Visitors commonly ask: IS THERE A FAMILY CONNECTION BETWEEN THE CALLAWAYS OF HILLS AND DALES AND CALLAWAY GOLF? The answer is yes – a “Big Bertha” yes. Ely R. Callaway Jr. was the nephew of Fuller E. Callaway Sr., who built Hills and Dales. Fuller, born in 1870, was the youngest of 9 children. His mother, Sarah Jane Howard Callaway, died when Fuller was 8 and his father, Rev. Abner Reeves Callaway, married Mary Wilbourne “Willie” Ely in 1879. Willie and Abner had 3 children, one of whom was Ely Reeves Callaway Sr., who became an executive of Callaway Mills and LaGrange National Bank and was a life-long resident of LaGrange. His wife was Loula Walker of Madison, Georgia, a cousin of famous golfer Bobby Jones. Ely Reeves Callaway Jr., born in LaGrange in 1919, was the youngest of their 4 children.
Ely Jr. grew up in LaGrange, moving with his family to 1201 Vernon Street, just across the street from Hills and Dales, in 1937. Like his uncle, Fuller Sr., who sold spools of thread at the age of eight, Ely began his career early. At the age of 10 he earned $150 selling copies of the Literary Digest and used his profits to invest in peach trees. After serving in World War II, Ely Jr. went on to a very successful business career holding high positions in textile giants Deering-Milliken and Burlington Industries and later founding Callaway Vinyard and Winery.
In 1982, he purchased the Hickory Stick Golf Company with profits made from selling the vineyard and winery. The golf company prospered and later became Callaway Golf, a publicly-traded company with the ticker symbol “ELY.” Following the family tradition of his uncle and cousins, Ely Jr. was generous and believed in giving back.
He established scholarships at Emory University and LaGrange College, and played a major role in creating West Georgia Hospice in LaGrange and the Callaway Brothers Azalea Bowl at Callaway Gardens. The Ely Callaway Annual Golf Tournament benefiting West Georgia Hospice is named in his honor. A 1994 profile in Golf Digest noted: “In his sixty-plus years in business, Callaway’s reputation for honesty, ethics, and generosity is unblemished.” His headstone in the family plot of LaGrange’s Shadowlawn Cemetery reads: “He considered himself very fortunate in all aspects of his life.” We feel fortunate to list him as one of LaGrange’s favorite sons and to honor his connection with Hills & Dales Estate.