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This story appears in the Jun 6, 2014 issue of Fortune magazine:

Win the U.S. Open without leaving home

"The Virtual U.S. Open allows video gamers to get their names in the USGA record books along with the real-life winners.

A record number of golfers will be playing Pinehurst No. 2 this June with hopes of shooting the best score on the fabled–and recently redesigned–course. The goal is to emerge victorious in the 2014 U.S. Open and take home the trophy, as well as the honor that will live on in history. But not all of this year's golfers will actually step foot in North Carolina to partake in the championship events (the Men's and Women's tournaments will take place back-to-back June 12-15 and June 19-22).

Through a partnership between the United States Golf Association (USGA) and WGT Media, creators of the free-to-play World Golf Tour, anyone with a PC or iOS mobile device can partake in the Virtual U.S. Open Championship. In addition to winning a trip to the 2015 U.S. Open at Chambers Bay with behind-the-ropes access, the winner will receive a replica trophy and get his (or her) name in the official USGA record books right alongside the real golfers.

While this is the first year the competition has been opened up to mobile gamers, it will mark the sixth year of the Virtual U.S. Open. Sarah Hirshland, senior manager of business affairs at the USGA, admits that when the organization first started the video game competition they weren't sure how enthusiastic people would be for it.

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About WGT

Based in San Francisco, WGT Media is home to the most engaged sports fans in the world, with over 15 million players spending more than 90 minutes online per visitor across online, social and mobile platforms.

The flagship property, WGT Golf ( is the #1 free golf game with over 450 million total rounds played. WGT Golf features 20 famous virtual golf courses that are recreated using HD photography and patented technology, including Pebble Beach, Pinehurst and St Andrews. WGT runs the annual Virtual U.S. Open in partnership with the USGA, and has partnered with NBC's Golf Channel. WGT offers a range of virtual golf equipment from leading manufacturers, including Callaway, Cleveland, Nike, Ping, Srixon and TaylorMade.

In 2012, WGT launched WGT Baseball: MLB ( in partnership with Major League Baseball Advanced Media. WGT Baseball is a realistic baseball game with over four million registered players on Facebook. It puts fans inside their favorite MLB ballparks in HD virtual reality with MLB uniforms and MLB players. In a unique blend of social gaming and fantasy baseball, players manage their rosters of Facebook friends, making strategic in-game decisions and competing head-to-head against other players in rival games and mini seasons.

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WGT Golf Mobile
Kiawah Island Ocean Course
Kiawah Island Ocean Course
Pinehurst #8
The Olympic Club
WGT Golf
Pebble Beach
Pebble Beach
St.Andrews Old Course
St.Andrews Old Course
WGT Virtual U.S. Open
Pebble Beach
Pinehurst #2 Hole 3
St.Andrews Old Course
Pinehurst #2 Hole 9
PGA Championship Virtual Challenge
Valhalla Hole 13
Valhalla Hole 13
Valhalla Hole 18
Valhalla Hole 18
WGT Baseball: MLB
Yankee Stadium
Yankee Stadium
Fenway Park
Fenway Park

WGT Virtual Golf Courses

  • NEW - Bandon Dunes (Bandon, OR) – the No. 1 Golf Resort in North America according to Golf Digest
  • Bali Hai (Las Vegas, NV) – host of 2004 Golf Channel Big Break and 2009 Golf World Top Public Courses
  • Bethpage Black (Farmingdale, NY) – host of 2009 U.S. Open and 2013 #36 Top Golf Course
  • Cabo del Sol (Los Cabos, Mexico) – 2009 Golf Magazine #95 Top Golf Course
  • Celtic Manor Twenty Ten Course (Wales, UK) – host of 2010 Ryder Cup and 2013 Wales Open
  • Chateau Whistler (Vancouver, Canada) – Top 100 Golf Courses in the World
  • Congressional Country Club (Bethesda, MD) – host of 2011 U.S. Open and 2013 AT&T National and 2011 Golf Digest #77 Top Golf Course
  • Edgewood (Lake Tahoe, NV) – host of 2013 American Century Celebrity Golf Championship and 2011 Golf Digest #65 Top Golf Course
  • Harbour Town Golf Links (Hilton Head, SC) – host of 2013 PGA Heritage Tournament and 2011 Golf Digest #21 Top Golf Course
  • Hilversumsche Golf Club (Netherlands) – host of 2010 KLM Open and Top 100 Golf Courses in the World
  • Kiawah Island Ocean Course (Kiawah, SC) – host of 1991 Ryder Cup and 2010 PGA Championship, and 2011 Golf Digest #4 Top Golf Course
  • The Experience at Koele (Lanai, Hawaii) – Greg Norman design course
  • Challenge at Manele (Lanai, Hawaii) – Top 100 Golf Courses in the World
  • Merion Golf Club hosted five U.S. Opens including the 2013 U.S. Open, and 2013 #9 Top Golf Course
  • Oakmont (Oakmont, PA) – hosted eight U.S. Opens including the 2009 U.S. Open and 2013 #8 Top Golf Course
  • The Olympic Club (San Francisco, CA) – hosted five U.S. Opens including the 2012 U.S. Open, and 2013 #9 Top Golf Course
  • Pebble Beach Golf Links (Pebble Beach, CA) – America's greatest public golf course, the site of five U.S. Open championships and the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am
  • NEW - Pinehurst No. 2 (Pinehurst, NC) – host of the 2014 U.S. Open Championships
  • Pinehurst No. 8 (Pinehurst, NC) – 2010 Golf Magazine #100 Top Golf Course
  • Royal St George's Golf Club (Sandwich, UK) – host of 14 British Open Championships including the 2011 Open, and 2013 #29 Top Golf Course
  • St Andrews Old Course (St Andrews, UK) – the birthplace of golf, host of the most British Open Championships, and 2013 #4 Top Golf Course
  • NEW - Valhalla Golf Club (Louisville, KY) – host of the 2014 PGA Championship
  • Wolf Creek (Mesquite, NV) – 2011 Golf Digest #28 Top Golf Course

WGT Best Of Virtual Courses

  • Best of Famous Holes – 18 of the most famous holes on WGT (stroke play)
  • Best of Hardest Holes – 18 of the hardest holes on WGT (stroke play)
  • Best of Par 3 Holes – 18 of the best Par 3 holes on WGT (stroke play)
  • NEW – Best of Par 4 Holes – 18 of the best Par 4 holes on WGT (stroke play)
  • Best of Par 5 Holes – 18 of the best Par 5 holes on WGT (stroke play)
  • Best of Famous Shots – 9 of the most famous shots on WGT (closest-to-the-hole)
  • Best of Water Shots – 9 of the best shots over water on WGT (closest-to-the-hole)
  • Best of Putting – 9 of the toughest putts on WGT (closest-to-the-hole)

WGT Media Coverage

  • Golf Channel
    Poldimaier captures Transamerica Championship

    "It looks like poldimaier is on a roll this summer, after winning the 2014 Virtual U.S. Open champion, and now a adding the title of major winner."
  • GolfWeek
    Fans again can pick Sunday pin for PGA Championship

    "World Golf Tour is providing an online feature that allows fans to play each of the hole locations in a video game before casting their vote."
  • USA Today
    How you can influence the PGA Championship

    "One difference in the promotion this year, according to the PGA of America, is the World Golf Tour will have an interactive that will allow fans to 'play' each of the four locations on before casting a vote."
    Golf fans to select hole location at PGA Championship

    "New this year, World Golf Tour ( will provide an interactive experience, which allows fans to 'play' each of the hole locations on before entering their selection."
  • Golf Channel
    Dansamcam nabs fourth win of 2014 at Criquet Cup

    "The Virtual Tour season race still close, as the regular events have 200,000 credit purses, but the major events have 400,000 credit purses, with the majors happening in March, July, September and November."
  • Golf Channel
    VIDEO - Will Gray talks to WGT GolfNow Championship Winner

    "I'm Will Gray joined today by Jon, whose user name is FrenchConnect on the WGT Virtual Tour..."
  • Fortune
    Win the U.S. Open without leaving home

    " the first year the competition has been opened up to mobile gamers...this is the largest virtual golf tournament in the world..."
  • Grain Golf Magazine
    Virtual U.S Open now a USGA Tradition

    "Last year 3.3 million virtual rounds were played at Merion."
  • Golf Channel
    CptWomp captures Cutter & Buck Classic

