Ely Callaway was talking about his company's popular ads, in which celebs from Bill Gates to Alice Cooper wax romantic about their Big Berthas. " Celine Dion's commercial was all her own idea," he said of the Canadian belter, who is so serious about golf that she recently bought her own course, La Mirage, outside Montreal. Dion, who received the standard payment—options on 5,000 shares of Callaway stock—in lieu of her usual titanic fee, even provided the spot's punch line, a riff on her megahit love theme from Titanic. "With this," she says, getting torchy with her Bertha, "I know my drive will go on and on."
Kevin Sorbo, TV's Hercules, wants an ad too. "Mine could say, 'Even Hercules hits it farther with a Big Bertha,' " he says.
Will it happen? "Nah," says Callaway. "We wouldn't want the USGA to hear that."
Playing Golf Religiously
Every seven years at shrines all over Japan, members of the Shinto religion pause to fulfill an ancient duty. They build a house to give thanks for their ancestors' deliverance from a centuries-old natural disaster. Whether that disaster was a typhoon, an earthquake or a famine no one knows, but when it ended 1,200 years ago, inhabitants of the village of Suma swore to build a house every seven years to show their gratitude to the gods. Over the centuries the ceremony evolved into On-bashira-sai, the Log Festival.
This year at Suwako Country Club, where a small Shinto shrine stands near the 4th tee, worshipers played nine holes in the morning, stopping for prayer and sake before they teed off at number 4. After lunch they dragged four 20-meter logs across the course and raised them one by one, symbolically rebuilding the gods' house. "It's hard work, and it can be dangerous," says golf writer Duke Ishikawa. "Everybody has to buy life insurance, just in case a log slips." The ceremony ends with a test of fitness few American golfers could pass: The bravest men climb 60 feet to the top of the logs, where they enjoy a god's-eye view of the course.
Miracle at Druids Glen
"I can't thank them enough. There wasn't much time left," said David Carter, praising two Dublin lads who found his ball in deep rough on the 16th hole at Druid's Glen Golf Course. With the boys' help Carter, 26, forced a playoff with Colin Montgomerie at last week's Irish Open, which he won after Monty hit into the water on the first extra hole. Yet Carter also owed his grand Sunday to two other rescuers—European tour golfers lain Pyman and Roger Wessels, who found him unconscious in his hotel room on the eve of last year's Dubai Desert Classic. During emergency brain surgery, doctors drilled a hole in Carter's skull to relieve pressure caused by a water-slide accident he'd had two weeks earlier. In less than two months Carter finished second at the Cannes Open, and on Sunday in Dublin he canned a 20-footer on the 18th to catch Montgomerie.
"I had short-term memory loss for about a year, and my memory's still not brilliant," he said after the round, "but I'm lucky to be here, and that's something I don't forget."