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The Callaway ball plant: A legacy rooted in innovation

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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.

Odyssey Stroke Lab 2-Ball with Triple Track

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

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Ryan Barath is a club-fitter & master club builder with more than 17 years of experience working with golfers of all skill levels, including PGA Tour players. He is the former Build Shop Manager & Social Media Coordinator for Modern Golf. He now works independently from his home shop and is a member of advisory panels to a select number of golf equipment manufacturers. You can find Ryan on Twitter and Instagram where he's always willing to chat golf, and share his passion for club building, course architecture and wedge grinding.

8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Pingback: Callaway Chrome Soft: Building a better golf ball – GolfWRX

  2. Paul Runyan

    Aug 7, 2020 at 12:11 pm

    Call -a- way we’re always a little off in QC.

    I bought a dozen and the seam was not finished and stuck out about an 1/8 of an inch around the call. I can’t believe those actually made it out the door! Unbelievable!!

  3. joe

    Aug 5, 2020 at 11:13 am

    your point being?

  4. Dave

    Aug 5, 2020 at 10:14 am

    I’ve been playing the Chromesoft triple track this season and I absolutely love it. Long off the tee and mid irons and performs extremely well from 140-in.

  5. Reid Thompson

    Aug 5, 2020 at 9:58 am

    Highest possible level of QC….. hahaha

  6. Boydenit

    Aug 5, 2020 at 9:20 am

    Is this the same plant that made all those Callaway balls that were “Off”

    • Hpw

      Aug 5, 2020 at 5:55 pm

      Yes, troll. It is the same plant. They’ve updated the equipment to make sure of the quality of the product. Did you actually read the articles?

      • Tigergor

        Aug 6, 2020 at 6:35 am

        If this promotional advert says so, it must be true!

        Then again, go cut open a few balls and see what you find!

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Whats in the Bag

Ian Poulter WITB 2021 (September)

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  • Ian Poulter what’s in the bag accurate as of the BMW PGA Championship

Driver: Titleist TSi3 (10 degrees @9.25, D2 SureFit setting)
Shaft: Fujikura Ventus Blue 6 S

3-wood: Titleist TSi2 (13.5 degrees @14.25, C3 SureFit setting)

(Photo c/o SMS_on_Tour)

Hybrid: Titleist TSi2 (4, 21 degrees)

(Photo c/o SMS_on_Tour)

Irons: Titleist U500 (4), T100 (5), Titleist 718 AP2 (6-9)
Shafts: Project X LZ 7.0

(Photo c/o SMS_on_Tour)

Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design SM8 (46-10F, 52-12F, 56-14F), Titleist Vokey Design WedgeWorks (60-A)
Shafts: Project X LZ 6.0 (46, 52), True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400 (56 and 60)

Putter: Scotty Cameron Phantom X T11 Prototype

Grips: Golf Pride Tour Velvet

Ball: Titleist Pro V1x

(Photo c/o SMS_on_Tour)

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Whats in the Bag

PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Will Zalatoris’ WITB

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  • PGA Tour Rookie of the Year Will Zalatoris’ what’s in the bag accurate as of September 13

Driver: Titleist TSi3 (9 degrees)
Shaft: Fujikura Speeder 757 TR X

3-wood: Titleist TSi3 (16.5 degrees)
Shaft: Fujikura Atmos Red 8 X

Irons: Titleist T200 (3), Titleist T100 (4-PW)
Shafts: Nippon N.S. Pro Modus3 Hybrid GOST (3), True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100 (4-PW)

Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design SM8 (50-08F, 54-10S @55), Vokey SM8 Wedge Works Prototype (60-T)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100

(Image c/o Titleist)

Putter: Scotty Cameron Phantom X 11 prototype

Ball: Titleist Pro V1

Grips: Golf Pride ZGrip Cord

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Equipment

Mizuno introduces new ST-G 220 driver

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Mizuno has unveiled its next-generation ST-G 220 driver, which features new adjustability for more precise fitting.

At the core of the new 2021 ST-G 220 driver from Mizuno is shorter lateral weight tracks, which allow for a new center/back weight port.

2021 Mizuno ST-G 220 driver: The details

The combination of three tracks and two moveable weights is designed to allow players to alter the ST-G from ultra-low spinning to a highly playable mid-spinning option, with fade or draw bias in both, depending on preference. 

The evolution to the ST-G 220’s weight locations offers golfers a rare combination of both backspin and fade/draw adjustability options. Traditionally, adjustable drivers have been more effective at just one of those tasks.

The new ST-G 220 is also designed to deliver performance from off-center strikes across each varying weight position.

Speaking on the new driver and its adjustability features, Chris Voshall, golf club engineer at the company, said

“Having that little bit of extra adjustability is especially useful out on tour – where we can fine-tune a player’s flight. Or make an adjustment for a particular tournament when the player doesn’t want the feel of a completely new driver.

“The ST-G 220 has so much more effective movement of weight along both the X and the Z axis. We can set it to be very low spin, a more playable mid spin, heavily fade or draw biased and just about anything in-between.”

The new addition from Mizuno also contains a modern player’s profile, with a deeper face, and shorter back to front look, while still using the full capacity 460cc head size.

A new multi-thickness Cortech Face has been constructed to help allow for the maximum return from Mizuno’s SAT2041 Beta Ti face.

Per Mizuno, SAT2041 stands for Super/Alloy/Titanium/20% Vanadium/4% Aluminum/1% Tin and it offers 17 percent more tensile strength and 8 percent more flexibility than traditional 6-4Ti.

In addition, an optimized Wave Sole is designed to deliver an additional contribution to ball speed from low on the clubface, while the new dual weight center slot allows two central back weights for deeper CG capability in a bid to provide higher stability, launch, and spin.

The driver features four degrees of loft adjustability (7-11 degrees). It will be available at retail on October 14th at a price of $499.95.

 

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