Tiger the Whistle Stop Tour Pt 1

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Editors note: Golf Channel business reporter Casey Bierer participated this week in Nike Golfs Whistle Stop Tour; a press and media junket that traveled a group of Nike execs and invited media to four cities in 48 hours. This column is the first entry of a multi-part series chronicling the journey. The trip was recorded on video and will be shown on The Golf Channel the week of December 11, also as a multi-part featured report.
 
Heres a recipe we havent seen before. Take the following key ingredients: one Nike G-5 jet, four cities in 48 hours, three PGA TOUR stars - Tiger Woods, David Duval and Jason Gore - a number of key Nike Golf executives, five print journalists, one television reporter and the launch of two new Nike drivers. Mix thoroughly. The result? Nikes Whistle Stop Tour (WST); a media junket extravaganza that, even by Nike standards, is unprecedented.
 
This was our itinerary:
 
Monday, November 27
Arrival of various WST participating media ' The Golf Channel interviews Bob Wood at Nike HQ
 
7:00 ' 10:00 pm Dinner with WST media, Bob Wood, Cindy Davis, Beth Gast and Tom Stites
 
Tuesday, November 28
6:15 am Group meets in Portland hotel lobby for transfer to Hillsboro airport
7:00 am Corporate jet departs for Los Angeles
7:45 am Breakfast on the plane
8:45 am Arrive L.A. ' Hawthorne Airport
9:05 am Product presentation and Tiger Woods press conference in hanger
9:45 am Tiger hits Sumo driver on airport runway
9:55 am Media hits Sumo and Sumo drivers on runway
10:20 am One-on-one interviews with Tiger Woods (Golf Channel 12:05 ' 12:15)
1:00 pm David Duval arrives at Hawthorne Airport
1:30 pm Nike jet departs for Scottsdale with WST passengers and David Duval
3:20 pm Arrive in Scottsdale ' ground transfer to TPC Scottsdale
3:30 pm Product presentation and David Duval press conference
4:00 pm David Duval hits Sumo driver on driving range
4:30 pm Media hits Sumo and Sumo on driving range
4:45 pm Golf Channel interview with David Duval
5:30 pm Hotel check-in, Scottsdale
6:45 pm Jason Gore meets WST passengers in hotel lobby, group transfer to dinner
7:00 pm Group dinner
9:00 pm Return to Scottsdale hotel ' end of scheduled day
 
Wednesday, November 29
6:30 am Group meets in hotel lobby for transfer to airport
6:45 am Nike jet departs for Teterboro Airport, New Jersey
8:00 am Breakfast on the plane
9:00 am Interviews on the plane (Jason Gore, Bob Wood, Cindy Davis, Beth Gast)
12:40 pm Nike jet arrives at Teterboro Airport
12:50 pm Group transfer to World Financial Center, New York City
1:30 pm Group arrives at World Financial Center, New York City
1:45 pm Group lunch
3:00 pm Product presentation and Jason Gore press conference
3:30 pm Jason Gore demonstrates Sumo driver in hitting cage with launch monitor
3:45 pm Media and general public invited to hit Sumo and Sumo driver in hitting cages
4:45 pm The Golf Channel interviews Tom Stites
5:00 pm WST conclusion
5:00 pm Hotel transportation
5:40 pm Hotel check-in / end of scheduled day
 
Thursday, November 30
WST participants who stayed over Wednesday night depart for home destinations
 
The assignment given to me by The Golf Channel ' create a reporters video journal of the trip. Roll tape as much as possible with three cameras. When in doubt shoot first, beg for forgiveness later. And, oh yeah, interview Tiger Woods. This was going to be fun.
 
For me the WST tour started Monday at 4:00 am in Orlando en route to Portland, Oregon. My initial task was to interview Nike Golfs president, Bob Wood, at Nikes headquarters in Beaverton, Oregonjust a fifteen minute ride from Portland airport. Well, its usually 15 minutes. In this case, however, it took 40 minutes. Bad weather was the culprit. What started off in sunshine turned to rain, turned to freezing rain, turned to snow, turned back to rainturned back to sunshineall in the span of 10 minutes. Kind of like New England; if you dont like the weather just wait a minute.
 
We were warmly greeted at Nike by Beth Gast, Nike Golfs public relations director in charge of the Whistle Stop Tour. In fact, the tour was Beths idea to begin with, hatched some eight months earlier. We interviewed Bob Wood without incident ' focusing half our questions on Nike Golf business, Nikes two new drivers and the Whistle Stop Tour itself. The other half of our questions centered on his thoughts in connection with Tiger Woods 1997 Masters championship. This in preparation for a special The Golf Channel will run next year commemorating Tigers record setting victory.
 
I noticed several things about Bob Wood while talking to him, interviewing him, and later that Monday evening, dining with him. His 26 year history with Nike ' the last eight or nine years running Nike Golf ' are filled with pride, passion, commitment, belief, and, a true sense of team. Not at the expense of, however, having fun and living a normal life. As normal as life can be in his position. His passion for and belief in Nike are as earnest as the day is long. The same is true for the people he has working on the team around him.
 
Bob Wood is opinionated; robustly so. What might strike someone initially as over opinionated or over confident would be an incorrect assessment. Yes, Bob Wood is opinionated, he is confident; but these are traits in the man that you quickly gravitate towards, not shy away from. The more he talked, the more I wanted to listen. Not just about Nike, not just about golf, not just about Tiger. Rather, about all kinds of things: life, music, wine, current affairs, business in general, family, outside interests, likes and dislikes. Hes got quite a few of those, come to think of it. I think it was the conversation about Tiger that so completely and involuntarily captured my attention. Bob has gotten to know Tiger quite well over the years. His insights were enlightening, clever, revealing.
 
This was of particular interest to me and for good reason. Come tomorrow at noon, I was going to have my first one-on-one interview with Tiger Woods.
 
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