The USGA is getting into esports, announcing a partnership with Topgolf to launch the first Virtual U.S. Amateur on the World Golf Tour game. The game is available on the WGT Golf app, WGT.com and usga.org, offering fans a shot to compete in an esports competition on the Pebble Beach Golf Links, culminating in a live, head-to-head style final round.
The Virtual U.S. Amateur finalists will each win a trip to Atlanta to play an 18-hole match live on a big-screen TV at the Topgolf Atlanta Midtown location on Sept. 22, where the winner of the inaugural event will receive a $500 Topgolf gift card, a $500 USGA gift card and an exemption into the 2019 Virtual U.S. Open on WGT.
“Today, millions of people play and watch esports, making it the fastest-growing phenomenon in media and entertainment,” said Navin Singh, head of Global Content and Media Distribution for the USGA. “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.”
Similar to WGT’s Virtual U.S. Open, which has been running as an esports competition for 10 years with more than 4.7 million participants, the Virtual U.S. Amateur will use USGA tee markers and flags. In 2018 alone, 3.5 million rounds of the Virtual U.S. Open were played.
“For the past 10 years, we have collaborated with the USGA to hold the Virtual U.S. Open esports competition on the country’s most iconic venues,” said Topgolf Media President YuChiang Cheng. “We’re excited to continue bringing together virtual and physical golf experiences with the first Virtual U.S. Amateur. The US 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.”