Sport on the Internet

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The Independent Online
WHEN THE official site for the 1999 Ryder Cup, which starts on Friday, went live earlier this month, IBM was blowing its own trumpet. It said that although "the game of golf hasn't changed for centuries" the Internet has changed "exponentially" since the last Ryder Cup in 1997. The site for the 33rd Ryder Cup, it said, is designed to "showcase the information technology and creative e-business solutions" that are the holy grail of Internet businesses.

Sounds like the cutting edge of cool. What it trans- lates to in practice is... an official site much like any other for a major sporting event. Admittedly, you can chose whether to go for an American or European perspective from the front page, but that's not a major technological innovation.

There's nothing wrong with the site. IBM is good at what it does. It will provide real-time scores online from Brookline and also promises a downloadable scoreboard, complete with links to player profiles, with which you can follow every golfer wherever he is on the course.

There will be RealAudio and Video streamed interviews, but not of play. The closest to live broadcast will be the Webcam grabbing images from the live TV feed over the final holes. The traditional package is completed with news and features, online shopping and the facility to send electronic postcards to either teams or individuals.

Golfing sites with a wider focus, such as the well-established United States-centred GolfWeb, will also be providing online Ryder Cup coverage. It also has online video archives of current and recent PGA tournaments. You will need RealVideo-capable software, such as RealPlayer, G2 or the latest Windows Media Player to watch the clips.

A new golf site, specifically for the UK, launched last month. GolfZone positions itself as a specialist portal which can provide comprehensive links to golf across the Web. The key to that claim is a dedicated GolfZone search engine, which is quicker than most whether tracking down golfing humour or golfing homepages, and a selection of Javascript links to betting information, course information and trivia. It also provides a chat room and a GolfMart where second-hand equipment can be bought and sold.

Official 1999 Ryder Cup Site: