TaylorMade kicked off a revolution in golf by reintroducing metal drivers in 1979. Within the next decade, Ely Callaway's company made irons easier to hit by changing the clubhead weight distribution, and in 1991 changed thinking about clubhead size with the Big Bertha driver, one of the most popular clubs in the history of the game. The companies compete in a market that has been toughened by the global recession that began in 2008.
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Both companies offer the ability to change components--between rounds, according to the Rules of Golf--but TaylorMade offers more options. Callaway's I-Mix system lets you switch driver heads and shafts for different loft and flex combinations by unscrewing the shaft from the clubhead with a special wrench. TaylorMade's Flight Control Technology (FCT) lets you change the loft, lie and face angles, and its Movable Weight Technology (MWT) lets you add extra weight to the toe, heel or center of the club to alter ball flight. Both companies had two drivers rated "gold" on Golf Digest's 2010 Hot List: the FT-iZ and Diablo Edge/Edge Tour from Callaway, and the R9 TP and R9 460 from TaylorMade.
Irons are classified in three categories: tour for low-handicap players, game improvement for mid-handicappers and maximum game improvement for beginners. TaylorMade's Burner line, a max game-improvement iron, was the best-selling iron of 2009, according to Sports Illustrated, and it was one of the highest-rated irons in Golf magazine's 2010 testing with its panel of players. In tour-caliber irons, Golf Digest rated TaylorMade's R9 TP as "gold" but rated Callaway's equivalent X-22 irons as "silver."
TaylorMade includes its customizable options on its R9 fairway metal, while Callaway does not provide a way to change its fairway metals. Golf Digest rated Callaway's Diablo Edge/Edge Tour model and TaylorMade's R9 as "gold" in its 2010 ratings. Golf magazine's 2010 player panel called the R9 among the best in its class.
Callaway's top hybrids have a wider sole and 1 to 2 degrees more loft in its 2, 3 and 4 hybrids than TaylorMade's Rescue clubs. Callaway changed the weight distribution for its 2010 models, making the clubs more forgiving on off-center hits. Both companies rated gold in Golf Digest's 2010 rating of all hybrids, Callaway with its FT-iZ and Diablo Edge/Edge Tour, and TaylorMade with its Rescue TP, which has the same adjustable hosel as TaylorMade's drivers and fairway woods. Golf magazine's player panel called the Rescue TP among the best in its better-player hybrids class. In Golf magazine's game- improvement hybrids class, its panel preferred TaylorMade's Raylor.
TaylorMade offers more gadgetry in its wedges: Its TP xFT wedge has a replaceable fact for when the wedge's grooves wear down. Golf magazine's player panel preferred Callaway's X Series Jaws wedge. Unlike TaylorMade's, Callaway's wedge is forged from a single piece of metal, which provides more feel. Golf Digest preferred TaylorMade's club, giving it a gold rating. TaylorMade's club conforms to the new rules on grooves that affect elite pros and amateurs starting in 2010 and all other players in 2024. Callaway offers its wedge with either the outgoing square grooves or the newer grooves that will comply with the changing rules.
Callaway's Odyssey company sells the most putters in golf, and it placed three on Golf Digest's 2010 gold list--the Black Series Tour and White Ice putters for blade putters, and the White Ice line for mallets. TaylorMade's Rossa line placed one putter--the Itsy Bitsy Spider mallet--on the gold list. The Odyssey putters had far more options to please players' eyes, with 11 styles for the White Ice mallet, four for the Black Series Tour and three for the White Ice blade.