Change the rules: from antiquated exam to groundbreaking experience with AI
You are in the middle of nature, surrounded by luscious greenery. The sun warms your skin, and you feel a tingle of excitement for the game. Golf, a sport that is both enchanting and challenging. A touch addictive even. For everyone, no matter what age or gender you are. But what about the boring, old-fashioned exam you need to pass to demonstrate that you know the rules, and can be safe and responsible on the course? That doesn't fit in this picture at all. Time for a fresh, digital wind of change, according to NGF and iO. How? With the Golf.nl app and AI.
Digitisation and modernisation of the golf rules exam
Strategy, design, and technology
Library of 270 illustrations, created with AI
Photos, videos, and animations
Curiosity. Challenge. Play. But first, those rules...
NGF and iO have been partners in crime since 2016 with the Golf.nl app, the ultimate buddy for every golfer. Everything you need, all in one place: scorecards, tee time bookings, tracking your golf performance, sharing with friends, and your digital NGF pass.
If you're a newbie, you have to take a written golf rules exam. But times have changed. You want to do this exam on your own schedule. Those old-school images of guys in collared shirts and slacks don't match the modern golf scene, which is all about inclusivity, as shown in NGF's "Welcome to the club" campaign. Golf isn't just for rich, old men in red pants anymore.
NGF thinks the exam needs a makeover – trendier, easier, and more accessible, for both golf clubs and newbies. That's where the Golf.nl app comes in. You can answer questions at your own pace on your mobile, whenever and wherever it suits you. Plus, it saves golf clubs time and money. It's a win-win.
Digitising an antiquated golf rules exam with outdated visuals.
Golf rules exam in the Golf.nl app with 270+ modern, inclusive visuals, created with AI
The Royal Dutch Golf Federation (NGF) has been the voice of amateur golfers in the Netherlands since 1913. They are committed to making the sport more attractive and accessible to both novice and advanced players. More play experience and everything you need to get better are the credo.
Experimenting with AI
Working with the NGF, we let our imagination run wild during the brainstorming sessions on the new look & feel. We already had some ideas of what we wanted it to be. Mini characters, imaginative 3D landscapes, depth of field effects... And specifically, many more women and golfers of different ages and cultures.
Sticking point: how can we keep to the budget? With AI?
After some trial and error, using AI turned out to be quite a challenge. In early November 2022, we initially thought we'd go live by the end of December, but we couldn't keep that promise.
Sometimes, the tools take a bit more creative freedom than we'd like. And back then, keeping the visuals consistent was quite the task.
Consistency is crucial here. To explain golf rules and situations accurately, the green needs to look exactly right, with bunkers here and water hazards there. It's hands-on work, and there's no avoiding it. We're in discussions with the NGF, and we're shifting the schedule accordingly.
10,000 prompts later: progress
After a lot of searching, we found the perfect prompt. We used it to build – with some manual work – a library of basic landscapes, shrubs, 3D renders of stationary and animated mini golfers, clubs, balls, and golf tees in a range of different perspectives.
The result: we created a complete library of modern, attractive illustrations for a budget that would have been unimaginable without AI. Now it forms the basis of the digital golf rules exam that you can take at any time thanks to the Golf.nl app.
"When I look at the result, I think it adds serious value to the app. And I am pleased that the exam is managed by a party with contemporary technology and further development opportunities."
Erik Vrieling, IT Manager Royal Dutch Golf Federation
The exam: before and after the Golf.nl app
Before the launch in April 2023:
270 multiple choice questions. An algorithm, which NGF and iO have developed together, randomly chooses 30 questions to appear in the exam. To take the exam in a small class, you need to make an appointment at your golf club. You have to get 23 of the 30 questions right to pass. After that, your club will register your results and you will receive a written certification.
After the launch:
Nothing stands in the way of you passing the exam. You download the Golf.nl app and log in with your Golf Service Number, at a time that suits you. You answer 30 questions about golf rules and etiquette in the app. You can pause if it gets too much for you — for example, to look up something about the complicated Stableford scoring method.
And.... You passed. You can also see that directly in the app. Your club will receive proof of this by email. When that is registered you will receive confirmation by email. After that, you can safely get out on the course secure in the knowledge that you won’t be endangering other people with balls that can travel through the air at speeds of up to 150 km per hour. Equipped with knowledge of all the rules so that you can play fairly with golfers of different skill levels.
The technical story
1. The digitisation of the rules of golf exam
Through the low-code platform OutSystems – which we used to build the database of the NGF – we make links to the clubs. We feed the 270 questions and images from Sitecore. Of course, there is much more going on, but then it will become a very technical story.
2. Dusting off the illustrations
It's all in the mix, as it turns out. By combining AI tools with the more traditional platforms, we ensure that you find yourself in a miniature world on the course:
Adobe After Effects
We built the mini figures in AI, so that we can reuse them every time, and we used AI to adjust the camera position for each image.
The next hole
How can we be certain that newcomers to the sport do not feel any barrier to downloading the Golf.nl app and immersing themselves in the sport? Preferably without logging in first? And how can we personally coach you in your journey to becoming an advanced player? What training do you need in this?
These are the questions that we are currently addressing with the NGF. Because the evolution of the player's journey is far from over. Because it can always be more fun, better, easier, more efficient, more inventive, more distinctive... can’t it?
We are working with NGF on a multi-year plan, during which we will assess the functionalities with a test panel. In addition, the NGF is talking to some of our other clients to exchange experiences and learn from their vision and approach. The clients where such an app is also a 'lifeline', as the NGF calls it.
"When I look at where we are now, how much faster we are building and how we are leading the way in our industry, I think that working with iO is the best choice we have ever made. In the meantime, the core team has built up such knowledge of our platform that half a word is enough. And what I really like is that the whole team has started playing golf."
Erik Vrieling, IT Manager Royal Dutch Golf Federation
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