2005 Callaway Golf New Products

One hacker’s opinion on Callaway’s 2005 new products to hit the market.

CallawayMy annual trek to Orlando included a round of golf with the good folks from Callaway Golf, giving me a chance to try some of the company’s new clubs and balls. While the really new stuff — like either of the prototype Fusion drivers being tested on tour, or the softer prototype HX Tour ball that Phil Mickelson is playing — stayed under wraps, there was still a wide berth of Berthas to put through their paces. Here’s one hacker’s opinion on Callaway’s latest products to hit the market, based on a morning of scramble golf.

2005 Merchandise Show Wrap-Up

The 2005 PGA Merchandise Show has come to a close. Here’s a tasty little summary.

PGA LogoNext year, The Sand Trap should be well-represented at the PGA Merchandise Show. This year we must suffice with linking to another site for coverage. For more images than you can shake a stick at, check out equip2golf’s 2005 report.

Just because we weren’t there, though, doesn’t mean we don’t have some thoughts.

Several of the big names, including Titleist, TaylorMade, and Ping, were absent as usual. These companies tend to release products when they’re ready (Titleist) or every other week (TaylorMade), and are not pressured into releasing a barrage of new products at or slightly before the yearly merchandise show. Besides, does Ping really want to be 30 feet away from a company that sells nothing but ball mark repair tools?

Ban Belly Putters? For the Good of the Game?

Where do you stand on the belly putter debate? Are they an unfair advantage? Or are they just as likely to help you miss putts?

USGAIt all began quite suddenly a year ago. After Ernie Els lost to Trevor Immelman at the Deutsche Bank-SAP Open, Els called for the USGA to ban belly putters. Since then the debate has raged on: should the USGA and R&A ban long putters? These putters have become all the rage with golfers who develop cases of the “yips” and can no longer keep short putters stable. Yet some golfers continued to cry out against belly putters. Even players like Colin Montgomerie who have resurrected their careers with these putters agree they’re an unfair advantage. Once again, the rumor mill is spinning and there are grumblings around golf that the USGA is about to make a ruling outlawing belly and long putters. New developments have only added fueled to this fiery debate: many new putter companies such as Yes! Golf haven’t introduced belly and long putter models. Furthermore, established ones like Titleist’s Scotty Cameron house haven’t added new belly putters to their existing lines. Where do you stand on the belly putter debate? Discuss it in our forum!

TaylorMade Rac Y-Cutter Wedge Review

TaylorMade’s y-grooves are all the rage on the PGA Tour, but are they worth it for amateur golfers?

TaylorMade LogoFor the past year and a half, two of my favorite clubs have been my 56° and 60° Titleist Vokey Oil Can wedges. These wedges performed superbly on approaches from the fairway, out of the rough, and were a sure bet out of the sand. However, many people have been raving about the incredible spin produced by TaylorMade’s y-groove wedges which are found only on their tour versions of the RAC wedge series. Recently I had the opportunity to purchase one of these wedges from Bomb Squad Golf and pounced on it just to see what all the hype is about. A few days ago, a 56° oil quenched RAC y-cutter with 12° of bounce was delivered to my door and I tested it at the course the next day.

Justin Leonard Signs with Nike

Nike announced today that they have signed Justin Leonard to their tour staff.

Justin LeonardNike Golf announced today that they have signed Justin Leonard to their tour staff. Although specific numbers were not in the press release, Nike quantified it as an, “exclusive multi-year relationship.” Leonard adds another big name to the Nike camp which has worked hard to sign new stars such as Paul Casey to complement their headliners like Tiger Woods, Grace Park, and David Duval.

Leonard’s first start on the PGA tour season is scheduled to be the Buick Invitational on January 20, 2005. Leonard will be playing with Nike’s 410CC Ignite driver, Forged Blade irons, Forged Pro Combo wedges, and One Black ball. He will also sport Nike Dri-Fit apparel and should be working with Nike to help design eye-wear in the future.

A Callaway Christmas

Callaway brings out the new stuff – the Big Bertha 454 Titanium Driver and X-18 Series irons.

callaway_454_back.jpgCallaway Golf rushed into the holiday season this year by bringing out all kinds of new stuff. First off, as previously noted, the Big Bertha© Titanium 454 Driver (right) has already made a splash by winning the Re/Max World Long Drive Championship televised earlier today. Sticking to the Callaway’s Big Bertha maxim of “when properly engineered, Bigger is Better”, the 454 Driver (that’s 454cc) is Callaway’s largest driver to date, yet by using subtle design curves, gives a surprisingly compact look at address. It is designed to reach the maximum allowable level for springlike effect as measured by the USGA’s new characteristic time (CT) test, and conforms to all USGA Rules.

That may be some good press release rhetoric, but I’m quite anxious to get this puppy on to the driving range.

The next stop on the product tour is the iron department.

Casey Swooshes over to Nike

Titleist punted him, and Nike’s decided to pick up the ball and run with Paul Casey.

NikeAccording to the UK Telegraph, Paul Casey is now a member of Team Nike. He’ll join fellow countrymen Nick Faldo and other notables like Tiger Woods, David Duval, Rory Sabbatini, and, on the LPGA Tour, Grace Park. And I know that just having watched that commercial in which they smash Tiger’s SUV with an Ignite driver!

The signing of Casey comes quick on the heels of Titleist’s booting Casey out of camp early for his remarks about “stupid Americans.” Casey maintains that Titleist and he were parting soon anyway, and he sought Nike to get him to the next level. The article says thaat those who have watched him practice say he is hitting the ball longer, straighter, and higher (when he wants to). Casey will make his first PGA Tour stop the same week Michelle Wie takes the stage, and he hopes that this will take some of the heat off of him.

Thanks to the Golf Blogger for the tip.

Jesse Joins Jones

Jesse Ortiz, the man behind the Orlimar TriMetal is now the man behind the new Bobby Jones Golf Equipment Company.

Jones Fairway WoodRemember those Orlimar “TriMetal” golf clubs from the late 1990s? The man behind the clubs – Jesse Ortiz – is back. He’s found a job with Bobby Jones Golf Equipment Company. The company features two lines of men’s equipment – “Collection” and “Players” – and a line of women’s gear. All three will be on display at next month’s PGA Merchandise show in Orlando.

Ortiz comes from a line of clubmakers. His dad, Lou, made clubs for some folks you may have heard of: Ken Venture and Johnny Miller. The TriMetal was such a success that the relatively small Orlimar couldn’t control its success. Orlimar took on investors and eventually succumbed to a problem perhaps best described as “too many cooks in the kitchen.” The company floundered under a sea of debt and empty promises.

In June, and with the permission of the Jones estate, Ortiz and a business partner started the Bobby Jones Equipment Company to expand the Bobby Jones brand beyond the apparel line.

Callaway Initiates CEO Search

Bill Baker, CEO of Callaway Golf, will lead the search to find his replacement.

callaway_logo.jpgCallaway Golf has announced that they will begin the search process to find a Chief Executive Officer to replace Bill Baker, who has served in the position only since August 2nd. No mention was given for how long it would take to name a new CEO, but Callaway said that its Board has determined “this is the appropriate time” to start the search. Bill Baker will head the process.

Mr. Baker stated, “As the current CEO, one of my most important responsibilities is the identification and training of my successor. With the overall review of the Company’s business and strategic plans well underway, I believe that now is the time to begin this search.”

What’s interesting to note here is that all successors to Ely Callaway, the company’s founder, have been forced out. They include Donald Dye, who had been Callaway’s legal counsel, former TaylorMade President Chuck Yash and Ron Drapeau. So is Baker on his way out on his own accord or is he being pushed?