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Unfiltered: A Q&A with Callaway CEO Chip Brewer

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We could say a lot about Callaway CEO Chip Brewer, and trust us, there would be plenty to talk about.

There’s the quantum leaps Callaway has made in revitalizing its image since Brewer took over three years ago, the economics of the golf industry, Callaway’s frequent product launches… All of that and more would be part of the discussion.

Instead of telling you what we think, we had a better idea. Let’s have someone sit down with Brewer and hear what he has to say.

Our Managing Editor Zak Kozuchowski did exactly that, peppering Brewer with questions in his office at Callaway HQ. Enjoy Brewer’s unfiltered take on the hot-button issues for Callaway and the rest of the golf equipment world.

ZK: We hear a lot from other media and other people inside the industry about the health of golf. What’s your take on the health of golf right now?

CB: You know, on one hand I share some of the concerns that others have espoused. Clearly the game is not growing like we would like it to be. It shrank significantly with the great recession in 2008-2009. After that, I am more optimistic than most are. I think that the amount of negative PR around the sport is not helpful … If you look at the industry over the last several years, it clearly shrank in 2008-2009 with the recession and it has not sprung back after like it has after previous recessions. None of us really get that, other than this recession was different. But it hasn’t really substantially changed since then either. It’s just kind of meandered. Its had a couple good years and a couple not so good years. We’re just in a year this year that has just not been a good year for the industries total, although Callaway as you mentioned has been able to buck that trend.

I think that although the outlook could be glass half empty … you can also look at some of the positives. There are a lot of initiatives underway that are intended to help participation. It is too soon to judge their outcome, but they are uniform views that this is something that the entire industry wants to address. You could look at the PGA Championship and the ratings and the energy that was around the sport as very positive. I think that the story of golf’s demise is not a great argument and is overstated. On the other hand, I understand that we clearly have participation concerns and we have to work together to try to address that.

ZK: Do you think golf will start to grow again?

CB: You know, I don’t know. I’m not really much of a forecaster. If you just went from the business side of it, the greatest argument for growth is that the baby boomers should have led for growth over the last few years and I think the recession stopped that from happening. As the effects of the recession wear off, assuming they do, the baby boomers will have a positive impact on the sport.

I think that if Rory McIlroy and Rickie Fowler and those types of players continue to play well and we get the energy around the game that will drive growth. There is no question that Tiger Woods was part of the formula that drove growth in the sport around the turn of the century, right? We have seen this happen in the game many times in the past where there have been transition periods between periods of excitement with the top players and we’re are probably going through or went through one of those over the last year or so. And then things like Top Golf … all the growth initiatives, and I’m a fan of all of them. Get Golf Ready is a phenomenal program. We are big supporters of that. What TaylorMade started with Hack Golf I think is phenomenal. I can’t be more positive about it. But what really is going move the needle is Top Golf. It exposes the game to a whole different demographic and age group in a way that they love. It hasn’t moved the needle yet because it’s been so small. It’s only had 10 locations. It’s been more regional, as they roll that out I have high hopes that that could be a positive influence in the sport.

The one area we are concerned about is millennials. I think we understand some of the reasons they aren’t playing as much as they have in the past. Part of it is the change in the way we live today, but part of it is economics — they don’t have any jobs or money. This game requires money. If you segment the millennials by income group, those that have higher incomes and jobs are playing as much as they ever have. So, you get out of school and you have a bunch of debt … When I went to school everybody got a job out of college, right? And now that is not the case. No wonder they aren’t playing golf. They not in a position to. As the economics resolve, I think it will be incredibly helpful and the data suggests that and Top Golf can be a catalyst. I’m not in the forecasting business, but I do think that the negative points of view have been overstated and that has had the run of the PR game. It’s all you’ve heard about.

ZK: One of those stories is with Dick’s Sporting Goods. It blames its demise on having too many new products in the store.

CB: Well, Dick’s and TaylorMade have struggled in golf this year. They have in turn highlighted the difficulties of the industry and that’s natural. When my predecessor was here and he was doing bad he claimed a lot of third-party issues, too. And there is no doubt that there have been headwinds to the industry this year, but not to the degree that some of the naysayers have talked about.

ZK: Do you anticipate that you will catch some flak — particularly from the serious golfer audience — for having three drivers in the marketplace this fall and potentially more in the spring and summer?

CB: From the serious golfer, no. From the trade and blogospheres, yes.

ZK: That’s a pretty good way to put it.

CB: Obviously your audience is serious, serious golfers and we value them and take them very seriously as you know. We desperately want positive relationships, and brand image and reputation are very important to us. The consumer that I play golf with at the club… they get excited about new toys.

ZK: They love it. The more the better, right?

CB: When Apple came out with the 5c and other derivatives of the iPhone, I don’t remember us giving them grief. I remember people lining up for it. And now they’ve got a new 6 and 6+. It took them a year on this one, but on the previous ones they were faster and innovation varies from time to time.

