Callaway unveils Steelhead III, new irons

Callaway Golf will forge into 2002, its first full year without its founder and energetic leader Ely Callaway at the helm, by making the most extensive product launch in the company’s history, including a new composite graphite driver, a Steelhead III line of metalwoods and the retro-technology of next-generation Big Bertha irons.

Product plans were announced at an Oct. 22 gathering of 225 of the company’s top accounts in Rancho Bernardo, Calif. (The event, originally scheduled for Sept. 19, was postponed because of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.)

“We think a soft economy means an opportunity for us,” Ron Drapeau, chairman and chief executive officer of Callaway Golf, told the gathering. “Not only will we weather the storm, but we’ll be investing as the storm goes on.”

Callaway unveiled its newest line of Big Bertha irons, which borrows from the appearance of the original Big Bertha irons while incorporating advances in technology. Golfers will see the familiar fat top line, wide sole and S2H2 hosel design, but the new irons are designed to reduce digging when players hit behind the ball. The wide-width sole also should help players get the ball into the air more easily.

The biggest buzz of the two-day Callaway meetings was expected to be the Big Bertha C4 driver (Golfweek, Oct. 20), a 360cc driver that weighs 280 grams and conforms to U.S. Golf Association standards. The C4 (Compression Cured Carbon Composite) design’s lightweight graphite composite allows 55 grams of laminated material to be spread across the interior perimeter of the clubhead, giving a player the opportunity to increase clubhead speed and potentially hit the ball farther.

The driver is expected to be shipped to retailers in January.

With its Steelhead III line, which will replace Steelhead Plus, Callaway has made the design of the clubface thinner and the face larger, thus creating a club that strikes the ball “hotter.” Internal weighting is fashioned to make the club workable when it comes to controlling shotmaking.

Odyssey, the putter company that is part of the Callaway family, will introduce two new variations in 2002: the White Hot 2-ball, which uses two large white golf ball-sized spheres on the back of the putter to aid with alignment; and the White Hot Rossie, a modernized version of the popular model that helped put Odyssey on the map in the mid-1990s, when Nick Faldo used the putter to win the 1996 Masters.

“This is a broader lineup of products for this season than we’ve ever had, and there is literally something for everyone, at every price point,” Drapeau told Golfweek. “Having lost Ely less than six months ago, we’re really invigorated and excited to come up with innovative products that honor Ely’s spirit. People have really rallied around his memory.”

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