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Mark Thomas 2008 Tour Report
Price Cutter Charity Championship
Springfield, MO
July 14 - July 20, 2008

Tour Summary

Words cannot explain how elated I am to be back on the Nationwide Tour. You would not believe the difference in attitudes and gratitude that is displayed out here! As always, I am very eager to get reacquainted with old friends as well as new ones. I am just DAMN GLAD TO BE HERE! The next four weeks should prove to be refreshing and uplifting for me. After all, I was ready for my anger/rejection management classes but came out to this tour instead!

There are always new faces and players eager to see you and see what you have new. Yeah, there’s a little money being spread around on this tour, but nothing like on the Big Show! Nobody gets too tied down especially with a full bag deal!

I forgot how many Pro-Ams are going on during this event. There are a total of 11 Pro-Ams going on Monday thru Wednesday - spread out all over the surrounding area. They recruit players from all over to cover the pro positions. So there were a lot of comings and goings this week. This event has donated $4.5 million to local charities and is well supported by the community.

I didn’t receive one “Heisman” like I do so much on the big show! You know the Heisman, the “stiff arm”, like on the trophy. It’s known on the PGA Tour as the “not now” or for that matter “never”. Hell, some days we would all take a tally to see who was ahead in the “Heisman” department. That’s not the case out here! Are you getting my drift? DAMN GLAD TO BE HERE!

I took the opportunity to snap a few shots of the practice facility. It’s a really good layout. These views are from our trailer.

On another note, take a look at my “preferred parking”, next to the trailer. This is something that won’t happen on the PGA! Pretty good, don’t you think?... and extremely handy!

As I explained last week, we have a contract with Four Seasons Golf for tour tech support and use of the tour tech van on the Nationwide. I am very thankful to have a place to work. It really makes a big difference! As you can see, the lion’s share of this trailer is owned by Nickent Tour Operations. Solus has an excellent working relationship with Nickent and they were very receptive to us coming on board. This attitude is very rare in this business. The players know now that we have a van on site and we are able to support their needs.

We work with the Tour Tech, Rich Parzych. He is a seasoned veteran on the tour. Take a look at our logo position… believe it or not, it is visible from a great distance.

I also took a few photos of the Nationwide’s new tech van and manufacturer’s trailer. The Nationwide players and manufacturers support the traveling van covering the costs that the PGA Tour doesn’t pick up.

This manufacturer’s trailer is pulled behind the big trailer to each event. Each manufacturer has a contract with the Nationwide to haul product and support them with tech services to each tournament stop. This trailer, as you can see, has a series of compartments along both sides. Each one of these doors is a specific manufacturer’s equipment storage locker.

Tour 7.1

The first order of duty was to spec another set of the Tour 7.1 QPQ 53 and 59 for Omar Uresti and ship them up to Milwaukee. He called first thing Monday making the request.

I also had a request from a customer on site to reshaft his wedge and set the loft and lie. It seems a friend ran over his club. It was lying in the grass next to the green, and the shaft got fractured. I took care of his request and made a new Solus friend along the way! Win, win for both!

I ran into two really close friends first thing on Tuesday - Kevin Johnson and Pat Damron. Both were looking forward to seeing the Tour 7.1’s. KJ had me build him a T7.1/53 and 59 in the QPQ and Pat wanted a T7.1/56 in the satin.

Here are a couple of photos of them testing their new weapons.

I also started testing a new graphite shaft from RT Technologies. Here it is installed in the Tour 7.1/56.

The Midas is a triple nano manufactured shaft from butt to tip and weighs in at 98 grams at finished length. I thought a good start would be for Pat Damron to test it. Well, long story short, he loved it. It was awesome in our wedge. The ball flight, distance and control were extremely tight and Pat immediately wanted the club. I had a little discussion with RT and they released the shaft for him and they built me another sample for demo. So away it went.

This shaft is a keeper! RT is very guarded and protective with this shaft… they are only out here with limited exposure and Solus is the first wedge. I know one player that would absolutely go ape over this shaft, big ........... We have agreed to spec a set for him as soon as I go back to the “other side”! OOOOH NOO………….

Pat handed his wedge to Guy Boros who also went bonkers over it. He wanted to try the Tour 7.1/61 in the satin finish. I had one assembled with the new FST Hi Rev which I had pured. He put it right in the bag. When he came back off the course he said “it’s in the bag”!

Next up was good friend of Solus, Keoke Cotner. He said he loved the new show and was really pleased to see himself included. He took a look at the new Tour 7.1 and tested the new FST Hi Rev. He loved it. Keoke plays the Rifle Project X so I thought he would be a good candidate for testing of the Hi Rev. He wants me to build him a set of Tour 7.1/53 and 59 using the Hi Rev. It does perform better over the Project X. He said the new wedge was really good and absolutely loves the feel and performance. I had to order the shafts but we will see each other over the next four weeks so I can get him set up. Here’s a shot of him testing.

