Episode 18 - Callaway

Steve Elkington works to find the perfect set of clubs at Callaway headquarters, joined by his friend David Grieve and his wife Kathleen Grieve.

 Episode Guide 

You may also like:


NARRATOR 1: On this episode of The Rural Golfer.

-I have brought my great friends, David and Kathleen Grieve, down to Callaway. We're Going to get Kathleen fitted. Now, she's already nervous about coming to Demo Day.

-I feel you have to be a certain level of golfer to come and do a fitting.


-You aren't intimidated by Demo Day because, in fact, you love it when Demo Day comes.

-Of course, I'm that guy.

-You're like every other guy that wants a bit more distance.

-As a lower handicapper, there are little degrees of difference, and that's what I was looking for today, and I got it.

-What man doesn't like more length?

-Length is important, Steve.

-Mate, this is what I play with, old-- older model club, but the statistics tell me it's very good.

-Everybody knows my driver, his name's Big Black.

-Upstairs she went, Big Blue.

-I didn't like this driver when I first looked at it but it became beautiful. I don't need any more numbers, I got this right here, Big Blue.

NARRATOR 1: The Rural Golfer is headed your way.


THEME SONG: One, two three, four!


THEME SONG: (SINGING) We've got the Big Show revvin' our eyes are on the map, where we're going next we just can't see. Driving clubs, let's hit some balls, we're making friends and playing golf. The Rural Golfer's coming your way.

-Our goal today in the beautiful Carlsbad, Demo Day at the club, it's very intimidating. In fact, Kathleen's already told me that she would not demo anything at Demo Day because it's a bit overpowering. Or--

-It's just, you don't think you're ready for it if you're a true amateur.

STEVE: (VOICEOVER) Our goal today is to fit Kathleen with a driver that suits her swing, David with his driver. And we feel that you should be fitted so that you can become a good golfer. What really do we need to know to get a good driver, is what we're trying to get out of today.

Everyone knows I call my driver Big Black, we're going to try to beat Big Black today. And the way we're going to do that is we're going to have a man with this fancy TrackMan machine, most everyone at Rural Golfer knows what TrackMan is. It measures the trajectory of the ball, the spin, the angle of attack, all those things.

But we're going to slim it down, slim it way down to where we all can understand it and get something out of this. We've got a young man named Garrett who's in right now making us some clubs to get started. And we're going to test on that machine, that machine's going to give us some feedback, and I'm going to help you figure out how we're going to get this done, somehow.

NARRATOR 2: Demo Day, an event that many golfers fear, is really the place where you can make the most impact on your game.

STEVE ELKINGTON: I'm trying out new wedges here from Callaway.

NARRATOR 2: Regardless of your playing ability.

-For the beginner, some of those players might know that there's supposed to be a pitching wedge, and a nine iron, an eight iron, but they don't know that there's six different models to choose from, and they might not have a clue on which one might be for them.

-Well everybody's intimidated to come out and stand there and have somebody watch them hit balls. And so I think a lot of times that intimidation factor keeps them from having somebody that really knows what they're doing walk them through the process.

-She's never been to a demo day before and she hasn't tried a lot of different clubs. She may not know if she likes ladies clubs versus men's clubs, shorter vs. longer, lighter vs. heavier .

-She, she wouldn't-- she doesn't know all that.

-A lot of it's educational, telling them about some clubs are more forgiving on misses, some clubs curve the ball easier.

-It really is necessary to get the most performance that you can, and whether you're a tour professional or beginner, somebody that knows what they're doing, sitting there with you, is going to help you get better performance than you had before.

-One of the most important things for the beginner golfer is to figure out what set makeup they should have, or that the number of clubs that should go in their bag. Kind of, eliminating any clubs that do the same thing as another club, getting rid of clubs that they may not hit very good. so they'll, kind of, learn what they need in their bag, set make-up wise.

-I think it's smart to go to a Demo Day, instead of just buying an off the rack club you can go, and for the same price you could get something that is really tailor made to how tall you are, how strong you are, and what your ability is.

NARRATOR 2: From finding the perfect fit to fitting in time for a podcast--


NARRATOR 2: --having Elk in the house provided the perfect opportunity to talk shop with Callaway Golf's Senior Vice President of Marketing, and Rural Golfer fan, Harry Arnett.

-You always looked like a veteran to me, even when you were younger.

-It's funny you'd say that, I met Jack Nicklaus when I was 14 years old, I went to be a volunteer in the Australian Open. 1976 was the year.

