Here at Chrome Unboxed, we’ve never been shy about our love for the open web as a platform. At the end of the day, we all have this feeling that ChromeOS and the Chromebooks that run it are mainly portals to this vast, powerful and wide-reaching ecosystem. Not bound to an app store, operating system or manufacturer, the open web is capable of some staggering things when in the hands of true masters.
Yesterday, as The 2022 Masters got underway, we were clearly looking for the best way to go about watching the tournament here in the office. There was Paramount Plus and ESPN+ to initially choose from, but I headed over to masters.com just to get an idea on a few tee times as we decided where to watch. Mainly, like many others, I simply wanted to see how best to see Tiger Woods’ return to tournament golf unfold on screen.
Masters.com is a masterpiece
What I wasn’t ready for was the technical prowess I was about to encounter on the site, and I was quickly blown away. Where I expected to get some details on the field, some ideas of where to watch and some great content about the legendary, 88-year-old golf event, I instead spent at least 30 minutes in slack-jawed amazement as I navigated one of the most comprehensive examples of the power of the web in 2022.
First up we have to give a nod to design and user experience. As soon as you load up masters.com, you have a scrollable leaderboard up top that works with touch input or, as you hover, with arrows for mouse input. This is the quickest way to see where the leaders are in the long journey to the Green Jacket and is wisely attached to the top of the screen on all the internal pages for the site. The clean aesthetic of white, gray and green continue down the page as you are met with all the live watching options and a basic news/content feed. Simple, clean and elegant, much like the revered golf course it is representing.
Functionality at its finest
Honestly, this would be enough for a website for a golf tournament held once a year, but clean design is only the beginning, here. The magic really happens in the player profiles, live video feeds, and shot tracking that is all available right on the site. Let’s look at each piece quickly.
If you click into a player’s profile either from the leaderboard up top or from the menu, you’ll get a nicely-bundled look at 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. That stuff is great, but you also get tons more in these profiles, and this is where masters.com really begins to blow your mind.
Right up top in every player profile – every single one – is their live scorecard and each player’s shot-by-shot video coverage and shot tracker. This data is nearly live and this is no mere replay machine. Instead, the video player cuts from one shot to the next on any hole you highlight on the scorecard. There’s a timer underneath that allows you to quickly jump from one shot to the next and see the entire hole played in just seconds.
Then there’s the 3D shot tracker to the right. This view gives you a 3D look at the hold and plots each shot on the canvas for you to see. Either view can be expanded or viewed side-by-side for the ultimate stats experience. The 3D viewer works with both mouse and touch navigation, allowing for panning, zooming and rotation of the map in every conceivable way. It is so smooth and so fun to use on both the desktop and mobile that it feels completely native and really app-like in use.
Then, by using the favorites feature (just click the star by the player’s name), you can easily get back to this page to watch every single shot of your favorite players, regardless of whether or not they are deemed worthy of being on the major broadcast options.
Finally, there’s the main live video player that gives you the option to watch the main broadcast, a view of just holes 4, 5, and 6, a look at players on the practice range, Amen Corner, holes 15 & 16, Feature Groups or – most notably – a customized feed called ‘My Group’. This is where much of the magic of this website comes together. In this ‘My Group’ feed, you only see shots from all your favorited players and can basically see a customized broadcast featuring the players you most care to keep up with.
Add to all of that the fact that the video player allows for up to 4 screens to be viewed at once along with the ability to choose to pick any of those feeds and pop it out in a picture-in-picture style player and you have a basic Masters coverage headquarters at your disposal for keeping up with just about any part of this tournament for the entirety of the weekend.
Simply a master class in web technology
Sure, this is all that much more interesting to us because we enjoy golf, but even if you don’t, there is no denying that the tech on display with masters.com is amazing. From the site layout to the player profiles to the live feeds and live 3D shot tracking, I’ve never seen a sporting event covered in such a perfect way for its viewers. As a person taking the event in, I’m blown away with how much access I’m getting and feel incredibly connected to the event and the players in a way I’ve never felt before. I may never get to attend The Masters in person, but with this handling of it from a digital perspective, I’m less upset about that truth than I’ve ever been. And it’s all happening on the open web. Just unreal.