Staff Pros Work in Their Tour Equipment at the Ely Callaway Performance Center
When Callaway Staff Pros want to dial in their new equipment, they pay a visit to the Ely Callaway Performance Center in Carlsbad, Ca. Home to one of the most pristine driving ranges in golf, the Performance Center allows Staff Pros to fine-tune the drivers, wedges, irons and putters they will use in competition. With the incredible talent level on every professional Tour, these players need clubs they can trust on tough courses and in pressure situations. That's why Callaway Pros like Phil Mickelson, Ernie Els and Morgan Pressel work extensively with the Tour Fitting team in Carlsbad.
Tinkering With Equipment
Callaway Staff Pros are quite particular about the ball flight, shot shape and feel they expect from their clubs. They discuss the equipment and specs they want before they visit the Test Center. "Our Pros will talk to the Tour Representatives and let us know what they're looking for in advance," says John Degen, the Tour Fitting Manager at the Ely Callaway Performance Center. "They have what they want in mind and when they come here it's all about fine-tuning the equipment to what they ask for."
Callaway Pros usually visit the Performance Center toward the end of the calendar year, or when they are on their way to a Tour event in southern California. During a standard session, Degen will take club specs of what is in the player's bag while the Staff Pro warms up in the indoor test simulator or on the range. From there, they will work their way through the bag during a long range session, starting with wedges, then up to irons and eventually the driver.
The players also work with Senior Club Specialist Nick Arthur on their Odyssey putters. Degen uses CPAS, a proprietary measurement system as well as Trackman, an after-market measurement system, to capture data on several critical swing and ball parameters. As Degen explains, the precision and measurements for clubs have improved with better technology.
"The majority of Staff Pros that visit us have already been fit for clubs at Tour events by our Tour Representatives. But our work environment at the ECPC tends to be more controlled and less hectic than the driving range at a Tour event. The pros also tend to be more patient when working at the ECPC as compared to the range at a Tour event, since they are here specifically for testing.
"So our goal at the ECPC is really to use our high tech measurement systems to ensure that our Tour players are getting the optimum performance from each club. For example, with a driver we may make a small tweak in face angle, loft, or CG bias of the club head based on test results. And while the changes may be relatively minor, in the hands of a Tour player, the results can be significant. It's really our superior fitting technology combined with our incredible club technology that allows these variables to be identified and changed."
Degen and his team incorporate the data and feedback from Pros to create the perfect equipment for that player. "When J.B. Holmes came in, he wanted a driver that wouldn't draw too much. So we worked on an FT Tour Driver with a more fade type bias, that he really liked, and put in his bag." Holmes led the PGA Tour in driving distance during the 2011 season.
Degen measures the iron specs and uses a state-of-the-art machine to pinpoint the loft on drivers. Even a half degree change in driver loft can alter ball flight, so he uses the machine to ensure that the face angle and loft are tied together in a way that optimizes ball flight and still produces a club face that looks good to the player at address. Staff Pros also try golf balls with help from Callaway employees like Golf Ball Testing Manager Paul Guy.
Callaway Pros are mainly playing the Tour i(s) or Tour i(z) Ball in tournaments. Tour Pros will typically work from the green back to the tee in ball selection. By this, we mean a player will test both balls around the green in spin and feel, make the selection that works the best for them, and then the ECPC team will fit the driver to that ball based on loft, CG selection and other shaft selections and driver specifications. This ensures the player has the spin control on irons and wedges into the green, while still being optimized in total driver distance.
Working With New Callaway Staff Pros
The ECPC team has established this system for Staff Pros who have already been with Callaway and visited the Test Center. For Staff Pros who have just joined Callaway, Degen will put out a variety of clubs for the first session, where players select the models they like best.
Degen encourages new Callaway Pros to hit balls at the indoor simulator during their first visit. High tech cameras, video and computer data offer a direct, accurate analysis of the head speed, ball speed, attack angle, launch angle and side spin on each shot. "This really helps us when new guys come in," Degen says.
"When Trevor Immelman and J.B. (Holmes) came in earlier this year we had them both hit several shots with a driver and irons on the CPAS system in the Fit Bay. This information gives us a benchmark of not only the Pro's launch conditions with the various clubs, but also their swing characteristics. We can use this information in the future when comparing different model clubs or even identifying changes in the way a Pro is delivering the club to what they had been doing previously."
Phil Mickelson – Golf Club Enthusiast
Every Callaway Staff Pro is knowledgeable about their equipment, and Mickelson takes great interest in the clubs he plays. Lefty discusses his clubs with Callaway Vice President of Research and Development Dr. Alan Hocknell. Dr. Hocknell then uses their dialogue to create drivers and woods for the four-time major champion.
"Phil is definitely interested about what goes into his clubs," Degen says. "Phil occasionally bends his own irons and wedges at his house, on a loft and lie machine very similar to the one we use here at our test center. He is probably one of the most equipment savvy guys out there, and is very involved in how his clubs are put together." Lefty recently altered a Callaway X-Tour Utility 2-iron that he put in play during the U.S. Open at Congressional.
Mickelson and other Callaway Staff Pros have a dedicated team to help them at the Ely Callaway Performance Center, and Degen believes players of all skill levels can experience similar results at a Callaway Custom Fitting. "With the use of our CPAS system and our Fit Bays worldwide, consumers get the exact same tour level fitting, regardless of their skill level," Degen says.
"The indoor simulators are based on thousands of outdoor shots to take all the guess work out of ball flight. You, too, will be fit to exacting standards and get a recommendation of the Callaway Golf clubs that will take your game to the next level." For more information on what our Staff Pros are playing on Tour, visit our Tour section to check out their player bio pages.