When I was working as a credentialed member of the national media at the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational in Akron, OH late last summer, I spent some time, pre-tournament, as a somewhat innocent bystander on Nike Golf's tour van—aka, the brand's traveling road show that serves as a safe haven for it's sponsored athletes seeking club repair and/or adjustments.
It also provides a refuge from bad weather or simply a reason to relax, have a snack, play video games, watch satellite TV or just chat with fellow Tour players and Nike staffers.
The Nike Golf tour van is a busy place. In the short amount of time I was there on Wednesday, the day before the tournament was set to begin, technicians were prepping for last minute repair work and getting ready to depart for the next tournament on the PGA Tour schedule, which just happened to be the PGA Championship at Kiawah Island in South Carolina.
The trailer was bustling with activity.
A typical week sees the van arrive at a PGA Tour destination the Saturday or Sunday before a tournament begins and it stays put Monday, Tuesday and part of Wednesday until roughly mid-afternoon when it departs for its next destination.
Nike Golf manufacturer Ben Giunta, who is in his third year with the company, also drives the vehicle around the country. He took me on a guided tour of the van, which is loaded with, you guessed it, golf equipment.
Everything from replacement shafts and club heads to gloves, hats, balls and anything else you can think of that a sponsored athlete might need to replace or add to his arsenal on any given day, it's here in cupboards, closets and drawers galore—broken down by player.
The tour van includes an office that is used for meetings or to host members of the media, like me. It's also a popular hang out for Team Nike pros. Additionally, there's a workshop with loft and lie machines, cutters, preppers, grinders—all aimed at golf club maintenance for Nike Golf athletes.
"The first part of the year is when there's a lot going on (in the workshop) because we've got new products," Giunta said. "We'll be trying to help them get into the new product. It might perform differently than what they're used to, so there's a lot of tweaking going on to get it just right for them."
While I was visiting, Carl Pettersson, who had won the RBC Heritage earlier in the year, stopped by to get his clubs regripped, something he does roughly three or four times each year, and he spent some time chatting with me about the weather forecast for the week. European Tour standout Francesco Molinari also popped in to get some adjustments made to his clubs. He introduced himself to me and we talked for a bit about life on tour.
It was a typical visit to the tour van for these pros.
Rob Arluna, Nike Golf's Global Golf Club Business Director, compared the tour van to the golf version of a M*A*S*H* unit, or a kind of golf hospital on wheels for Nike Golf athletes.
"It's a miniaturized version of what we do at The Oven," Arluna said. "And it's kind of a rolling treehouse for the guys to hang out, ask questions, try new equipment or get maintenance on their clubs."