Skip to main content

Ely Callaway to Remain Callaway Head through 2001

A year ago, Ely Callaway had planned to step down at the end of 2000 from the helm of the company he founded. But now he's planning to stick around.
 
Mr. Callaway, 81, will remain indefinitely as chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Callaway Golf, the club and ball maker based in Carlsbad, Calif. He will also reassume the duties of president, overseeing the company's daily operations. The company announced the changes Nov. 13.
 
Chuck Yash, the man Callaway had tapped to take over for him in the top spot, has been reassigned as vice chairman of the board and head of a special company committee dedicated to growing the game of golf.
 
That mission sounds suspiciously like the one championed for decades by the U.S. Golf Association. And that's no accident.
 
Callaway Golf recently rocked the golf equipment world by deciding to market in the United States a driver that exceeds the USGA's limitations on so-called spring-like effect off the face of the club at impact. The ERC II, endorsed by no less an authority than long-time USGA spokesman Arnold Palmer, is designed for recreational players who want extra distance, Callaway said Oct. 18 at an elaborate press event in Carlsbad.
 
At the time, Callaway said his company was offering a 'truce' to the USGA. Observers expected Callaway and the USGA to come to legal blows over possible restraint of trade if the USGA banned Callaway clubs from competitions that follow the Rules of Golf.
 
Instead, Callaway brought out the ERC II and announced at the same time that it would not sue the USGA, as long as the rulemaking body refrained from stigmatizing users of the new club. Callaway advocated a new, two-part view of the game: Recreational, in which strict adherence to USGA equipment standards would be unnecessary, and elite, in which players would be expected to abide by the rules as they stand.
 
Callaway says it is not trying to hijack the USGA's agenda as guardian and promoter of the game, but that it has taken upon itself the mission of 'changing attitudes toward nonconforming clubs,' as Mr. Callaway put it Nov. 14.
 
'The USGA can do what it wants' to grow the game, Mr. Callaway said. 'They haven't been more than mildly successful yet. The most important thing they could do is recognize that a truly rewarding driver will interest players in the game. But they're against that.'