Exclusive – Podcast #238 – Dave Neville, Callaway Golf

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Callaway Golf’s Senior Director of Brand Management for woods and wedges, Dave Neville, joins us for episode #238 of the Golf Better Podcast with some exciting news regarding the re-emergence of one of the most iconic clubs in Callaway Golf history.

In this episode, we discuss the up and coming Steelhead XR fairway woods, history of  Callaway Golf’s Steelhead clubs, the Steelhead XR features and benefits, loft/grip/shaft options and its release date.

Take a listen to our podcast.  You can do so by our Soundcloud link below, on our website or subscribe free on iTunes.

Tom: Welcome to Golf Better at Worldwide Golf Shops. Episode 238. Hello my name is Tom. Thanks so much for joining us. So glad you’re here today. If there is your first time or you’re a long time listener and subscriber, either way we’re just glad you joined us.

Today’s a great day here at Golf Better. Our special guest joins us from out in Carlsbad, California. He’s the senior director of marketing for Callaway Golf, mister Dave Neville. Dave, thanks so much for taking the time. It’s great to have you with us today.

Dave: Love being with you guys.

Tom: Before we get into the topic of the day, Dave, tell us a little bit about yourself and your role at Callaway Golf.

Dave: Sure. I’m senior director of brand management for woods and wedges, which means I lead all of our go to market efforts for the woods such as the Epic Driver and the wedges such as the Mac Daddy and the Forged Wedges.

Tom: You’re still like me, you still call them woods, right?

Dave: Metal woods, yes.

Tom: I think I’ll always call them woods even though they are fairly metals or metal woods. Though we want to talk a little bit today, Dave, about something that’s coming back that was iconic, what, maybe a decade or so ago, the Steelhead brand?

Dave: Yes.

steelhead-xr-woods-2191Tom: Tell us a little bit about the history of the Steelhead before we get into what’s gonna be new about it.

Dave: The Steelhead is probably one of the most iconic clubs in Callaway history. In fact, when I was going back and looking at this, it’s actually the best selling fairway wood of all time for Callaway. We sold over 2.3 million Steelhead fairways. We had three different models at the time. There was the Steelhead, a Steelhead Plus, and a Steelhead 3. Originally … I was just talking to some of the guys who were here back around 2000 when they were first working on this project. They looked at a lot of different options and they had come up with this hawkeye sole, which they welded onto the bottom of the club and it was giving them phenomenal versatility out of a ton of different lines. They didn’t really have back then the kind of cad and the predictive type of software we have today, so they actually had to build these. They build them here in Carlsbad and tried all these different models. That’s when they knew they had a winner on their hands.

It’s one of those clubs that so many people had. Anything from better players to Tour players to regular golfers. Steelhead just has that iconic name.

Tom: Yeah. Back in 2000, I guess four, five or so, is that about right?

Dave: Yes. It was from 2001 to 2005, yep.

Tom: I remember I was working at Edwin Watts Golf and I talked to a lot of customers and like you said, a couple million of them. We had a lot of them fly out the door as well. Now, coming up is a new release of that great brand. Talk about the Steelhead XR fairways, ’cause this is really, really, exciting.

SteelheadXR1Dave: Yeah, it’s extremely exciting for us. We launched the Steelhead Iron last September and the idea behind that Iron was to take that iconic Steelhead shaping and then supercharge it with a face cup. As soon as we released that Iron, it went straight to number one. It’s been the best selling Iron since last September every single month. When we released that, about a month later people started saying to me, “When’s the Steelhead Fairway wood coming?” I remember that Fairways wood, that was so great, and we’ve been working on it for a long time. It has that iconic shaping of the steelhead. What you’re gonna see is, a deeper face, as you compare it to Epic. It’s a little bit taller, a little bit deeper faced. It’s got the hawkeye sole, which we re contoured and improved and what that’s gonna do is give you the ability to hit out of all different kinds of lines. You can hit this thing out of a bunker. You can hit it out of the rough, you can hit it in the fairways off the tee, because it has that deeper face, so it’s got that iconic shaping.

Then, what we wanted to was supercharge it. We put the face cup into this. The previous fill obviously didn’t have that face cup and that’s really the technology, the ball speed producing technology, that got us to number 1 in Fairways woods. We also put a carbon composite crown on it, so it has a J-36 carbon composite crown and weighs only 6 grams. You compare that to our XR Fairway wood, which weighed 26 grams, you get 20 grams of discretionary mass that’s able to be relocated.

The CG on this thing is a forward CG, it really comes out hot. It really wants to roll. Got that iconic shaping then the supercharged performance.

