It goes without saying that the 2020/2021 PGA Tour year was the best Callaway Golf has ever had. Multiple wins, Majors, Gold, #1 Player, Phil, and on and on.
Our Tour Truck team consisting of Tour Lead Tim Reed, Tour Manager Jacob Davidson, Kellen Watson, Simon Wood, Greg Shaw, Dean Tekyl, and Odyssey’s Joe Toulon was there every single step of the way. It’s a ridiculous amount of work to keep our staff dialed, and I thought it a perfect time to get their thoughts on this insane year.
I sat down with Jacob Davidson and Joe Toulon last week and this is what they had to say.….
JDUB: Team Callaway/Odyssey has had a ton of great moments this year, but if you had to pick one what was the highlight of the year from a Tour Equipment standpoint?
JD: 100% Phil’s driver. To see Phil Mickelson drive it so well on the final day at the PGA Championship at Kiawah was something we will never forget. Phil worked extremely hard to pioneer the 48” driver frontier, and to see it pay off in a major championship was remarkable. The drive on #16 and #18 from a 50-year-old will forever change players’ mindsets that they can still compete at golf’s highest level in their late 40’s and early 50’s. It will likely have an enormous impact for generations to come.
JT: You know it’s been a great year when this is a difficult question to answer. But I think the answer has to be Rahm at the US Open. When Jon signed with us at the beginning of the year, he was #2 in the world. From an outsider’s perspective, there really wasn’t much room to go up. We knew what we could offer him and when he came in to test our equipment, I think he saw that too. He knew he could get better with our equipment. Still, it was a leap of faith moment when he signed with us, and I think the US Open victory was a culmination of that trust. Just complete and utter validation that we all made the right move.
JDUB: Was there a piece of equipment whose performance surprised you this year?
JD: The Epic Speed line of drivers. Due to COVID delays, we were quite behind on receiving products and couldn’t fit players in the off-season like normal. Players can be hesitant to switch equipment in the first few weeks of their season because they are looking to get off to a hot start to lock up status in invitationals. As we rolled out the Epic Speed drivers in Hawaii, we saw them go in the bags immediately, but more importantly, they stayed in bags after 2-3 weeks. This is the ultimate validation because a driver is only as good as it performs in tournament conditions and pressure situations. We saw record high driver conversions this year globally, which is amazing considering all the headwinds are internal teams faced last year with COVID lockdowns.
JT: The red Stroke Lab shaft. We knew of the performance benefits it could offer players but the red color I thought could scare some players away. It did not. We had a ton of shafts in play. Who knew? LOL
JDUB: For your JD, Can you touch on the key things that made CSX and CSX LS so successful this year?
JD: The key to a successful product launch on the PGA Tour is gaining momentum early. To gain momentum, players have to see performance gains in three areas: 1. Data on a launch monitor 2. Validation through ball flight 3. Feel.
When the R&D golf ball team introduced the CSX and CSX-LS balls to the reps ahead of time, we instantly knew these balls were different. The majority of the tour team are great players, and we typically run our own tests to get familiar with the product several months before a product launch. After several rounds at home, the group texts were filled with positive feedback. Increase greenside control- more consistent in the wind- tighter spin dispersion. As we began working with players and fitting them, they were seeing and saying the same things. At this point, we knew it would be an easy transition for most guys into our new line of golf balls. In fact, after the west coast swing, we emptied all of our previous model balls because every player had switched into the new balls. Shortly thereafter, we gained a couple of wins and majors, the ultimate validation in our golf balls.
JDUB: Where do you think Callaway made its biggest strides this year?
JD: In the winner’s circle, especially big-time events. We’ve worked extremely hard to build up a strong team focused on winning in high-profile events over the last few years. With 11 wins YTD, 2 majors, and a gold medal, our equipment proves a competitive advantage for Team Callaway.
JT: Top to bottom, this was the best lineup of Odyssey putter we have had in years. The 2 Ball Ten came out of the gates hot as our new progressive mallet shape. It quickly became the #1 model on tour. Staffers and non-staffer alike gravitated towards it. Obviously, the 2 Ball is an iconic alignment aid and when we combined the tour preferred shape of the #10, we knew we had something special. That early success of the 2 Ball Ten definitely laid the groundwork for a great year. Towards the middle part of the year, the White Hot OG lineup (which featured the legendary white hot insert) started gaining momentum. The #7 and 2 Ball led the way. The new S neck #7 really revitalized that shape again for us and it eventually became our most popular putter this year. Then, of course, you throw in Jon Rahm switching to an OG Rossie and promptly winning the Memorial and the US Open. For a cherry on top, we had 4 players win with a Toulon putter. To summarize, the quality of the putter lineup made it easy to get new putters in play and our players had success all year long. When you have 3 families of putter lineups and have wins within each family, that’s a darn good year.
JDUB: What are you most excited about for 2021/2022?
JD: Two things: First, Our Tour Staff. We have such a great group of guys right now. Not only are they world-class players but just great human beings. They are so much fun to work with each week and are great partners for our brand. I wish everyone were able to see these guys on more of a personal level. While they are the best golfers globally, they are also incredible husbands, fathers, and friends.
Secondly, it has to be the new product coming. Early indications from prototype testing with our metal woods have provided some amazing results. In addition, we are rolling out some other new product that I can’t speak of quite yet, but I know it’s going to be well received on tour and for consumers at retail.
JT: Building on the momentum that we have created in 2020/21. We have begun testing some of the new 2022 products with our staffers in the last few weeks, and the early feedback has been phenomenal. Personally, I’m always excited about what’s next and what we can do or create to get better. There’s no doubt last season was special (2 majors, countless other wins, gold medal), but we’re on to the 2021-22 season, and we’re excited about the new challenges and opportunities. We believe we have the strongest lineup of products coming next year, and I think we’re all chomping at the bit to go out and prove it.
2020/2021 PGA Tour Winners:
Kevin Na – Sony Open in Hawaii
Si Woo Kim – The American Express
Branden Grace – Puerto Rico Open
Marc Leishman – Zurich Classic Of New Orleans
Sam Burns – Valspar Championship
K.H. Lee – AT&T Byron Nelson
Phil Mickelson – PGA Championship
Jon Rahm – U.S. Open
Xander Schauffele – Gold Medal
Erik van Rooyen – Barracuda Championship
Kevin Kisner – Wyndham Championship