My God, where do I start? I guess I’ll start with the first words that pop into my head…
These words represent the overwhelming feelings I had from start to finish. From the moment I stepped foot off the plane into Edinburough, the experience at the 2022 Open Championship was MASTER CLASS.
The schedule looked like this… every day.
Up at 6 am
Out the door at 6:45
Meet Up with Seamus Sweeney (Odyssey Rep) and Jason Eilerd (Callaway Rep) for a Coffee at 7:15
Off to the truck at 7:30
Close the truck at 6 pm
Dinner at 7:30 pm
Home at 11 pm
Sleep by 1 am
Rinse Repeat…Jet lag is a real thing.
After dropping my gear off at my flat in the heart of the village, I set off down North St. about 3 blocks and then it hit me…the hotels, the grandstands, the R&A and last but not least, the links of St. Andrews.
I had a small tear in my eye. I know this place like the back of my hand, but only from stories, pictures, TV and my imaginations. Things are so different when you can touch it.
Total God shot.
The first order of business was getting on site to take some pics (above) and meet up with my Callaway Europe Tour Team. Typically during Major weeks, my first agenda is getting pictures of the head cover swag for Callaway Social media. I think they turned out pretty solid, if I do say so myself.
Once I reached the Swilcan Bridge and set foot on a place where so many historical memories were made, I was overwhelmed with gratitude. There was a moment when I ran out to grab the picture you see below. Goosebumps ensued, followed by a Thank You prayer to the big fella. I’ll never forget that moment.
The rest of Sunday was spent getting to know my Callaway Europe team which in all honesty was the highlight of my week and maybe even the year. I absolutely love this crew.
Although Sunday was a light day in regards to player activity, you wouldn’t have noticed on the truck. It was the eve before the 150th Open Championship. We all knew how special it was, and the vibe was electric.
I want to introduce you to the Callaway Europe Performance team quickly. They are a first-class motley crew of golf nerds, and to a man, they all ADORE what they do for a living. They do everything as a team. Lots of laughs, smiles, jokes, and a team connection that makes me smile. It’s infectious.
Tour Manager-Ian Garbutt
Tee Rep-Scott Pudney
Tee Rep-Jason Eilerd
Tour Tech (Builder)-Paul Monks
Tour Tech (Builder) Chin Tozar
Odyssey Tour Rep-Seamus Sweeney
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We started the day early, and my agenda was simple: find Xander and capture something cool for Social Media. After a few hours of walking the range and snapping WITB pics of a few Euro players I rarely see, Team Schauffele showed up.
We hit the first tee at around 1 pm, and the energy was contagious. What’s not to be happy about? The guy just won his last two events (Three if you count the JP McManus ProAm), and he was heading into the year’s final major on a serious heater. If you are wondering what the outcome of me following his group during practice looks like, here it is:
My relationship with the Schauffele crew has evolved quite a bit over the past year, I wasn’t entirely tossed into the fire right away with him like Rahm or Sam Burns, so it took me a bit longer for them to get used to having me around. Let’s be honest; I’m a guy running around with a camera digging into bags and asking questions; not precisely something you plan on getting used to, especially inside the ropes, but this crew is as welcoming as they get. I’m proud of my work with them, and they make the job easy. I never imagined my job would harmonize inside the ropes during practice rounds, but it has. It’s now just part of the routine, and it’s something I’ll never forget. What I find funny is that from time to time, they will want to see what I captured, and if it’s on fire, I get…” can you text me that?”
Tuesday was NUTS. The main targets on this day were Jon Rahm and Sam Burns.
Like Xander, the mission was to gather on-course footage for Social Media. Sam Burns was first up, and like every other Tuesday on TOUR, we walked, talked, and the kid made my jaw drop…once again.
This is what we got from that session…
After a fun walk with Sam, it was a quick (but LONG) sprint back to the range to catch up with Jon Rahm for an afternoon 18. Once again, it baffles me that this guy doesn’t win 80% of his starts. The shots he hits have an integrity that I simply can’t put into words. It’s this violent, heavy hit with every club, and the wind does NOTHING to his golf ball—literally nothing. As I watch multiple players struggle holding it online in the cross-wind, Jon’s CSX rips through it like it wasn’t even there.
Walking with Rahm during a major is a bit surreal. The crowds are always huge, and he tends to play with BIG names that crank up the volume even further. In this case, all eyes were on his group, and the St. Andrews fans followed us up and down the links soaking in every moment.
Tuesday evening was fun with the Euro crew, it’s like sitting with family during the holidays, and the whole bunch picks a topic, and everyone has an opinion. It’s hilarious. Tour Manager Ian Garbutt has a full stock of jokes that, with his UK accent, hit a bit differently. After dinner, I caught up with an old friend, Callaway Staffer Robert Rock. The guy is a legend and a true golf junky, just like the rest of us. We talked about old gear and major championships non-stop for a couple of hours. It was EPIC.
Oh yeah and one last thing about Tuesday….
I finally met my unicorn, David Duval. I have wanted to meet and chat with him for almost 25 years, and he didn’t disappoint. I chatted him up while he hit a few balls, and it turned into a fun conversation about our favorite wedges, what he loves about the Callaway gear (it’s a lot, article coming), and what he has done with his old sticks. It was an all-time moment for me.
Wednesday was a nice change of pace; most of the work on the truck had been done, my content targets were captured, and it was time to soak up the last few moments of being at the 150th Open Championship. The range gets busy in the morning and becomes quiet once lunch hits. Really quiet. Why? It’s time for everyone to decompress. Good luck to you if you are still trying to find it on Wednesday afternoon. I’ll say this: none of the players that finished in the Top 15 were there after 1 pm. None of them.
We wrapped up around 3 pm, and most of us headed back to our flats for a nap before dinner with the whole Callaway crew. When I say whole crew, I mean THE WHOLE crew, which included the man himself, Callaway CEO Chip Brewer. I ADORE this man, BTW. He has a HUGE job, but he’s a golfer at his core. He loves talking about the game and equipment and still has that huge smile when he comes to events. The guy is just fun to be around; what can I say? Our CEO is the best in the game, and his affection for what we do on TOUR is unmatched. The passion and support he gives to TOUR are felt. That’s a big deal.
Of any life experience I’ve had (beyond the birth of my son and some other things), this time I had at St. Andrews was so far past my expectations I actually feel like I weirdly cheated life. It was just so perfect. The new family I have with the Callaway Europe crew, the new bonds I have with some of the players, meeting David Duval and walking up and down St. Andrews, every day is just ridiculous if you think about it. My best friend calls it the Ferris Bueller experience. He’s not far off.
I remember a moment standing on the 18th tee with Jon Rahm and wondering (once again) how did I get here? That happened a lot last week. To say I’m grateful for the opportunities is an understatement. I know how blessed I am to do this every week, but sometimes it hits a bit harder. I can’t imagine it getting better than this, folks…well if one of our guys would have won, but I’m not greedy:)