Maria Loza: As I said, I liked math. And I was good at math in Columbia. Luckily, at my high school, we had, like, psychologists that would do some tests your last year, and just kind of try to guide you and see what your aptitude was on, what were the things that you would do should maybe study because honestly, as a 18 year old, 17 year old girl, like, you don’t know, there’s so many things. And so when my test came out, she said, you have a success rate in mechanical engineering higher than people who have already graduated, I think you should definitely study that. And so I knew I liked math, and I love cars. I’m very, very passionate about cars. And they have to do with engineering. So I was all on board. And with my cousin, I had great guidance, because I didn’t want to play golf. And so not every school would, you know, let a student athlete do engineering perhaps because the workload is crazy. And sometimes lab conflicts with your practice. And so I was very lucky to get guided by my cousin and her coach at the time on how to find schools and how to approach them and just tell them upfront look, this is what I want to do if, if you are okay with it, I would be very happy to come here. And so I got to do it, and it was really fun.
Mackenzie Mack: So fast forward to now you’re done playing college golf. You have a mechanical engineering degree. Where do you go from there? Like, what were your first roles? Was Callaway your first role?
Maria Loza: No. So actually from Chattanooga, I actually stayed off fifth year. So I stayed off fifth year in Columbia, the engineering degrees, five years, and I wanted to be part of this. It’s called the Baha SAE. So Society of Automotive Engineers, it’s a competition and you build like a boogie, like off road Boogie, and you compete. And so that was my graduating project. And I wanted to do it, and my coach was like, you can do it, but not while you’re playing golf. For me, that’s gonna take a lot of time. So I did that. I took my fifth year, it was awesome, because it was my sister’s first year at Chattanooga playing for them. So we got to be in the same city. And then from there, I went to do my masters. So I went to Stanford. I first stopped in LA did an internship for three months at the MTA, Metropolitan Transportation Authority, it’s really fun. And then went to Stanford and I did my master’s degree, also in mechanical engineering with a concentration in design and manufacturing, which is what I really love. I love the engineering part I love is the hands on part I love actually using the machines and building and all of that. And so it was really fun. And while there I had an internship with Schlumberger, which is one of the biggest companies in oil and gas industry. And so I knew of them because they are in Colombia. They are in like 80 countries in the world. And so I got an internship with them. It was in Houston, which is where their headquarters is. And from there, I finished my internship and they offered me a job. They had a great program. It was a rotational program. It’s called Tech and field. So you could go to the field and work as a field engineer, so out in the oil rigs for a year and a half, and then you would come back to the engineering center. So I found out about that program. When I was an intern. And I applied for it. I really wanted to do it on our interview, they took us to Wyoming, to Oregon, Wyoming. They showed us what their life was like because they said not only we got to interview you, and your new paths, but you need to know that you want to do this because it’s a different lifestyle. And so I was lucky, I got it. And I started then six months after when I graduated from Stanford. I started with them in Brazil. So I lived in Brazil, for about a year and a half. And I worked in the oil rigs in Brazil, offshore in the middle of the ocean, middle of nowhere. Installing pressure and temperature sensors. It was a unique experience is tough, tough work, you work 12 hour shifts every day. There’s no Saturdays or Sundays on a rig, it’s every day. But I learned a lot and I got to do the engineering part I liked and I love which was the hands on and get your hands dirty and understand the product. And then you I feel like you can be a better designer and a better engineer. So that was that was very unique.
Mackenzie Mack: Wow. That sounds like a lot. And how do you go from an oil rig to golf ball?
Maria Loza: Yeah, so that was a fun story. So from there from Brazil, I went they moved me back to Houston to the engineering center. I was, you know my husband now, he works in energy. He loved it, we would get home and, and he would keep looking at the oil price. And this happened and this happened and I honestly it wasn’t what my passion was and so I was open to new opportunities. We did love Houston, so I wasn’t sure if I wanted to move. But kind of out of the blue. I got a message on LinkedIn from a Callaway recruiter. She said they were looking for some people. I spoke with her I thought it was a prank. Honestly, I’ve never in my life for some reason, thought about working in golf, even though I loved golf, like using Columbia, there’s no golf industry. So it just never occurred to me. So this thing from Callaway came on, I thought, you know, he’s asking one of his friends to cheer me up. And I had the first interview on the phone with a recruiter, then this she said it went well second interview on the phone with gonna be my manager. Then they go, Okay, it’s going well, third interview, it’s video with who would be your manager and two people in his team. And I go, Oh, I guess this is actually real. I should tell you, Jeremiah. So I told him by the third interview, and then it went well, and they invited me for our onsite interview. And cool story. Actually, I came it was January 4, 2019. And that’s the day that they launched epic flash. So I did all my four hours of interview being grilled. And then they took me to lunch at the Ely Callaway Performance Center where they had all the people, you know, testing and doing things. So I arrived and Sergio Garcia was there. I think we shall we was coming later on would be my boss’s boss goes there, Sergio. You’re gonna go interview him. I was like, sure. So I grabbed the club, tipped it over with the grip, and I go, Hey, Sandy, oh, can I interview you in Spanish? And we had a good laugh. And I was like, Okay, this seems like this would be a really fun place to work.
