanted to design a cabinet that carries a certain presence.”
With the launch of the Golden Tee PGA TOUR Edition pegged for spring of 2021, Incredible Technologies says it’s already mapping out future updates for the platform, which will bring more real courses, new game modes and other enhancements that will take advantage of the new technology being added.
The traditional yearly updates that have helped the LIVE platform sustain interest as long as it has will be replaced by a new steady stream of content that will be sent to cabinets regularly throughout the year.
“The expectations of the customer have drastically changed,” Kramer explained. “Our goal is to build a platform that is constantly adding and generating new pieces of content. We can no longer simply push out one yearly dose of features and expect to keep their interest. We want to redo how Golden Tee is consumed throughout the calendar year.”
Originally, Incredible Technologies planned to launch the Golden Tee PGA TOUR Edition in Q4 of 2020, though Covid-19 had a significant impact on these plans, pushing the launch to this year.
Now, as vaccines become more readily available throughout the world, the team at I.T. says Golden Tee PGA TOUR Edition serves as yet another symbol of what is to come.
“Our industry and lives have all been severely impacted by the pandemic these last 12 months,” Elaine Hodgson said. “But we see the light at the end of the tunnel, and we are excited that normalcy might be within reach. When we emerge from this, we will do so with a product that we are deeply proud that can carry us for many years to come.”
Learn more about the new game at www.GoldenTee.com.