    "With the winners crowned from May, the season-long race is starting to take shape."
  • Link Golf Magazine / HotLinks
    The Online Open

    "Last year 3.3 million virtual rounds were played on Merion."
  • Pebble Beach - The Magazine
    Virtual Online Golf

    "...the World Golf Tour (WGT) website, - offers a virtual golf community so anyone with a computer can play family, friends or gamers from the other side of the world."
  • Golf Channel
    Dansamcam wins third event of 2014

    "The win allowed Dansamcam to regain the top spot in the season-long points race from frenchconnect, who captured the season's first major at the GolfNow Championship."
  • Golf Channel
    FrenchConnect wins GolfNow Championship

    "Thanks to a final-round 54, FrenchConnect took home the title at the GolfNow Championship, the first major of the 2014 season on the WGT Virtual Tour."
  • Golf Channel
    Transamerica Runner-Up BolloxInBruges Offers Tips

    "A WGT member since 2009, he carded an 18-hole score of 54 in each of the two rounds of the stroke-play event..."
  • Golf Channel
    IOA Open Champ Dansamcam Shares Insight

    "While some players may fire up a computer and head immediately to the first tee box, dansamcam prides himself on his thorough preparation..."
  • Marketing Week
    In-Game Advertising: Mind Games

    "Allianz advertising within the game World Golf Tour enables it to target golf fans in digital media..."
  • Sports Business Journal
    World Golf Tour Makers Create Year-Long Virtual Golf Tour

    "WGT Media, makers of online golf game World Golf Tour, have created the WGT Virtual Tour..."
  • Sports Business Journal
    Comings & Goings

    "Former ESPNer Ed Willett is joining WGT Media as vice president sales and sponsorships from a newly established Manhattan office..."
  • iOS Snoops
    Review - WGT Golf Mobile

    "Play full stroke-play golf games on famous golf courses in realistic HD quality."
  • PadGadet
    WGT Golf Mobile

    "Includes Congressional, Kiawah, Merion, Pebble Beach, Pinehurst No.8 and St Andrews"
  • VentureBeat GamesBeat
    World Golf Tour game says virtual golfers have played 10M virtual U.S. Open rounds

    "The combined total of more than 10.3 million virtual rounds over five years reflects a 28 percent average annual growth rate."
  • Back9 Network
    David Leadbetter Signs Agreement with WGT Golf Game

    "I believe that virtual golf on WGT can meaningfully improve a player's real golf experience and can contribute to lower scores."
  • Back9Network
    9 Best Free Golf Apps

    "The No. 1 golf game on the internet makes its way to mobile. You can only play closest-to-the-hole games, not full stroke play, but World Golf Tour allows you to play some of the world's most famous courses."
  • GameSauce

    "Mission accomplished. The result of WGT's efforts has been nothing short of spectacular. Today, over 6-million virtual golfers from 120+ countries..."
  • Links Magazine
    The Virtual Open

    "More than two million rounds have already been played in the 2013 Virtual U.S. Open, and you thought qualifying for the real U.S. Open was tough!"
  • Golf Channel
    Merion Golf Club Hole 18 Previews with Trip Isenhour (video)

    "Take a virtual tour of Merion Golf Club hole No. 18 with Tripp Isenhour."
  • CBS Philly
    Want To Watch the US Open But Can't Get To Merion? There's An App For That, Too.

    "And you can get on the fairway yourself with Tiger and Bubba and Rory — virtually, of course, with a high-def online video game version of's just like playing like the pros.”
  • GamerHub.TV
    World Golf Tour Allows Gamers To Compete At Merion For Real Prizes

    "The Virtual U.S. Open just keeps growing. Over the past five years, we've seen over ten million virtual rounds played in the Virtual U.S. Open, and have delivered over three billion impressions to USGA sponsors."
  • The Sun UK
    Play the US Open course with SunSport

    "Take to the tee today with ultra-realistic World Golf Tour simulator game"
    Play Merion video game online – for free!

