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History of Callaway Golf

The company was founded in 1982 by former Burlington Industries textile president Ely Callaway. A dynamic leader and famously successful businessman, Mr. Callaway sold his Temecula, CA-based winery for a $9 million profit and found a new business opportunity when he spotted a wooden pitching wedge in a Palm Springs-area golf shop. The club was reminiscent of the hickory-shafted clubs he had used as a child, but this shaft was hollowed and filled with a steel core for consistency and strength. He bought half of Hickory Stick USA and renamed it Callaway Hickory Stick USA.

Using his trademark formula – hire the best people and think big – Mr. Callaway lured successful billiard cue designer Richard C. Helmstetter away from his business in Japan to become chief club designer. Pro shop owners still recall Mr. Callaway delivering his latest “Demonstrably Superior and Pleasingly Different” clubs from the trunk of his Cadillac in the early days, and before long, he bought out his partners and shortened the company name to Callaway Golf. Soon after, Helmstetter invented a large-volume steel clubhead that was wildly different from other drivers on the market. The club was easier to hit and more forgiving longer shots. Mr. Callaway named the club Big Bertha – it was unusually large and wide compared to other clubs of the time. The new technology forever changed the golf equipment industry, and in 1992, Callaway Golf went public on the NYSE.

Today, the company continues to develop and manufacture technologically advanced golf equipment, including its line of two- and three-piece golf balls, as well as its Fusion FT-3 Driver, which combines titanium and carbon composite materials and allows golfers to choose internal weighting options that can counteract a slice or hook or enhance a draw or fade. Phil Mickelson used two versions of the FT-3 in his 2006 Masters victory. Swedish sensation Annika Sorenstam became the only woman to shoot 59 in competition in 2001 and in 2006 used the FT-3 Driver to earn her 10th major championship victory.

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