The Masters in 3D: It’s Like You’re There
By Stephanie Wei under General

Maybe I’ve been sniffing the azaleas, but watching The Masters in 3D was an experience unlike any other. Last Thursday I went to a Time Warner-hosted Masters 3D viewing party at the Time Warner Center in Columbus Circle. When it was first announced that the tournament would be broadcast in 3D, I thought it sounded cool, but really, how many people actually own the technology? Maybe eight? So I was thrilled to get the opportunity.

Now I’ve never been a 3D nut. After seeing Avatar, I didn’t gush about the unbelievable visuals. But within a minute of taking a seat and popping on the stylin’ 3D glasses last Thursday, I felt immersed in the event. The crisp images of the people jumped off the screen while the 3D effect made the action continual. Depending on where fans or players were standing, there was a genuine sense of where each person or object related to the other and the landscape spatially.

What was most captivating was being sucked into the action. When Fred Couples hit a tee shot and the camera followed the ball flight, I felt like I was — this is going to sound weird — in the shot. And when Camilo Villegas splashed his ball from the bunker, I could almost feel the sand spatter in my face. At times I was so immersed by the visuals, I lost myself in the 3D. I would be watching, but almost forget because — I know this sounds cliche — I felt like I was actually there. But the effect was much more visceral.

In a way, the players, caddies and fans looked like characters in a video game. Actually, the viewing experience sometimes seemed like The Masters version of a souped-up Xbox game. And I was inside the TV and part of the action. It was just an unreal experience.

Don’t even get me started on the topography. I could see the undulations in the fairways and the breaks on the greens much clearer. In 2D or even sometimes as a live spectator, these details aren’t discernible, but in 3D, they were very apparent. When a player was standing on a sloped lie with the ball below his feet, I could see and understand what he was dealing with. The 3D made me aware of an element while watching on TV that you lose — like depth perception.

The 3D viewing experience is arguably better than watching live. Because like I’ve said, it’s hard to explain, but it’s an out of body experience, where you lose yourself in the 3D. For the hour I watched — which I had already seen because it was tape-delayed, but that didn’t matter — I was seeing it in a completely different way. I was mesmerized. (And no, Comcast/Time Warner is not paying me.)

For non-golf geeks who complain golf is boring to watch, 3D actually makes it much more exciting or visually interesting at least. I had brought two friends, who are the type of fans that watch golf on a Sunday if Tiger is in contention, and they were equally entranced. We decided that golf was the perfect theater for 3D. Add the beauty of Augusta National and I can’t imagine it getting much better. It sure beat Avatar out of the ballpark. At least in my opinion. Now I just need to figure out how to come up with a spare $5,000 to buy a 3D TV set for my apartment.