Being the head professional of a golf club is a demanding job, involving managing the tee sheet, coordinating lessons, selling equipment and apparel, guiding the staff, and many other duties. But the job does have its perks, too. Mark Mielke, head pro at Mill River CC in Upper Brookville, recently indulged in one of those perks. The best part: It will actually help him do a better job for his members whenever they need new clubs, and also help Mielke—an outstanding player—contend at Met PGA events.
Mielke spent a few days in April visiting the headquarters and production facility for TaylorMade, in the golf-equipment hotbed of Carlsbad, CA. Golfing Magazine Publisher John Glozek Jr. met with Mielke upon his return and got a full report.
John Glozek Jr.: Was the Carlsbad campus everything you expected?
Mark Mielke: It was my first time in Carlsbad; I once went to a TaylorMade product showcase at Reynolds Plantation in Georgia, but that’s it. It’s awesome to see all the products in one place, and then to go onto their range right across the street from the production facility. To say it’s a nice range is a serious understatement.
JG: Did you hit different clubs until your hands were raw?
MM: It took a while, but I did manage to sample most products. They had clubs I hadn’t seen before; it helped me decide which iron set I wanted for myself. They had the MATT (Motion Analysis Technology by TaylorMade) custom-clubfitting system, which is unbelievable, and then I hit different iron sets to find what I really liked. Even with the clubfitting system, it’s still a bit of trial and error and based on how the clubs feel to you. But I really went out looking for a putter, so I spent an hour in the putting lab with all their high-tech cameras and equipment, and I found one that I could consistently aim dead-on and get the ball going at the target. We also got to tweak a driver to my liking, and I got new super-light, super-fast fairway woods.
JG: From the perspective of being a club pro, what did you see that helped you?
MM: I went into the factory to see the whole process, from getting the raw materials in house to putting things together to boxing them and shipping them out to pro shops around the country. Then I was able to visit the customer-service area so that when I’m on the phone with TaylorMade, I now have a relationship with the people there, which will help if we have an issue in the future.
JG: Did anything out there surprise you?
MM: The volume they ship out on the place was amazing—I forget the number of clubs they produce per day, but I was shocked. And besides TaylorMade, the Adidas facility was right across the street for all of that company’s apparel and footwear. So we walked over there and saw everything Adidas offers for golf. So it was a really fun trip, and productive at the same time.