Rob Menegon is not exactly a mad fan of golf, and he doesn’t have a handicap. But he’s knows the game well and understands exactly what sort of statistics fans and journalists want out of the game.
Having run, with one other person, the scoring systems behind almost all of the major golf tournaments — the US majors, the European tour, in Australia and the $700,000 NZ Open that will just have wrapped at the Grange in Auckland — since 1996, Unisys’ Sydney-based technical director for golf finds out what sorts of numbers get golf groupies excited by listening to them. Though spending 11 years teaching maths and technology undoubtedly helps.
Journalists and commentators often wish for new views or unavailable comparisons, such as “I’d love to know how Tiger’s group is doing compared to Michael Campbell’s.” Other times, Menegon will spot statistical inadequacies or opportunities that might trigger a story angle for a reporter. For instance, he has added fields confirming that a score card has been verified, the tee times of groups and player rankings, which could be vital if the weather turns or an amateur pulls out a blinder.
If a change is a simple enough, Menegon will just build it into the system himself, using proprietary Unisys tools or from within the Microsoft environment. If a major architectural rework is needed, it will be done in the US (after which Menegon then has to change yards back to metres and similar).
Menegon, who came from teaching to Unisys by way of technical project work, admits to being something of a frustrated developer. He is likely to stay that way, as the applications and network are fairly simple. In New Zealand about 35 machines are wirelessly linked using the 2.4GHz band, though the data for television goes through a land line. The compact scoring database is effectively replicated in a thin-client manner to every machine, ensuring absolute redundancy. Data is collected for inputters by way of staff roaming the course with mobile phones.
You get the impression Menegon likes the game more than he lets on, or at least the buzz of big tournaments and the “good bunch of people” who run them. He doesn’t even particularly mind the constant travel. But, despite patiently and pleasantly fielding the constant phone calls and questions from organisers in the days running up to the NZ Open, Menegon claims to not enjoying running around too much. “Bored is good.”