TaylorMade Tour Truck: golf's 'pit men'

Find out what TaylorMade fitters do and how they how they equip their staffers for battle

Charlie Lemay's picture
Wed, 20 May 2015
TaylorMade Tour Truck: golf's 'pit men'

If you've ever ventured to the driving range during a professional golf event, you will have noticed the gargantuan Tour Trucks stationed alongside.

The major brands will all be there, their colours splashed across every visible surface. Look closely, and you will see players sneak into these mystical vehicles from time to time. 

But what goes on inside? How many people work in there? And what do they do?

We made our way onto the TaylorMade Tour Truck during the 2015 BMW PGA Championship to speak to TaylorMade European Tour representative  Adrian Rietveld.

What's the Tour Truck for?

The main point in our Truck is to provide a service to the player on a tournament-week basis so a player can have any alteration or performance setting service at any time. There’s no blueprint for what we do out here because every player is their own individual.

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The whole idea is to change as little as possible to get the most performance benefit. The game is an art as much as it is a science. Everybody has their own unique footprint for what they want to see and our joy is to make sure what everything is performing optimally.

Do golfers come and see you when they're playing well?

You’ll have different players in different stages of how they’re playing – some could be struggling and looking for a little but of help, some could be playing really well and trying to maximise that. 

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TaylorMade are based on innovation, we have a very techy product and we want to get it in the players’ hands and get them testing and giving feedback. We, as the Tour representatives, will start feeding that through the chain into our R&D department to ultimately improve our equipment. 

How many of you are there?

Most of the time we will have a team of about three representatives working on the range with the players and two or three technicians - highly-skilled club fitters who build clubs to within a tenth of a degree of accuracy. It’s very fine margins.

How do you accommodate the players?

On any given week we’ll have the best part of 30-35 staff players in the field. Players will be doing practice rounds at different times, going through their own routines, so their time with us will also vary.

If a player is making big changes he would notify us beforehand and we pre-build the equipment he needs so when he gets there we are ready to roll.

Justin Rose: what's in the bag

The key thing for a player making changes – yes, you can fit him on the driving range and get the Trackman out – but then he has to take it onto the golf course, so often we’ll go out on the course with him and take notes from there and we're making small tweaks. By the time Thursday comes around, players are ready to go.

What does your schedule look like?

Ideally, our truck is on site, set-up and ready on the Sunday or first thing Monday. If we’re flying in, we’re always trying to be ready for business midday Monday. From about midday on Monday till five o’clock on Wednesday we’re flat out. 

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We leave on a Wednesday evening or the Thursday morning and we’ll be moving onto the next venue. (The Truck travels around Europe, but when venturing further afield, it stays put while the equipment is sent out).

A lot of people have this perception that as a Tour representative we work Monday to Thursday but we’re flying back maybe by midnight Wednesday and then we’re preparing for the next week stocking up the truck with any orders we’ve taken from players that week.

Who calls the shots - you or the player?

You’ve got to take it on a case-by-case basis. You can chase your tail a little bit if you’re not smart enough or not experienced enough at what you do. There has to be a reason for it.

If a player asks to change something I won’t just go and change it, there’s questioning behind it and you come to your conclusion together. You always ask why and they’ll give you reasons A, B and C. His experience and knowledge on equipment might mean he only knows option A or B to try and fix the problem, but I might have 10 options. 

Are big changes dangerous?

The standard is so high a player cannot take one step back to take two steps forward - unless he’s a Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia, Martin Kaymer. Small gains are what we’re about.

We call it the 1% rule. These guys would give an arm for 1mph more ball speed on their driver.

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Formula One is a good analogy - we’re the pit crew for the number one performance brand in the world. Our job is to dial that equipment and player in. We want the player to win and our return on the investment is the exposure we get from Rose lifting the US Open. 

Is there a queue outside the door when new equipment is released?

When we bring out new product most players would want to test it all at different times and at their own convenience. If a player sees another player with a new product, he won’t turn a blind eye to that, he’ll ask questions. He wants to know how it fits his game and one way he’ll do that is ask the player or he’ll turn around and look for a specialist.