A tee box at this year’s US Open used 88 cameras to deliver ‘bullet-time’ replays

The 2021 US Open golf tournament is underway at at Torrey Pines in California. This year, the tee box at the sixth hole included an array of 88 cameras to deliver slow-motion bullet-time replays of the pro golfers as they hit their drives.

The camera array was first used last week at the US Women’s Open, although similar technology has been used in previous years. A similar 4DReplay system was employed on the 15th tee of the PGA Championship in 2019. You can see that technology in action in the video below.

Golf Digest reports the 88 cameras on the sixth tee at Torrey Pines are more cameras than NBC had on the entire course during the event in 2008. Golf Digest writes, ‘The cameras, set up in a ring around the tee box, are part of the 4DReplay developed by Cisco that show a player’s swing at 360 degrees, and the video can be paused at 34 different junctures in the motion.’

The camera technology is impressive on its own, but how it’s being utilized during this year’s US Open is perhaps even more impressive. A 4DReplay truck is located on-site, and the producers are pushing the 4DReplay content directly to the US Open app, where golf fans can select any golfer and watch their swings directly on their phones.

There are a lot of other cameras in use at the US Open this year. There’s a crane-mounted camera at the first hole located about halfway between the tee box and the expected landing area of drives. The crane can move over to the 18th hole to record approach shots toward the final green, too.

NBC has cameras mounted on ‘super’ golf carts, too, speeding around the course. There’s a camera set up in the pond at the 18th hole if someone comes up a bit short in their approach at the flag.

Drones were in use at Torrey Pines throughout the weekend as well. While you can’t fly drones over people, for safety reasons, there’s plenty of rocky and beautiful California coast to fly over during the event. ‘It’s a gorgeous piece of property with the canyons and the barranca, which it actually creates more opportunities for us, like the drone,’ said NBC golf producer, Tommy Roy. ‘You can’t have a drone flying over top of people, over galleries, and so there’s plenty of places for him to fly there, which is terrific.’

Advances in camera technology have had a significant impact on sports broadcasting, and there are no signs of progress slowing down.