A little over two years ago, I had the opportunity to visit the Callaway golf ball plant in Chicopee, Massachusetts (GolfWRX behind the scenes at the Callaway ball plant). It gave me the chance to take a deep dive into the history of not just the physical structure that is the plant but a look into the people and the machines that work to produce Callaway’s tour line of golf balls.
The one thing that stood out during that visit beyond the massive scale of the operation was the people and the pride they have in producing something in the United States for golfers to enjoy.
Chicopee & Spalding Manufacturing History
The ball plant and surrounding area where it is located is rich in manufacturing history dating back to the American revolutionary war, and the facade of the historical red brick building in Chicopee has remained mostly unchanged since it was the original Spalding manufacturing plant dating all the way back to the late 1800s. It was during this time in history when the plant produced baseballs, gloves, footballs, basketballs, tennis rackets, persimmon woods, irons—and of course golf balls, starting in 1896.
A lot of innovations relating to various sports have occurred inside of these walls and the funny thing is, Callaway’s marketing slogan for Chrome Soft— “The ball that changed the ball” could apply to a multitude of sports including:
- Baseball – since Spalding developed the first Major League ball to become the official baseball of the National League in 1876.
- Football – with Spalding creating the first American football with a material and workmanship guarantee in 1887.
- Basketball – since Dr. James Naismith (Canadian—just wanted to get that in there—Go Raptors!) had the Spalding company develop the official basketball in 1894.
It is now 2020, and in the same building where all of these sporting innovations have taken place, an innovation of a new kind is underway because the ball plant has undergone multiple renovations and upgrades since 2018. Callaway has invested over $50 million in capital upgrades in order to increase quality control—and the ability to manufacture the newest Chrome Soft and Chrome Soft X balls to the highest level.
Investment in innovation
Although the plant has always operated to the highest possible level of quality control when it comes to balls, Callaway has admitted that, before 2018, there were some small holes in the production process that prevented them from reaching their potential as far as production standards go. The biggest consistency issues revolved around polymer compound mixing and the centeredness of the cores in dual-core golf balls. These weren’t wide-sweeping issues but they were enough of a problem, Callaway knew they needed to be addressed as quickly as possible, especially if they wanted to continue to innovate in the competitive golf ball market.
In an effort to not just be equal to the competition but to surpass them, the initial investment was in state-of-the-art machines that could take and process 3D X-Ray to measure ball construction and the core centeredness of every single ball. It is during this automated process, that if any ball shows an issue, then it is removed from the final stages of production and will never find its way into a golfer’s bag.
The biggest investment though came in the form of an all-new synthetic polymer mixer allowing Callaway engineers and plant staff to monitor parts of the process with a level of precision that they never could before. Now, if it wasn’t obvious by the pictures, this is not the type of machine that you can just pick up at a local “golf ball plant supply store”— these types of mixers are multiple stories high and offer the same type of precision you would find in the medical industry.
When it comes to the unassuming red brick building, it’s what’s inside that counts. And speaking of “inside,” Callaway engineers are now able to precisely control all of the compounds that go into producing golf ball cores. With the state-of-the-art mixer now in place on the factory floor, from the very start of production through to the final packaging, every Callaway ball is manufactured to the highest level of quality available in the industry.
The state of the art mixer now in place on the factory floor means that from the very start of production through to the final packaging, every Callaway ball is manufactured to the highest level of quality available in the industry.
Technology on the inside and outside
The other part of the plant that continues to see large investments is the Truvis and Triple Track printing area. As we touched on in the original piece, what was perceived by many to at first be a bit of a gimmick, including some of Callaway’s own employees, has proven to be an absolute slam dunk. The pentagon pattern provides a tangible benefit by creating an optical illusion that makes the ball look bigger and also gives visual feedback for short game shots and putting. If you haven’t tried chipping around a green with a Truvis ball, I highly suggest it—you can actually see how much difference in spin you create hitting various shots.
What started as a toe-dip with one machine has turned into an area of the plant with more than a dozen, with Callaway also producing Truvis balls with custom colors and logos.
What followed Truvis was the development of Callaway Triple Track, which is three high-resolution parallel lines printed onto the golf ball to help with alignment. It would not have been possible to print this alignment tool without the machines that were developed to precisely print the Truvis patterns. Triple Track has been so popular and effective for golfers that this year, Callaway even introduced the alignment tool onto a number of their Stroke Lab putter models.
If history is any indication, this investment will continue to push golf ball innovation for Callaway, as well as continue to build on the strong legacy of proud American manufacturing in Chicopee, Massachusetts. To take an inside look inside of the newly renovated plant, as well as get a deeper understanding of the history and the people behind Callaway golf balls, check out their mini-documentary below.
The Ball that Changed a Town
GolfWRX Classifieds (09/23/20): PXG fairway, Titleist driver, Miura irons
At GolfWRX, we love golf equipment plain and simple.
We are a community of like-minded individuals that all experience and express our enjoyment for the game in many ways. It’s that sense of community that drives day-to-day interactions in the forums on topics that range from best driver to what marker you use to mark your ball, it even allows us to share another thing – the equipment itself.