SteelheadXR5Tom: Dave if I remember right, from 12 to 15 years ago, another thing about that club was when you put it down and address, it looks so easy to hit, am I missing that? Because, I think that is one of the big features of it too, yeah.

Dave: Yeah. That’s gonna be huge for golfers. There’s … A lot of golfers actually, when you have a really, really, shallow face, they get afraid that they’re going to pop it up or they’re gonna sky it. Having that deeper face … It even has the old school score lines from the previous Steelheads, so you’re gonna see that and you’re gonna immediately think, “Hey, this looks like my old Steelhead,” but it definitely … It looks meaner and badder and it’s been supercharged.

Tom: Well, the old ones you had to build, like you said, on trial and error. They didn’t have the technology that you have today. When you put these in the hands of some of the players to test these, like your tour players and some other testers, what kind of feedback have you guys been getting on this?

Dave: It’s been tremendous. It really has a different kind of launch profile from the Epic. The Epic Fairway wood is a great Fairway wood, it launches high. It tends to have mid to higher spin. This is gonna play with the more forward CG, so more penetrating flight with a little bit less spin. For certain types of golfers with their launch conditions, this is gonna be a really, really, long Fairway wood for them.

One thing that we’re doing, we’re bringing back the three plus and the four plus. This was really the better player model, so these were the models that were effective on tour. Their a little bit flatter lie so, a little bit less left bias. A little bit more neutral to fade bias on these. They have a little a bit heavier shaft and a more compact shape. I think, not just a regular golfer, but the better players are really gonna like the Steelhead as well.

Tom: Dave Neville from Callaway Golf joining us. Dave, great segway into the next and final question about availability, the lofts, and lie angles. Also, grips and shafts too. Talk a little bit about what the customer has to choose from when this club’s out there.

Dave: Just a ton of different options. We’ve got a three plus, we’ve got a three, a four plus, a five, a seven, a nine, and a heaven wood. We’ve got it across the board, all the different options. This is a dedicated Fairway wood launch for us, and Callaway has never done that. We’ve always had a driver to go with the Fairways. This is all about the Fairways. It’s all about the Steelhead Fairway. Just a ton of different options there.

SteelheadXR2The stock shaft is gonna be the Mitsubishi Tensei CK, which is doing tremendously well on tour. For example, Danny Willet from our Callaway staff is playing it. A lot of other tour players have had this in play. That’s the stock shaft. It’s a 55 gram shaft. Then, in the three plus and four plus, which are more your better player options, we have a 65 gram Mitsubishi Tensei in that. Then the grip is a Lamkin UTX Blue. It’s the same kind of half corded grip that is on the Mac Daddy Forged. A really, really, premium package that we’re offering here.

Tom: Pricing and Availability date on these clubs?

Dave: Yeah. It’s $229.99, so pricing is very attractive on it. Our in store retail date is July 14, but we’ll start talking our consumer intro date is the 20th of June, so you’ll start hearing about this very, very, shortly.

Tom: Dave, we preach this all the time and we talked about it with Chip Brewer at the show and he emphasized it, but just because these clubs are so good, you still need to go into your Worldwide Golf shops, retailer, and get fit for this club, right?

Dave: Absolutely, you do. Worldwide Golf has some of the best fitting facilities in the country. We worked very, very closely. We have dedicated Callaway bays and a lot of the stores, like Rodger Dunn, Santa Ana, one of your top stores. You need to get fit for this Fairway wood, because it definitely does have different launch characteristics. We were talking about the CG and that’s the best way to unlock the distance. Get fit for the right shaft, the right settings on it. Get the right loft dialed in for it. You gotta do it, you gotta get fit.

Tom: Dave, thanks so much for taking the time. This is exciting stuff and I just … It’s almost like an old friend coming back, Steelhead coming back. Not only, like you said, the Irons, but now the Fairways. It’s kinda where it all started. Final words for our listeners from you out there in Carlsbad?

Dave: Just couldn’t be more excited about Steelhead. Get into your local Worldwide Golf Shop and give it a try.

Tom: Awesome. Dave, thanks so much, it’s been great catching up with you.

Dave: Good to be with you guys.

Tom: Boy, this is exciting stuff. It’s like bringing back an old family member. Steelhead Fairway is back. This time Steelhead XR. Like Dave said, make sure you get custom fit for this club or these clubs because there’s so many options. Make sure you get fit for the right ones for your game. Different type of ball flight, different trajectory. Boy, easy to hit and easy to hit from a lot of places. When he said you could “Hit it out of a bunker,” that gets your eyes opening real quick. Well, again, special thanks to Dave Neville, Callaway Golf for joining us. To you our listeners, we’re do it again next time. We have another episode of Golf Better at worldwidegolfshops.com

So long everyone.

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