    "If, like most of us at, you narrowly missed qualifying for this year's U.S. Open, here's your chance to take on Merion anyway."
  • Golf Channel
    Holly Sonders WGT Merion Hole 1 Preview (video)

    "Watch Holly Sonders take on a challenging shot at Merion hole 1."
  • VentureBeat GamesBeat
    WGT partners with NBC's Golf Channel for online golf game

    "The Golf Channel Virtual Tour will be promoted both online and on air, with Golf Channel's popular morning show, Morning Drive, taking the lead. Co‐hosts, including Gary Williams and Holly Sonders, will talk about their favorite WGT courses, favorite holes and may even compete against each other virtually."
  • Hollywood Reporter
    Golf Channel Goes Virtual With 'World Tour Golf' Video Game

    "The video game world and real golf continues to blend. Golf Channel, a division of NBC Sports, is giving its viewers a chance to play some of the best golf courses in the world for free through a new partnership with WGT, makers of the free-to-play online game World Golf Tour."
  • Broadway World
    Golf Channel Embraces Online Gaming Campaign with WGT Partnership

    "As the best-in-class among online golf gaming platforms, World Golf Tour offers our users unmatched service and experience. And to have the experience to compete against the team from Morning Drive is a unique opportunity only Golf Channel and the World Golf Tour can provide."
  • Golf Vacation Insider
    The One Golf Game That's Not Playing Around

    "That is, I've never found one that does a great job simulating real golf...until now. The developers of World Golf Tour have figured it out, and with more than six million players, they've quickly become the No. 1 online golf game in the world."
    Eight Golf Apps You Need Right Now
    Best App for Playing Kiawah Without Going to Kiawah: WGT Golf Lite

    "This escapist app lets you play a match against your buddies on a virtual layout that looks strikingly real."
  • Fortune
    How To Beat Tiger Woods

    "Although EA's Tiger Woods title still rules the console business, with 30 million copies and $1.2 billion in revenue to date, Cheng says WGT attracts 20 to 30 times as many players as EA's Tiger Woods online game."
  • Hooked on Golf Radio (audio)
    Interview #2 with Chad Nelson, WGT co-founder and president

    "We work directly with the USGA, and obviously Mike Davis has a great influence on how they want to setup the course and create that great sense of challenge...This is far more precision golf than what you see in some of the other championships and events."
  • GamerLive.TV
    Virtual US Open Offers PC Golfers Opportunity to Compete for Real Prizes at the Olympic Club

    "Tiger Woods isn't the only one playing golf this weekend. WGT and the United States Golf Association (USGA) saw a record two million rounds of golf played in the Virtual U.S. Open online golf championship."
  • Gamezebo
    WGT teams with USGA to recreate the Olympic Club's Lake Course

    "WGT is the team behind World Golf Tour, a highly popular browser-based golf game. The game tends to see an influx in users over the course of each US Open, as fans of the sport have taken to playing while they watch the event. Given my inability to multitask, I can't help but give them props here."
  • Luxury Daily
    Lexus Online US Open Campaign to See 100M Impressions

    "The video game is a fun way for Lexus to message to potential car buyers as the people who have an interest in the U.S. Open are affluent golfers..."
  • Hooked on Golf Radio (audio)
    Interview #1 with Chad Nelson, WGT co-founder and president

    "We have a motto that it's always sunny in World Golf Tour. Every course that we feature from Bethpage to this year's U.S. Open course at The Olympic Club..."
  • VentureBeat
    World Golf Tour, now simply WGT, launches Major League Baseball game on Facebook

    "The company got the MLB brand name thanks to the success of World Golf Tour...All told, they have played more than 200 million virtual rounds to date and have made World Golf Tour into the No. 1 online golf game."
    There's no crying in WGT Baseball: MLB on Facebook

    "WGT Baseball: MLB looks to be more about getting players directly behind the plate. With full MLB licensing and full 3D visuals, this sports game looks impressive."
    Forward Thinkers: Five innovators who are changing the world of golf
    THE GAMER, YuChiang Cheng

    "We've built relationships with the USGA and the R&A, and we have more than four million registered users. A good course will do 100,000 rounds a year. We just recorded our 100 millionth round."
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WGT Company Announcements

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WGT Patents

  • U.S. Patent No. 7,847,808 for Photographic Mapping in a Simulation
  • U.S. Patent No. 7,806,777 for Automatic Adaptation of Virtual Equipment Model
  • U.S. Patent No. 8,029,359 for Providing Offers to Computer Game Players

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