ZK: Callaway is in an interesting position, because certain brands have become associated with certain categories. TaylorMade is associated with the driver and Titleist is associated with the golf ball. What is Callaway associated with now, and what does it want to be associated with?

CB: That is a great question and we have to answer that. We have some categories where we are leaders again. We have been a leader in putters with the Odyssey brand for a long period and we have strengthened that position in the last few years. We have regained our No. 1 position in fairway woods and irons over the last several months, but I think that the brand is going to need to stand for excellence in product. Callaway has a unique brand position; it has a heritage of being very innovative and technical, but also very premium. So when we look at our R&D — which I think we have invested in more than anybody over a longer period of time — that fits with that strategy. What we should be is a leader in total performance premium golf equipment. That is, in essence, the best of the best high tech product lines.

ZK: So if Callaway could only be known for one thing… If you had one chance to reach our readers, what would it be?

CB: It needs to be the best premium golf equipment in the world.

ZK: And you seem to be making pushes in each category.

CB: Yeah, there isn’t a single category that we want to stand for above the others. We have clearly focused on hard goods, which sounds pretty stupid because… duhhh, what else would you focus on? But that was less clear three years ago, what we were. That was one of the changes here, but it’s now been a while. But we are, first and foremost a hard goods company. We want to be the world’s best at that. That’s what turns us on and gets us excited. Products like Apex irons and the (Big Bertha) Alpha driver … some of the new innovations that you see coming out that move the needle forward for the categories for the business for golfers. This cup-face technology that we have in woods and are expanding into irons, it’s phenomenal. It differentiates and that is the type of thing we want to be known for.

ZK: You mentioned Top Golf as a potential big driver of the game. On our site, it seems to be an increased interest in custom fitting. How do you see that playing out in golf’s future?

CB: I think it is the future. I sit up and espouse that to the team here constantly. You look at our investments … custom fitting is the future of the golf club business, and probably golf balls in the future as well. It is the future of hard goods. In the past, you could make a breakthrough technology and do it in a way that one size would fit everybody. We would come out in the past with a new driver made out of titanium. Literally, the Big Bertha was made for everybody, right?

ZK: It was such a huge leap. You can’t seem to make those leaps anymore.

CB: Well, I would argue that we could make similar leaps with other new tech like CAD systems and the ability to dial in CG locations. We build mass customization and manufacturing techniques that allow us to take these paradigm moves and customize them for an individual player. That takes it to another level. A cup face is better for everybody because of an increased ball speed, but that doesn’t mean any one size fits everybody perfectly. We are talking about more than just changing loft and lie angle nowadays. The amount of options available in shafts and their performance criteria, the total weight of the golf club, the ability to move the center of gravity vertically as well as horizontally … all of those things can be dialed in to take a driver that would be good for you Zak, and move it to a whole different level.

ZK: Well, I found one of those at your testing center.

CB: Right. If you look at our new drivers, it has double digit amount of customizable shafts available for no upcharge.

ZK: Is that something you brought from Adams? Is that something you saw success with there and thought it would work at a bigger company, too? 

CB: I am a creature of my past so I brought some thoughts I wanted to continue, but there are 2000 people here with their own points of view and we talk it through. It’s not reasonable or fair to say I brought it with me. It is reasonable to say that I believe in it, and I have talked it through here. The team here agrees and embraces the same things. We have a huge technical advantage at Callaway — on drivers and metal woods we can create a lighter chassis. We have a multi-material advantage and expertise in composites that create a lighter chassis and allows us to add more adjustability without any tradeoffs. And we also have a legacy of spending $30 million a year over the last decade to build up a war chest of capabilities on the R&D side that we’re really excited about leveraging. Fitting and customization is one of those truisms; it is the future. You can see in everything we are doing our strong belief in that.

ZK: Is there a “most important” launch this year for Callaway?

CB: There isn’t one per se. They are all very important. The Big Bertha franchise is critical being that it is the most premium brand. We are bringing great innovation to that and a fitting approach. One driver doesn’t fit all, but we have new technology in every single one of them. Some people wish that it was simpler. That we could have one-size wood fit everyone, that you wouldn’t have to go through a fitting, that everybody would benefit from lighter or lower spin… but it’s not true. So to deliver the best product to the consumer we are going with the purer answer of three different drivers that we guarantee will be better for the consumer if they get fit into the right one from Big Bertha. And that will be important to us. We have some movement in the golf ball category, which we’re incredibly excited about. The iron category for us is huge. With this cup-face approach in irons, we think that will be a game changer in that category. You go down the line and they are all pretty important.

ZK: What could get in Callaway’s way coming out of the recession?

CB: What could get in Callaways way? Mostly ourselves. We have to stay humble and hungry — have to continue to listen, change and adapt and get better. Over the long haul, we have a great brand and great resources. We can be a positive factor for the industry, Zak. We’re never going to be perfect, we’re always going to make mistakes, but we have to be honest with ourselves and then use our resources in the right way.

