By John Kim, PGA.com Coordinating Producer
HERSHEY, Pa. -- David Uyehara didn’t feel like his driver was quite right. The PGA Professional who caddies at the Wynn Golf Club in Las Vegas, Nev., felt like he wasn’t getting the roll-out from his drives that he really wanted. He was hitting it fine, but the result was not where it needed to be in order to play at his best in his most important tournament of the year -- the PGA Professional National Championship.
So he walked off the range at Hershey Country Club and into the large Titleist truck parked less than 10 yards behind where he was hitting his shots.
“They did a pretty thorough driver fitting for me,” Uyehara explained. “We found that the spin rate off my driver was way off. They fitted me for a new shaft, and now the ball flies and rolls like I need it to. It was that easy. It’s great.”
As participants compete in the 2011 PGA Professional National Championship, they are demanding the best out of their own play -- and from their equipment. Four presenting sponsors, the major players in golf equipment, are also here to lend their support. The practice range boasted an impressive convoy of golf-branded trucks proudly displaying Callaway, Nike, Titleist and TaylorMade.
Dominic Curran, the PGA Head Professional at Silver City Golf Course in Silver City, N.M., walked out of the TaylorMade truck with his refit clubs and a renewed confidence for the week.
“There was nothing wrong,” Curran stated, “but where I normally play -- it’s at a pretty high elevation. So the trajectory and contact was fine, but here, I need a little less spin. So we refit my hybrid, 3-wood and driver. They were great, it’s a big help.”
“This is their national championship and we’re privileged to be a part of it,” said Greg Cesario, Player Promotion Manager at TaylorMade Golf. “We have over 120 staff players here and each of them are expecting top quality tour-level service and that’s why we’re here -- to give them the support, service and any other help we can. This is a great event here at a great golf course, and we are excited to play a part of it.”
Mike Francis, General Manager of U.S. Nike Golf, spent time talking to many of the Nike staff players competing to hear their feedback and offer encouragement for the week.
“This is Nike Golf’s first year as one of the presenting sponsors at the PGA Professional National Championship and we’re really proud to be a part of it,” explained Francis. “To be able to support the PGA members, the Nike Swoosh and Swoosh Elite members playing in this event -- it’s fabulous for us and we’re really looking forward to a great week.”
Nike Golf staff professional Jeff Coston, a PGA Teaching Professional at Semiahmoo Golf Resort in Blaine, Wash., effused about the support he received in the Nike truck. “It could not have been better, the technology present, the level of service and help,” he said. “It reminded me of my days on Tour.”
Callaway golfer Rob Gibbons, PGA Head Professional at Arrowhead Golf Club in Molalla, Ore., echoed the same sentiment about his time in the Callaway truck.
“They have an entire fitting system, everything you could hope to have, all in that truck,” Gibbons explained. “We put a new grind on my lob wedge and you can immediately feel the difference. It’s a great peace of mind to know your equipment is ready for the week.”
All of the players are hoping for a great week as well. Not only are they competing for a $550,000 purse (with $75,000 going to the winner) but the top 20 finishers also earn a spot into the 93rd PGA Championship at Atlanta Athletic Club in August.
Shawn Koch, the PGA Director of Instruction at The Country Club of the South in Alpharetta, Ga., also went through a driver fitting with Titleist, and had a new club in his bag within 90 minutes.
“I’m hitting it really well,” Koch said of his new driver. “It took about 30 minutes to do the fitting and make sure all the specifications were correct, not only to my standards, but also to theirs (Titleist). These are our tools for our work, the one thing we can’t have at this event, our major championship, is any worry or doubt about our equipment. Having these companies here takes away that concern, that guesswork.”
This is exactly the way it should work according to Peter Broome, Vice President of Business Partnerships for Acushnet.
“At Titleist and Footjoy, we are very committed to the club professional and as a natural extension of that, we believe that supporting their national championship and their efforts to play their best in this event is a natural fit for our partnership,” he said.
After Koch tested his new driver, his enthusiasm for the efforts from the Titleist crew was more than evident.
“I’m going to have my wedges checked next,” he smiled.