With the first major of the year about to get underway, we caught up with Adrian Rietveld, TaylorMade’s Senior Tour Manager, for some behind-the-scenes details on how TPC Harding Park is gong to play this week and how he has been helping his players get dialled-in.
How is the course setting up this week?
“This week has a very British feel to it in many ways. There is fog in the air, it’s cold, the breeze is up, my hands are a bit numb and it’s the first time I’ve had to wear a jumper on tour since the restart.
"It looks like the rest of the week will be similar conditions and they certainly aren’t the kind I’m used to seeing at the PGA Championship.
"The course is a par 70 measuring about 7,200 yards but it’s going to be playing closer to 7,500 yards.
"The rough is very thick and will also be quite damp, there isn’t a great deal of run in the fairways and it’s going to be a real challenge if it stays as cold and foggy as it has been the last few days.
"I would say Harding Park is the Torrey Pines of San Francisco in many ways."
What has that meant for the athletes you work with?
"There is going to be a real premium on driving this week. If you’re going to do well, then you need to hit these fairways in abundance and you’re going to be hitting driver almost all of the time.
"For that reason, we’ve done quite a bit of work making sure our athletes' SIM drivers are dialled-in.
"We’ve also had a quite a lot of requests for SIM 7-woods and Rescues to really help them if they do end up having to play their approach shots from the rough.
"We haven’t really done a lot of wedge work this week. It has been predominantly focused on the long end of the bag and our players’ gapping as they work from their longest iron to the driver.”
What challenges have you had to overcome at this very different PGA Championship?
"The PGA Tour has done a phenomenal job over the last few weeks organising these events and making sure everyone is kept safe. It has, of course, brought about its own set of unique challenges though for the work we need to do in order to best prepare our athletes to compete and win.
"This week, the restrictions are the tightest they’ve been since the restart.
"The biggest challenges are that we are not allowed on the range - which as you can probably imagine for a club fitter is not ideal - and that we’re only allowed a very small team on-site.
"But those are the guidelines we have to abide by and we simply have to find new ways of working."
What are those new ways of working?
“I think I’m going to do a Zoom fitting at some point today, which will be interesting.
"Although we’re not allowed on the range and are unable to have that close interaction with the pros, we’re still behind the ropes working with them from afar and staying in communication through other means.
"My mission statement in recent weeks has been ‘whatever it takes,’ and here at Harding Park it is no different.
"Myself and my colleagues will do whatever it takes to give our guys the best opportunity possible to win a major.”