ZK: Is that why you push R&D so hard?

CB: Yeah, I guess so I push everybody a little bit hard. I hope they know I love them, because I do, but we’ve got to be great. You can’t have a product out there that you aren’t wildly proud of, and that is the essence of what motivates us everyday. It’s the same with the marketing and the Tour. We have to keep getting better. We are growing on Tour, growing in popularity and we are making players better most of the time. One of the things I’m most proud of on the Tour is that the players who have joined us… the vast majority are getting better. We graduated seven guys off the Web.com (Tour). Both the No. 1 off the regular season money list and playoff money list were Callaway players. When did that happen last? Never? Stories like Patrick Reed, Chris Kirk, Gary Woodland — when they make the conversions to our gear they get better.

ZK: There doesn’t seem to be a drop off for a lot of the guys that have signed.

CB: Yeah, it’s been the opposite. We’ve all known that hasn’t always been true in the past with every manufacturer, probably even including Callaway.

ZK: What could get in the industry’s way coming out of the recession?

CB: What the industry has to worry about is that the business practices do change. If you look at the drops in average selling prices and excess inventory that has been put into the marketplace over the last few years, that has been a cancer to the golf industry. Everybody is talking about that changing now and it really needs to. If you look at another area that I’m really proud of Callaway, is it that over the last three years we have raised average selling prices in the field. We have gained a ton of market share and we have done it as we’ve raised average selling prices. It’s not that we are trying to gouge consumers. That’s not even a strategy if you wanted it to be, because nobody wants to pay more unless it’s better value, it’s worth it. But where we are using our abilities is to deliver product that is worth it, that delivers on the benefit. Because if you deliver “me too” product, you’re going to have to discount it to sell it through. And then if you over supply that “me too” product, then you’ve not only screwed yourself. You’ve screwed the industry. What we are doing is investing and bringing out products like Apex irons.

ZK: Is there a product that you are most proud of with your time at Callaway?

CB: Apex is up there.

ZK: A $1100 set of irons…

CB: That people love. They don’t like them; they love them. And when people are putting Apex in the bag, they are going to become huge advocates for Callaway because they’re having that kind of impact on their game.

ZK: Is that what you play?

CB: Yeah, but the feedback is almost universal and it wasn’t even on the radar screen but it was within our capabilities. And there are several products, and obviously I’ve said that if we are not proud of them I won’t sleep at night, so I’m proud of everything we’ve put out. But some really live up to the standard that we are talking about.

ZK: Do you think that innovation is ever going to be as sexy as it was when you went to original Big Bertha or when golf went to oversized-perimeter-weighted irons? Are we ever going to see anything like that again that is just so much better?

CB: I really don’t know, Zak. There’s a possibility that it always looks better. It’s like talking about the good old days you know and so you remember them with rose-colored glasses. Some of the innovations that have come out over the last few years are phenomenal. These high-CT fairway woods — they’ve obsoleted other fairway woods. If you’re not using a high-CT fairway wood, you are not in the modern age. Our version of that, X Hot, has moved us back into No. 1 in the fairway wood category. Now you can wax eloquently about oversized irons driving similar change, but it wasn’t any better. It’s just that you remember it as if it was. The changes in the adjustability of these drivers are phenomenal right now. 

ZK: Do you think that we’ll look back at the current product and say how great it was?

CB: Absolutely. We’re are going to look back on this 10 years from now and go, “How come we don’t have great innovations like cup faces anymore or vertical CG adjustability?”

ZK: So this is a thing, you believe, of human nature?

CB: I think part of it is because we are in the process. We are going to change irons next year. We are going to change irons to the point where everything else out there is going to be obsolete. We did that in fairway woods now and we’ve got some thoughts on the golf ball category. You know, everybody says innovations are going to get harder and harder, and to a degree that’s true, but darn over the next few years all I see is opportunity and we are delivering on it. It’s not theory. We show you the cup face in the fairway wood and what that has done to the category. And to the credit of Adams and Taylormade, the slot started that and if you are not playing a high-CT fairway wood you’re in the stone age. Those similar types of changes, you’re starting to see that in irons. We are going to take that to a new level. We’ve got an argument in almost every category right now. Blockbuster change.

ZK: Where can you get better?

CB: Zak, we are not nearly as good as we should be or want to be yet. This is only 2.5 years into a change process. Callaway is an interesting spot. I’m glad to hear you say that you think the moral is good and I think it is too, but we are very self critical still in terms of how we can continue to improve in all areas of our business … There are products that were already produced that we decided not to launch. We made that decision last month because we got new information and the new information said that it wasn’t the right answer for the consumer.

ZK: Can you tell me more?

CB: It’s not available for writing about right now, but we’ll tell you when the time is right.

ZK: OK, let’s talk more about the criticism you’ve received for having too many products, especially drivers, in the market place? How can people be upset about having more choices?

