There are many different types of artists. Painters, writers, musicians, actors. And you can definitely count Callaway golf club builder and wedge customization guru Anthony Taranto in that group.
Taranto, who has been with Callaway for nearly 20 years, has become a golf-industry celeb of sorts among players and fans alike for the innovative, one-of-a-kind wedge stamping he produces on a daily basis.
“I started at Callaway back in 1999,” Taranto said in a recent interview. “I answered an ad in the paper that Callaway was having a job fair and got a job for a machine operator in the new golf ball plant Mr. Callaway opened.”
About 11 years ago, Taranto started working with Callaway’s Pro Tour Department fulfilling club orders from the company’s Tour reps. When players began requesting stamped initials on their wedges, Taranto and his team painted the initials white.
Feeling there was a better way, Taranto started to paint fill the whole wedge.
“That's where it started,” Taranto said. “I believe social media opened the door for what I do. People that would've never seen what I came up with could see it on social media. The tipping point was probably with Instagram and when I made some wedges for some pros and they posted them and gave me shout outs.”
With players like Patrick Reed, Henrik Stenson, Phil Mickelson, Morgan Pressel, Yani Tseng, Danny Willett and Colin Montgomerie, as well legends of the game like Annika Sorenstam and Tom Watson playing and promoting their clubs, it’s easy to see why the work Taranto and his fellow builders do for Callaway is seen by a large audience.
And make no mistake, says Taranto, it’s a team effort. In fact, when he first came up with his sandblasting technique, he says Wayne Byrne from Callaway R&D approached him with the idea of using a laser and vinyl cutter to enhance the technique – a suggestion Taranto said has made the process 100 percent better.
“I'm really excited to be at Callaway right now,” Taranto said. “From Chip Brewer to everyone else down the line, everyone seems to be all on the same page. I enjoy being able to work closely with Roger Cleveland. He will grind a bunch of wedges for players, and then he will bring them to me to stamp and build. I ask him a lot of questions because he is so knowledgeable about wedges.”
Taranto loves his job (who wouldn't?!), in great part because, like so many, he is a fan of his work.
“I’m excited to be a part of it,” Taranto said. “I still make new wedge art and am like, WOW, that's really cool. I think there will be more customizing. People like cool and different. I think putters and even drivers might start to see some unique designs.
“I think as I do more wedges, I'm starting to understand what is possible and what else I can do with this ‘new style’ of wedge art. What I would like to accomplish is that my name is associated with this type of wedge art.”