-I grew up watching Steve in his prime, as a guy dominating between the ropes, and you put these guys on pedestals, rightfully so. The things they can do is amazing. But just meeting him and hanging out with him, it's just like having your next door neighbor come over and talk about golf, or whatever. So he's-- he really is just one of the guys.

NARRATOR 2: Harry is also an entertained follower of Steve's on Twitter.

-I don't try to be controversial, I don't-- I really don't, and I'm not looking for a big response. But I to--I like to-- I like to tell good stories, and I'm going at telling them.

NARRATOR 2: So chats from online to in-person proved to be a welcome to experience. It's nice to get him for more than 144 characters, I'll tell you that, but he's the same guy. He's the same as he is on social media, as he is in real life. He's full of passion, full of love, and honestly, just so accommodating to want to talk about golf. And it's, uh-- it's like I've known the guy forever even though we just met.

-OK, our first job today is we're going to get Kathleen fitted. Now, she's already nervous about coming to Demo Day. Garrett, what should she walk up and say to you?

-Well basically I'm going to try and make her have a good time with it, that's one of the most important things.

-Relax her.

-Yeah, relax her a little bit, let her get warmed up, hit some shots with, maybe, her current clubs.

-Atta Girl. Garrett, what's the next step?

-Yeah, I want to get her on the launch monitor here. We use the TrackMan, which is a radar based launch monitor. And it'll track the ball until it doesn't see it anymore, which, on flat terrain, like we're on today, it'll stop tracking once it hits the ground.

-And, to be honest, he's nor-- he's not interested your swing, and he's not worried about your swing, he wants to-- he wants to see what this thing says.

STEVE: Nice.


-That was a good one there, right out of the gate, wasn't it?

-Yeah. Well that launched at about 11 degrees with 3,500 RPMs of back spin. And total was at almost 180 yards, just shy of 180.

-That's not bad, right there, right?

-Not bad for the first swing, yeah.

-Yeah, if she could get the number under 3,000 she would probably be looking at a really, like, keeper driver.

-What I would probably try next is our driver that's geared towards reducing backspin.

-Yeah, every one of them goes over there.

-It feels a little heavier.

-Too heavy. Can't square it up.



-They're all going to the exact same spot.

-Yeah. So that little experiment we just did there, with Kathleen, didn't work out. It was too heavy for her, and she wasn't able to square, she hit every ball to the right.

-So the great thing about the modern golf club, especially drivers, is everything's adjustable. You can put different heads onto different shafts, so it's very convenient in a Demo Day environment.

-I think I was hesitant because I feel you have to be a certain level of golfer to come and do a fitting.

-And that's a pretty common question, I'm not good enough to be club fit, what difference does it make? A lot of times they can benefit the most. So that's back to the one that we started with.

-Yeah, she hits that driver good. It's amazing isn't it?

-That club looks great.

-Big difference, huh? You said to me, coming down here, that you didn't think you were a good enough player to be fitted.


STEVE: This is crucial. Now, have you changed your mind?

-I think what's generally lost on someone new to the sport, or not very experienced with the sport, is why people keep upgrading their technology. Because I don't get what the difference is and now I'm understanding.

-Beauty. Now that was-- that was a nice ball, right there. Were you happy with that? Like very?



-I just want you to just go up to the top, for a second, of the swing, of your swing.

-OK, I'm going.

-And then stop. Women are great to teach because they usually do exactly what you tell them, men, not so much. So that's good, right? Now I'm just going to sneak in your pocket, right here, I'm going to put my hand right here. So when you're coming down, what's going to hit this thing is this is going to move. And then you feel the power in your arms, there?


-That's what's going to hit it.

-So you want me to turn.

-I do want you to turn your hips on the way down first.

-Someone like Kathleen is very athletic and, for a lady player, she's got long, beautiful, long fingers so I just took the opportunity to get her grip better. I think she was brought up on a farm because it looked like she was milking a cow when she first got on the tee, so I had to fix that up a little bit.

This hand, we got to have-- it's got to lay down where the palm meets the fingers. Right there. And then she goes, oh, that's nice. And you shorten that a little bit so it sits against that guy there, see how that's there?

Left hand grip is different from the right hand grip. Left hand grip's pretty easy. It's down right with the palm meets the fingers and the right hand grip is a tricky one.

STEVE: (VOICEOVER) And that takes a little time but that was my goal and I think we achieved it.

-I think that just because you're a great golfer, doesn't necessarily make you a great teacher, but he has a great way of saying the right queue words for it to make sense for me.

