While at the AT&T National, I was able to grab 10 minutes with Cleveland Golf’s PGA Tour Manager, Rob Waters. Rob was incredibly gracious with his time and was a wealth of information for things on and off the course. Here is my interview with Rob.
THP– I’m here with Rob Waters in the player’s locker room here at the AT&T National. Rob, how does one become Cleveland Golf Tour Van staff member?’
Rob Waters– Well, long story short I’ve been in the golf business for a long time. I was a club pro for years and worked on the clubs primarily on the LPGA Tour and became friends with one of the reps out here and an opportunity came up to work with one of the golf ball manufacturers. About 12 years ago I started with them, stayed with them for about 3 years until I came here to Cleveland where I’ve been for the past 11 years.
THP– That’s a fantastic and unique story to say the least.
Rob– It’s fun and comes from having a passion for this game and working with the best players in the world. I tried to play professionally at one point in my life and realized that was not going to be the direction and the next best thing was going to be working with the best players in the world and helping them with their equipment so they can win tournaments.
THP– How many Tour Vans does Cleveland have?
Rob– We have got 2. One that travels the PGA Tour full time, wait actually we have 3. One travels Europe full time and we have one that travels the Nationwide full time. We also have our trailer from 10 years ago that was on the PGA Tour now sitting at Cartersville Country Club in Cartersville, GA which is where we have a test center. So when players come in we can use things like Trackman where we’re able to do the same thing as we can do on the road. It helps guys out that can get to Atlanta easily and is a good spot for us.
THP– How often do players stop by the Tour Van?
Rob– Usually we’ll see everybody. I mean anybody in the field we’ll see at least once during the week. One thing we like to do with our players is to check lies and lofts on a weekly basis just to make sure that they’re dialed into their specs, basically for peace of mind if nothing else. You know as many balls as these guys hit, equipment moves. It it’s not just ours, it’s everyone’s. We just try to make sure that they’re 100% ready to go come Thursday morning.
THP– Now how do you handle players using non-traditional equipment that isn’t available commercially yet?
Rob– Every iron that we have out here can be bought through production. The difference is, yeah there’s guys who are over linked, there’s guys that are standard and there’s guys that are short. But the same thing holds true for the factory stuff too. We just need to be sure that whatever equipment our guys are playing, they are at that player’s specific specs including head weight, lie, loft, shaft flex, shaft length, and proper grip size.
THP– What do you guys do for fun when you have some down time or have time to relax?
Rob– There’s really, well I look at it this way, there really shouldn’t be any down time. We want to take care of our staffers onsite and we have guys outside our staff using our wedges, hybrids, fairway woods and such so I’m always looking for new avenues to try and get wedges in players hands, get hybrids in players hands, or work with driver shafts from another company. The only down time we really get is if it’s raining and the funny thing with that is then we have like 10 staffers in the trailer all looking in the drawers, touching everything, etc
THP– Do you guys take player feedback, good or bad, and relay that back to R&D in the home office?
Rob– ABSOLUTELY! We do that a lot. For instance, we introduced a new shaft this week and about every 30 minutes I’m shooting an email off to the shaft R&D guys and communicating what the players are feeling. You know, guys like certain look. I take notes every week and by the end of the month I’ll start looking at the notes and it’s like ‘hey I’d like to see a higher point on the toe’ or ‘our toes have gotten too rounded off’ or something. Well after 10 people telling you that you see a trend so I relay that info into the office. You know I just came back from the home office before arriving here this week looking at some possible future irons coming out and all of a sudden the toe, for example, isn’t something that the players were looking for. So that will need to be redesigned. We work very close with R&D and when you work with the best players in the world you want their feedback. A lot of the guys who work with the irons specifically want to know what the players are looking for as soon as possible. But the same holds true for drivers, etc. Especially when it comes to future designs.
THP– How quickly does that data translate to production then?
Rob– You know, we’re not a company that introduces a ton of products each year like say a Dell does with computers or Taylormade does with drivers
THP– Rob thank you so much for your time I really appreciate it.
Rob– Of course, any time.