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Big Bertha Boost From Bush Helps Carlsbad Golf Club Maker Score Ace

The President of the United States, Big Bertha and the sweet spot each has for the other:

It’s not like the Callaway Golf Co. of Carlsbad needed federal assistance to survive or anything.

The company’s been doing quite nicely: expanding tenfold in employees in five years, reaching $20 million a year in sales.

Then President Bush, in one of those golf course photo opportunities for the TV networks, praised a new driver being made by Callaway called Big Bertha:

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“I never got off the tee so well in my life.”

You can guess what happened next:

USA Today slapped Bush, Big Bertha and Callaway on the front page: “Bush golfs with ‘Bertha,’ not Barbara.”

ABC News, the Fairchild Publications, and Business Week came to Carlsbad and did major spreads on Callaway Golf Co. and owner Ely Callaway, 72.

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Already selling well since hitting the market in March, Big Bertha promptly went to the top of the sales charts.

In the parlance, Big Bertha has a larger club face, a larger “sweet spot” where the club meets the ball.

Sounds simple enough, but Callaway says he employed five aerospace and metallurgical engineers to design Big Bertha, which retails for $200 and up.

If you can find one.

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“We have trouble keeping Big Bertha on the shelf,” said Chip Boldin, a pro at Torrey Pines Municipal Golf Course. “She’s very user-friendly.”

“We run out of them all the time,” said Glenn Clark, owner of Nevada Bob’s Discount Golf in Clairemont.

Bush got his free: a gift from U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn (D-Georgia).

Callaway declines to use Bush in Big Bertha advertising. Too cheesy, says Ely Callaway.

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He did, however, make sure Bush got Big Bertha’s recently released sister, a 5 wood.

Interestingly, the world has no verification of Bush’s boast about Big Bertha.

White House reporters who were able to find sources to leak out the Persian Gulf battle plans have failed to get anyone who is willing to reveal Bush’s golf scores.

And not for lack of trying. No joke.

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Political Barbs Will Drive You Crazy

The campaign between San Diego Councilman Wes Pratt and challenger George Stevens now includes automotive accusations.

Stevens says blacks should buy from black businesses: he criticizes Pratt for not buying his new Lincoln from Miramar Lincoln-Mercury, where the dealer is black.

Pratt retorts that at least he bought an American car: he notes that Stevens drives a Mercedes-Benz.

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Stevens: “I drive a Mercedes-Benz as a role model. In our neighborhood, only pimps and drug dealers drive cars like that. I want people to see that regular citizens can drive them too.”

Pratt: “Did he buy that Mercedes-Benz from a black dealer? I don’t think so.”

The Handwriting Is on the Bushes

Signs of the times.

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* Even the vegetation is merging.

The day after the surprise announcement that the San Diego Union and Tribune will merge into the Union Tribune, gardeners were busy outside the newspaper plant in Mission Valley.

Arranging shrubs to spell U T .

* The merger has hundreds of employees at both papers worried whether their jobs will continue to exist.

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Their apprehension increased when every employee received a set of instructions entitled “Employee Evacuation & Relocation Procedure.”

Nothing that serious, though. Just an announcement for a fire drill Monday.

* Horseplayers are grumbling about one aspect of the $15-million satellite betting facility at Del Mar that opened last week:

The 430 screens show commercials between races.

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* Cindy Acree is writing a book about her experience as a POW wife during the Persian Gulf War.

She’s the wife of Marine Lt. Col. Clifford Acree, the Camp Pendleton pilot who was one of the first POWs.

* North County bumper sticker: “Stop the Hypocrisy. Repeal the 55-Limit.”

On a truck. Going about 75 m.p.h. on Interstate 5.

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Tony Perry’s column also appears Monday, Wednesday and Friday. He can be reached at 544-6032.


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