When Ely Callaway sold Callaway Vineyard and Winery to Hiram Walker & Sons in 1981, little did he know that he will be founding one of the largest golf apparel companies in the world. He had set his eyes on a hickory-shafted golf clubs set after visiting a pro-shop located in California and saw a business opportunity there.
The owner of the clubs he previously eyed on was Hickory Stick USA. He then went on to buy a stake for $400,000 in 1982 and became co-owners with Dick de la Cruz, Richard Parente, and Tony Manzoni. During its first year, Callaway decided to rename the company. It was then called Callaway Hickory Stick USA. Orders were low during that time that he even used his Cadillac to personally deliver the items.
In 1985, Callaway golf became the first company to use new and emerging technology. This technology enabled Callaway golf clubs to have the flattest surface of putters possible.
Business was steady for Callaway, but the company only began to take off in 1986. By then, the company had acquired Richard Helmstetter to serve as chief club designer. The use of new technology allowed Callaway golf clubs to be the first to provide putters with the flattest possible surface. The company also introduced new designs such as the Callaway Edge Irons, Billet Series Putters and Wedges, Callaway Persimmon Woods and Bobby Jones Hickory Stick Woods.
The company officially became Callaway Golf Company in 1988. With sales already reaching $4.8 million, the company slowly but surely set itself apart from the competition.
Another milestone was reached in 1991. This is the time when the Big Bertha was launched. It had an oversized driver made of steel and became popular among both amateurs and professionals. In fact, Mark Brooks used the Big Bertha when he became the winner in the Greater Greensborough Open. Suddenly, more and more golfers are ditching wood and are switching to steel.
With Big Bertha’s success, professional golfers started joining the company, with the likes of Annika Sorentstam and Johnny Miller using Big Bertha in PGA tours across the world. In another first, the company released the S2H2, a material known as metal wood. Due to this, the company’s revenue rose by 100% in the same year.
With sales reaching an estimated $683.5 million, the company expanded its business even further by creating the company called the Callaway Golf Ball in 1996. The newly formed company would go on to become the world’s largest manufacturer of golf balls.
In yet another milestone, the company acquired Odyssey Sports in 1997 and started to develop the Odyssey putters line. The range in this line is still among the most widely known putters even today. With the company’s continuously improving technology, they managed to stay ahead of the competition by bringing the future to the present.
In 2001, Ely Callaway decided to give up his position as CEO and president of the company. This is the time when his company became the biggest and the most successful golf company worldwide. During this year, the company’s foundation exceeded grants to charities by $4.8 million, as part of Ely’s philanthropy.
The company continued to raise the bar in the competition, and other companies have tried but failed to live up to the standard set by Ely Callaway. Over the next few years, the company would continue to innovate their Big Bertha line by using new technology to create the flattest, lightest and strongest possible clubs. They also introduced the Razr drivers, hybrids and irons, fairway woods, Diablo Edge club and other pioneer clubs in the industry.
Throughout its history, the company has proven that it is the golf company of choice not only among professionals, but also among beginners and amateurs. Several award-winning golfers swear by the quality of the company’s golf clubs such as David Leadbetter, Johnny Miller, Arnold Palmer, Gary Player, Annika Sorenstam to name a few.
It seems like technology will only push the company forward. By continuing to uphold Ely Callaway’s keen eye for detail, the company will only continue to strive to bring their customers the ultimate golfing experience.