The History of Callaway Golf Balls

By Don Patton
Callaway's first ball: the Rule 35
Callaway's first ball: the Rule 35

Callaway Golf has been a leading golf equipment manufacturer for many years, and in 2000, the company added golf balls to its product line. Callaway's competitors in the golf ball market include established companies such as Spalding, Wilson and Titleist, which have been selling balls since early in the last century. Callaway’s innovative entry into the golf ball business helped it to quickly become one of the industry's sales leaders.

The Company

Callaway Golf began operations as a specialty club manufacturer in the 1980s. By 1990 Callaway had broadened its appeal by releasing a number of different models of metal woods and irons. In 1991 Callaway introduced its breakthrough product, the Big Bertha driver, which by 1995 was the most-used driver on every professional golf tour as well as a favorite with amateurs, according to Callaway's website.

The Rule 35

In 2000, Callaway introduced its first golf ball, the Rule 35. The name came from the 34 categories of golf rules to which Callaway proposed adding “Enjoy the Game." The ball came in soft and firm versions, and each had a solid polybutadiene core with an ionomer boundary layer and a thin urethane cover. The design and materials soon became common in most premium golf balls, but the Rule 35 was the first of its kind.

Succeeding Models

Callaway followed the Rule 35 with balls of similar design in the CB1 and CTU 30. These led to the first HX series balls in 2002, and this evolved into the four-piece Tour i series in 2008. Lower-priced balls started appearing in the Callaway line in 2003. They included the Big Bertha and Warbird, which were two-piece balls with harder and more durable ionomer covers.

2010 Golf Balls

The 2010 line of Calloway balls is led by the company's premium four-piece Tour i(s) and Tour i(z) balls, which feature soft urethane covers and deliver tour level performance. Several less-expensive models are aimed at more casual players. The HX Bite and Hot are three-piece balls with ionomer covers, and the Warbird and Big Bertha Diablo are two-piece balls. The Solaire and HX Pearl, made specifically for women, complete the lineup.

Sales

In 2000, the Rule 35 was well received by professionals and better amateurs alike, but the price was high, and sales in the first year reached only half of the $70 million the company had hoped for. Sales grew in the following years, and in 2009, Callaway sold $180 million worth of golf balls, about 1/4 of the company’s total sales. This moved Callaway into second place among ball manufacturers but well behind Acushnet, makers of Titleist, which continues to capture over half of the billion-dollar-a-year golf ball market as of 2010.

About the Author

Don Patton began writing after retiring from an engineering career in 2006. He holds a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering from the University of California at Berkeley and continued with graduate study in software engineering.

Photo Credits

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