In the build up to the TGI Golf Business Conference – at The Belfry, February 2-3, 2016 – keynote speaker Roger Cleveland, Callaway’s Chief Designer, answers a ‘Quick 9’ Questions.
1. What do you feel are the ‘must have’ shots you need, for any young aspiring player, to enable them to gain a tour-level short game?
You must understand how to use the sole or bounce of the wedge. For this technique will allow you to control one’s speed and therefore distance and trajectory. Not understanding this is the biggest problem for the amateur golfer.
2. Do you have chats about design and golf in general with other designers such as Bob Vokey?
Bob and I have been friends for years. I certainly admire his great body of work. He has been fortunate to have had a green light on his product for years, unfortunately I have not enjoyed that same support until Mr Brewer (Chip, Callaway CEO) came to town.
3. Is there a Tour pro who you feel gives you the best feedback on your designs/wedges?
Phil Mickelson without a doubt.
4. How long does it take from you having the idea to the product hitting the shelves?
It depends on the product. You never put the pencil down, but you need to stop to get the product to market.
Lead times for testing, redesign, tooling and production all take time and you must account for all of these to get to market on time.
Woods have the longest development time, hybrids next with irons following and of course bringing up the rear, wedges.
5. Does retail price have an affect on what you design? For example if you were to design the ultimate wedge, would it just be too much at retail?
We design for different types of golfers and their skill types/ability to devote to the game.
We want to bring enjoyment to all skill levels and budgets. Of course, the more technology a club employs, the more it cost to make, etc.
We’re not trying to make a wedge faster like our woods, hybrids and irons, so it’s less demanding. But that being said, the sole and groove technology is extremely tricky and must meet the highest standards.
6. Have you designed any clubs other than wedges? If not, is it something you’d like to do?
I started at Callaway Golf in 1996 and my first project was to enhance the iron product with the introduction of the X12 and was involved on most of the X irons thereafter.
I was lead on forged irons starting with X Forged and Legacy, but maybe most proud of the Muscle Back called RAZR or now MB-1. I assisted on some woods as well through the past 20 years.
7. Do you have any golfing idols?
Many…Bobby Jones, Byron Nelson, Ben Hogan, Ben Crenshaw, Lee Trevino, and today, Jordon Spieth, Rory McIlroy, Justin Rose, Jason Day…all with exceptional talent and well grounded with solid values.
8. What are your thoughts on the impending anchor ban?
I think it’s fine. Both the USGA and the R&A agreed on this and their job is to protect the spirit of the game.
I think it will lead to more inventive methods and therefore better putting – the claw for example. Side Saddle I believe will be out there soon as it’s already in amateur golf.
9. What can the PGA Professionals at the TGI Golf Business Conference expect to take away from your presentation?
I have not had the opportunity to see much teaching of the short game at clubs here in the UK other than Mr Cowen’s facility, so I am not sure of the amount of teaching addressing this area of the game.
In the US and for sure in Asia and Australia there is just not enough time spent teaching and demonstrating the techniques of the short game.
It’s a huge area of opportunity to lower students’ scores the quickest and he or she doesn’t need 120 mph clubhead speed to do it.
It’s also a huge lost opportunity to engage your members to make them advocate and own their loyalty for everything golf.
You’re fitting for drivers and irons now, why not wedges? You know the course conditions the best and can guide them to a grind that fits them.
Typically, it will lead to more lessons in this area and a very happy customer.
- The TGI Golf Business Conference is FREE for TGI Partners to attend and gives the group’s 480-plus PGA Professionals the opportunity to acquire new skills from leading figures from inside, and out, of the golf industry.