I have to give the folks who specialize in marketing at Callaway Golf a lot of credit. They not only find ways to generate buzz in their products online, by word-of-mouth, and on social media, they’ve been taking those products on the road roughly 60 times per year for the past five years to introduce their sales force to their latest product offerings.
Last year’s big unveiling was touted as the Epic Tour. This year, fittingly, it was more of a Rogue Trip, aptly named for the Southern California company’s claim that it had created an even better driver than last year’s industry-changer.
Wait a second! An even better driver? I’m listening… and apparently so is everyone else. Rogue generated so much traffic when it hit Callaway’s web site on Tuesday that it actually crashed their page!
Just to recap, that industry-changer, the Great Big Bertha Epic, was not only the No. 1 selling driver in 2017, it generated almost $300 million dollars in sales. Callaway sold 600,000 Epic drivers last year alone (compared to the 150-200,000 drivers it typically sells in a calendar year). From the moment it hit store shelves in January, it was the No. 1 seller each and every month and single-handedly ended TaylorMade’s 13-year reign as the industry’s No. 1 selling driver.
From the minute I sat down next to the three La Paloma Country Club members I had invited to Grayhawk Golf Club, I began furiously taking notes. Seven and-a-half pages later, it occurred to me: this was as much of a celebration as it was a product launch event. Last year was the greatest year ever in the history of Callaway Golf dating back to its inception in 1982. In 2017, Callaway had the No. 1 iron (a streak going on 34 straight months now), the No. 1 fairway woods, hybrids, and putters, and was now widely considered to be the industry’s fastest-growing golf ball brand.
It’s clear that Callaway’s $33 million-dollar investment in Research and Development is really paying off. But you wouldn’t know it by talking to the 150 people who work in that department. As great as it was about to become, when the Epic was about to be introduced to the marketplace, Callaway Director of Metalwoods Research & Development Evan Gibbs was almost disappointed. When asked why, Gibbs replied, “If only I had more time.”
What resulted from the extra year was Callaway Rogue, greater forgiveness and the thinnest, lightest, Triaxial Carbon Crown ever made. It’s slightly larger head results in 600 more MOI than the Epic (that’s grams centimeters squared for those of you scoring at home and essentially a resistance to twisting), and the Boeing Aero Package reduces drag while increasing clubhead speed.
The standard and Sub Zero club heads are back along with the introduction of a third: Rogue Draw, a head resulting in 21 more yards of shot shape than Rogue along thanks to the removal of the 17-gram adjustable weight and weight track, a five gram external weight in the heel, and 15 grams of internal weighting. Unlike previous drivers designed to promote a right to left shot shape for the right-handed player, Rogue Draw has no offset and no closed face at address.
The Callaway Rogue family of drivers also features heads that are 25% lighter than Epic thanks to new hour-glass titanium bars behind the face. X-Face VFT technology (a thinner face in strategic areas high in the toe to low in the heel) deliver higher ball speeds on mishits. Callaway calls it the Jailbreak Effect. Rogue delivers even higher balls speeds on mishits across the face than its Epic counterpart.
But the biggest news in Jailbreak Technology is that it’s now available in Callaway’s fairway woods and hybrids. At this time last year, engineers hadn’t quite figured out how to perfect it. After all, the Epic driver had taken 25 iterations. How many versions would it take to master Jailbreak Technology coupled with Hyper Speed Face Cup Technology, the best ball-speed-generating technology ever created in a fairway wood?
The “fairway wood that obsoletes all other fairway woods” utilizes stainless steel bars behind the face instead of the titanium bars found in the driver technology. Try the following products out for yourself, and see if you don’t agree that 2018 could be an even bigger year for golf’s new No. 1. Pre-Order starts Friday, January 19th:
Rogue Irons – Launch Date: 2.9.18
The most technologically-advanced iron Callaway has ever created features industry-leading speed and distance thanks to the urethane microspheres behind the face that allow it to flex at impact. Titanium Metal Injection Milled (MIM) weights allow for precise center of gravity positioning and optimal launch conditions in each iron (lower in the longer irons for higher launch and higher in the short irons for lower launch).
You may or may not have heard of the Rogue X irons already. They’re an eighth-of-an-inch longer than standard irons and much stronger lofted. When PGA Tour player Ollie Schniederjans showed up at the Rogue launch event in Florida, he hit the Rogue X 6-iron 248 yards… in the air! It rolled out to 274, prompting Schniederjans to deadpan, “It launches like a 6-iron but goes a lot further.”
Chrome Soft – Launch Date: 2.16.18
Branded as “the ball that changed the ball” when it was introduced back in 2014, Chrome Soft promises faster ball speeds, higher launch, lower full shot spin, more greenside spin, and greater distance. Callaway is investing $25 in its golf ball business, and it remains the only manufacturer to make 100% of its Tour golf balls in the United States at the old Top Flite plant in Chicopee, Massachusetts.
The key to the Chrome Soft is the graphene that makes up the ball’s dual fast core. Graphene is the strongest, lightest material (and the only true two-dimensional material) ever discovered. It’s one-million times thinner than a sheet of paper and 200 times stronger than steel. A single sheet covering the length and width of a football field would weigh less than half a quarter, and no one else in the industry is using it in their golf balls.
Graphene allows for a longer, softer inner core (the engine of the golf ball) that’s 22% larger in diameter and 81% greater in volume than last year’s Chrome Soft model. That means higher ball speeds and more spin separation between woods, irons, and wedges. The new Chrome Soft is also a truly seamless golf ball.
MD4 Wedge – Launch Date: 2.9.18
The new MD4 wedge is the most tested, most researched wedge in the history of Callaway Golf. The Groove-in-Groove Technology and Micro-Positive Surface Technology for maximum shot-stopping spin and control make it the highest-spinning wedge in the industry. When you rub your thumb across the face, you can actually feel the raised grooves, and a sharp eye reveals the laser-etching between them. The red dot fill and bright red grips will bring those who remained on the sidelines for the fluorescent green MD3 family back to Callaway.
Putters – Launch Date: 2.6.18
Mallets are making headway in 2018, especially mallets with a little toe hang. Toe hang favors those players with a slight arc to their putting stroke. Twenty-nine of the 49 wins on the PGA Tour in 2o17 came with a mallet putter, and 14 of those victories came at the hands of a toe-hang model. Thirty-one of the 50 players in the Strokes Gained Putting category used a mallet putter.
Blogger’s Note: Cool Clubs Follow-Up
Since I was in the Scottsdale area, I thought I would stop by Cool Clubs to meet with Sue O’Connor and see how my new putting stroke was progressing. As I was telling Sue, putting is something that’s really difficult to teach. You can cover certain basics, but there’s a point when you need to see a person’s putting stroke on video, preferably in slow motion. That’s when you can really analyze stance, ball position, swing path, and impact position. It’s virtually impossible to do with the naked eye.
Sure enough, the drills Sue left me with at our last visit in August had worked to perfection. After a slight ball position adjustment, I was rolling the ball into the hole with ease! I highly recommend the Cool Clubs experience. And if you get a chance to visit their international headquarters in Arizona, even better. If you’re lucky, you may even get to take a tour of their world-famous build room.