May 15, 2015
By Jonathan Wall, PGATOUR.COM
- Callaway's Big Bertha Mini 1.5 comes in two lofts (12 and 14 degrees).
The driver remains the longest club in the bag for every player on the PGA TOUR, but over the course of the last few years, a few players have occasionally gone against the grain, swapping the driver for a club that continues to grow in popularity.
Whether you consider it a smaller-headed driver or a larger-headed fairway wood, the Mini driver has become a common sight on TOUR. The craze started during the 2013 season when Phil Mickelson used an 8.5-degree Callaway Phrankenwood at the Masters.
Looking for a club that had the same characteristic as the 3Deep fairway wood — a club Mickelson noticed was going as far as his RAZR Fit Xtreme driver — Mickelson talked to Callaway engineers about the possibility of taking the technology from the fairway wood and putting it in a driver.
Mickelson's 250cc club was likely the impetus behind the Mini driver that has since been released by two equipment manufacturers — Callaway and TaylorMade. The latest creation from Callaway, the Big Bertha Mini 1.5, was launched on TOUR earlier this year at the RBC Heritage and was immediately put in play by Patrick Reed and Freddie Jacobson.
Reed, who pulled his driver the previous year in place of Callaway's X2 Hot 2Deep, followed a similar blueprint at Harbour Town, using Big Bertha Mini 1.5 off the tee. The club likely won't be in Reed's bag every week, but it's quickly becoming an option for players that want the workability of a fairway wood with driver-like distance on tighter courses.
"It's a great new alternative to the long part of the bag," said Evan Gibbs, Callaway Golf's senior manager of product performance in metalwoods. "It's configured in-between a driver and a 3-wood and offers a combination of distance, forgiveness and versatility.
"It's about an inch-and-a-half shorter than the typical driver, which allows golfers to make more consistent impact. But at 235cc, it's also about 35 percent larger than the typical 3-wood, so it gives you ability to retain more ball speed and distance if you don't hit the center of the face."
The shorter length (44 inches) not only improves accuracy but also makes the club a viable option from the fairway, thanks to a cambered Warbird Sole (first introduced in the late 1980s) that improves the club's playability off the turf.
While the Big Bertha Mini 1.5 head more closely resembles a fairway wood, Gibbs pointed out that this is the first time the company has combined the high-strength Carpenter 455 Face Cup — a technology that boosts ball speeds across the face for increased distance — with a forged composite crown and adjustable hosel.
"Together these help give players driver-like launch conditions," Gibbs said, "but in a much smaller, more versatile head shape."
To give the club some additional versatility, Callaway added an OptiFit adjustable hosel that ranges from minus 1 degree loft to plus 2 degrees loft; draw and neutral settings allow the lie angle to be adjusted as well.
Callaway's Big Bertha Mini 1.5 comes in two lofts (12 and 14 degrees) and will be available May 29 for $300 with Mitsubishi Rayon's Kuro Kage Silver TiNi shaft.