Callaway founder’s 100th anniversary
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Callaway founder’s 100th anniversary

This week, Callaway celebrates the 100th anniversary of its founder, Ely Reeves Callaway, who was born on June 3, 1919 in La Grande city, the state of Georgia, US. He was a talented and all-round man. Entrepreneur, dreamer, visionary, dissident, good father and unquestioned authority. Whatever he did, he achieved success in everything. In the textile business, in the army service, becoming at 24 one of the youngest majors in the American army. In winemaking, his riesling was served in New York for Queen Elizabeth II’s breakfast. And finally, in golf, where he created from scratch one of the most successful companies in the global golf industry. He left a deep and inffaciable impression on all who have ever worked in his team. Here are the short stories told by people who worked with Ely Reeves Callaway.


In the late 90s, we had tough competition with other manufacturers for the title of the best driver. One spring, we decided to make an April fool's joke and play a trick with our boss Mike Galeski, telling him that at the last PGA tournament our representative had a fight at the range because of this with a Tilteist representative. Mike had no choice but to go up to Mr. Callaway and tell him what had happened. We stood downstairs and thought if we had gone too far. Pretty quickly, Mike came down with a smile on his face. “So what is he?” We asked Mike impatiently. "He just wondered if ours won." 
- Tracy Flowers (Manager, Pro Tour Services)

It was December 1993, our annual conference, at which Mr. Callaway traditionally summed up the results of the outgoing year, spoke about our successes and reminded that the competitors are not asleep, and they also achieved a lot. At some point, he took out the prototypes of our new Warbird Big Bertha and Big Bertha irons and said that to his great regret, the USGA found our new clubs non-compliant with the rules. I was really upset and devastated. Mr. Callaway kept his signature dramatic pause and said he was joking. And the new clubs will be presented at the PGA SHOW in January. Ugh, everyone breathed a sigh of relief. 
- Brian Minbiole (Outside sales rep 1991)

I remember how, after the death of Mr. Callaway, we had dinner with Beth O'Mea, who worked as vice president of staff. Beth told me how she asked the boss to raise the salary of our employees by the hour, in order to keep up with the competitors. Mr. Callaway, in response, asked her to return to the office and find an opportunity to raise salaries so that the best specialists work in the company and feel comfortable and better than if they worked with competitors. I remember very well that the boss always took care of the team. 
- Mary Leahy (Outside sales rep)

Every time I watch a video with him, I have a lump in my throat. He was a special person, "grandfather" for all of us. It is a pity that he is not with us, very sorry. 
- Sarah Osborne (Manager sales operations)


At one of the first PGA SHOWs in which we participated, Mr. Callaway invited us to dinner. He spoke about the company, about his expectations and the direction of development. He had an understanding of what our path should be, and how we should walk it. He spoke very emotionally, and said that apparently he would no longer be with us when the company achieved what he had planned. With tears in his eyes, Mr. Callaway assured us that if we all work hard, our future will be secured and we will create the best golf company in the world. I will never forget that evening, and his relation to us, his employees. This gave rise to my devotion to the company and to him personally, which never left me. And I know for sure that most of my colleagues feel the same. Mr. Callaway will always have a special place in our hearts. He changed our lives for the better, and we will not forget it. He shared his achievements with us, was generous, and ensured the future for many of us. These are the reasons for his success as a leader, this is why he will always be the BEST!
- Bruce Loman (Demo rep, Orange County)

I once conducted an office tour for an Englishman who turned out to be a friend of Mr. Callaway’s friend. He asked if he could see the boss. Ely was there and easily agreed to the meeting. Guest told Callaway that in England there is a town with the same name as its name - Ely. Mr. Callaway immediately began to pronounce some text that sounded like poems. The shocked Englishman said that these were words carved on a cathedral in this small town built in the 11th century. It turned out that Mr. Callaway was in this town 15 years ago, and remembered the inscription. 
- Jeff Cross (VP soft goods)

While we were still in our first building not far from Camino Vida Roble, in front of Palomar Airport Road, everyone brought lunch with them, and we shared it with each other. We were one big and happy family. One day Mr. Callaway tried Suki Yaki, which I cooked, and said that it was the most delicious dish he had ever tasted. He thanked me, calling by name, and talked with me for quite a long time, as if we had known each other for a long time. He actually remembered by the names almost all our employees. We were never just staff, we were a team. 
- Teri Mathis (Sales operations rep)

Working for one of the golf publications, I wrote an article about Ely. He invited me to Carlsbad, where I spent the whole day with him. He gave me a detailed tour, introduced me to many people. He was clearly proud of his products and his team. At the end of our conversation, he admitted that he had not been on vacation for ten years. Being amazed, I asked if it's time to rest. He looked into my eyes, grinned and said: “What I do throws me a lot of challenges, it is very interesting and dynamic. Where the hell are you find it on vacation? ” 
- Ken Van Kampen (Marketing consultant)

He was a wonderful person, very bright, funny and really caring. Gentleman in his all. I happened to be invited to his house for a family dinner. I will never forget how gently he pronounced my name Anne - Annika. He treated me like his granddaughter. 
- Annika Sorenstam (Callaway Tour Staff icon) 

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