By Alex Starace
Getting what you want can be daunting. In 2012, Chip Brewer was named Callaway’s new president and CEO. As a lifelong golf aficionado, he couldn’t have imagined a better role. There was only one problem: The previous two years the company had operated at a loss. And, the brand’s once-revered Big Bertha line no longer held golfers’ interest.
What to do? As Brewer described to Eloquence, his first task was to find the right team. “You’ve got to surround yourself with people that are smarter than you in their key areas of expertise,” he said. And the organization needed a culture-check, having strayed from founder Ely Callaway’s mantra of creating “pleasingly different and demonstrably superior” products.
“We recommitted ourselves to pushing the envelope, to the belief that product performance not only matters, but it’s non-negotiable,” said Brewer. Callaway had long spent over $30 million a year on R&D. Under Brewer, even in hard times, this was never cut. In fact, Brewer doubled down on the company’s advanced research groups.
No-Holds-Barred Strategic Product Development
It was a move that proved prophetic. By 2014, the company was running a profit. And now, in 2018, Callaway is once again a global leader in the golf club market. One of the reasons is the Epic and Rogue drivers, with Jailbreak Technology. It has over 40 patents to its name, a tribute to the work and effort put in. “We innovate, we don’t let ourselves be satisfied. It stresses us at times, to be honest, but it’s fun and it moves the needle,” Brewer said.
And it’s not just the clubs. Callaway’s Chrome Soft golf balls use graphene, a Nobel-prize-winning substance that’s believed to be the lightest, strongest material on the planet. How did they decide to use it in designing a golf ball?
“Everyone was chasing Titleist, and we were chasing Titleist. The epiphany was that if you make a ball as good as Titleist, you’re still in second place. It doesn’t matter. You have to differentiate,” Brewer said. The result: A unique ball that’s notably different in feel, that plays fast and has great spin around the greens. “That’s when you gain share, not by following, but by sticking your neck out a little.”
Truly a visionary, Brewer wants to make sure Callaway is involved in whatever direction golf takes. The company has a 15 percent stake in Topgolf, a sports entertainment business that combines the best aspects of a driving range and a bowling alley. Players compete to hit targets on a range, while food and drink is delivered to their bay. The balls have sensors so results are immediate; it’s a quick, fun way to compete with friends.
“Traditional golf is relatively stable, it’s solid, but it’s not high growth,” said Brewer. In contrast, the Topgolf brand currently has 41 locations across the country and in the United Kingdom, while adding around 10 new centers per year. It’s a way for millennials and beginners to get into the game without a substantial time and financial commitment.
“The epiphany [re: Callaway]: If you make a ball as good as Titleist, you’re still in 2nd place. You have to differentiate. The result: Chrome Soft golf balls with graphene ― a Nobel-prize-winning substance. That’s when you gain share, not by following, but by sticking your neck out a little.” ― Chip Brewer
Predicting the Future of the Game
As Brewer explained, over half of Topgolf players don’t ever play on a golf course. “Golf is evolving as it must,” said Brewer, “It’s going to include more short formats in the future. As you look at the tours, nine holes is going to be probably more common.” Overall, Brewer predicts that off-course golf ― defined as golf not on an 18-hole course ― will be bigger than traditional golf within his lifetime.
For Brewer, though, nothing can replace getting out on the links. The son of a former president of Pine Valley Golf Club, he’s been golfing since the age of 10, and played competitively for William & Mary. He laughed when asked why he loves it so much. “It’s such a frustrating sport at times,” he said, “Anything that’s worthwhile has a challenge to it. If it were easy and you could solve it, it wouldn’t appeal, I don’t think.”
Fond Family Memories on the Links
Brewer’s favorite golf memories include entering better ball competitions with his father. In one event, the pair went eagle/hole-in-one/birdie/birdie on the final day to roar back and win. “I’m now playing some of those with my sons, but not with the same level of success, because I’m not the player my dad was,” he said.
