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Liberty Foundation to host virtual reality edition of its 23rd golf tourney

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Liberty Foundation will apply a different approach to host its annual golf tournament this year, nonprofit officials said.

The 23rd Liberty Foundation Golf Invitational — A New Reality Tournament will take place as a virtual reality game on Dec. 4, at a virtual golf course created exclusively for the tournament.

“This tournament is significant since it is the first time that a golf tournament will be held in virtual form in Puerto Rico or across the Caribbean. Because of the pandemic and the Governor’s executive order, we could not hold the regular tournament as we normally get many participants who travel to Puerto Rico just for the event,” said Naji Khoury CEO of Liberty Puerto Rico and the Liberty Foundation’s president.

“Nonetheless, our intent on holding an event in some shape or form will become a reality in order to raise funds for our beneficiaries and keep our commitment to the organizations that we support at the foundation, especially this year,” he said.

“Thanks to this innovative technology, we are able to celebrate our key fundraising activity in an alternate way, while we continue making a positive impact in our society,” Khoury added.

For the special edition of the golf tourney, Liberty hired Puerto Rican virtual production startup VeoVeo — a studio that specializes in virtual reality and augmented reality development, experiential games and marketing, and product design — to design and develop the game.

Participants will be able to play a 9-hole golf invitational game with an Oculus Quest 2 virtual reality headset and controls that players will receive via mail once registered. Developed by Facebook Technologies and released just last month, the Oculus Quest 2 is the latest generation in virtual reality technology.

“Once you put your headset on, you are right in that golf course, which looks and feels incredibly real,” Liberty Foundation Executive Director Yadira Valdivia said. “The game is also the closest you can get to an actual golf experience.”

“All the details of the course and the holes have been painstakingly recreated to provide players with a genuine experience that we know they are going to enjoy tremendously,” she said.

Inside the game, the players will see themselves as avatars and enter a virtual lobby where all participating sponsors will be present. All teams will hold brief meetings through Microsoft Teams before and after the game. The players will then gather in foursomes and will be able to interact among themselves during the game. Each one of the nine holes is designed as an island and, as they play, the participants will be teleported to each hole.

“We have many players participating this year who could not make the trip to Puerto Rico in previous years because they could not get away from work. This time we have players from Europe and Latin America who will be participating for the first time thanks to this technological format,” Valdivia said. “The response from businesses, friends and collaborators has been extraordinary. They are really looking forward to this event.”

Last year, the 22nd Liberty Foundation Golf Invitational raised $650,000, which allowed it foundation to award a donation of $422,000 to 18 nonprofit organizations on the island. The remaining funds are used to continue the Foundation’s philanthropic program throughout the entire year, the nonprofit’s officials said.

The tournament has been raising funds for community organizations in Puerto Rico since 1996, when it garnered $19,000 for the Hogar San José in Luquillo.

Since then, the event has raised more than $2.8 million for more than 20 nonprofit organizations throughout the island, including last year’s donation.

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This story was written by our staff based on a press release.

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