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LinkedIn To Callaway Golf – Product Concept Engineer

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By:
Jeff Newton

Welcome back to our LinkedIn To Callaway Series. In this edition, we talk to Jim Seluga, one of our Principal Concept Engineers about the data and testing that goes into making our products.

1. Jim, you work on the product side at Callaway. What’s your job title?

I’m a principal concept engineer, and one way to describe it would be golfer meets data analyst, or golfer meets engineer. You should be able to play golf and have some broad knowledge of a wide range of golf clubs.

It’s a combination of taking your engineering skills and applying them towards a golf club in general. Knowing what’s going to make a golfer hit the ball better, there’s not an engineering class that’s going to tell you that, you’re going to take a skill you learned in an engineering class and apply it to some golf performance attribute.

 

2. How Does Having A Golf Background Help You Do Your Job Well?

It helps you in that you get to hit a bunch of different golf clubs and then you get to figure out all the data and all the numbers that our engineers have accumulated over the years and applying it to a situation like “I hit this ball off the toe and it hooked”.

You might look to something like mass properties and rigid body mechanics to make a simulation that shows that I hit this ball off the toe, and it’s going to hook and do it only in a numbers sense. There’s not any physical part needed to show you that that’s going to happen.

 

3. What’s The Process Like For You When You Work On A New Product?

In my role you have to play the marketer/engineer/golfer. With the Big Bertha Alpha Driver, for example (the product directors) said, “We think we want to do a CG Height adjustable driver.”

So you have to go back and look at how we’ve had different CG height variations in drivers and you apply the numbers of what variations of CG heights we’ve had and hopefully you’ve hit those products so you know how they play differently. And you’re going to try to put (the new driver) in a range of the CG Height adjustability and the range of what works for the golfer.

That’s how the golf knowledge comes into the job and seeing through the simple performance numbers and then apply a lot of engineering knowledge to help get this body, or shape or driver to hit those performance targets.

It helps to be a golfer as an engineer to get those first performance numbers along with the shape of the driver and how it looks so that it’s based on the targets we want to hit and the target audience. A good example is if one driver is more of a Tour shape or the other is a bigger head, which driver a player would probably like.

 

4. What Have You Seen In Your Role That You Maybe Didn’t Expect To See?

I’m an engineer and I’m a golfer and I never connected the two. I knew I could do engineering on golf equipment, but to the level that we actually do it, you don’t know until you actually get to a golf company and look at it, and you see how you can apply something you learned in an engineering class to a golf club.

 

5. When Did You Realize This Was A Cool Job?

It happened right away. I’d tell people I work for Callaway Golf and they’d ask, “Didn’t you go to school for engineering?” And I would say, “Yeah, they do engineering too!”

 

6. How Does Your Job Help Us Make Clubs To Help Golfers Play Better?

You can think about it like this, we take golfers’ swings and we simulate them and we make sure that the club hits the ball better and more consistently to the best we can make it. And if we just made golf clubs without any engineering you could maybe make a few prototypes in a year.

But through engineering you can make hundreds of virtual prototype models in the time it would take you to make one (otherwise). So we can make a hundred times the amount of products than what we’re actually releasing.

We’re not releasing every driver we ever thought up, we get to test and virtually simulate what happens and how a club is going to feel before it actually gets in a player’s hand.

To read about more of the cool jobs we’ve profiled in the LinkedIn Callaway Series click here and here.