CB: It doesn’t fit their paradigm of the world, they don’t understand it and we’re not ready to discuss it yet. So we’ll just let them slap us around a little bit. And yeah, it came quickly after the Big Bertha launch in February. We’re introducing V-Series now and maybe we should have put V-Series out in November (with the new Big Bertha Alphas), but you make decisions as you go … V-Series fits a lot of people. It’s a product that definitely needs to be out in the field, but obviously that low spin stuff for a guy like you is going to be game changing, right? V-Series is not going to be your driver.

Click here to see Zak Kozuchowski’s test of Callaway’s V-Series, Big Bertha Alpha 815 and Double Black Diamond drivers.

Clearly you can see the success it’s having, and you know that for a sixty-year-old guy that is buying a 10.5- or 13.5-degree driver, a 295-gram aerodynamic V-Series driver is a perfect answer. Giving that guy a 320-gram driver with low spin is idiotic. I’m not serving the consumer. And to simplify the product offering to make some guy on a blog happy is dumb. Now, how we manage it is very important so where we work those transitions and managing the excess inventory is one of the big differences that we don’t get credit for.

ZK: Is there a differentiating factor right now between Callaway and its competitors?

CB: Well, Callaway is its own animal. We have our own flavor of coming to market and running our business, and people can’t lump anybody in. We are very aggressive on bringing innovation and cool products, but we also are very attentive to managing the field inventories and making sure that we are not flooding the market with excess inventory and such. That, I think, supports the strategy well. I think that the industry got into a lot of trouble over the last few years chasing too much growth that wasn’t there. If you take every order and you keep shipping into the field and keep making old product you’re going to oversupply it, especially if your products don’t differentiate in any particular year.

The world doesn’t need more cheap fairway woods or more cheap drivers. New golfers get excited about products that make a difference for them. We are really good at that. Some of the others are really good too at that, but we are also showing the discipline of a premium brand market leader and some of the blogs are not giving us credit for that. But the data is very clear. We are obviously gaining market share and we are obviously exciting consumers. We are growing with good players, with average players… we are growing across the globe. We’re making golfers happy.

ZK: What is the vision you have for Callaway and when do think it can come into fruition?

CB: The vision is to do what we are doing, so we are in the process. You are never going to get there. There is never an end point. That is part of life, business — for you, for me, for anybody. There will be milestones along the way where we’ll stop and high five. Then we have to think about how we are going to continue to get better. The vision for Callaway is to have this be the No. 1 premium total performance golf brand in the world and I don’t believe that we are there yet, but I believe we are moving in that direction. The only reason I believe it is because the outside world — the objective evidence — is suggesting that we are. There is almost no metric that would suggest otherwise, but clearly I know what our potential is and we are not even halfway there to that yet. We continue to get so much better and we are continuing to invest accordingly. I kind of like, in a perverse way, the fact that we are doing well in a tough market because that means that we are going to be continuing to grow on Tour going into next year and we’ll be investing aggressively. We’ll continue to invest in R&D and marketing. Being the guy that is bucking the trend and putting more money into key areas when others may not have the ability to do that, usually that pays off. The guys that made those investments in 2008 and 2009 did well after that period. So I’m excited about that opportunity as well.

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49 Comments

49 Comments

  1. Frank Magee

    Dec 15, 2016 at 2:34 pm

    Chip is a thoroughbred. He comes from the finest people in golf. He needs to connect with us to find the heart and soul of golf, the desire for excellence and improvement. We hope he will develop into a leader in the game, rather than following the mainstream. Golf needs to be first in ethics, integrity and fairness. We wish he would call us. Callaway needs to take some new initiatives on behalf of the players who troubled themselves to become excellent, or suffer the fate deserved for not doing so.

  2. Mtek VersaSpeed

    Dec 19, 2014 at 5:18 pm

    Hey Zak, I’m surprised you didnt ask Chip how important ethics & integrity is to a big golf club manufacturing company like Callaway & how Callaway handles important ethics & integrity issues compared to Odysee. Afiak Callaway has a ethics charter right & they won a award years ago from Torch….?

    cheers

    Mark

  3. Pingback: An Interview With Callaway CEO Chip Brewer | Callaway Golf News and Media

  4. Johan

    Nov 20, 2014 at 11:44 pm

    By way of context for my comments: I love the Apex irons. I currently game X Forged 2013 irons and love those too. I love the new Tour Grind wedge. I think Callaway’s support is fantastic (almost as good as PING’s). I love their new muscle back irons. I also love the Big Bertha fairways woods. As for Brewer’s comments…
    1. To compare new Apple iPhone releases with golf clubs is either stupid, or Machiavellian. I can’t recall a governing body for smartphones that only allows tiny changes in the products like the R&A and PGA. Secondly, Apple does not release products nearly as often as Callaway does.
    2. He says he knows people who love new toys. Of course, there are lots of people who think a new club will magically fix their game. Or, just love a new toy for no other reason than cosmetics. That’s all fine, but he should have answered the real question by explaining why his and TM’s frantic release schedule is good for golf, as opposed to Titleist’s and PING’s more measured release schedule. He obviously knows there are many of us who think the fast release schedule is net negative, and he chose to ignore addressing this head on.
    3. This may be a personal impression, but he comes across like a hard-hitting salesman. This means I’m inclined to disbelieve most of what he says. Most of the best salespeople I’ve met never struck me as salespeople, as a result I was willing to listen and be convinced.