Mackenzie Mack: Well, that’s, that’s the cool interview story. They play in that to get you to come.
Maria Loza: You know, it was funny. I think they did. Because it was for January 2, and very last minute. They’re like, Heck, actually, can we move it to Friday? So when they took me there, I was like, Okay, I think I’ve passed I hope. You know, you never know in an interview.
Mackenzie Mack: Oh, that’s so awesome. So let the listeners know, what do you do? What exactly do you do?
Maria Loza: Okay, so my title is golf ball development engineer. And so we have our team of research and development here in Carlsbad. And then we have our production in Massachusetts, Chicopee, Massachusetts. And so my role, I wear a couple of hats. So I do design sometimes. So design golf balls, which really entails mostly thinking about what materials go into each of those layers on how do we optimize. So each golf ball, we wanted to do, maybe different slightly different things, certain spins, certain velocities. And so as an engineer, what you do is that what is the right combination of those layers to get what you want? What your design intent is, and then also work very closely with their aerodynamics engineer, to make sure that what you’re designing for also matches the aerodynamic pattern, like what Callaway uses are hex. That’s really what I do for one part. And then the next part is, so we do all of this in research and development at headquarters in Carlsbad. And then once we have a great prototype, and we say, okay, that’s the ball we want, for next year, then now we gotta go start making it in our manufacturing plant and make millions of golf balls that are the same as that one. So that’s called scale up right on. So you start little by little, you go, Hey, let’s just try to make a few. Are they the same? Are they not? Okay, let’s see what’s different. Let’s make sure now that it matches, let’s try again. So just like engineering, it’s a lot of iterations it or iterative process. And so that’s what I do. So I work very closely with Chicopee. I talk to them a lot. I used to go to Chicopee a lot before COVID. And just help make those prototypes and make sure that they are up to par and up to what we want to do. So that’s what my job is.
Mackenzie Mack: Cool. I don’t think most people think that much goes into the golf ball that they normally hit in the water right?
Maria Loza: Exactly.
Mackenzie Mack: So how long does that process take from Hey, we want to design something new to here it is on the market, like how long is that process?
Maria Loza: So it’s actually a pretty quick process. I mean, for me going from oil and gas, which was maybe much more big and intricate and designs. This moves pretty quickly. I would say from idea to product. You probably go like product on the shelf, probably a year and a half a year and four months. So it’s pretty quick and if you think about it when we need to have product on the shelf, so Callaway normally launches like early on the years or February or January or March. So we need to start making millions of that product to have in inventory and in stock and already shipped to the store so that the day we put those ads out and says, Hey, today, you can go buy the new balls, the stores already have it. So actually, like big, big, big production start starts, you know, a few months before that date has to start so that we can have all that quantity.
Mackenzie Mack: Amazing. So how creative do you get to be with the ball design? Do you get to like, try outrageous things? Or, is it usually within the ballpark of what it typically looks like now? Like, how creative do you get to be?
Maria Loza: I would say, like engineering itself is not just with a golf ball, like you always have like your design boundaries, let’s call them right, you have to design within those bounds. Right. And so for us, a lot of the boundaries are the USGA limits. So the USGA does a lot of tests, we got to make sure our bowls are conforming. So I mean, we you do get to get creative, and we’re always improving. But there are some bounds for sure. But like something cool. Callaway did, right, a couple years ago, a few years ago, that was just maybe not engineering inside the ball, but was making some cool designs outside, right. And so we came up with a truest pattern. And so it’s pretty cool that, you know, we came up with that. And it was an idea. Fun story, there was I think, at first only one machine that was bought to do this type of printing. And everyone thought like, this is not gonna work, like let’s just do it, because someone’s asking for it. But this is not gonna work. And I think now we have like 15 or 20 of those machines, because people love their job as boss. So yeah, sometimes you know, things like that, that are maybe a little bit more outside the box. Not exactly what you’re thinking when you’re thinking, oh engineering, it makes it for fun play. We also did the triple track alignment. And it’s been very helpful, I think, for many players. And we worked. Callaway worked very closely with a professor at an engineering school that he specialized, I believe in like airport runways. And so it’s kind of like how do you land like, you have to have a great field of vision, and to help align the plan. And so it kind of came from that idea those three lines came without and so it’s, you know, things like that, that that makes for creative thinking.
