Hard Ball: Getting Clubbed

Tiger's popularity hasn't put more players on the course, leaving equipment makers to fight it out

Nobody played the business of golf better than Ely Callaway. He bought a fledgling four-person start-up in 1982 and turned it into the most successful purveyor of golf clubs in the sport's 300-year history. Callaway's innovation was to design clubs with oversize heads (remember your first Big Bertha?), which made a difficult, frustrating game immediately more satisfying to the weekend duffer.

Callaway Golf's success spawned a fiercely competitive $4 billion industry that has lately been showcased by a pro named Tiger and the marketing magic of a company called Nike. Yet if anything troubled Ely Callaway in his final days (he...

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