  5. Will

    Oct 30, 2014 at 10:44 am

    Good article. Zak, thanks. I love what they are doing at Callaway. I don’t understand all the hate. I don’t get mad at a company because the have to many products or I can’t afford it. I would love to have a Porsche 911 turbo, but I have a Ford Fusion. I think the interview was spot on and he gave his opinion or answered the questions he was presented.

  6. Dpavs

    Oct 30, 2014 at 8:25 am

    We’re unique, … blah, blah, blah, ….We want to be the best… blah, blah, blah, … provide great value…. blah, blah, blah…. the latest technology… blah, blah, blah…we listen to and care about our customers… blah, blah, blah…

    These always sound the same to me regardless what manufacturer is being interviewed.

    Still I suppose it was nice for Chip to take the time out of his schedule to do the interview.

    • Dpavs

      Oct 30, 2014 at 8:27 am

      Oh and I should add that I do agree that from a customer support perspective, Callaway really is top notch!

  7. 8thehardway

    Oct 30, 2014 at 7:40 am

    Seriously, I think some people want ‘Zakie TMZ’ to ambush Chip Brewer at a Top Golf party and pepper him with questions until he admits he’s naming their next driver after the hot waitress he just met while snapping photos of him using a custom Krank driver (13* loft) with a Scotty Go-Lo hidden under a Tuttle putter cover in his bag.

  8. mo

    Oct 30, 2014 at 12:48 am

    This was a very good inteview. I’m anxious to see what’s in store next year.

  9. marcel

    Oct 29, 2014 at 11:31 pm

    golf has got one problem. its the most technical sport on the planet yet “golfers” tend to spend money for driver but not the lesson… most of golfer are plying wrong gear based on emotions… resulting in poor game and therefore loss of interest…

  10. J Taylor

    Oct 29, 2014 at 10:41 pm

    Great interview Zak,

    Can’t wait to see whats in store in 2015 from Callaway; I wish he would have told us what they decided not to release!

    • Zak Kozuchowski

      Oct 30, 2014 at 9:21 am

      Thanks J. We will find that out soon. You have my word.

  11. Minh

    Oct 29, 2014 at 10:26 pm

    Great job Zak. My favorite line from Mr. Brewer, “to simplify the product offering to make some guy on a blog happy is dumb”.

  12. marionmg

    Oct 29, 2014 at 9:50 pm

    I’m going all callaway now….

  13. tom

    Oct 29, 2014 at 7:24 pm

    Nice job, Zak. I enjoyed the interview and think CB is a sharp guy. Too many people on here are so darn negative about everything.

    • Zak Kozuchowski

      Oct 30, 2014 at 9:24 am

      Negative? Who’s negative on the internet? 😉

      Thanks Tom.

  14. Desmond

    Oct 29, 2014 at 6:59 pm

    Zak, good job. A few nuggets showed up, and that is all you can reasonably expect. You’ve got to get Chip’s personality on paper, and he comes across as an avid golfer who demands excellence from his people, yet reasonable.

    I like his answer regarding 3 drivers – Chip is right – Serious golfers will get it – you’ve got a driver for 3 different markets – I enjoy the V Series and its fairways. And Chip is right about face cup technology. So it’s existed for a number of years in Japan, but not here. Callaway has brought it (well, so has Jesse Ortiz in Bobby Jones) to the masses and improved on the basic technology.

    Chip, let’s bring face cup to your next series of drivers if you can get the sound/feel right. That’s another area where Callaway has improved each year – feel/sound. The V Series has it.

    Appreciate the interview. Keep ’em coming.

    • Zak Kozuchowski

      Oct 30, 2014 at 9:25 am

      We’re going to keep them coming, Desmond. Thanks for reading and for taking the time to post a thoughtful comment.

  15. Andrew

    Oct 29, 2014 at 6:40 pm

    Bravo Chip!

    IMHO, you are naming the right tune with regards to the category! Too many folks in positions of influence have bastardized the industry narrative… but please go easier on Ms. Bertha. She will love you back for along time if you do.

  16. Aye

    Oct 29, 2014 at 6:31 pm

    ZK: So if Callaway could only be known for one thing… If you had one chance to reach our readers, what would it be?

    CB: It needs to be the best premium golf equipment in the world.

