ORLANDO, Fla., Jan. 18, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Through a new partnership with the WGT announced today, Golf Channel is taking steps to further embrace the online gaming community and provide its audience with another way to play golf at some of the most famous golf courses in the world through a virtual experience like no other. (Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20130118/FL44988 ) Beginning today, visitors to GolfChannel.com/virtualgolf will be able to play free online golf and be invited to compete in the Golf Channel Virtual Tour, which – as part of World Golf Tour – offers members opportunities to play famous golf courses online for free, challenge their friends, improve their play with access to virtual golf equipment, and win prizes by entering exclusive tournaments and sweepstakes. "The growth of online gaming has been impressive, and this partnership gives Golf Channel not only a new way to interact with a growing community of passionate golfers, but also offers another way for our viewers to enjoy the game in a relevant and authentic way," said Mike McCarley, President of Golf Channel. "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." 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. World Golf Tour also will offer virtual avatars of Morning Drive's hosts, providing another way for Golf Channel commentators to interact with their fans. The first avatar of Holly Sonders already is available as part of the free signup. Currently, World Golf Tour can be played online with a web browser or via a mobile app available for iPhone or iPad. "We are thrilled to bring World Golf Tour to the Golf Channel family," commented YuChiang Cheng, co-founder and chief executive officer, WGT. "Both companies have large audiences of golfers, so there's a natural fit for customers and great cross-marketing opportunities."