Humble to the end, Brewer’s success comes from recognizing that business and golf are most rewarding when seen as lifelong, evolving challenges to be continually mastered. And he also recognizes his great good fortune: “Golf is both my avocation and vocation. I’m very lucky.”
Chrome Soft Truvis Stars and Stripes Golf Balls
This new USA-made golf ball combines tour-proven performance with unparalleled feel, exceptional mis-hit forgiveness, and a patriotic stars-and-stripes Truvis design. Callaway innovated every layer, starting with a groundbreaking new Graphene Dual SoftFast Core. The result is an extremely fast and soft-feeling ball that promotes high-launch and low spin off the tee for long distance, and incredible shot-stopping spin around the green.
- Fast-Ball Speeds & Low Spin Off The Driver ― New Graphene-infused Dual Soft Fast Core with a new, larger inner core , maximizes compression energy while minimizing driver-spin and promoting high launch for long distance.
- Distance & Control ― Premium dual-core construction promotes more distance off of your longer clubs, and more control off of mid irons, short irons and wedges.
- Pinpoint Greenside Control ― Thin ultra-soft Tour Urethane Cover feels fantastic and generates shot-controlling, stroke-saving spin on pitches and chips.
- Ultra–Soft Feel ―The fast SubMantle, soft Tour Urethane Cover, and low compression core combine for unparalleled feel.
- Forgiveness ― Softer golf ball compresses easier on off–center hits for incredible distance all over the face.
Customize Your Rogue Driver
To dramatically change driver performance, you have to dramatically change driver dynamics. That’s what inspired Callaway R&D to break away from its own industry-leading metalwood design protocol to re-invent the driver. They took the revolutionary technologies that made GBB Epic the best-selling driver in the U.S. and supercharged them to create Rogue, a driver that combines revolutionary “Jailbreak Effect” technology for boosting ball speed, with a new MOI-enhancing shape that delivers extraordinary forgiveness.
Callaway Customs allows golfers to create detailed personalization using its interactive configurator in all three driver models: Standard, Sub Zero, or Draw. Choose from two different zones and nine color options, with 81 combinations to make your driver completely your own.
- The new, hourglass-shaped titanium bars make the drivers significantly lighter without affecting their ability to minimize crown and sole deflection at impact. That allows for a thinner face and better energy-transfer to the ball, to promote faster ball speed.
- Enhanced X-Face architecture thickens and thins strategic face areas to promote higher ball speeds on off-center impacts and consistently high ball speed and long distance overall.
- The new and more forgiving 460cc shape boasts a larger address footprint than Epic, encouraging golfers to relax, cut loose and make a free and fast swing. Rogue’s extreme forgiveness is also made possible by its incredibly light and strong triaxial carbon crown, which allows more weight distribution into the head’s perimeter to increase stability on off-center hits.
Golfers will never stop craving more ball speed and forgiveness. Callaway engineers have given them what they want by going Rogue.
Topgolf pioneered a technology to make golf more fun and engaging. It has since emerged as a global sports and entertainment community focused on connecting people in meaningful ways. It blends technology and entertainment, golfers and non-golfers, children and adults – to create an experience that makes socializing a sport for everyone.
Every great time starts with play, is fueled by food and beverage, moved by music and made possible through community. Topgolf venues feature dozens of high-tech, climate-controlled hitting bays for year-round comfort, a chef-inspired menu for year-round deliciousness and associates eager to help create moments that matter.
Topgolf’s 41 venues entertain more than 13 million guests annually with original-content shows, next-gen simulator lounges through Topgolf Swing Suite, the global Topgolf Tour competition, pop-up social experiences like Topgolf Crush, Toptracer technology as seen on TV, and the world’s largest digital golf audience. Consider these stats…
|AVERAGE||AVERAGE VISIT LENGTH
AVERAGE GROUP SIZE
16% Ages 17 And Younger
AVERAGE VISITS PER DAY
35,000 in 2017
54% Ages 18-34
14% Ages 35-44
14% Ages 45-64
2% Ages 65+
51% Of Topgolf Guests Are Non-Golfers
For more information visit topgolf.com.