-You've got a really good set up. Very good. See, golf is not always-- looks impossible. That was pretty easy for you to do, wasn't it?

KATHLEEN: Yes that felt good.

-Yeah, you got a great set up. You're grip now. In your mind, if I, if I-- put your hand-- put your club down there like you're going, you're gonna hit.


-Yup. And if I black you out, you know where your hand is now, right?


-You're pretty comfortable that you'll go in that direction.


-So that's a very important thing to know.

-I think it made me hit it straighter.

-Beauty. That was nice.

-And I think it made me feel that it was smoother. So I just have to implement it, and try to remember what he taught me.

-One of the true, true pleasures of playing golf, Kathleen, is to be able to really hit it hard with your hand, you know, you're right hand, knowing that it's not going to go off line. You've got your grip on there good, now we want to really square that grip up, square that club up coming in. Good girl. Very good. Well done.


-You, of course, aren't intimidated by Demo Day because, in fact, you love it when Demo Day comes.

-I'm that guy.

-You're like every other guy that wants a bit more distance.

-I have a very steep shot. Instead of coming in at an angle here, it's coming more at an angle like this-- more steep.

-If you're a single digit handicapper like David, you probably got a driver that works pretty good.

-This your driver? Old Faithful?

-So you're looking for incremental improvements on ball speed, distance, accuracy, the whole-- the whole gamut.

STEVE: Well, that's pretty much your drive, right there.

GARRETT: You could see his shot going left goes way shorter than a shot going to the right, because not enough spin to keep it in the air.

STEVE: Not enough spin to hold it in the air.

GARRETT: Even though the ball speed was actually slightly higher on that shot than the first shot.

-Mm-hmm Nice one. Kathleen, he's in the realm of the spin, right?


STEVE: It's a good spin? What you see over here?

KATHLEEN: It's a little low.

STEVE: A little low on the launch.

-You tend to hit it slightly higher on the clubface, so if we could put the center of gravity closer to where you tend to make contact, that's basically putting the sweet spot where you're hitting it on the club.


-So again, we got really, really efficient ball speed, there. That's 162. So now, I mean, we're approaching the 10 mile an hour mark.

STEVE: Oh. Oh, ho, ho Grievey, Greavey.

-That one is, that was what I want. That's what I like.

STEVE: Grievey.

-Yeah. It's 0.6, 3,000.

-It's perfect.

-Yeah. For a fade-- 3,000.

-A little bit of a-- a little bit of a baby cut, right?

-Yup, yeah.

-Yeah, that's money.

-As a lower handicapper there are little degrees of difference and that's what I was looking for today, and I got it. I got seven more yards, on average, and actually straighter ball flight. Oh, hello.

NARRATOR 2: Steve Elkington has one of the most classic swings in professional golf history. Pure, fluid, artistic even. Like most great ball strikers he makes an effort to make it look effortless. The result, a repeatable move, trusted under pressure, with few changes since his days in Wagga Wagga.

-Look at that for control. These guys are good.

NARRATOR 2: And while all league players have equipment perfectly suited to their game, they're always looking to gain a competitive advantage with the newest technology.

-So, Garrett, mate, this is what I play with, old-- older modeled club, but the statistics tell me it's very good.

STEVE: A little low on launch, but-- 2,500 spin probably.

GARRETT: 27 there.

STEVE: Yeah.

GARRETT: 159 ball speed.

-Yeah. I believe that the technology is so good now, that I don't have to even know what this shaft is, I don't even have to know what this head is, I just-- I go with the numbers.

STEVE: There's the one, right there.

GARRETT: Like that one?

STEVE: That's the hammer.

-Yeah there's your high smash factor. The one, one-- 60 ball speed, 11 launch, 22, almost 2,250 backspin.

STEVE: So, that's-- that's a good driver.

-It's great. Yeah.

-We need more-- we need more ball speed. We can go lighter, that may get me a few more miles an hour to catch up with my son Sam.

GARRETT: I'm going to get this set up to where it's the most similar in loft to what you've got here. I'm going to put a shaft on there that's similar to what you have, except slightly lighter. Typically we'd be looking to see if we could get a mile an hour more ball speed, with a similar launch and spin, and a shot shape that you're happy with, and kind of the trajectory that you want to see with a driver.

-This feels to light in the head, but we'll see. Pretty good, not going anywhere though.

-Yeah, 160 ball speed there, it's 10 degree launch, and double read your spin there, high 2000's on the spin, little higher spin than yours.

-Yeah. you can see it. It doesn't have the hammer behind it, what else can we give, what else can we got?

