UN­DER­COVER TOUR PRO

Toys in the Truck

Golf Digest (South Africa) - - Contents - With Max Adler

Toys in the truck.

I’m old enough to be a fa­ther to most of the play­ers out here. In a way, that’s the role I often as­sume. Fix­ing their old toys, build­ing them new ones, pump­ing up their con­fi­dence and then shuf­fling them out the door to go play against the other boys.

I live not with any of their moth­ers, but with whom I call “my 15-ton date.” It’s the 18-wheeler I drive across the coun­try to nearly ev­ery PGA Tour event. In the back is my shop, stocked with ev­ery club and com­po­nent of my com­pany’s line.The truck is my re­spon­si­bil­ity, and she’s with me ev­ery­where I go. Meet you for a beer down­town or catch a quick movie? Sorry, but we’ll need to talk park­ing.

In gen­eral, tour play­ers are a fan­tas­tic group of peo­ple .Their con­tracts don’t pre­vent them from ex­per­i­ment­ing with ev­ery brand, so I see them all.As with any as­sort­ment of 200 hu­mans, inevitably there will be a hand­ful who are a pain to deal with. A big part of my job is to pro­tect them from them­selves.

When it comes to equip­ment, it’s stag­ger­ing how mis­in­formed some play­ers are. I once had a top player tell me he needed to hit his 3-wood 15 yards longer, but he ab­so­lutely didn’t want to de­crease the loft or lengthen the shaft .When I told him that was im­pos­si­ble, he chal­lenged me and got all pissy. Another player once asked me to make a club an inch longer, but to keep the swing-weight the same. Hello? The only way to do that is to start from scratch. I ap­pre­ci­ate the play­ers who recog­nise that in the truck, we’re the ex­perts. Ja­son Day and Paul Casey, just to name a cou­ple of the good guys, to­tally get that.

There aren’t many, but some play­ers like work­ing on their clubs. I un­der­stand the de­sire to be hands-on and re­spect the need to know in­ti­mately the tools of one’s trade. But it’s a li­a­bil­ity is­sue. With chang­ing grips, my rule is, I cut them off, and you can slide the new ones on. It takes a fair amount of phys­i­cal force to slice rub­ber and cord, and the last thing I want to read is a news item that so-and-so has with­drawn from the US Open be­cause he lopped off his fin­ger in my truck.

Ser­gio Gar­cia, for in­stance, is a guy who loves shap­ing the soles of his wedges. Now, a grind­ing wheel isn’t an es­pe­cially dan­ger­ous ma­chine, but ac­ci­dents do hap­pen. Just look at the scarred hands of any tour tech­ni­cian. So I do my best to su­per­vise. The most im­por­tant thing a player can walk out my truck with is con­fi­dence, and if ap­ply­ing the fin­ish­ing touch him­self achieves that, so be it.

Some play­ers are plain nutty .Years ago, we had a dude who in­sisted on this te­dious sys­tem for build­ing the shafts of his irons. I had to cut the shafts at pre­cise spots and then fit them into the steps of other shafts. It took al­most 20 shafts to build a set of eight irons. He claimed it af­fected the bal­ance point dif­fer­ently on each one. A real nice guy, but his only engi­neer­ing de­gree was from hang­ing out on a PGA­Tour range – with most of the cred­its trans­ferred from the Web.com.

I love the rook­ies who act sheep­ish.“Ex­cuse me, sir, but if it’s not too much trou­ble, do you think you could check my lofts and lies some­time to­day? ”Yeah, kid. That’s why I’m out here and get a pay cheque.

Of course, there’s the flip side, too. Some play­ers take one step into my truck and turn into Al Cz­ervik. A lot of the time they’re just im­me­di­ately giv­ing the clubs we build to their friends and fam­ily, or maybe their cad­die. And we al­ways know. Ev­ery pro is ex­tremely par­tic­u­lar with his specs, and so when a guy places a loose or­der like, “I want to try that head with that shaft but just throw what­ever grip on it,” I know right away he’s ly­ing. But it’s cool.As long as it’s not an un­re­leased pro­to­type, it’s worth look­ing the other way to main­tain the re­la­tion­ship. And hey, it’s hard to say no to your kids. – with max adler

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