New York Ely Callaway, a daring former textiles executive who revolutionized golf for pros and duffers alike with oversized metal clubs and in the process built an $840 million company while in his 70s, died Thursday. He was 82.
Callaway, whose Big Bertha driver quickly became a staple in golfers' bags after its debut a decade ago, succumbed to pancreatic cancer at his home in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.
Arnold Palmer called Callaway's development of the oversize drivers "one of the most important things that ever happened in the game."
"The fact is, 90 percent of all golfers are struggling to play," said Palmer, who has a lengthy endorsement deal with Callaway. "His whole idea was to give them an opportunity to enjoy the game a little more."
Callaway was successful in all of his careers, which ranged from president of a global textile manufacturer to founder of one of the first respected wineries in California's Temecula Valley, to head of golf-equipment maker that bears his name.