    …I’m pretty sure every golf company wants to be the premium golf equipment. Seems like CB didn’t know the answer to it…

  17. Alvaro

    Oct 29, 2014 at 6:13 pm

    It was nice to hear the acknowledgement about the issues with an overabundance of product inventories, but find it hard to believe they wont fill orders in order to serve the greater good. I guess only time will tell.

  18. Alex

    Oct 29, 2014 at 4:18 pm

    I’m a proud Ping man. I think Callaway has always made great clubs but TaylorMade has thrown a gauntlet that Callaway decided to pick up and in a way they’re paying the price: consumers have grown a completely polarised view of the brand. I played Callaway in the past, but now I would’t buy that brand. My view of Callaway is somehow negative.

  19. Mike

    Oct 29, 2014 at 2:50 pm

    Total marketing prattle, cup faces have been around for 10 years and more and make a couple yards difference at best. This statement is as shameless as it gets – “These high-CT fairway woods — they’ve obsoleted other fairway woods. If you’re not using a high-CT fairway wood, you are not in the modern age”
    The faces of fairway woods are so small they hardly flex at all and high CT fairways have been around in various incarnations for years as well.
    The fact is Callaway and TM continue to flood the market with product in hopes of driving out all the smaller competing brands. Golfsmith and Cleveland and others made composite material differential CG heads more than 10 years ago. Adjustable drivers only adjust loft if you rotate the face to square at address (and maintain through impact) so seems he forgot to mention that. They are not the same or as effective as loft change by two different clubs with higher and lower lofts…it’s all distinction without a tangible difference and that’s because the USGA regulates the parameters that make a real difference.
    And by the way how does aggressively paying tour pros to use your product represent progress…? These gifted players could just as easily win with any number of brands.

  20. other paul

    Oct 29, 2014 at 2:42 pm

    Don’t worry Zak, we all liked the article. Even if we don’t admit it.

    • Zak Kozuchowski

      Oct 29, 2014 at 3:18 pm

      Thanks Paul. I appreciate the support, and am glad I got to share my conversation with all of you.

      • John

        Oct 29, 2014 at 4:22 pm

        “conversation”

      • cody

        Oct 29, 2014 at 5:21 pm

        Nice job, looks like it was a fun conversation. I love the looks of the new cally stuff. I wish my wallet liked it as much as my eyes.

  21. Jafar

    Oct 29, 2014 at 1:43 pm

    This wasn’t a bad interview. He asked why do they release so many new drivers each year.

    To think that equipment from the past 5 years is obsolete is ignorant and people criticizing probably can’t hit a driver anyway, so.

    They are probably pushing these products because R&D is making as many patents as possible. Much like the tech world, it’s not about the released product, it’s about keeping the technology from your competitors. This also lets the consumer know that your company is the innovator in the market and not a follower.

  22. RogerinNZ

    Oct 29, 2014 at 12:43 pm

    Zak,
    Thanks for a great interview with Chip.
    He has Real Passion for getting a Better Product out to Market.
    I appreciate that.
    He compliments other Innovators on design.
    I think Callaway have a great leader.
    He chooses a High R & D spend over short term profit.
    Again Zak, thanks for taking the time with Chip.
    Clearly some WRXR’s are not impressed with the article….
    Thats life folks !

    • Zak Kozuchowski

      Oct 29, 2014 at 12:56 pm

      Thanks for reading, Roger.

      Things have certainly changed at Callaway since Chip Brewer took over. Peoples’ opinions of that change are quite polarizing, as you can see in these comments, but from a product performance perspective things have certainly changed for the better. The years to come will be interesting to watch.

  23. RyderFan

    Oct 29, 2014 at 12:29 pm

    Can’t expect much here. He can’t even keep up the uPro GPS website like he (Callaway) promised to do until the end of 2014. It’s been down since Oct. 23.

  24. cmasty

    Oct 29, 2014 at 12:23 pm

    Throw him another softball, Zak.

  25. enrique

    Oct 29, 2014 at 12:12 pm

    Chip confirming I’ll never again play his brand. Answers like:

    Question: Are you catching flak [from flooding the market with product]?

    Chip: From the serious golfer, no. From the trade and blogospheres, yes.

    So Chip, you don’t think the players here on WRX that refuse to play your product due to the nature of your business model are serious golfers?

    Not a fan of Chip, Harry, or their products.

    • alejandro flores

      Oct 29, 2014 at 3:56 pm

      Serious golfers choose the product that works for them regardless if it’s only been out for x number of months. Serious golfers care about their game first, ego second! Callaway’s products works just as Taylormade’s, Titleist’s, etc.. Obviously you are choosing to ignore a certain brand based on your own personal opinion of their business model which is exactly what he said by “trade and blogospheres.” And your last line shows exactly what golfer you choose to be.

      • enrique

        Oct 29, 2014 at 9:12 pm

        i couldn’t care less how long a club has been out – the condescending nature of their mgmt team is what I’m referring to. All fluff and no stuff.

