NEW YORK -- There are promotions and then there are promotions. Today's "Whiteout" event touting TaylorMade's white R11 and Burner SuperFast 2.0 drivers definitely fell into the latter category.
The event, which took place at Golfsmith at 54th Street and Lexington Ave. in New York City, had star power with World No. 2 Martin Kaymer and Sergio Garcia (both fittingly dressed all in white) as well as a guest appearance by Donald Trump as several hundred spectators gathered around a specially constructed 45-foot tall by 120-foot long driving range outside the store entrance on 54th Street. Faux snow even fell from the top of the structure. Construction on the range began at 3 a.m. this morning and was finished shortly before 11 a.m.
"An event like this is great," said Kaymer. "I love New York and to come here and see a driving range set up in the street with people watching is pretty amazing."
Pretty cold, too. Although temperatures hovered around the freezing mark, a substantial breeze made it feel much colder. The centerpiece of the event was Garcia and Kaymer each hitting three shots at a target at the end of the netted range, each shot striking the target resulting in $1,000 worth of TaylorMade equipment being donated to Operation Game On!, an organization that uses golf as part of wounded warriors' rehabilitation efforts. On cue, Garcia nailed the object on his first shot. For his part, Kaymer went one for three. Those watching also were invited to try with the same contribution made for each successful strike. In all some $40,000 in golf equipment was raised for the program.
So what did Kaymer and Garcia each think of the white drivers the first time they saw them? "I thought, 'It's so different,' " said Kaymer, who has tested the R11 but has yet to put it in play. "I was surprised we hadn't really seen that idea before. I haven't had a lot of time to try and get it into my bag since I've been playing a lot of tournament golf, but I'm looking forward to spending some time working with it."
While Kaymer is taking his time to convert to white, Garcia was all in from the get-go.
"I saw it the middle of last year and I actually liked it from the beginning," said Garcia. "It obviously was different but the contrast between the white head and black face fit my eye nicely. I thought it was neat. I think they [TaylorMade] were surprised a little by that because they kept asking me if I was OK with the look. But it's great and it's been in the bag all year. I think I'll have a good year with it."
And when your star players have a good year with your flagship product, there's no greater promotion than that.
-- E. Michael Johnson*
(Follow me on Twitter at @EMichaelGW)