Optimizing the fan experience at Ryder Cup with Aruba Networks

The traditional golf tournament The Ryder Cup has become one of the world’s greatest sporting events. Every two years, twenty-four of the best players from Europe and the United States go head-to-head in order to win the prestigious Ryder Cup. The event attracted around 51,000 spectators every day and it was estimated that approximately 250,000 people would visit the course during the competition week.

The 2018 Ryder Cup took place 25thto 30thSeptember at Le Golf National in Paris and I was very lucky to join the event for one day and get a behind-the-scenes technology tour. In this blog post, I will give you an overview of the experience from a technical point of view.

The Ryder Cup: The largest BYOD deployment outside of the Olympics

European Tour (the European version of Ryder Cup) has worked with HPE and Aruba platforms for over 10 years and the 2018 event was set to provide for the first time a truly connected course, with ubiquitous wireless connectivity for a capacity of more than 51,000 users per day. Michael Cole, CTO of Ryder Cup shared that this was the first time that they even allowed mobile phones to the event! What a big leap for them from not letting mobile phones on the golf course to offering free Wi-Fi to all spectators. Bringing BYOD to any network can be complex even if it’s in a SMB company with devices from known users. Imagine bringing 150,000+[1]unknown devices and users to any network – it will add significant more complexity to the network especially considering the GDPR and network security.

The Ryder Cup network was a complex setup with 130 Switches, 700 Access Points and 200 kilometers of optical fiber. The Ryder Cup used Clearpass for one of the largest BYOD deployments staged outside the Olympics. And remember this was just a temporary deployment!A deployment that had to run with no hiccups or downtime so that the fans and players could be connected at all times.

The digital engagement experience was enabled by the deployment of Aruba Bluetooth Beacons, both standalone and embedded in the deployed access points. The network delivered a significant amount of useful data back to the Ryder Cup data analytics and reporting platform, via the Aruba Analytics and Location Engine.




The enhanced Ryder Cup experience

I walked around the golf course both for the behind-the-scenes technology tour and my own pleasure walk. I did not see or notice one Beacon anywhere on the golf course and I’m not sure if the Ryder Cup fans even wondered how the location-based service worked. The Aruba Beacons helped fans find their way around the event with maps based on geo-location, directing users to where they wanted to be via the fastest route. I can think of so many events and venues just in my home town where this would add so much value to my experience as a consumer or visitor.


IoT in general opens new doors for what can be tracked and measured and what to do with the analytics. There are endless possibilities together with creative thinking that can go in this area and this is just the beginning. The Ryder Cup offered player tracking and spectators were able to know where a player was on the course at any point in time; they were able to follow the player and together with this, plan their own movements on the course.


One of the things to notice (and a business benefit) is the targeted information you can provide to your customers or attendees. Beacons enable you to provide location-based offers or information: at Ryder Cup this was targeted merchandising directing spectators to relevant content based on their profile or event analytics. This could also be used at a museum to give relevant information about certain art pieces or if you’re retailer you could direct your customers to special offers. This is just to mention some of the numerous possibilities.

Conclusive remarks

I wish there would be a part two to this opportunity – or I could listen in on the debrief of the event experience or talk to some of the attendees. The only reference I have is myself together with the other influencers and I heard no complaints, nor did I have any. If you attended Ryder Cup – I would love some feedback. Did you notice the location-based services, and did you use some of the offers for example the player tracking through the Ryder Cup app? Please reach out if you did as I would love to hear from you.

Oh… and also: Europe WON


Note: I was invited by HPE and my hotel, transport and entrance have been sponsored to join The 2018 Ryder Cup.  I am not under any obligation by neither The Ryder Cup nor HPE to write any review or recommend any of the products and solutions presented at the event. I have not received any compensation for writing the above post and its content only represent my personal opinions.

[1]This is a fictive number. When receive the exact number I will update this blog post