  26. DP

    Oct 29, 2014 at 12:09 pm

    Good insight right there and ZK, great questions.

    It is always fun to see what the top guys have to say with direct questions about the industry and question the product lines.

    CB it seems is a good leader.

    • Zak Kozuchowski

      Oct 30, 2014 at 9:33 am

      Thanks DP. From what I’ve seen, there’s a lot of respect in the building for Chip Brewer.

  27. John

    Oct 29, 2014 at 12:08 pm

    Agreed. Infomercial.

  28. west

    Oct 29, 2014 at 12:04 pm

    Good interview, GolfWRX needs more like this.

  29. Michael Trautman

    Oct 29, 2014 at 11:58 am

    Unfiltered I don’t really think so. There was no push back on the question about the cost of irons. I love the Apex but that is not the issue it is the cost of the Apex that is the issue. Three drivers again in one year, poor resell and is feeding a beast that one day will not be present. I have no problem with Golfwrx bringing us this interview but let us call it what it is and that is in my opinion an advertising piece for Callaway. Nothing wrong with that at all, but let’s not make this piece something it is not.

    • west

      Oct 29, 2014 at 12:12 pm

      Bit harsh. You can’t expect the CEO of a corporation to make overly aggressive (but the “cheap” comment was obviously slightly motivated), bold, or anything less than self-promoting comments. I think it’s awesome Chip is willing to take the time to answer the questions, and do his best to represent his company in a positive light. Way more interesting to read than what we got from Barney Adams, but that’s what makes these interviews great, no single perspective or style…Hope GolfWRX continues down this path and continues to interview the industry’s leaders!

    • jsutin

      Oct 29, 2014 at 7:03 pm

      Your cost of iron problem just with Callaway? There are plenty of iron sets that cost over $1000. If you can’t afford them, that’s not Chip’s fault. Also, golf clubs have ALWAYS had poor resale values, probably the worst of anything you can buy.

  30. Dennis Marker

    Oct 29, 2014 at 11:57 am

    I am, and have been for 32 years, a golf equipment retailer at a green grass location. With all due respect to Mr. Brewer, it is hard to imagine (based on this interview) how he could be less aware of the marketplace at ground zero. I would agree that one product does not fit all. However, providing a “new” club every few months with infinite options and nearly immediate obsolescence is clearly not the answer. These current marketing strategies serve only very short term, reactive goals that ultimately overwhelm, out price and wear out the consumer. For further reading refer to Aesop’s fable concerning the “Golden Goose”. Dennis Marker

  31. Michael

    Oct 29, 2014 at 11:30 am

    Advertorial. Zzzzzzz

    • Tom Bowles

      Oct 29, 2014 at 1:12 pm

      Well is he is the CEO. What else would he be doing? Saying they suck??

      • John

        Oct 29, 2014 at 7:34 pm

        Point: We don’t expect the interviewee to say anything different. We expect more from the interviewer.

        • Zak Kozuchowski

          Oct 30, 2014 at 9:34 am

          What more would you like to see, John?

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Instruction

6 reasons why golfers struggle with back pain: Part 2

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This article is co-written with Marnus Marais. Since 2011, Marnus has worked with some of the world’s best players on both the PGA Tour and European Tour, helping them to maintain optimal health and peak physical performance. His current stable of players includes Dustin Johnson, Patrick Cantlay, and Louis Oosthuizen, amongst others.

You can find more information on Marnus and his work at marnusmarais.com

Following on from Part 1 of this article, we examine reasons 4, 5 and 6 for why golfers suffer from low back pain.

Reason 4: Weak Core Muscles

Before we make start making exercise recommendations for this complicated area of the body, it’s worth asking—what is the core exactly? There is considerable debate about this often misunderstood region. Back pain expert Professor Stuart McGill, explains it as follows:

‘The core is composed of the lumbar spine, the muscles of the abdominal wall, the back extensors, and quadratus lumborum. Also included are the multijoint muscles, namely, latissimus dorsi and psoas that pass through the core, linking it to the pelvis, legs, shoulders, and arms. Given the anatomic and biomechanical synergy with the pelvis, the gluteal muscles may also be considered to be essential components as primary power generators’

In a golf context, there is a common myth that the core muscles are our main source of power in the swing. In reality, the main role of the core is to provide stiffness and stable support for force/power transfer from our legs to our upper body

If we can create stiffness and stability in our core, we can help protect our spine and surrounding structures from unnecessary strain whilst also improving swing efficiency—pretty sweet combo!

Due to a combination of perpetual sitting, poor posture and other detrimental lifestyle factors, our cores tend to lose this ability to provide stiffness and stability. We can combat and correct this with a solid core conditioning program. Below are examples of some of our favorite exercises.

Dead Bug with Fitball – the combination of squeezing the fitball whilst extending arm and leg delivers all sorts of great stimulus for the core muscles.