One of the best ways to enjoy equipment is to experiment and whether you are looking to buy-sell-or trade (as the name suggests) you can find almost anything in the GolfWRX BST Forum. From one-off custom Scotty Cameron Circle T putters, to iron sets, wedges, and barely hit drivers, you can find it all in our constantly updated marketplace.
Miura irons, especially blades, always demand attention, and this mixed set with MB001 and CB1008 will also demand some exacting ball striking.
To see the full listing and additional pictures check out the link here: Miura Irons
As far as underrated fairway woods go, PXG easily makes some of the best-looking, best-performing ones on the market. This is your chance to get one for a great price.
To see the full listing and additional pictures check out the link here: PXG 0341X
This listing is very straight forward—which is where you should also be hitting your driver. Great Titleist driver at a great price!
To see the full listing and additional pictures check out the link here: Titleist 913
Remember that you can always browse the GolfWRX Classifieds any time here in our forums: GolfWRX Classifieds
What GolfWRXers are saying about trying single-length irons after Bryson DeChambeau’s U.S. Open win
In our forums, our members have been discussing a ‘single length iron re-boot’. WRXer ‘disco111’ asks fellow members if anyone is now going to adopt the single-length iron strategy following Bryson DeChambeau’s incredible recent play, and WRXers have been having their say on the single length approach.
Here are a few posts from the thread, but make sure to check out the entire discussion and have your say at the link below.
- Lobber: “I played one length for a bit and actually did quite well with them. But I think the real key to success is bulking up and adding 40 lbs!”
- puttingmatt: “I would say try them, to each his own. That said, thinking success in the professional ranks rarely passes down to the everyday amateur, especially in equipment. I would suggest golfers stop comparing themselves to the professional players, and while you may think you can play like the new U.S. Open champion with clubs like these, reality, begs to differ.”
- sdedalus23: “I set about this summer to make the game easier through club setup. To do so, I was going to either get the cobra forged tec blacks one length or the Ping G410’s. I went with the one lengths (4-G) to give them a try. I haven’t found problems with gapping thus far, but the short irons are a bit of a challenge. I am a high ball hitter, and they hit it incredibly high; so high that I have had a bit of a problem in the wind. I also found that my 54 and 60, which are still variable length, became less consistent with half shots due to the differences in length. Overall, my scores haven’t changed much (still mid to low 70’s) as they are generally predicated on how I am driving the ball because my iron play generally sucks. “
- scotterhd2: “This thread got me. Have a set of F8 OL irons in the backup bag. Just ordered a JumboMax Ultralite grip. I think I’m going to put it on the PW and give them another test.”
GolfWRX Spotted: PXG Blackjack putter
Bob Parsons has always done things his own way, and just a little bit earlier today he hit send on an Instagram post that debuted a brand new PXG putter—the Blackjack, a high-MOI “winged” design featuring a wrap-around tungsten weight bar to boost forgiveness.
Since that debut earlier today, the putter and all of the details surrounding it are now live at PXG.com
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Ready to get lucky? Our amazing new Blackjack Putter launches on 10.13 but I'm giving you and a friend the chance to win one before you can buy it! To enter, like this post, then you and a friend both follow me here. Then, include your friend’s Instagram handle (including the @) in the comments section of this post. MAKE SURE YOU And YOUR FRIEND BOTH FOLLOW ME! If both of you don't follow me, it's not an official entry. That's it! You're in! 10 people will win PXG's all new Blackjack putter (5 contestants plus their nominee). 1 of those contestants will *also* win a full bag of custom fit, latest generation #PXG clubs plus $1,000 just for fun! Jackpot baby! Here are the details: Employees and 3rd party contractors of PXG are NOT eligible. Sorry! Winners will be drawn 9.29, 10.2, 10.6, 10.9, 10.13. The winning entry drawn on 10.13 will take home not only Blackjack Putter, a FULL BAG of PXG clubs, and $1,000. Some restrictions do apply. Grand prize goes to both individual posting here and the friend. Click the link in my bio to read the rules and good luck! #PXGTroops #GolfLife. @PXG. Nobody makes golf clubs the way we do. Period!
If there is one underrated part of PXG’s club lineup, it’s the company’s putters. They pack a lot of technology into both traditional-style putters and more modern designs.
- Optimized face pattern – Like with previous PXG putters, the pyramid face pattern optimizes the ball speed across the putter face by reducing speed on center strikes while also retaining speed towards the heel and toe, all providing a soft feel. The face ensures consistency in all parameters that affect roll including; initial ball velocity, launch angle, spin rate, and skid.
- Tungsten weighting – For maximum stability, the putter has an added tungsten frame along the perimeter to boost MOI and create a deeper center of gravity. The Tungsten works alongside the lightweight aluminum frame to remove mass away from the center while still having ports for weight customization.
Specs, price, and availability
Based on Mr. Parsons’ post, the putter will be available for order starting October 13th, although a retail price has not been set yet. Like other putters in the PXG line, it will come with a number of hosel configurations, and thanks to the adjustable weighting, it can be built exactly to the desired spec.
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