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Fore! How this company is using VR to sell golf clubs

TaylorMade has embraced virtual reality to promote its PSi irons.TaylorMade has embraced virtual reality to promote its PSi irons.
TaylorMade has embraced virtual reality to promote its PSi irons.TaylorMade

Now golf fans can be on the virtual green with PGA Tour pros Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia—TaylorMade Golf Company recently released a series of 360-degree VR videos to promote its new PSi irons.

TaylorMade, a division of TaylorMade-adidas Golf (ADDYY), has sent 1,500 PSi-branded Google Cardboard VR viewers to stores across the country like Dick’s Sporting Goods, as well as The TaylorMade Golf Experience in Las Vegas, so customers can watch the PSi 360 videos. Fans can also watch on any Android or iOS VR device, Oculus Rift and HTC Vive (when those devices launch), as well as on YouTube 360 and on PSi’s product landing page.

“Virtual reality has the potential to give golf fans and consumers a look into the world’s greatest courses in ways they’ve never seen before that stretch beyond what they see on television,” says Rose. “With the PSi experience, they’re already being brought closer to Tour professionals, seeing how we test and go through a fitting for new product. Anything that helps bring a better experience to more golfers is beneficial.”

According to Mark Buntz, senior global brand director at TaylorMade, this first VR initiative with PSi irons targets more experienced golfers with a handicap of zero to six. While that’s not the largest volume segment of the golfing population, Buntz says it’s a very influential group of people.

“This idea is rooted in consumer insights,” Buntz says. “The better player is far more interested in immersing themselves into the technology of the game. Virtual reality allows them to stand in the presence of the best Tour pros and feel like they’re behind the ropes and part of their inner circle.”

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Rose says the day of filming itself was a typical product testing day—except there was a 360-degree camera set up on the fairway, and another on a remote control car for the walking portion of the testing.

“I had never seen this type of 360 VR camera operations up close and personal before my experience with this project,” Rose says. “And that’s why I enjoy being a part of the TaylorMade team. They’re willing to take risks and try new things; whether it’s equipment innovation or digitally with something like the PSi 360 experience.”

Buntz says exploring VR is yet another way to appeal to the next generation of younger golfers, which is a company focus.

“We’re looking at ways to continue to grow the game of golf,” Buntz says. “The Justin Roses and Jordan Spieths are attracting new fans. We want to get fans excited about what our sport has to offer and discover the technological advancements that allow them to enter and enjoy the sport.”

According to Clifton Dawson, CEO of research firm Greenlight VR, there’s a reason consumer brands like like TaylorMade are experimenting with 360-degree video as a new advertising medium.

“In one recent study, we analyzed the performance of 360-video across categories and found that branded VR content generates 15-20 times the number of views on platforms like YouTube and Vrideo,” Dawson says. “We believe this is due to the multi-channel distribution strategy employed and additional earned media consumer brands generate with their campaigns. We think 360-video advertising is one of the biggest untapped opportunities in the consumer VR market.”

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