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14

Crowdsourcing the IHSA Golf Tournaments

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The hole-by-hole scoring of this weekend's IHSA state final golf tournaments is being brought to you, in part, by the crowd.

Now that mobile phones with Internet technology are commonplace, the IHSA has harnessed the data-gathering technique known as "crowdsourcing" to help provide hole-by-hole coverage of its five championship golf tournaments, which run simultaneously this weekend.

IHSA has posted hole-by-hole scoring of its state final golf events since 2003.  Prior to this year, all those results were gathered by five or six volunteers on each course, stationed every few holes, using walkie-talkies to relay the scores to a main scorekeeper in the clubhouse.

This year, the IHSA has also enlisted interested observers – some coaches, but mostly parents – who follow a single group of golfers throughout the day.  These observers are given the task of reporting the score of all four players in the group after each hole, using their smartphones and a simple web page developed by the IHSA.  The scores are then posted on the IHSA's web site so that anyone in the world can view the progress of the tournaments as they happen. Based on early returns, about 10% of the scores will be submitted by the crowd on Friday, the first day the new system has been employed.

"Scoring a golf tournament in real time is extremely challenging," said IHSA Assistant Executive Director Scott Johnson. "In a basketball game or a swimming meet, all the action is right in front of you.  But there are 18 holes on a golf course, and we have five tournaments – that means scores are being recorded at 90 different locations.  The only way for us to report on that many holes at once is to ask the crowd to help us out."

The scores posted by the crowd are unofficial, of course.  The players' scorecards are checked once they finish their rounds and any discrepancies are corrected by the main scorekeeper.

"The people doing the scoring have a personal stake in providing accurate scores," said Johnson. "And they like being involved -- it gives them something interesting to do as they move around the course.  I expect when the word gets around we'll have a lot more folks giving it a try."

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