Bird Dog – great for glute, core and back strength

Pallof Press – fantastic anti-rotation exercise. Good for strengthening the core whilst using the ground efficiently

Reason 5 – Not Warming up Properly/Not Warming up at All!

As we’ve explained above, mechanical back pain arises from too much stress and strain placed on the back. During the game of golf, we treat our spines terribly—expecting them to twist, turn and contort with the aim of producing decent golf shots!

If we don’t prepare our bodies for an activity like golf and just go out cold, we significantly increase the chances for strain and stress being placed on the lumbar area.

I’m sure many of you have had the experience of throwing a ball or a stick hard without warming up, and received a nasty sharp pain in your shoulder. Now, if you were to warm up before doing that; stretching your shoulder, making a few practice throws etc, you’d likely avoid strain altogether. Same goes for the low back and the golf swing – without a decent warm-up, there’s every possibility of a strain when trying to rip driver down the first!

By incorporating a warm-up into your pre-golf routine, you can significantly reduce the risk for injury AND help avoid that card wrecking double-double start! As a side bonus, warming up regularly can help your general health, fitness, and wellbeing too.

We know that most amateurs don’t warm up; a study done by Fradkin et. al showed that around 70 percent of amateur golfers seldom warm-up, with only 3.8% reporting warming up on every occasion!

A decent warm isn’t hard and doesn’t have to take ages to complete; research shows that a warm-up of 10-20 minutes is sufficient. In the video below, Marnus gives a thorough guide to a solid warm up sequence.

Reason 6 – Swing Faults

Let’s not forget the golf swing. One of the most common reasons I see golfers struggle with low back pain is that they are unable to “get to their lead side” and “get stuck” on the downswing. This causes the aforementioned excessive side bend and rotation from the low back, which we need to avoid! 

“Getting stuck” on the trail side

Now we aren’t golf coaches and therefore don’t deliver swing advice. However, there are some fundamental movement patterns that most golfers could benefit from practicing. In the videos below, one of our favorite body orientated swing coaches, Richard Woodhouse, is using one of our favorite training tools, the GravityFit TPro, to help teach an efficient movement pattern. The aim is to develop a strong connection between arms and body, using the hips and thorax to rotate, thereby helping to avoid “getting stuck.”

Summary

The absolute best practice for a healthy golfing lower back is working with a golf swing instructor and also a health/fitness professional that understands the body and swing connection. As a team, they would be able to identify and improve your individual swing faults, movement pattern dysfunctions, range of motion deficiencies, muscle weakness, imbalances, and alignment issues.

If you don’t have access to such expertise locally, you may want to check out the online services offered by Marnus and Nick here:

Marnus – https://www.marnusmarais.com

Nick – https://www.golffitpro.net/

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Podcasts

The Gear Dive: My future hopes and some predictions

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In this episode of The Gear Dive brought to you by Titleist, Johnny chats on his thoughts on the future of the golf market, what he loves, what he hates, and the star clubmakers on the rise.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

Want more GolfWRX Radio? Check out our other shows (and the full archives for this show) below. 

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Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: The versatile hybrid

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The equipment industry has changed the way we play the game, for sure, but I don’t think any single innovation has done more to make this game easier than the development of the hybrid. In a decade or less, we went from none of us having ever seen one to nearly 100 percent bag penetration with golfers of all skill levels. That’s because they are just so dang easy to hit, compared to longer irons. They get the ball in the air more easily, handle rough so much better…the list goes on and on.

But one great use for your hybrids that doesn’t get much press is how good they are around the greens. If haven’t experimented with them, you should really spend a little time learning what they are capable of.

In my own bag, I carry a Ben Hogan VKTR prototype (from 2015) 17-degree loft, with a UST Recoil shaft. Normal full swings produce about 208 yards, with a nice penetrating ball flight. But this club’s “hidden talent” is as a chipping club when a wedge shot just isn’t the best play. For example, when you find yourself on a tight lie, with the grain of the grass running toward you…even with my wedge confidence, that just wasn’t the shot. So, I usually take my hybrid, put the ball back a little in my stance, and “putt” the ball through the collar. The loft of the hybrid gets the ball on top of the grass, where a putter would not, and it takes a truer roll onto the green.

To hit this shot, you obviously need to grip down on the hybrid, as it is six inches or so longer than your putter. I like to grip down to just have my right thumb and forefinger on the shaft below the grip. I stand up a little straighter than when putting to make up for the added length. You also can “stand the club on its toe” a little bit to further reduce turf drag.

And an important key is to grip the hybrid more gently even than you grip your putter, as it is a lighter club and does not provide the resistance of a putter. A light grip will help you have the feel you need to control the distance the ball rolls.

“Putting” with your hybrid is a great shot to have in your arsenal. It also comes in handy when your ball has rolled up against the collar, with thicker grass behind it. Practice this shot just a little and you’ll find it saving strokes in the rounds ahead.

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