Home course: Eastern Avenue Park in Iowa
Favorite course: Kensington Toboggan
Favorite tournament: Des Moines Challenge
Favorite disc to throw: Callaway Z Metallic Roach
Favorite type of shot to throw: Power hyzer-flip
Go-to pre-game meal: Oatmeal with bananas, peanut butter, honey and protein powder OR eggs, bacon, sausage, orange juice and pancakes
Highest pressure moment I’ve ever felt at a tournament: Needing to make a 40-foot putt to push the first playoff hole at The Rumble in 2021
Biggest inspiration in disc golf: Wife and daughter
Favorite activity: Spending quality time with my family
Top three coolest things I’ve seen while on tour: Kristin Tattar winning her first world title, the ocean and signing autographs for kids
Favorite movie: The entire Lord of the Rings trilogy
The story of Ben Callaway begins much like other disc golfers.
He had a friend introduce him to the game, fell in love with the flight of the disc, started playing more, realized he was good, and slowly began testing himself on higher levels until he was a stalwart on tour.
It’s the genuine emotion, the down-to-earth family man approach and the mature wisdom to step back and point to someone else as paving the way for him that makes Callaway such a unique and endearing player to so many fans.
He is the first person to point to Paul McBeth as a disc golf revolutionary, allowing others to pursue a professional career in the sport without being viewed as counter-cultural hobbyists.
“After having success with some top finishes and some wins I didn’t feel like disc golf could be a job,” Callaway said. “It wasn’t until Paul McBeth set a standard for disc golfers and pushed the competition and disc golf companies to be held as professionals rather than be viewed as the hippies. I will admit that if Paul had not done what he did and proved that this sport is more than just making a few extra dollars on the weekend, I wouldn’t have thought about becoming a professional disc golfer.”
Callaway has notched a handful of high-tier wins over his career as a professional, including the Great Lakes Open and the Des Moines Challenge, but the one that means the most to him is his 2021 win at The Rumble, an A-tier in his hometown: the Quad Cities of Iowa and Illinois.
“The relief, joy and excitement I had was overwhelming,” he said. “It’s still the greatest accomplishment for me in disc golf, ever. I dedicated my win to my late father Paul Callaway. It was the first event where he came out to watch me play disc golf and, after he passed in 2017, I told myself no other wins matter until I win The Rumble in his name.”
The manner in which he won The Rumble made it even more memorable.
He battled the cold and windy Midwest spring weather and out-dueled the likes of Cale Leiviska, Corey Ellis and Andrew Presnell, the latter of which took him all the way to a 2-hole playoff.
With Presnell already in the clubhouse, Callaway stepped up to the final hole of the event needing a birdie to force a playoff. In his way stood a 440-foot par 4 with a demanding tee shot. Callaway shrugged off the pressure, shredded the tee shot and moved to a playoff.
But the pressure just mounted.
On the first playoff hole, Presnell sat in position with a drop-in birdie while Callaway stared down a 40-footer. In what he calls the “highest pressure moment of my career”, Callaway smashed chains on the putt to stay alive.
After Presnell put his tee shot just inside Circle 1 on the second playoff hole, Callaway was forced to execute under pressure yet again.
“I took a breath and threw my drive through the gap and ended up just 18 feet from the hole,” he said. “Andrew lined up his putt and I couldn’t even watch as I had my back turned. I heard the sound of a disc hitting the basket and then hitting the ground. I couldn’t believe it at first with how he was putting all day and making them from everywhere, so, as I’m marking my lie, I take one deep breath and send my disc into the chains.”
Winning the down-to-the-wire event for his father lit a fire under him and he would ride that momentum through the rest of 2021, notching six total top 10 finishes in Elite Series events.
Callaway is a proud member of Team Ledgestone and has his own store on the Shop Ledgestone website featuring custom discs, merchandise and apparel. Proceeds from purchases go to support him on tour.
Blog by Jacob Arvidson