Mackenzie Mack: Absolutely. So what in your role has been something you’re most proud of?
Maria Loza: You know, when the first book came out that I designed myself and those balls I designed and scaled up myself completely. It was all of the sirloin balls that came out in 2021. So ERC soft, super soft, Reza, super soft, Max Weber that was really cool. But then this year for 2022, I got to the sign one of the TPU balls. So the premium balls. So I got to this sign the chrome softball, it’s kinda like an honor in engineering. You know, there’s not many people who get to the sign that they thermoplastic urethane balls. That’s really exciting.
Mackenzie Mack: That’s awesome. I’m glad. So for our listeners out there who want to get into this field, what actionable or, what advice would you give them to start a career in golf ball development.
Maria Loza: So honestly, all you have to be is be a great engineer, we have people who love golf, like me, and you know, they know much about the game. But we also have people who know nothing about golf. And once they get in it’s a great sport. So they start learning and get enthusiastic about it. But it’s really an intensive process. It’s very intense engineering design. And so as long as you’re a good engineer, that’s really all it takes, I would say.
Mackenzie Mack: So how do you become a good engineer? Like, what are those steps? Is it just classes, or their books? Like how do you become a good engineer?
Maria Loza: I think, I mean, engineering, most likely, you know, go to school for it. I think that’s the best way. And what I would say has made me great is attention to detail. So we do a lot of things with like large data sets, or, you know, just preparing and you just need to pay good attention to detail. And so anything that your teachers teach you and all of that, I mean, it’s super valuable and what really I got more from school because no school is gonna teach you how to design golf balls, right? They teach you how to design, but it’s learn how to learn. Enjoy the process of learning, because this is a space where things are always new. We’re trying to find new things. And so be curious, be curious and pay attention to detail. I think that is what will make you a great engineer, right? Your courses on all of that, of course learn but more than anything, be curious. Wanna keep learning, keep trying, that’s, I think the biggest thing.
Mackenzie Mack: Well, that’s great. And I’m gonna hold you to that, because I know I’m going to ask you a lot of questions later. So just know, I’m being curious. I’m taking your advice.
Maria Loza: Perfect.
Mackenzie Mack: So “Getting to the Green” is important on the course and off the course. So for our listeners who want to get into this, what can they expect in a salary range for a mechanical engineer in golf ball design?
Maria Loza: So I would say, you know, there’s different levels of engineers, or the company, so I’m going to maybe give you a wide range. And so perhaps rally from like, 75k to like, 120k, I think, you know, it can be somewhere around there.
Mackenzie Mack: Okay, that’s doable, you can get a lot of golf balls for that.
Maria Loza: There you go.
Mackenzie Mack: So I also wanted to shine light on you being you know, engineering is one of the STEM fields that women are not often represented in. And so you are in that field and doing well and doing successful. How do you think we can change the face of engineering welcome more into the industry?
Maria Loza: You know, I think that it’s not just the golf industry is engineering as a whole. There’s a lot of programs trying to get more girls, more girls in. And I think it’s happening, it’s growing. I read the numbers in schools. When I was in school, maybe it was like, 20%, I think now it’s like a 35%. So it’s happening. And I think it starts from there, you need first more girls to study engineering. And then from there, they will be able to get engineering jobs. But I think it’s, you know, making it just opened, you know, there’s a lot of really cool STEM, like, even for it for the youth right now programs. So like with Legos, and things like that. And so just having the girls realize, like, this is fun. And I like it too. And it doesn’t matter if I’m a girl or a boy, you know, in Colombia when I was a little kid, and I wanted to go play with cars all the time. It was like, no, like, that’s not for the girls. But I maybe two had strong however you call that. And I got to do and you know, you just even if they say no, just if you love it, do it, who cares? There’s gonna be a space for you, you may have to create this space on you know, push hard and show that you belong. But if you’re good at engineering, you’ll show them you will belong. And that’s all you got to take pride on.
Mackenzie Mack: And you’re so passionate about golf. And how did you get to be so passionate about golf when originally you were like, so how did you get to this point?
