EA's IPhone App Attracts Golfers to Virtual Green

App of the Week: Tee Shot Live

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YORK, Pa. (AdAge.com) -- Ten years after the first Tiger Woods virtual golf game, EA is venturing into the real world of golf with an iPhone app called Tee Shot Live, which features 9,000 real golf courses that can be uploaded in satellite view, tracks scores and uses GPS to target a player's actual location on the course.

The publisher's plan is to use its many years of golf-software and virtual-world experience to entice real-world players into its digital world. Tee Shot Live includes a specially created EA Sports website that serves as a social network for golfers who want to track and share stats and scores, create private and public golf groups, set up virtual golf tournaments and share tips and equipment reviews.

"This gives us an avenue to showcase to a more mainstream audience what we do," said Craig Evans, director-marketing at EA Sports. "It's not just a game tool, but also gets us in front of people who traditionally might not be exposed to EA Sports."

The in-house-created marketing campaign for Tee Shot Live includes a public relations push to tech and sports press, digital marketing to its current user database of Tiger Woods' players, and online advertising.

IPhone users and golfers seem to be a natural demographic fit. Both have higher disposable incomes, higher education levels and travel more often than the average person. Plus, golfers are tech and social-media fans -- 83% go online just for fun and 61% visit social-media sites at least occasionally, according to a recent National Golf Foundation study.

Of course, there are dozens of apps for golfers in the App Store -- from those offering virtual golf games to expert tips to score trackers and fairway tools that use GPS. One GPS app in fact, called Golfshot, created by Shotzoom Software, became a top seller last month after appearing in an Apple iPhone sports fan targeted-ad called "Avid." They range from free to up to more than $30 for the all-inclusive GPS-enabled course download and tracking types. Tee Shot Live debuted for 99¢, but jumped to $9.99 after Oct. 9.

Macworld gave Tee Shot a "best of the bunch" review in July 2008 and it was Apple's App Store pick of the week in Feb. 2009. The latest 2.0 version -- and the only one currently available on the App Store -- is now run by EA Sports.

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