From car park attendant to top TaylorMade club fitter

TaylorMade’s Adrian Rietveld talks about the opportunities that have come his way thanks to The PGA

As TaylorMade’s club fitting expert on the European Tour, Adrian Rietveld’s 35 weeks a year travel schedule is pretty mind-bending, but it all goes with the territory for someone who only a few years ago was parking cars and picking up golf range balls at Wentworth.

A 34-year old South African that came to the UK in 2005 as an air conditioning engineer, Rietveld was looking for whatever new opportunities came his way, especially if they were golf related. When he landed a job at Wentworth parking cars and collecting the range balls with staff accommodation, Rietveld probably had no idea that his real vocation was about to be launched.

A rated amateur golfer who had turned pro back in 2007, within a short space of time he was working in the pro shop, and used his engineering experience to help with the club fitting requirements that came along. TaylorMade recognised Rietveld’s expertise and made him an offer he couldn’t refuse: managing the first TaylorMade Performance Lab at the Wentworth Club.

Part of every manufacturer’s offering now, as Rietveld says, “In 2009 this was revolutionary. But as a trained engineer I took to it like a duck to water!” Then in 2012, Rietveld’s career took another big jump when TaylorMade appointed him to support the world’s top players on tour using TaylorMade equipment.

Nowadays top stars like Justin Rose, Sergio Garcia and Martin Kaymer regard Rietveld as part of their team as they travel to the world’s top golf tournaments. However, Rietveld is just as keen to support any local and regional PGA Professional who gets in to Tour events, such as Lee-on-the-Solent’s James Ablett and Longball’s Guy Woodman when they played in the recent BMW PGA Championship at Wentworth.

As he says, “These guys aren’t paid to use particular clubs, they’re simply looking for the best for their game. So it’s interesting to note that nine out of the 10 PGA Pro qualifiers for the BMW PGA Championship were playing with the TaylorMade metal woods.”

With all the computer-assisted data that’s now available, how does Rietveld help players to get clubs that ‘feel’ right? “Data’s simply a tool to guide you. In my experience it’s all so individual, and it’s only part of the puzzle to making sure you get your players comfortable out on the course. That said, data helps me to understand someone’s swing, and my skill is to interpret that into the many options within a club’s design and tune the clubs to feel spot on.”

“Some players like Garcia and Kaymer are all about feel and can do anything within two or three shots with a club, some aren’t and can’t. It’s the same for the club professionals and golfers, and the key is to know the right thing to adjust in the club, and by how much.”

For Rietveld his career in club fitting is equally well tuned. Widely regarded as one of the world’s leading club fitters and performance specialists, TaylorMade need him supporting all of the world’s best players across all major tours. While this involves an extensive travel schedule, one of the highlights includes supporting the Sunshine Tour in South Africa throughout the winter, giving Rietveld the perfect way to catch up with his friends and family every year.

As he summarises, “I’m a PGA Pro and I’m very proud of that. It’s meant I’ve had so many more opportunities to develop a career that I love within a game I’m passionate about, although when I was shifting cars around at Wentworth, I never imagined things could ever be like this!”