Callaway: A history of innovation

Callaway clubs were once sold by the company founder from the back of a Cadillac. Innovations like Big Bertha helped the brand become the world’s largest manufacturer of golf clubs.

Callaway, (Topgolf Callaway Brands Corp.), is an American global sports equipment manufacturing company that designs, manufactures and sells golf equipment. The company also produces clothing through its subsidiary Callaway Apparel, and golf shoes through its Cuater subsidiary. In 2021 Callaway purchased Topgolf, the golf driving range game and entertainment centres.

Today, Callaway incorporates five other brands: Odyssey, Toulon Design, OGIO, TravisMathew, and Jack Wolfskin. Together the Callaway family provides everything professional, amateur golfers and casual players need, from clubs and balls to apparel, footwear, bags and accessories.

Hundreds of tournaments and several major championships have been won by golfers using Callaway equipment including Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia, Henrik Stenson, Jim Furyk, Danny Willett, Kevin Kisner, Annika Sorenstam, and Michelle Wie.

Callaway staff players currently include 2023 Masters champion Jon Rahm, Xander Schauffele, Sam Burns and Si Woo Kim, and in the women’s game Atthaya Thitikul and Madelene Sagström.


In the past year the brand has continued to provide golfers with innovate equipment, releasing its Paradym range of fairway woods, hybrids and irons, offering distance, feel and forgiveness. They were released along with the Paradym, Paradym X, and Paradym Triple Diamond drivers, which the brand says overcome the usual trade-off between distance and forgiveness.

The name Paradym comes from the word paradigm which means a pattern or model of thinking, or a set of ideas. Callaway’s interpretation is a ‘paradigm shift’ – a brand new set of ideas or way of looking at something. This has been Callaway’s mission since 1982.

40 years of innovation

Founded in 1982 by Ely Callaway Jr, the brand is world renowned for developing innovative products which help golfers play better golf. “I’m not a good enough salesman to sell a mediocre product,” he famously said.

The list of Callaway products introduced over the last 40 years has changed the equipment landscape, none more so than the iconic Big Bertha driver which took Callaway to the top of the golf club manufacturing industry in the early 1990s for its combination of innovation and performance.

Ely Callaway

Callaway’s original Big Bertha driver ignited the boom in golf technology. The driver was considered revolutionary because it was made entirely of stainless steel during a time when many golfers still used traditional wooden drivers.

Callaway Jr, formerly president of Burlington Industries as well as a keen golfer, invested in his favourite brand Hickory Sticks USA in 1982 when it ran into financial problems. In 1983 he became the company’s president and moved its headquarters to Carlsbad where at one stage he sold clubs out of his Cadillac.

It proved a key moment in the golf industry, with other brands soon following Callaway’s lead. Carlsbad, the coastal city in San Diego County, California, is now also home to Cobra Puma Golf, Honma Golf, TaylorMade Golf Company and Titleist.

In 1984, Callaway Jr bought the rest of the company for $400,000. It then continued its rapid expansion, often bringing in talent from the booming aerospace industry with skills in aerodynamics, computer-aided design and materials. In 1986 Callaway became the first golf equipment maker to install computer-run milling machines.

Big Bertha

In 1988, the company rebranded itself to Callaway Golf and debuted its S2H2 core technology. Callaway irons were the first clubs to feature the technology, which later appeared in the first Callaway stainless steel woods in 1989.

In 1991, the company launched the original Big Bertha driver using a famously large-volume 190cc steel clubhead, which grew to 290cc by 1997. That year, Odyssey Sports was acquired which led to the introduction of the Odyssey White Hot putter line in 2000 and its game-changing variable face thickness technology.

In the early 2000s, the brand released its Rule 35 golf ball and continued to push golf manufacturing forward despite its founder Ely Callaway Jr passing away in 2001. In 2019, Callaway acquired German outdoor apparel company Jack Wolfskin and in 2020 bought Topgolf Entertainment Group for $2 billion.

Today, Callaway is the world’s largest manufacturer of golf clubs.

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Related articles