One of my favorite interviews of all time was back in 1999 when I hosted a program called “Let’s Tee It Up” that aired every Saturday morning on what is now Fox Sports Radio 920 here in Las Vegas. After jumping through some hoops, I was fortunate enough to speak with Ely Callaway who had recently returned to work as the President and CEO of Callaway Golf.
Let’s Tee It Up was a 30-minute interview type show that was for the most part a serious discussion of the relevant topics of the day that pertained to the business of golf…and who better then Ely Callaway to fill that role! I had prepared a list of questions that would have kept Mr. Callaway on the phone for 3 days – and I got the impression that he would have stayed! Mr. Callaway had not only a grasp of his company, but also all of the other outside influences in the club industry that dictated the direction that he would steer Callaway Golf.
After some cordial, polite opening banter. as is my style, I got right down to the nitty gritty of things and asked what I thought were some very probing questions about why he felt a need to return to the company. Was it a question of direction or philosophy that Callaway was taking. Were sales slipping? Were the other equipment competitors gaining in market share? It turned out that he just missed being in the middle of things in the company that he had started and developed.
I’ll always remember that grizzly-type voice with still a hint of that Southern Georgia accent. My biggest compliment towards the end of our interview – which lasted almost the full 30 minutes- was that he said he had a great time, I was well-prepared and would love to come back! I know that could never be, but I’ve been a Callaway equipment guy ever since that interview and I think Ely would be appreciative.