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Callaway Tour Van Experience

Updated: May 22

Firstly, I'd like to thank Adam Legg and Auchterlonies for giving me one of their tour van experience spots, it was much appreciated. Callaway has a long association with St Andrews and their fitting centre is based here at the golf academy. The DP World Tour van has been on a "retailer roadshow" around the UK and had a two-day stop in St Andrews. The Link Trust ran an online ballot for spaces on the first day and Auchterlonies had the second day.

My visit to the Van also included a free fitting session to try the new Callaway releases for the 2024 season, but I'll cover that part in a separate post.

The Tour Van

If you've not realised already, I'm a total golf geek! I was therefore very excited to have the opportunity to look around the tour van. It was a privilege to see part of the support structure for the modern touring professional. While Brian Mason, the Scottish Callaway rep, was an excellent host, it would have been beyond brilliant if Callaway had sent a tour van staff member along too as they would have been better placed to answer some of the more obscure questions that were asked and also give a bit more "inside" chat about life on the road/in the van. "Who is the most demanding professional", "Who breaks the most clubs", "Does anyone tinker with their clubs more than Keith Muir" etc.

When planning our move to St Andrews, I briefly considered setting up a club repair business of my own. I find the whole club fitting and building process I was genuinely like a kid in a toy shop; totally in awe of the club-building equipment on display. So I was genuinely like a kid in a toy shop when I got into the van. I was totally in awe of the club-building equipment on display and the treats kept coming as Brian opened the drawers and cupboard. The array of club components they keep on hand and the "tour only" specials (who fancies a Max Triple Diamond driver) made it like an Aladdin's Cave.

The van also had a large stock of Odyssey putters, particularly the Jailbird model as it has been a massive success over the last couple of seasons. There are many non-Callaway professionals using Odyssey putters too (Wyndham Clark, Rickie Fowler) and the tour van is a great way for Callaway to showcase other products to those players too. Often they will make up irons or drivers for non-contract players to try on the range in the hope they can convince them to switch. I'd never thought of the van as a marketing tool for non-contract players before.

The van is set up to do any club work the players may require. Out of curiosity, I asked if any players ask to have their shafts SST Pured (sorry, getting geeky here) and they said that most don't. Given that players want to get every ounce of performance out of their kit that they can, I thought that was an interesting comment. I'd be interested to hear from a tour fitter if this is because the components they use are manufactured to higher tolerances or if the players simply don't see any benefit. The truck also keeps special items for certain players. Despite now being on the LIV Tour, the shaft drawer you see here contains a section at the back with shafts just for Henrik Stenson and John Rahm. Their favoured shafts are no longer manufactured, so the van keeps some in stock just for them.

Every drawer, cupboard or cubby hole was full of kit and the flow of the space had been carefully thought out. The wedge drawer had several clubs with players' names stuck on them, generally with special grinds requested by those players. The rack that looks like shoe boxes contains hats, gloves and balls for contracted players, ready for their caddies to collect at the start of a tournament week. There's a "chill out/office space" at the front of the unit but it was full of the new tour bags and putters, waiting to get delivered to players at the next tournament. It's not a big space but I'd imagine it could be a welcome escape.

The truck is close to the end of its working life and will be replaced by an even more high-tech new unit later this year. If you think of the big American motor homes that expand from the sides when parked, you'll get an idea of what's coming. It sounds like the working environment for the fitters/builders will be much better, as will the space for players. Right now, it's a pretty small space and I'd imagine it can get a bit claustrophobic during tournament week.

While this was undoubtedly a great visit, I'd have loved to have met a proper staff member and heard about life working on the truck. I'm also slightly surprised that Callaway didn't promote this more prominently than they did. The Links Trust sent an email to Links Ticket holders and Auchterlonies posted on their social media feeds, but there seemed to be little direct from Callaway.

The visit was topped off with a generous goody bag including a hat, six new Chromesoft balls and a ball marker. Thanks again to Adam Legg and Auchterlonies for having me along. Part 2 of the review - the fitting experience - will follow soon.

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