Callaway Golf: the Home of Big Bertha

Callaway Golf: the Home of Big Bertha

Ely Reeves Callaway, Jr., the president of Burlington Textile, was an avid golfer. When he player, Callaway always used wooden golf clubs manufactured by a company called Hickory Sticks. Like many of the old wooden club manufacturers, Hickory Sticks was in financial difficulty and began looking for investors to bail them out. One of the people they approached was Callaway. He had just sold his wine vineyards for a nice profit and was looking for a new investment. Why not, he thought, combine business with pleasure.

In 1982, Ely Callaway purchased 50% of Hickory Sticks and changed the company’s name to Callaway Hickory Sticks, USA. Six years later the Hickory Sticks name was dropped all together.

Realizing that golf club manufacturing was on the brink of a technical explosion, Callaway knew the company needed a new direction. In 1986 he asked Richard Helmstetter, of all things a billiard cue designer, to consult with the company about better club design and the new technology in materials and manufacturing. His ideas were well received and he soon became the Callaway Golf’s chief club designer.

Under Helmstetter, Callaway Golf soon introduced computerized club manufacturing and their first major success was the indomitable Big Bertha driver. The original Big Bertha had a very large steel club head that measured 190 cubic centimeters. A later version, introduced in 1997, grew to 290 cc’s. Big Bertha revolutionized the golf driver and became the cornerstone of Callaway Golf.

Roger Cleveland, founder of Cleveland Golf, joined Callaway in 1996 as chief club designer and soon the company was working to develop cutting edge Fusion irons.

Six years later, Callaway Golf introduced its forged wedges. Constructed with carbon steel, the golf wedges featured a club face that contained special U shaped grooves. Soon Callaway was offering a complete line of high tech golf woods, irons, wedges and putters. Many of these are featured in our Golf Equipment and Tips articles and videos.

Also in 2002, Callaway Golf introduced the Callaway Golf ball. Their engineers used sophisticated computer programs to analyze and evaluate hundreds of dimple patterns and over 1,000 golf ball cores and cover materials. The result was the Rule 35 ball that combined distance, control, spin and durability into one golf ball.

Today Callaway Golf, through its acquisitions and internal development, sells golf clubs and accessories under the Callaway Golf, Ben Hogan and Top-Flight Brands. Once the home of only Big Bertha, now every golfer, from amateur to PGA professional can carry a complete set of Callaway golf clubs.

Ely Callaway, who took Callaway Golf from those old hickory sticks to one of golf’s great innovative companies, resigned as Chief Executive Officer in 1996. Two years later he returned to again run the company, but sadly passed away from pancreatic cancer in 2001.

Callaway Golf’s goal is to design and manufacture golf equipment that will make every golfer a better golfer. Golf clubs and accessories from their many brands are frequent visitors to significant publications like the Golf Digest “Hot List” and Editor’s Choices.

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James O’Brien is the president of The Jamison Group, Inc. and an avid golfer. He has golfed extensively in America and Asia. He has an interest, not only in golf’s history. but in the technical developments that have greatly changed the game in the last several years. O’Brien also is the web master for, a web site devoted to providing Detailed Information, Discounted Golf Equipment.Free Golf Tips to all golfers at every level. To learn more about Callaway Golf Clubs and purchase Discounted Callaway Golf Equipmentvisit our web site.

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