PGA Tour Rookie McQuillan Takes Care of Business

Matt McQuillan (left) will remain with the Titleist/FootJoy team during his rookie year on the PGA Tour
Matt McQuillan (left) will remain with the Titleist/FootJoy team during his rookie year on the PGA Tour

It’s been just a month since he made the shocking ascent to the PGA Tour via Qualifying School, and it’s been a very busy one for Canadian Matt McQuillan.  After a rushed Christmas season at home in Kingston, Ontario, he has been in the California desert since December 27th, practicing and prepping for the 2011 PGA Tour season. He has hopes that his first start will be at the Sony Open in Hawaii next week (late day update: McQuillan WILL be playing at the Sony) but will have to see the final entry list later on today to know for sure.  If not, he will be in the field at the Bob Hope Classic in two weeks.

Part of  his preparation after earning his coveted spot on the world’s most lucrative golf tour has been figuring out the business side of things.  While McQuillan, 29, is no novice at this sort of thing after eight years as a professional; being on the PGA Tour takes things to whole other level.  Instead of doing the chasing, you become the pursued – a nice position to be in.

Unlike other pro sports, in golf the expenses are your own to take care of and a full season on the pro tours can run up bills in the heavy five figures in a hurry.  That makes your business dealings almost as important as playing well on the course.

As he prepares to make his PGA Tour debut, McQuillan told Flagstick in a phone interview last night that he has made a few partnership deals that will support him at least through the 2011 season.

The biggest transaction has been signing with Titleist/FootJoy.  A brand ambassador for as long as he can remember, signing that full deal that will see him play the equipment, wear the hat, carry the bag, and play the ball for the manufacturer was important for McQuillan.  Even during his U.S. Collegiate days at schools loyal to certain manufacturers (PING at Oklahoma State, Nike at University of Georgia), the Kingston golfer stuck with his chosen brands of clubs and golf balls.  In addition to the equipment McQuillan will also sport FootJoy outerwear, raingear, and footwear.

“I’m thrilled to be able to working with Titleist and FootJoy,“‘ explained Matt who says that other companies did make offers for his services.  “I’ve had a long relationship with them and having their support as I make the jump up to this new stage means one less than change I will have to think about.  I’m proud to be with them. ”

This past Tuesday Matt was in Oceanside, California, at Titleist’s main fitting facility where he worked with the company’s team to get him ready for the season ahead.  This season his will be playing the 910 D2 8.5 degree driver, 910F three wood, 910H Hybrids in 17.5 and 20 degree lofts, and 710MB irons with the possibility of the 710CB model on the 4 and 5 iron.  “I’m still working with the irons but everything else is pretty dialed in.  In working on the driver they were able to get me about 6 yards more carry and 13 yards overall,” said McQuillan who added that the testing facility was, as expected, “every golfers dream.”  He plans to return to the facility to visit their adjoining Titleist Performance Institute in the next few weeks.  TPI is a training facility focused on helping the golfer improve through improved fitness and motion of the body.

McQuillan will wear clothing from Second Skin/Hollas
McQuillan will wear clothing from Second Skin/Hollas

In addition to his Titleist signing McQuillan has also partnered up with a clothing company, and appropriately, he went Canadian on that front.  He’ll be fitting his slim, athletic frame into shirts, pants and belts from Second Skin/Hollas.  The Vaughn, Ontario based company has been very active is supporting Canadian athletes including McQuillan’s fellow PGA Tour members Mike Weir and Rory Sabbatini.

“I feel honoured to be working with a company that has worked with a lot of top players, including some of Canada’s best golfers,” said McQuillan.  For them to approach me and want to work with me is tremendous.  I value their support”

Although he says he is blessed with a close team of friends who can offer advice regarding business, the elevation to the PGA Tour made it very apparent to Matt that he might need a little help in the process.  That prompted the need for a more formal and experienced management team to be put into place.

Within a few minutes of earning his PGA Tour card on December 6th, McQuillan was inundated by agents with requests for his time but he took a careful approach to the process of choosing a new representative.  Just after he turned pro the former top ranked Canadian junior got burned by an agency that made lots of promises and failed to deliver so he was a little more cautious this time around.

In the end he opted away from the “usual” golf powerhouses of IMG and Wasserman and chose to take up with Eggplant Entertainment (who are undergoing a name change which is still not finalized).  The Toronto based company is best known as being the handlers of Canadian super music group The Tragically Hip, and that had an influence on the decision.  McQuillan, a life-long Hip fan (they share a hometown), has become good friends with members of the band through the years and they have provided some guidance on the ways and means of life in the public eye.

“They (Eggplant) have managed the interests for The Tragically Hip and a lot of other big acts for a long time so that is very comforting.  They are very trustworthy people, very sincere, and I liked what they had to say.  Gord (Sinclair, guitarist for the The Hip) has all the faith in the world in them and that gives them a lot of credibility in my eyes,” said McQuillan.  “I want to be comfortable with the people that are handling things for me and know they care about me and not just what they are getting out of the arrangement.”

He added, “We took a few meetings and some guys either promised way too much or put too much emphasis on performance.  It didn’t sound like they would have much time for you or make you a priority unless you were playing well all the time.  With Bernie and Patrick (Bernie Breen and Patrick Sambrook of EggPlant), they are developing the golf end of their business and it is not just about me performing.  Their whole focus is to work hard on the business end of things to make it easier for me to just focus on golf.  That is what I need to be able to do this year if I want to stay out here.  And that’s certainly my plan.”

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