One question that’s always on the minds of our marketing team and frequently comes up during creative meetings is what’s a fun and unique way we can produce content related to the TOUR. Now you have to realize something; as a brand, we don’t have the same access and rights as traditional media. So it’s not so simple to come up with a cool concept that we can actually execute.
Fortunately we have some bright minds within the Zoo Crew (as many refer to the marketing team) and when Ethan Ganot (Marketing Manager) brought up the idea of doing a Callaway Tour Truck ride-a-long from Callaway HQ to the CareerBuilder Challenge in Palm Springs, Calif., we jumped on it.
Like a thoughtful editor or production team, the guys that work on our truck every week rarely get the credit they deserve. They’re a critical part to our company’s success and play roles that are seldom told in the media (aside from this awesome behind-the-scenes video we co-produced with VICE Sports).
PGA TOUR Rep Kevin Napier drives the Callaway truck to 38 events each season but his job begins well before he hops into the massive 18-wheeler. I met Kevin at 6:45 a.m. Sunday morning (Jan. 15) at Callaway HQ in Carlsbad, Calif., where he was already hard at work making sure everything our PGA TOUR staffers could possibly need for the week was on board. That includes (but is not limited to):
– 250 iron heads
– 125 driver heads
– 150 fairway wood heads
– 400 wedge heads
– 35 putter heads
– 500+ grips
– 400+ shafts
– Player hats & golf balls
– 72 K-Cups of coffee (minimum)
Fun fact 1: Jim Furyk’s hat stash is always the lowest because he prefers to bring his own to each event.
Fun fact 2: Danny Lee and Marc Leishman have the same size head.
One of the first things I notice when pulling up to the truck is how awesome it looks from the outside. For 2017, the truck got a total makeover (check the timelapse vid below) and Kevin says it’s the best looking wrap yet. It took three full days, but the finished product was well worth it with vibrant colors to promote GBB Epic on one side, Chrome Soft & Chrome Soft X golf balls on the other, anchored with the new Odyssey O-Works Microhinge technology on the back.
At around 7:15 a.m. we hit the road and immediately the stories started coming out. Napier, who’s been driving the truck for just over a year, says he’ll cover over 35,000 miles this season, many of which do not go smoothly. For instance, last year he blew three tires on the cross country trek from the West Coast swing to Florida. As we journey up a narrow, windy hill en route to Palm Springs, he reflects on the time the truck overheated and he had to pull over half a dozen times just to manage the incline, which added a few unwanted hours to the trip.
Fun Fact 3: If your car ever overheats, Napier suggests putting the heat on full blast to help pull heat away from the engine (I’m pretty sure I can be now be a mechanic).
Fun Fact 4: All stocked with equipment, fuel and coffee, the Callaway Tour Truck weighs in at 71,000 lbs, clearing the weigh station regulations by 9,000 lbs (that New Years diet is working ya’ll!).
As we go live on Facebook (click here to watch) and Instagram it’s really fun to see the hundreds of questions Kevin gets about his job. Fans ask all different kinds of questions and Kevin answers with honesty and sarcasm. Funniest player on staff? Colt Knost. Player that likes to tweak his clubs the most? Danny Lee. How involved is Phil Mickelson REALLY with club development? Very. Will the Cowboys beat the Green Bay Packers? Yes (hey, he can’t be right 100% of the time people).
As we travel along it’s clear that fans want to know everything they can about Kevin, his job and the clubs themselves. He answers question after question about the new GBB Epic and GBB Epic Sub Zero drivers as well as the difference between the two. His knowledge is impressive. It hasn’t been an easy road for Napier to get where he is; he actually started off as a club salesman and then made the jump into working for club manufacturers a few years ago. When he first started, the Tennessee native was laid off twice before landing at Callaway. This is NOT an easy industry or job but it’s certainly what he’s passionate about.
One of the best stories Kevin told was about a practical joke that gives him anxiety to this day. At the US Open at Oakmont last year, Napier missed his alarm and woke up to phone calls from fellow TOUR Reps Johnny Thompson and Mike Soroka telling him to hurry up. As he made his way to the course, the entire team was in on a plot to convince Napier that Phil Mickelson had been waiting in the TOUR Truck for him and was not happy. This ruse continued for hours and Napier’s anxiety grew until finally someone let him in on the fact that no, Phil Mickelson had never been there and no, he was not mad at Kevin.
Fun Fact 5: The Phil story is why Kevin was dubbed the nickname “Slo-mo.”
We got to Palm Springs in just over three hours, which is pretty impressive considering we were driving a house on wheels. There’s a lot that happens on the road every week and it was a blast being able to bring fans along for the ride. A big thanks to Kevin for letting me tag along, and thank you to everyone who tuned in to our Facebook Live and Instagram livestreams!
Now, to park this thing…
— Amanda Balionis (@Amanda_Balionis) January 15, 2017