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Ready Player Golf and the Future of Fundraising Through VR Sports

    Charity organizations can and do make money through things like mail-in campaigns. However, they often prefer to do – and have more success doing – fundraisers that add a little more value. Sports events like golf and tennis tournaments have been a favorite. But, in the absence of such events, can VR sports be the solution? Ready Player Golf makes us think so.

    Ready Player Golf

    Ready Player Golf is a charity golf tournament benefiting Doctors Without Borders. The first-of-its-kind event is being put together by Esports Fundraisers and the VR/AR Association.“It’s a huge honor to have [Doctors Without Borders] participate with us. It’s a first-of-its-kind event for them as well,” VR/ARA Washington D.C. chapter Vice President and event organizer, Sophia Moshasha, said in an interview. “This is something new for them that they’re very excited about as well.”

    The VR sports tournament, which is set to take place on September 25 and 26, has been in the works for over a month and was inspired by similar events that took place in the physical world prior to the coronavirus pandemic.

    “People, especially in the US, immediately know what the premise of a golf tournament is. It’s for fundraising, it’s for networking, but it’s fun and professional,” said Moshasha. “It just made sense to combine business and pleasure in this way, especially in this industry.”The event draws together XR animation software from Tvori, VR training and education platform ENGAGE, and VR sports experience Pro Putt by Topgolf.

    How It Works

    Registration for the event closed on September 8. Interested participants registered individually or in teams of up to four with a minimum donation of $100 per player. Individuals will be grouped with other independent registrants to create teams.

    With the use of Oculus, people are able to travel via virtual reality without actually having to pack, fly, and spend the money on a real trip.

    Players who aren’t familiar with the Pro Putt Oculus app have time before the beginning of the tournament to familiarize themselves with the gameplay. Then, they’ll have a chance to meet their teammates and receive a tee-off time. As would be expected of any golf tournament, golfers are to arrive and play within five minutes of this time.

    Players will then play a round of nine holes, estimated to take thirty to forty-five minutes.

    Following the play, there will be an awards ceremony held in a custom environment in ENGAGE. Trophies, including for Best Team Score and Tournament Champion (best individual score) will be awarded with “more surprises to be announced.”
    If you want to see how things work because you’re interested in future events, or if you just want to watch the tournament, it will be streaming on the Ready Player Golf website linked above and on their YouTube channel.

    What (and Who) to Expect

    Besides the games, the awards, and contributing funds to a good cause, what else can you expect? The name of the game is networking, so consider asking “who” you should expect.

    A complete list of registrants isn’t public. However, XR giants Charlie Fink and Cathy Hackl are among those who have said on social media that they will be participating. “Honestly, just the fact that we’re getting input from some of the top people in the industry is exciting,” said Moshasha.Further, Moshasha confirmed in our interview that legendary actor John Rhys-Davies will be a special guest. Rhys-Davies is best known for his roles as Gimli in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings, and as Sallah in the Indiana Jones films.

    Militaries are now using virtual reality to train soldiers in ways that will help better prepare them when they are actually deployed in combat.

    The Future of Fundraising Through VR Sports?

    Moshasha expects this event to raise around US$1,500. And that’s great. However, this event is also a proof-concept for similar VR sports charity events in the future.

    “This is the first event of many others like it that we have planned, and we would love for this to be a staple kickoff for these events,”said Moshasha. “This is really going to be used as a baseline and starting point going forward.”

    As a first-of-its-kind event, event organizers aren’t yet sure how much a VR sports event is worth as a fundraiser. What is the value of impressions made at such a venue? How much would companies be willing to pay to sponsor such an event? How much can they be expected to grow as they become more familiar?

    That’s not to say that future events will just be bigger versions of this one. While those future events will hopefully be bigger, Moshasha expressed interest in exploring other VR sports platforms within the Oculus ecosystem.

    So whether you missed this event, participate in it and enjoy yourself, or were curious but don’t care about golf, keep your eyes open for more VR sports fundraisers coming up.

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