The U.S. Golf Association, which has a surprisingly long history with esports, is teaming with the game World Golf Tour to offer a new tournament that will culminate in a real-life head-to-head competition next month.
The U.S. Golf Association (USGA) has long been known for its real-world tournaments, but one thing you might not have known is that it’s one of the earliest organizational supporters of esports.
That’s right. For the past decade, USGA has played an active role in supporting the Virtual U.S. Open, a tournament on the popular World Golf Tour (WGT) app. And recently, the association extended its relationship with Topgolf, the owners of the app and a chain of golf-themed entertainment venues, to launch a brand-new tournament that offers players something new: a step out of the virtual world.
WGT is currently hosting its first Virtual U.S. Amateur tournament, which will culminate next month in a championship round with both a virtual location—a tournament on a digital representation of the Pebble Beach Golf Links—and a physical location, at Topgolf’s Atlanta venue.
The event, currently underway in qualifying rounds, will feature an online tournament for the top 32 scores. The top two players will compete in person in a head-to-head tournament. The winner will receive gift cards—$500 from Topgolf, $500 from USGA—and an exemption for the next Virtual U.S. Open, just like the actual amateur tournament.
“The U.S. Amateur-style format of this new tournament and live championship at Topgolf Atlanta Midtown will create an exciting virtual golf experience for competitors and spectators alike,” Topgolf Media President YuChiang Cheng said in a news release.
It’s the first time that a virtual event hosted by WGT and USGA has included a physical component. Navin Singh, who heads global content and media distribution for the association, says it’s a key way for the USGA to reach a new audience.
“Today, millions of people play and watch esports, making it the fastest-growing phenomenon in media and entertainment,” Singh said in the release. “With the support of WGT and Topgolf, the inaugural Virtual U.S. Amateur will bring the esports experience to golf. This is the next step in the USGA’s continued efforts to innovate and connect with new audiences worldwide.”
In case you’d like to try your hand at the virtual links, the app is available for iOS, Android, and on the PC.