GOLF technology developed in Rotherham is revolutionising the way professionals practice — and how TV viewers watch the big tournaments.
Zen, based at Templeborough, is putting this area on the sport’s world stage, with a little future-proofing help from the AMRC.
The Zen Green Stage is the world’s first fully adjustable and computer controlled playing surface.
It was used during Sky Sports’ coverage of the PGA Championship in South Carolina, and pros Matt Fitzpatrick and Lee Westwood are looking to have it installed in their homes.
The surface simulates real-world playing conditions found on an undulating course, allowing players to practise full swing shots and make putts on sloping lies, and is controlled via phone or tablet.
Zen founder Nick Middleton said: “Working with the AMRC gave us the opportunity to consider the true potential of the Green Stage.
“We have the confidence to upscale the business now because we know our control system is resilient, more accurate, quicker to produce and future-proofed with enhanced lifecycle, all after working with the AMRC.”
Dr Rikki Coles, a technical lead at the AMRC, said Zen had been stuck in a bunker in terms of moving the project forward.
Zen’s earlier system used external ultrasonic sensors in the corner of the stage to determine its position, but they could sometimes be inaccurate and could be compromised by things like spider webs breaking the path of the ultrasonic beams.
Dr Coles said: “What Zen has now is a system which is both modular and physically scalable, meaning it can consider much larger stage designs.
“Importantly, they also have complete ownership of the hardware and software and hence the complete manufacturing process.”
Customers have already included 2013 Masters champion Adam Scott and 2016 Olympic gold medallist Justin Rose, as well as Sky Sports.
The stage is designed to work with other technologies like golf simulation software and ball-tracking systems.
And Nick said this combination of innovations could transform the game. “Take the example of chess,” he added.
“It’s because of computers and machine learning that chess players have ultimately become better. It’s time for golf to take a quantum leap and embrace artificial intelligence to make people better players. This will be a real game changer.”