December 2 2013
By Jonathan Wall, PGATOUR.COM Equipment Insider
Callaway has produced a number of influential products, but if there's one club that put the Carlsbad, Calif.-based company on the map as a leader in design and innovation, it was the Big Bertha driver.
Launched in 1991, the original Big Bertha, which was named after a World War I German cannon called the "Big Bertha" howitzer, featured a stainless steel body, neckless head and an oversized sweet spot that made the driver a game-changer in the equipment world at that time.
In the years that followed, Callaway built on the success of the Big Bertha name, releasing titanium versions of the club called "Great Big Bertha" and "Biggest Big Bertha," before rolling out the last Big Bertha model — called Big Bertha Diablo — in 2009.
After four of waiting, Callaway announced the return of the Big Bertha on Monday. Only this time around Callaway decided to go back to its roots, unveiling a new line that will carry the original Big Bertha name.
Big Bertha will come in two models — a standard Big Bertha and Big Bertha Alpha; it will also come in a fairway wood. The standard model is being touted as a "total performance driver" with Callaway's new adjustable perimeter weighting in the rear portion of the head.
The 8g weight runs along a 5-inch track that allows golfers to put the weight in a number of positions to produce a draw or fade. In fact, Dr. Alan Hocknell, Callaway's senior vice president of R&D, said golfers will be able to do everything from making wholesale changes, by moving the weight to the extreme heel or toe, to incremental adjustments.
"By making a sliding weight that goes around the perimeter of the head, we can have intermediate positions," said Dr. Hocknell. "Technically, there are an infinite number of positions in which you can put that sliding weight, giving players the finest control possible of the CG position — allowing them to tune ball flight left and right."
The position of the sliding weight channel along the perimeter boosts the club's Moment of Inertia (MOI) — especially on off-center hits.
In addition to the ability to adjust the weight via the sliding channel in the perimeter of the head, golfers will be able to independently adjust the loft and lie via Callaway's OptiFit adjustable hosel. The loft can be moved up as much as 2 degrees or down 1 degree, while the independent lie settings offer a "neutral" and "draw" option.
Big Bertha also features a new Hyper Speed Face Cup — similar to the face on the X2 Hot driver — that's extremely lightweight and helps deliver increased ball speeds and forgiveness across the entire face.
In an effort to keep the total head weight down, Callaway's R&D team added a forged composite crown that kept the total weight under 200g at a D2 swing weight.
Along with the standard version, Callaway will roll out Big Berth Alpha — a driver model that will likely be one of the most talked-about clubs in 2014.
The buzz surrounding Big Berth Alpha is due in large part to the "Gravity Core" in the sole of the club that allows golfers to adjust spin independently of launch angle (also known as CG height).
The Gravity Core sits inside the club head in a carbon tube that connects the crown and sole. It has a tungsten end that weighs 10.5g, and a glass fiber reinforced body, weighing just 1.5g. When the tungsten end is closest to the sole, the driver will have a lower CG with lower backspin — producing a flatter, more penetrating ball flight.
However, when the tungsten weight end is inserted first into the Gravity Core, closer to the crown, the driver will have a mid-CG that produces a high ball flight with less rollout. According to Callaway, player testing revealed as much as a 600rpm spin differential between the two settings without a change in loft.
"It's a logical extension of offering adjustable loft," said Dr. Hocknell. "So now we can separate the relationship of launch angle and backspin for the first time ever. Usually when you change loft in a driver, the backspin and launch angle will change. Here to a greater degree we're giving golfers the ability to increase their launch angle and keep spin down at the same time. This is going to create launch conditions people have never seen before."
Golfers will also have the ability to make adjustments to the CG bias, via weight ports in the heel and toe. The driver comes with four interchangeable weights — 1g, 3g, 5g and 7g — that can be moved around to produce a draw or a fade. The 7g and 1g screws are installed as standard.
The four interchangeable screws also allow the swing weight to be adjusted from D0 to D5.
To compliment to CG height and CG bias adjustability options, Big Bertha Alpha comes with Callaway's adjustable OptiFit hosel — the loft and lie can be altered — giving it four independent forms of adjustability.
Similar to the standard model, Big Berth Alpha features a lightweight Hyper Speed Face Cup and forged composite crown that keeps the driver at a D3 swing weight.
Callaway's standard Big Bertha will be available Feb. 14 in three lofts (9, 10.5 and 13.5HT degrees) for $399 and comes with Mitusbishi Rayon's Fubuki Z shaft. Big Bertha Alpha will come in two lofts (9 and 10.5 degrees) for $499 with Mitsubishi Rayon's Fubuki ZT shaft.
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