Nathan Tyler was the next to come by. His Dad is caddying for him and had bought one of the new Tour 7.1/53. Well… Nathan tried it and said he had to change right now. He is playing .......... wedges and really wants a better set. I built him a 51, 56 and 61 with the Project X 6.5 and set them up to match his ..........’s. He put all three in! I followed up with him on Wednesday and he is very pleased and said it might just be what he needed to move up the list.

JJ, caddy for .......... asked me if I would build .......... a set of the new Tour 7.1’s. He said .......... really needs and wants to try the new ones. I built him a 47, 53 and 59. He said .......... is still with .......... but can now trade out wedges. He thinks these will really make a difference.

Michael Hebron Jr. called and gave me his specs for a new set of the Tour 7.1’s.

I have found the perfect combination for making the adjustments to the new Tour 7.1/QPQ. This new finish is a little temperamental when making adjustments to lie angle especially if you are adjusting as much as two degrees. The loft isn’t so tough but the lie can be - if not done properly. This QPQ high gloss finish process is very hard and brittle which can show signs of fracturing when the adjustments are made. The fracturing is only in the finish not the metal underneath or the structure of the wedge. It is very durable. I have been applying a little heat to the heal area before making the adjustments. This has worked very well.

Here is a photo of where the heat needs to be applied.

Then this week, I started using a brass bending bar which made this task error free with no fracturing. No problem! Works well even without the heat.

But the heat does make it a little easier. The tech has to be very guarded on the location and amount of time the heat is applied. A very small amount of heat is all it takes… too much heat and the epoxy will release.

Once the adjustments are made there might be slight signs of “stretching” which is common with any finish when making adjustments over one degree. Our black QPQ finish is very durable and looks like new even after the harshest of chemical and bag wear have been applied. Just a few tips to help you enjoy your new Solus Utility Wedge Tour 7.1’s - straight from the tour tech van!

My close friend and fellow rep came up to provide a little feedback regarding the new wedges. He said there were several players around, 20 in the dining room having a “Solus Pow Wow” - all exchanging comments. He said I really had their attention and he heard nothing but positive feedback and comments. He said it was really fun to sit back and listen to all they had to say.

Whoa, did I mention “I AM DAMN GLAD TO BE OUT HERE!” HIHIHI!!!!!

I caught up with another real close friend of Solus, Jose Alverez. I am not sure if you remember but Jose was a major league pitcher for the Atlanta Braves. He now heads the “Tour Life” program on the Nationwide Tour. Jose plays competitive golf on both the Nationwide and Celebrity Tours as well as other mini tour events. I first met Jose last year in my home town of Wichita.

He has played the Solus Series 4.1’s since then, but in the last few weeks, he has made the transition to the new Tour 7.1’s. Jose plays the Tour 7.1 - 51, 56 and 61 in the satin finish. He can’t say enough about how good these clubs are and tells everybody he meets or plays with.

Man, did I say? I am GLAD TO BE OUT HERE!!!!! Whew!!!!!!

There were a lot of new faces that were standing over my shoulder listening in on my explanation of the Solus technology to these players. We should experience an influx of Solus players over the next few weeks. Damn do I have to leave? We shall see!

Champions Tour - 3M Championship / Blaine, MN

Mike continues to be questioned by several players “when will you put more offset in the wedge?” And he continues to make inroads with a few players trying to convince them that more offset is not really the answer. We realize we can’t be everything to everybody but we can get close if they can just look beyond their old gamers and try the latest technology the Tour 7.1.

Mike has been after Fuzzy Zoeller for the past several weeks and he thinks he has finally convinced him. He spec’d a Tour 7.1/59 with a graphite shaft and bent it two degrees flat. He told Mike “I still want more offset!” But I will put this one in play.

Rod Spittle put a Tour 7.1/59 QPQ in play. While the Solus poster boy, Steve Thomas came back to add a Tour 7.1/47 QPQ.

Mick Finnegan from England, Monday-Qualified for the Sr. British Open and wanted to take a Tour 7.1/59 QPQ for the tight fairways and deep bunkers.

Pete Hessemer loves his Tour 7.1/59 so much he decided to put in a second one and came by for a 7.1/56 QPQ to match.

As I am sure you know by now, “I AM DAMN GLAD TO BE OUT HERE!” Solus had a great week on both tours.

Mike is working the Sr. British Open next week with our European Distributor.

Solus is continuing to build on its success on the Nationwide, Champions and PGA Tours. These next few weeks should bring even more success. Next stop Columbus, Ohio. Oh, did I say……………………?