In addition to being the star of our “Ask Petra” series on Chrome Soft, Petra Rackley is our golf ball engineering manager for R&D. Here’s what she had to say about her job, working with Phil Mickelson (no big deal), and why she loves hearing stories from players who use our golf balls.
1. What Was The Most Interesting Part Of Working On Chrome Soft?
Petra: The biggest thing for our team was having a final product that was received so well. There’s always a ton of research and technology that goes into any ball we release, so Golf Ball R&D is always proud of the products we commercialize.
But with Chrome Soft there was so much buzz around the product that we knew we might have something really special on our hands.Then when it was released, and it lived up to the hype, we kind of sat back and went “wow!” I think it sort of caught us by surprise in a good way.
2. Phil Mickelson played an integral role in the development of this golf ball. What was that like?
Petra: Phil really championed the soft ideology on Tour. We knew Chrome Soft would be fantastic for average golfers, but when he got his hands on it and immediately gave us glowing feedback, we knew that we could take this technology to our Tour staff.
From there, we have continued to refine our soft technology even further, and are excited for the balls we’ll be releasing in 2016.
3. Was There A Moment When You Knew Chrome Soft Was Going To Be A Good Ball?
Petra: For me, I knew it was going to be a good ball when I first took it on-course and tested it. I’m learning to golf, and I really liked Supersoft because it helped me hit the ball straight and it didn’t feel like a rock. My only problem (besides being a crappy golfer) was getting the ball to spin around the green.
When I went out with Chrome Soft I thought, “Oh my gosh. This is fantastic!” It had the feel I liked with Supersoft, and immediately, I could get Chrome Soft to spin and stop on the greens. I fell in love with it, and it’s been my ball ever since.
4. What’s the best response or feedback you’ve gotten from people who have played Callaway Golf Balls?
Petra: The coolest stories to me are the ones where people switch to our balls and then they shoot the lowest scores of their life. It’s even cooler, when we get the feedback that it wasn’t a fluke and they’ve just continued to get better.
Obviously, our team knows that a golf ball can have a significant impact on your round, but “real people” testimonials let us know we aren’t crazy. It makes us feel like we are actually making a difference.
5. Aside from understanding all the technical aspects, what other skills do you need to be successful in your role?
Petra: We really need to be able to think outside of the box, because obviously, we’re solving things that haven’t been solved before. We need to be able to go to a trade show and pick out advancements in other industries and then apply them to our field.
In some cases, we’re on the cutting edge and we’re either internally developing something that’s never been done before, or we’re asking suppliers and experts to help us. There is so much more technology, engineering and innovation that go into a golf ball than most people realize.
6. What’s Your Favorite Memory From Working In Golf Ball R&D?
Petra: When I think about why I love to come to work every day, the Golf Ball R&D team is the first thing that comes to mind. The first month I was hired, my manager let me work in our labs with the technicians.
It’s one of my favorite memories because I got to learn the process through hands-on training, and I really was able to appreciate all the time and energy that goes into a single ball.
Our technicians and engineers are the best-of-the-best with decades of experience, and I love learning from them and working with them on a daily basis. There is never a dull moment, and I tell people that I would rather be at work on a day that I’m sick then sitting at home by myself.
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