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Posted: November 9, 2007
The Titleist Tour Trailer travels over 40,000 miles per year to provide the highest caliber of equipment and onsite customer service for Titleist Staff players at every PGA Tour event. Players visit the trailer Monday morning through Wednesday afternoon for a variety of reasons - from building a driver or new set of irons to tweaking loft and lie to regripping clubs or just stopping by to enjoy a cold drink and relax with friends - the door's always open. In addition to the trailer designated for PGA Tour events, there are seven other Titleist trailers and vans of varying sizes supporting the professional tour's around the world, and helping serious players everywhere compete at the highest level of the game. We collected many of your questions about these mobile workshops and posed them to Dave Southworth, who gave us the inside scoop on the Titleist Tour Trailer.
Dave is the Senior Tour Technician, working 42 of the 46 PGA Tour events in 2007. Before he was involved in the golf business, Dave was driving trucks and operating heavy machinery for a construction company and also serving as a volunteer firefighter. Both jobs required him to have a Commercial Drivers License (CDL) which he also needs to drive the Tour Van. While working construction, Dave also opened a part-time golf club repair business in northern New Hampshire and eventually took his skill on the road as an independent equipment repair shop on the PGA Tour. It wasn't long before Dave joined Titleist Tour Staff and became one of the original drivers of the Tour Trailer.
Dave has relinquished the bulk of his driving duties in recent years to fellow Technician Brett Fleming, but still gets behind the wheel about once a month to give Brett a break or to keep him company on long trips. This year, the duo traveled from the U.S. Open at Oakmont, PA to the PGA Professional National Championship in Sunriver, OR. Dave also handles most of the maintenance on the truck. Based out of Carlsbad, CA, Dave will fly to most events on Sunday, work on players' equipment in the truck from Monday through Wednesday and then return to the office on Thursday to oversee the log books for all the Titleist Tour Trailer drivers. He is also responsible for ensuring that the trailer is properly equipped with the necessary equipment and components for the next stop.
There are a lot of rules and regulations necessary to keep the truck and the drivers safe and to ensure they arrive and depart each tournament without incident. With 10-13 trailers from various equipment manufacturers at each event, there are always limitations where and how they park due to size, weight and terrain. Very few tournament sites have a large enough area for all of them so it's always an adventure to squeeze everyone together. However, most of the staff working on the trucks have been doing so for years and know each other, and the process, quite well. Some sites are easier than others, like Phoenix (FBR Open), which closes off a street and provides plenty of space for the trucks to park. There are also regulations on the amount of driving one person can do in a period of time. For example, Dave and Brett can drive 11 hours within a 14 hour time frame and must have a minimum of 10 hours off before they can drive again. As a truck driver you also have to know what roads, bridges and underpasses you can and cannot access. Fortunately a trucker's road atlas provides that information.
We posed several questions to Dave that came directly from Titleist Tour Blog inquiries ...
What are some of the best Tour stops?
"It's difficult to find any bad events since we're always following the good weather, but a lot of our favorite stops revolve around where we have made the best friends during our travels. It's always exciting to attend the majors and some of my other personal favorites are Scottsdale (FBR Open), Cancun (Mayakoba Golf Classic), New Orleans (Zurich Classic of New Orleans) and Boston (Deutsche Bank Championship)."
What Tour stops are historically the busiest and least busiest for you in the trailer?
"The West Coast Swing is usually always busy as it is the beginning of the season. Also any time we introduce new products it's busy for at least the first 4 or 5 months as the players work into it.
The least busiest are usually the majors since most players don't want to be making changes that week. They've already made adjustments over the previous few weeks and months and are now dialed in ready to go."
What are some of the unexpected challenges the guys on the Tour Trailer face?
"The most recent challenge we faced happened in New Orleans this year to Brett. We were done on Wednesday and the trailer was closed up ready to be hooked to the cab. The cab was parked a couple of miles away so we lowered the trailer off its leveling jacks onto its two landing gear legs that support it while the truck backs under it. I left for the airport while Brett went for the truck. Brett called me a short time later to tell me the two landing gear legs had sunk into the ground and the trailer nose was touching the ground! It took many hours and two huge fork lifts to get the trailer nose off the ground high enough for the truck to back under it. Situations like this remind us that there are no 'typical' days for a tour van driver. You just have to have a little 'MacGyver' in you."
In addition to Dave and Brett, you've no doubt seen some of the other permanent or part-time residents of the Tour Trailer and contributors to the Titleist Tour Blog, including Steve Mata, Rick Nelson, Bob Vokey, Aaron Dill, Mike Rutledge, Scotty Cameron, Jim Curran and Larry Watson among others. Keep the questions coming and we will try our best to follow up with periodic features going forward.
Thanks for your interest in Titleist!