CARLSBAD, CALIFORNIA | Pinehurst is often described as the Home of Golf in America, and I get that characterization given the destination’s rich history and the wealth of great courses there. But I believe Carlsbad should be identified in much the same way, albeit for an entirely different reason.
That’s because this city on the Southern California coast is the hub of the golf business in the U.S. and as important a place for the game as that town in the Carolina Sandhills.
After all, this is where Topgolf Callaway Brands, TaylorMade and Cobra Puma are headquartered, and the place from which Titleist operates its club business. Top shaft makers Aldila, Fujikura and KBS are also here, and in neighboring towns you will find Scotty Cameron’s putting studio, John Ashworth’s Linksoul business and the groundbreaking Titleist Performance Institute. Collectively, this presence has led some in the game to observe that Carlsbad is to golf what Detroit is to the automobile industry, but with much warmer winters and better beaches.
... this city on the Southern California coast is the hub of the golf business in the U.S. and as important a place for the game as that town in the Carolina Sandhills.
You get a sense of how big the sport is here when you espy the names of its best-known brands on or in front of some of the buildings. Head out to a local eatery for lunch, and there are folks with Callaway golf shirts sitting at one table while others from, say, TaylorMade are assembled at another. I’ve had hosts lower their voices in such situations as we discussed upcoming product releases, lest a competitor overhear a particularly sensitive bit of information. Friends also tell me they have avoided local haunts when a meal might involve one executive trying to lure another away from a competing concern with a job offer.
For some industry watchers, seeing who is eating or drinking with whom – and at which restaurant or bar – has long been a way of discerning whether someone’s star is rising or falling in certain organizations. It’s like the CIA Kremlinologists who pored over photographs of Politburo members at May Day parades during the Cold War to determine where those individuals stood, literally and figuratively.
Golf also brings a bit of star power to Carlsbad in the form of the tour professionals who come to town to meet with technicians at the companies whose products they endorse. And it is not unusual to run into a major-championship winner or two when visiting the offices of one of those concerns.
Like Pinehurst, Carlsbad is all about golf.
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