GARRETT: This one, you should feel the head, it's the same swing weight as yours.

-Yeah, I can feel the head. It's got a chance.

-That carried seven yards longer than your gamer.

-Not much spin there.

-That's going, too.

-Since we're looking at an average, you're looking at two miles an hour increase in ball speed, and that can probably be contributed mostly to the lighter club. Yeah, lighter club but you still have the heavy head feel that you want in a driver, right?

-Gotta have it, yeah.

-Seeing his numbers, then going to the alpha driver, we're able to actually pick up a little bit of ball speed, primarily by decreasing the amount of weight that the club weighs.

-Hello, hello. Whew.

-Everybody knows my driver, his name's Big Black. It's an old, tailor made, Super Fast that I've had for a long time. And the reason I've had a long time is nothing can beat it. There's the one upstairs, we like.

-Like that shot? I know, it's just, I know it's going.

-All right, we'll get over to the numbers, here. Um. Same ball speed that we're used to, now we've got a nice high launch with the right amount of spin.

-Well, I got this one today, this one beat it. I picked up, I think, two miles an hour it's full speed, and a little bit higher launch with hardly any spin. I never have had a driver, in all the years since I've had that driver, there's a reason that that driver is five years old, there's not one driver who's ever beaten it on TrackMan. Not one. And you see why, it's a good numbers.

-Yeah, the numbers are good. Your longest carry into the wind with that one was 245. Your last carry, there, was 251.

-Ooh. That was hit good, too.

-It's a more efficient flight that comes off of the alpha driver compared to his gamer. Slightly higher launch, slightly lower spin, which if you add that to the ball speed increase, and you got a driver that, for him, six yards longer. Which is a pretty big jump for a pro to see six yards.

-It's Big Blue. Big Blue's in, Big Black's out. I didn't like this driver when I first looked at it, but it became beautiful when I saw the numbers. I don't need any more numbers, I got this, right here. Big blue. Big blue.

NARRATOR 3: Elk, Vintage Vault.

-Everyone knows you can't hit a driver off the deck and hook it. So we're getting down to-- down to the ground. We're just trying to get one in play. We're on a very low tee, now to the heel, one up in the masters, trying to get down the fairway, somewhere. There it is, right there. That shot has been hit by more guys coming down the stretch for the cash than any other shot that's ever been invented in this game.

Well, our goal when we came here was to, you know, try to take away the myth of going to Demo Day. And what are we actually trying to do when we get to Demo Day? And we took David Grieve and his wife, Kathleen, and myself. And, of course, in my category I'm trying to inch my way very closely to a better driver, David and a little bit more room, and Kathleen had the most room. I think the thing that I was most happy with today was that Kathleen came into the day thinking that she was totally intimidated, totally did not want to be fitted because she didn't think she was good enough to be fitted. To when, in a very short time, she felt good about the fitting, she was-- said it was fun, and she understood it.

So the reason I like coming to places like this is I'm not contracted to play with anyone's driver, and the reason I do that, I do it on purpose. Because I'm always afraid if I put my eggs into this basket, and then someone comes out with a really good one, I'm stuck over here in this basket, here. I'd rather just be agnostic, being able to do whatever I want. That's what I like about this opportunity today.

NARRATOR 1: On the next episode of The Rural Golfer our host gets hosted.

STEVE: You know, I don't know if I've ever been in a place as quaint as Sonoma.

NARRATOR 1: As the Grieves toast to Elk in wine country.

STEVE: And your place, I just don't know if you could ever get a better spot to live.

NARRATOR 1: He was a flavor of one of the world's finest wine producing regions.

STEVE: Well, mate, can anyone grow grapes, I mean, is it hard to grow them?

DAVID: I think you've got to be a freak to have a vineyard, in the first place.

NARRATOR 1: And finds out what, quite literally, goes into the production of world class wine.

-The smaller the berry, the better it is.


-Yeah, you don't want those big, plump, berries, because that means there's a lot of water content.

-If I'm going to the store, I'm better off if I'm going to the grape isle, I used to pick the biggest ones because I thought they were the best but I should go little?

-There you go.

NARRATOR 1: In this case, the secret isn't in the dirt, it is the dirt.

-The only way to have a living soil to produce the nutrients that we want feeding our grapes is to do it organically. There really is, for us, not another way to go about it.

NARRATOR 1: And Elk just has to go about dejuicing grapes the old school way.

-All right, I'm ready to get into this, Grievey.

-I like this but you know it's--