NEW YORK – Somebody with an occasionally wonky back truly appreciates the Golf Club at Chelsea Piers, where the ball is automatically reloaded on a tee at the driving range, allowing full focus on the task at hand which in this case was trying out the new FT-iQ driver from Callaway last Friday.
It had been a couple of weeks since I last teed it up, so initially, a couple of worm-burners weren’t doing the FT-iQ justice, but that changed as the drives started going down the middle towards the Hudson River to back up the claims of the Callaway marketing department.
As pleased as I was with this turn of events, I needed five minutes to check out something I had been told about an hour earlier, so I laid down the FT-iQ and walked down the pier towards the water and looked up the river to see the Statue of Liberty off in the distance.
If that doesn’t ignite a New York state of mind, nothing will, but that had already been planted when we took in a New York Rangers game at Madison Square Garden the previous evening.
There was more to come the next day after the trip to Chelsea Piers, including a trip to the 2nd Avenue Deli, where we feasted on pastrami and kosher dills before walking up Lexington Avenue in order to be on time for the Callaway launch of the FT-iQ.
The way this city moves, you would never suspect the dark mood of Americans in the grips of a recession, which has taken its toll on Wall Street, but on the surface, doesn’t seem to have affected the activity in shops, sidewalks, hotels and our final destination, Grand Central Station.
It was there that a group of Canadian golf writers were scheduled for a brief interview with Justin Timberlake, the man of the hour, and the reason for me being asked to pass along shockingly risqué propositions from certain women who shall remain nameless.
As reported on GNN a couple of weeks ago, Timberlake has signed to endorse and play Callaway products and the presence of the former N Synch lead singer at once gave the proceedings an A-list feel and a touch of chaos amid the bustling crowd at Grand Central Station.
Like the city that surrounded it that day, Callaway appeared to be in a New York state of mind despite the lean times.
“It gives us an opportunity to really kind of break out of the normal mode of introductions and get people to know more about (the FT-iQ) sooner than would be the case otherwise,” said president and chief executive officer George Fellows.
“I think it’s important anytime. I think there has been too much sameness in the golf industry for a long time,” said Fellows, borrowing a word made famous by former vice-president candidate Sarah Palin to describe his company.
“Callaway has sort of been known as the innovator – and I hate to use the word maverick, it’s not a popular word nowadays – but it’s been known as the company that does things differently and so, I think that we have to continue in that tradition and this is certainly an example of that,” he added.
Part of the Callaway tradition is to use the occasional high profile, non-tour star to promote their products. Alice Cooper and Celine Dion are players who have been known to play Callaway products in the past. Timberlake represents a new generation, according to Fellows.
“I think it’s sort of in that mode,” he said. “Justin is really an iconic representative of young people. He’s an ardent golfer. He’s opening up his own golf course in his home state (Tennessee). His parents are ardent golfers,” he said.
“He sets a very good model, if you will, for a lot of other young people who may be looking at options for what their leisure time should be,” said Fellows, adding that Timberlake is not just a fluff signing, but actually brings credibility to the table for Callaway.
“I think credibility is always important. I think the extent to which endorsements are just in name only, people can see through that,” said Fellows.
“The fact is that Justin is a very good golfer. I mean, he really enjoys the game. He’s passionate about the game and so, for him to put his name behind a manufacturer such as Callaway, I think it carries a lot more credibility than would normally be the case.”
In other words, Callaway expects its Manhattan splash and the Timberlake signing to provide benefits for more than a New York minute.