March 18 2013
PING staffer Tom Lewis (left) confers with Matt Rollins on the range.
By Jonathan Wall, PGATOUR.COM Equipment Insider
LAST WEEK: Q&A with Paul Loegering, TaylorMade-adidas PGA TOUR manager
Matt Rollins is constantly on the go. PING's Senior PGA TOUR manager spent 39 weeks on the road last season overseeing PING's operations on the PGA TOUR and Web.com Tour.
Rollins said he's hoping to "cut back" to 35 events this year, but with names like Bubba Watson, Lee Westwood, Hunter Mahan and Louis Oosthuizen putting their trust in Rollins each week, he said there's always a chance that number could end up being closer to 39 events again.
Even with his hectic schedule, Rollins still found time to chat about life on tour, his friendship with Bubba Watson, and the pressure he faces to get equipment adjustments right.
You obviously have a lot on your plate each week when you're on the road. Give me a rundown of what you do when you step foot on the course Monday morning?
Matt Rollins: I'll usually fly in on Sunday, check in at the hotel and get situated. On Monday morning, Daniel [Udd], PING's master TOUR technician, and I will open up the truck, get a list of the tournament field and see which PING staffers are playing that week.
From there we'll pull PING hats for staffers, along with any equipment they may have requested over the weekend. We'll also start corresponding with the grip and shaft reps if we need anything, and meeting with players as they arrive.
On top of all that, you're posting pictures to Twitter and Facebook, fulfilling ticket requests, and also doing off-site stuff like setting up autograph signings like we did for Louis Oosthuizen during the WGC-Cadillac Championship.
Tuesday and Wednesday is more of the same as guys continue to arrive at the tournament. We're also working with players on the range testing new equipment if they want something in particular. The first three days before the tournament usually fly by.
What happens when after you leave the course on Wednesday evening? I'm assuming you head home to relax?
Matt Rollins: Actually, it's the exact opposite. I'm at the office (PING headquarters) by 8 a.m. on Thursday and usually spend the next couple of days meeting with engineers to discuss what's working and what needs to be changed, as well as testing what's coming out in, say, the next six months. We'll go over everything from the finish to if the club is too flat or upright, open or shut.
Upper management wants to discuss what's going on each week, and on top of that, I have to book my own airfare, hotel, rental car, fill out my expense report, make dinner ... and find time to go to my kid's baseball game. Needless to say, I'm always busy.
I've heard you and Bubba Watson have a great relationship. Are you really the only guy who's allowed to work on his clubs?
Matt Rollins: To an extent. We've worked together since 2002 and he trusts what I do. As far as putting the clubs together, Daniel actually builds them; I just make sure the grips are on as they should be. I know what he's looking for.
Through our relationship, he's trusted that if I say it's good, he doesn't doubt it, which is nice. But that kind of trust has been earned.
Going back to the trust players put in you for a moment, do you feel extra pressure to get it right when you suggest an equipment adjustment and the player takes your advice?
Matt Rollins: Definitely. There's a reason Lee Westwood trusts me — it's because we have history and he trusts what I've done in the past.
Here's an example: I got a text from Hunter Mahan a couple days ago and he told me he needed a 3-wood that goes a little more left with less spin. He didn't say what shaft, loft or head he needed. To read within the text, he basically told me that I knew what I was doing and to make it happen. I keep saying it, but trust is huge out here.
If you suggest a couple different driver options early in the week and one of them goes in the bag, you're constantly checking driving stats for the rest of the week.
I'll never call a player Thursday-Sunday during the week, but I'll usually text the caddie to see how the new driver or 3-wood is performing.
Is there also pressure to make sure players are using the newest equipment PING has out on the market?
Matt Rollins: That's the other part of the equation. We obviously want PING staffers to feel comfortable with what they have in the bag, but we're in this business to sell clubs as well.
It's tough to promote a win if the player's using a club that's five years old. But then again, there's a fine line between trying to get a guy to play the latest stuff, and making sure they feel confident with the clubs they have in the bag.
You always want your guys to feel confident when they step on the tee. If that happens to be with clubs from a couple years ago, so be it. It all boils down to never wanting to lose the trust of a player out here.