Complexities at Callaway Golf…

April 7, 2008

We seem to be honoring the sport of golf today at footnoted, although that’s not particularly unusual around here.

In its proxy filed Friday, Callaway Golf (ELY) explained that the “complexity and competitiveness” of its business necessitates paying “above median compensation” so it can attract executives with sufficient smarts. (Yes, theirs is a complex business. Take Callaway’s fall fashions for female golfers, featuring “pop brights such as rosette and autumn-looks fresh and new.” What the heck is rosette? I, for one, feel out of my depth here.)

Anyway, Callaway is now tying its pay to the 75th percentile of compensation at comparable companies.

The company added a new perk in 2007, an “automobile allowance” of $12K per executive. Nevertheless, perks for President and CEO George Fellows were down significantly from the prior year, but only because in 2006 he’d received $639K in reimbursements for a relocation, plus a whopping $544K tax gross-up that the proxy oddly refers to as “payroll tax reimbursements.”

According to the comp table and the microscopic footnotes underneath it, perks for Fellows totaled $134K for 2007, including personal travel of $66K and goodies like tax and estate planning, country club dues, and up to two sets of golf clubs.

Two Callaway executives each got a chunk of cash in lieu of unused vacation time, adding up to $21K for CAO Steven McCracken and $19K for the apparently misnamed CFO, Bradley Holiday. Callaway also gave its outside directors and their families “certain golf clubs and other products.” Since this largesse didn’t exceed the $10K threshold that would trigger more detailed disclosure, it’s not clear if any directors’ wives are sporting Callaway’s lovely outfits on the links, free of charge.

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