How the CBS Sports putting line graphic works for PGA Tour coverage
PGA Tour

How the CBS Sports putting line graphic works for PGA Tour coverage


If you've watched CBS Sports' PGA Tour coverage in 2018 beginning with the Genesis Open, you have probably seen CBS using a putting line technology to show the break of a player's particular putt on the greens.

The Hawkeye graphics show the potential different lines a putt could roll and still wind up in the bottom of the cup. The graphic shows the slope from the ball to the hole and the estimated break that has to be played. They show how a player could make the putt with an aggressive, speedy line as well with a slower, more lag-style line. The space in between those extremes effectively shows the room for error a player might have in the style of putt they can choose. The less space in between the aggressive and conservative lines, the less room there is for error and/or imagination.

The graphic is created by first compiling a topographic map of each green, fully measuring its contours, slopes and grade. Then, the formula behind the graphic would have to know the expected green speed both for that round and that time of the round, as greens often get faster later in the day on the PGA Tour. With that info and a knowledge of where the CBS cameras are positioned to show a particular putt on a particular green, the putting line graphic can then show a projected path to success.

Of course, the graphic isn't perfect, primarily because green speeds can change throughout a round and sometimes the formula isn't right -- namely, the inputs.

The European Tour coverage from Sky Sports has featured this putting line technology in the past. Golf Channel even tried it about a decade ago, when mapping greens and showing shots live with the technology proved onerous and expensive.

Now that it's back on CBS, showing the putting line could help golf fans understand there's more than one path to making each putt.

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Ryan Ballengee

Ryan Ballengee is founder and editor of Golf News Net. He has been writing and broadcasting about golf for nearly 20 years. Ballengee lives in the Washington, D.C. area with his family. He is currently a +2.6 USGA handicap, and he has covered dozens of major championships and professional golf tournaments. He likes writing about golf and making it more accessible by answering the complex questions fans have about the pro game or who want to understand how to play golf better.

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