RFID at the Ryder Cup

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Content Copyright © 2014 Bloor. All Rights Reserved.
Also posted on: The Holloway Angle

One of my colleagues was sent an email from Graylings, The PR Agency and, knowing my interest in all things quirky concerning RFID, passed it on to me.

One hundred thousand visitors were provided with an RFID-enabled ‘Ryder Cup Experience Wristband’ from access control and cashless payment specialist Intellitix. The company claim to have to activated over 5 million RFID tags at events since 2011 including Coachella, Bonnaroo, Tomorrowland, Lollapalooza, Way Out West, The PGA Irish Open, UEFA Champions Festival, Outside Lands and Electric Zoo.

The Ryder Cup Experience Wristbands were used to take part in various interactive activities across the Gleneagles golf course, including:

  • Virtually ‘high five-ing’ your chosen team, with a message of support instantly shared on the on-course leader board and personal Facebook and Twitter accounts


  • The Active Scotland initiative ‘Walk the Course’ encouraged spectators to visit as much of the site as possible, with prizes for those who checked in at points around the course—a total of 5,818 miles were walked by participants.
  • ‘Journey through The Ryder Cup Experience with Standard Life’ let you score points on your wristband, check your progress, record your activity on social media and collect a souvenir photograph.
  • BMW let visitors automatically request a test drive with a tap of the wristband, with BMW owners able to use their wristband to enter the Owners’ Café
  • Win a stay at Gleneagles by swiping your RFID wristband at the Gleneagles stand in the Spectator Village.
  • Interact with the Sky Sports Zone.

Apparently over 46 per cent of visitors pre-registered their wristbands before the event. There were 44,527 interactions across the whole time span of the tournament at the 36 social media touch points around the course. Just over 59,000 email accounts were linked to the wristbands. The best statistic that was discovered was that 44% of the people who took part were aged 45–65!

Antonia Beggs, operations director for The 2014 Ryder Cup, said: “Ryder Cup Europe wanted to lift the event this year beyond the standards set previously. As social media, smartphones and mobile internet have become a part of everyday life, RFID technology seemed a natural choice. We have had extremely positive feedback from both the audience and from sponsors, who are always looking for additional ways to amplify their sponsorship. We are certain that RFID and the interactivity that it brings will become the future of major sporting events. We are very proud to be one of the first to offer this to our audience.”

Intellitix CEO, Serge Grimaux explained: “Social media integration is now important to every single professional sport. An experience doesn’t just happen in the moment anymore; fans want to remember and share every moment with their friends and family. It’s important for sports to facilitate this in order to continue to grow their audiences and fan demographic, solidify the link they have with their fans and provide the fully immersive event that people have now come to expect.”

The wristbands were also a method of cashless payment accepted in the Harris Pavilion for guests of Ryder Cup partners and in the media zone for all accredited media.  

So here we have a use of RFID to link the audience for a sporting event to the sponsors and to obtain demographic information about the audience.