Highland Park native drives golf-club designs

By Kevin Beese Staff Writer

Highland Park native Caleb Kroloff stands inside PXG headquarters in Scottsdale, Ariz. Kroloff helped design the golf company’s new Black Ops woods, available at PXG stores in Northbrook and Oakbrook Terrace. (PXG photo)

Caleb Kroloff admits that he is normally a hit at weddings.

It’s not because of any party tricks or dance moves, but because of his job.

The Highland Park native designs golf clubs.

“I’m normally swarmed,” Kroloff said of his time at weddings. “I love the feedback.”

Kroloff got into golf because of his older brother. When he was 11 or 12, Kroloff and his brother started competing against each other. They both played for Highland Park High School, but his brother was two years older than him, so they were never on the same team at the same time.

When he reached varsity, Kroloff wound up being selected team captain.

“At 17 or 18, it was a decent amount of accountability. It was a great experience,” he said. “We competed at state. We never placed, but we were competitive. We were always pushing.”

Kroloff went to Duke University and studied mechanical engineering.

While not playing golf at Duke, he landed an internship at Adams Golf the summer between his junior and senior years. Kroloff was able to do production work on club design.

“I was in golf, working with people who cared about what they were doing. It was a dream,” Kroloff said. “I was always bothering people. There were so many divisions. It was a stroke of luck that I landed there. I just kept bothering people.

“I loved it, especially when I compared it to what my friends were doing in engineering. I loved the hands-on approach of being in a smaller department and seeing things through from start to finish.”

Kroloff said he thrilled to be in the Adams Golf environment.

“When I got there, everyone was as weirdly interested in golf as I was,” he said. “The work was cool, interesting and challenging.”

Nearing graduation in 2013, Kroloff got an offer from Adams Golf, but he also got one from Cobra Puma Golf.

“You can’t turn down San Diego,” Kroloff laughed.

He was a design engineer as part of the research and development team at Cobra Puma.

After a few years there, the rumor mill was churning about billionaire Bob Parsons possibly starting a golf equipment company. Brad Schweigert, chief product officer for PXG (Parsons Xtreme Golf) reached out to Kroloff via LinkedIn after having gotten his name from Kroloff’s former boss at Adams Golf.

“It was a start-up. He pitched it to me that there would not be time limits,” Kroloff said. “He said, ‘We are starting fresh. We don’t have developed procedures.’

“A lot of the golf industry does things the same way. It is nice developing things on our own timeline. It is a cool opportunity.”

The Arizona resident has been at PXG for eight years.

“When I started, we were interviewing people in a trailer,” Kroloff said. “The company leaders asked me what I knew about supply chain. I said, ‘I can read a book.’ This job has taken me outside my comfort zone. It has been a great experience since Day 1.”

Kroloff helped design the new line of Black Ops woods, which are available at PXG stores in Northbrook and Oakbrook Terrace. The collection of drivers, and fairway and hybrid woods were designed with custom fittings in mind.

“In golf, you are generally designing for distance or forgiveness. They work against each other,” Kroloff said. “It is exactly the opposite with Black Ops. You get both without the tradeoff.”

Kroloff said club design is always a team effort. He led the project and did the computer-aided design modeling to bring the line to market.

“I like to think of the line as my baby, but it was definitely a group effort,” he said.

PXG founder and CEO Bob Parsons believes the Black Ops woods are some of the most versatile and high-performing clubs in the industry.

“I have often wondered why golfers are content to give up distance to achieve forgiveness,” Parsons said. “We’ve spent much of our R&D efforts focused on that challenge, and I am proud to say we’ve cracked that nut. Black Ops woods are straight like an arrow, more forgiving than a priest on Sunday, and absolutely stunning to boot.”

Kroloff and his wife play a lot of golf, and while they are good, they know their place.

“Working in the industry can be humbling with the number of college players and pro players,” Kroloff said. “I have a 3 handicap, but the guy across from me in the office won a PGA Tour event in 1983.”

For fittings at PXG’s Northbrook store, call 847-480-GOLF. For fittings at the  

Oakbrook Terrace store, call 312-896-0900.