An Illinois firefighter battling the yips and a Minnesota attorney badly in need of a new set of golf clubs receive a big surprise during a recent visit to the driving range at Hilton Head Island’s Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort: A new set of custom-fit Callaway irons
(HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C.) — Craig Mateski is a firefighter from Illinois who took his family on a recent spring break trip to Hilton Head Island, where they stayed at the Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort.
Being busy with his job and having three kids ages 8-12 who are involved in a ton of activities — everything from band to baseball to choir to softball to gymnastics — Mateski said he isn’t able to play as much golf as he would like. “I really enjoy the game,” he said. “I’m not that great at it, but I really enjoy playing.”
On the first day of the trip, Mateski arrived at the Robert Trent Jones driving range to hit some balls and relax. When he saw cameras filming at one end of the range, he made sure to go to the other end so he wouldn’t disturb the video footage. “I didn’t know what they were doing, so I just found a slot as far away as possible,” he said.
Nevertheless, Mateski was soon spotted by former PGA Tour player John Maginnes, now an on-air golf commentator, who asked the firefighter if he would like to take the “Callaway Challenge” to see how a new set of irons would compare to what he was using.
Maginnes and the other Callaway representative at Palmetto Dunes Resort, Brian Katrek — who has been the lead play-by-play anchor for the PGA Tour Network on Sirius/XM Satellite Radio since its inception in 2005 and has performed hosting duties at all four major championships — were competing to see which of their teams would gain the most distance from the latest Callaway irons.
Chris Morris, an attorney from Minneapolis, Minn., is glad they did.
Like Mateski, Morris and his family were enjoying a spring break getaway to Palmetto Dunes, spending a week in one of the resort’s golf villas. Morris said they first visited Hilton Head and Palmetto Dunes for spring break last year, and enjoyed everything so much they decided to make a return trip in 2016.
Unfortunately during the fall, between the two visits, Morris’s clubs were stolen. So he arrived at Palmetto Dunes using an old back-up set.
And, as they did with Mateski, Maginnes and Katrek approached Morris on the Palmetto Dunes range.
Callaway says its new 360 Face Cup technology turns the entire clubface into one massive sweet spot and is guaranteed to increase distance for all golfers.
With the cameras rolling, Mateski hit a few balls with his old 7-iron, and the firefighter was spraying shots all over the driving range. “I started to get nervous and got real yippy,” he said. “I was having some struggles because so many people were watching.
“I told them I’d rather run into a burning building than swing a golf club in front of a bunch of golf equipment representatives,” Mateski said with a laugh.
Using the Callaway 7-iron, the reps measured an 11-yard increase in distance.
As for Morris, after he hit a few balls with his old 7-iron and then the Callaway 7-iron, the Callaway reps at Palmetto Dunes measured a 20-yard increase.
As surprised as both men were by their distance gain, they received even more of a shock by what came next.
“(Maginnes) said, ‘Thanks for what you do and for being part of this,” Mateski said. “We would like to give you a new set of Callaway irons.”
“It was surreal,” he said. “I was floored.”
Morris said the unexpected surprise was the highlight of a wonderful trip to Palmetto Dunes for him and his family.
“My family thoroughly enjoyed our trip this spring to Palmetto Dunes,” Morris said. “Palmetto Dunes is the most family friendly resort we have ever stayed. My kids love the clay tennis courts and being able to bike to the beach.”
Not only that, the Callaway reps took all of the men’s measurements and custom-fit the company’s newest set of irons for them.
“I never would have done something like that, being fitted like that,” Mateski said. “I have a young family and a lot of other places I have to put my money, so I’ve never splurged and done something for myself like that.
“What a neat experience, meeting all those guys, being surprised like that and then being custom fitted. It was a big deal to me. It’s hard to describe the feeling, how cool that was.”
Mateski returned to Illinois and his new irons arrived on a 34-degree day. Nevertheless, he said he had to go to the range and try the equipment. While he was hitting balls it started to snow. “My wife said I was crazy,” he said. “I told her, ‘I’m not waiting one second. I’m going!’”
“I really enjoy playing golf more now, knowing I have the latest set of irons that are out right now and they are custom fitted for me,” Mateski said. “It’s awesome. I’m really grateful to everyone at Callaway Golf and Palmetto Dunes. Everybody was so kind.”
Mateski has extended family in the Lowcountry, so they visit regularly. He said they have already rebooked at Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort for Spring Break 2017.
“I love Hilton Head Island and we love playing golf at Palmetto Dunes,” he said. “We’ve played all the courses and they are fantastic. I’ve never, ever had a bad experience there. The staff there is always the best, very friendly, very helpful and the courses have always been in good shape.
“I’m even more appreciative now. What a wonderful once-in-a-lifetime experience that was!”
A 16-handicapper, Morris reports that since receiving his new Callaway irons in April, he has been able to play several rounds and is trying to adjust to his newfound distance.
“The Callaway irons are performing beautifully,” Morris said. “I am still getting used to picking the right club appropriate to the distance, since the ball travels so much farther.”
A nice problem to have, thanks to Callaway Golf and the Palmetto Dunes Oceanfront Resort.
For information about activities or reservations, call 877-567-6513 or visit www.palmettodunes.com.