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February 28, 2012

Truth & Rumors: Callaway names Chip Brewer CEO

The small company started by Ely Callaway, which originally sold hickory shafted golf clubs, has come a long way since it officially became Callaway Golf in 1988. Over the years some of the company's most successful products, like the original Big Bertha driver and the titanium Great Big Bertha, have had enormous effects on both the golf industry and the way the game is played. Callaway's acquisition of Odyssey putters and the Top-Flite and Ben Hogan brands, as well as the launch of Callaway golf balls, have helped transform the Carlsbad-based company into one of the biggest in the world. 

In recent years, however, business hasn't been booming for the former leader in metalwood sales, as Callaway reported net losses of $171.8 million in 2011 and $18.8 in 2010.  For the past eight months the public company has been looking for a new leader to replace interim president and CEO Tony Thornley, and it has finally settled on industry veteran Chip Brewer, according to PGA.com. President and CEO of Adams Golf since 2002, Brewer is widely credited with transforming Adams from a niche company known largely for fairway woods and hybrids into a significant player in the industry. 

"Chip has extensive knowledge of all facets of the golf business, particularly in the sales and marketing area, and has a real passion for the game of golf. Chip also has great relationships with customers and others in the golf industry and he has done a great job turning around and leading Adams Golf," said Callaway Board Chairman Ronald S. Beard. “We believe he is the right leader to entrust with our valuable brands, and the board looks forward to working with him to restore profitability and increase shareholder value."

Brewer, who has an MBA from Harvard Business School, will officially start his tenure at Callaway Golf on March 5th. 

"Having been around golf my entire life, I know Callaway and its products very well and I am very excited about joining such an iconic company and being part of its great heritage," said Brewer. "There is a lot of opportunity ahead for Callaway and I look forward to working with the board and senior management team to build upon the strength of its brands to restore profitability and increase shareholder value."

Callaway currently has sponsorship agreements with a number of notable players including Ernie Els, Phil Mickelson, Alvaro Quiros, J.B. Holmes and Tommy Gainey, among others. 

Tiger Effect Felt at Honda Classic
The mere presence of stars like Michael Jordan, Arnold Palmer and Dale Earnhardt, among others, brought a certain extra excitement to their sports, but never has there been an individual who could make or break an event like Tiger Woods. Clearly, the officials at the upcoming Honda Classic were aware of this fact when the 14-time major winner confirmed he was in the field this year, but it still seems they may have underestimated his power, according to The Palm Beach Post.

“We were ready, so we haven’t been overwhelmed,” tournament executive director Ken Kennerly said, “but Tiger’s impact has exceeded our very high expectations.”

In fact, Kennerly is now considering halting ticket sales not only for the famed Bear Trap, but for the entire event. Last year the Honda drew approximately 110,000 fans, but this year attendance may exceed 160,000, and tournament officials are concerned about overcrowding having a negative effect on fan experience as well as security.

“We’ll make sure extra security attention is paid to entry points away from the main gate and along the perimeter of the course,” Kennerly said. “We don’t want anyone jumping a fence to get in. We’ll have two and three times the route flow from our lots with special attention paid to Tiger’s tee times when we expect the greatest increase in attendance. We’re well aware of the fact that we’ll have more people arriving and departing at certain times than we’ve had in the past.”

TWEET OF THE DAY

PGATOUR: Tiger Woods out practicing on back nine at The Honda Classic, where he's playing for the first time as a professional. About 150 following.

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