While at the AT&T National, I was able to grab 10 minutes with Barry Lyda who is a good friend of THP. We discussed everything from golf clubs, players, and even the tour van itself. Here is my interview with Barry.
THP– We’re here with Barry Lyda in the Callaway Tour Van. Barry, how does one become a part of the Callaway Tour Van ‘family?’
Barry Lyda– Wow, that’s a good question! Well most of the guys in here are former golf professionals, as was I. Mike Peck (head of Callway Apparel) was a club professional, Nick Raffaelle our Tour Director was a club professional, and Bruce Martin our Driver Technician was a club professional, so I would say that would be the first step. To have the knowledge of what a golf swing does, club repair, the club repair knowledge and how to do that, and especially to understand ball flight laws. Also, how changing a golf club affects ball flight is key. Those three things are important. Um, interpersonal skills and being able to adapt to a lot of different players’ needs are important also but I think that’s probably the main thing. We’re in this industry as professionals in the first place.
THP– How many Callaway Tour Vans are there?
Barry– Well there’s one, actually two here in the United States. One for the PGA Tour primarily and the other on the Nationwide Tour primarily. There’s another one in Europe that travels around the continent and there’s another one in Japan. So I believe that’s the four we have.
THP– How often are the players in the Tour Vans?
Barry– Well some players are in here every week we’re here because this is normally right by the driving range every week. Some players NEVER come in here, it just depends. It goes this way, honestly, if you looked at our player’s standings on the money list….the higher ranked they are on the money list and higher in the rankings the less they come in here
THP– How do you handle equipment being used by players that are prototypes or have specs not released to the general public yet?
Barry– Well, you know, you mean as far as what we make?
Barry– Well we kinda use them as a little bit of a R&D product. Players a lot of times will request things that we will go back to R&D and ask for. And those products in turn, even though they start off as prototypes, might very well end up being in the product line in the future. So it’s kind of like a test track. These guys, being the best players in the world, have EXTRMELY good feedback and how they can give us feedback and let us know how the golf club is working how they want it to and whether it’s good or bad. We then take that feedback and try to get it back to the guys in R&D development as fast as possible back at Callaway so they can help produce clubs. Because a lot of times the guys back in R&D are sitting there with computers and test robots trying to make golf clubs without necessarily feedback and when they get feedback from the players they will sometimes have to go back tot he drawing board and redo some things.
THP– So they’re taking into account ‘human feel’ and not relying solely on black and white data?
Barry– Absolutely, absolutely. And that’s a very valuable source of information that both R&D and Pro Tour have begun to use as opposed to just the player themselves in evaluating what Callaway puts out there and what needs to be promoted.
THP– What is Callaway working on next for its Pro players?
Barry– Well, it’s always a little tweaking of this and tweaking of that. I don’t think there’s anything that I haven’t seen yet that has made it out to us here in the truck. We’re not in R&D so we don’t always have a heads up as to what’s coming. But I’m sure we’ll continue with some sort of FT technology in the drivers and we’ve had extremely good success with our irons over the past few years. We’ll probably tweak that a bit more along with the blades, forged irons, and the wedges.
THP– What do you guys do for fun when you have some down time when you’re not making clubs or working with the players?
Barry– Well, I think that’s individual. I play golf, on weekends when I get a chance
THP– Is that when you have ‘a-ha!’ moments and say to yourself ‘I wonder if we used this kind of grind, this kind of loft, etc’ and take it back to the van and tinker yourself?
Barry– I do that sometimes, not necessarily with the pros, but I do that with amateurs and players on the lesser tours sometimes.
THP– Barry, thanks for you time and we sure appreciate it.
Barry– You’re welcome, you’re welcome!