Maria Loza: That to be honest, well, no, I was never like, I always loved the sport from the beginning. It made me create friends. I was just not good at it. But I still love it, you know, I got to meet so many people. I got to travel with my little sister. So I was traveling. I think she was doing ballet at the time. And so as I asked my mom, like, why don’t I travel? And she was like, well, probably with ballet, you won’t. So she tried both again, because she hadn’t liked it the first time and I just always love the sport. It’s allowed me to meet so many people come across many great, great things and do great trips as well. And I think it’s a sport, I think all sports. They’re amazing. They teach you so many values. But I think honestly, golf is the biggest test on earth. You cannot you know, there’s some people who can live through live let’s say you like fake it till you make it. If you show up on the golf course, you cannot fake it till you make it your reality true and your real confidence or nerves or insecurities will show up. And you know, funny now I’m 30 about to be 32 and I still show up to the course and those insecurities show up. And so it shows me what do I need to work on as a human being? What do I need to be better at and I should solve or cure those insecurities? Like it’s just keep working as a human. And I think golf is that it’s just incredible.
Mackenzie Mack: Okay, so on the show, we have our quick nine. So I’m going to give you nine questions and whatever comes to your mind, say it.
Maria Loza: Okay
Mackenzie Mack: Who are the three other players in your dream four so?
Maria Loza: So they don’t play, but it’s three women. I would kill to play with Alicia Keys, Allyson Felix and Serena Williams. It would make my life the best thing in the world.
Mackenzie Mack: I saw that you recently caddied at Kia classic. Would you rather caddie or play?
Maria Loza: To be honest, at the LPGA setup, I’d rather caddie. I hit it very short, and lead then I get to see the golf whereas the way it’s meant to be played, you know, these girls get it pure.
Mackenzie Mack: What’s your most memorable moment in golf?
Maria Loza: It wasn’t mine, and I was in Colombia. I was here in college, my little sister one, the like Colombia match play amateur. It was played in our home course, which is a really tough course. It was the best day of my life. You know, she’s three years younger. And I always say she did everything I did one year before and better. And she always said, thank you, for me being a great role model. And I love her to the next one.
Mackenzie Mack: Next one. Who’s your favorite superhero?
Maria Loza: So I love Wonder Woman and I love Batman. But I think Gaga does playing Wonder Woman. Now, she wins. She wins in all my books. And she kept me on my foursome too actually.
Mackenzie Mack: What’s your go to snack on the golf course?
Maria Loza: I’ve been eating beef jerky recently, and I kind of like it because you know, most snacks are like sweet. These they’re not sweeten.
Mackenzie Mack: What is your favorite golf course you’ve ever played?
Maria Loza: We went to Bandung last year, we had a trip to Bandung with all my friends. I got to play I think three other courses. You know, I always thought I would love links golf because I love playing in the wind. You got to be really creative, and it was a dream come true.
Mackenzie Mack: If you weren’t in the golf industry, what would you be doing?
Maria Loza: I think cars. I always wanted to work in Tesla electric cars. I think that would be really cool.
Mackenzie Mack: What car would you love to happen?
Maria Loza: Before Tesla was existed is funny. My three dream cars were all English British. A Mini Cooper, a Land Rover and an Aston Martin.. I grew up in dream. I love James Bond. But now Tesla’s exist. So and with California gas prices, I love those lows on I should probably take those. Or there’s a new company called Lucid Motors. They just launched and a few of my friends that I studied with at Stanford, they work there. And they’re electric and they are beautiful. And you can invert the electric part. And so if your, like house power goes down, you can actually power up your house.
Mackenzie Mack: In one word, what does golf mean to you?
Maria Loza: I think passion. You know, it’s something the golf course is funny is like passion on peace. I love going to a golf course on my own at 6am if I need to thank you know people meditate. Some people meditate. I can’t I can’t stand still. But if I go to the golf course on my own at the crack of dawn, it’s a beautiful place. It’s nature. It’s you. As I said, you know golf is all about you. And so, I think that passion and piece.
Mackenzie Mack: Those are good words, because it can’t be that for sure. So let the listeners know where they can follow you, get a hold of you?
Maria Loza: So I am on Instagram @majuloza.o or, you can find me on LinkedIn, that’s probably easier
Mackenzie Mack: Thank you so much, Maria, for spending some time with us today. And thank you all for listening. Be sure to follow this show on Apple podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you like to listen, so you don’t miss an episode. I’m Mackenzie Mack, and I’ll talk with you next time on “Getting to the Green”.