When the Callaway Big Bertha driver was first released in 1991, it changed the industry. Now in 2014, the company have brought the Big Bertha name out of retirement and are trying to do it all again.
The new Callaway Big Bertha Alpha driver is the first driver to allow independent adjustments of four variables: loft, lie, centre of gravity (CG) bias and, for the first time, CG height.
Over 20 years ago, when Callaway first designed the original Big Bertha driver, Ely Callaway and his team employed Sir Isaac Newton (or at least a cartoon version) to push home the idea that "you can't argue with physics". Along with the comeback of the Big Bertha, Newton has also made a comeback to help emphasise the scientific advancements in the new design.
Remarkably after 22 years, Sir Newton's swing hasn't changed a bit and neither has his theory of gravity and it is the Gravity Core that is the key to the Big Bertha Alpha driver.
The Gravity Core is a 2-inch tube is made up of a 1.5 gram fibre glass body and a 10.5 gram tungsten end and can be inserted into the sole of the driver either way round to move the CG. This gives you the ability to adjust the spin of the driver independent of launch angle, which Callaway say is the first time any driver has attempted to break this fixed relationship.
Insert the core piece with the heavy/tungsten end nearest to the sole and the weight of the end will pull the centre of gravity lower and thus lower the backspin imparted on the ball. Flip the gravity core around and the weight is positioned in more of a mid-CG position.
Callaway say they have seen up to 600rpm difference between the two settings in their player testing.
They say that golfers with above average clubhead speeds, who want to limit spin and create a flatter ball flight with prefer the lower centre of gravity, whilst players looking for a more controllable, workable flight may prefer the mid CG position.
As far as technology goes, the Gravity Core is just the start of the Big Bertha Alpha's story.
A forged composite crown design combines with Callaway's Hyper Speed Face to produce a clubhead that is lightweight, but very strong and fast off the face. A total of eight different materials make up the Big Bertha Alpha club and give it a lightweight, yet strong, quality that allowed Callaway to limit the total weight whilst maintaining a playable D3 swing weight.
That adjustability begins with Callaway's Advanced Adjustable Hosel. The design of the hosel means that golfers can independently adjust loft and lie angle. The Big Bertha Alpha driver can be altered to offer one of four lofts from -1 degree to +2 degrees based on the 9-degree clubhead. Furthermore, players can select from a draw or neutral face angle.
Importantly, any adjustment made to the proprietary hosel design will not rotate the Fubuki ZT shaft or grip.
The adjustability isn't finished yet. Callaway has added two weight ports in the heel and toe of the Alpha driver to to alter the centre of gravity bias to suit your swing or shot shape preference. Weights of 1 and 7 grams come as standard in the sole with additional weights of 3 and 5 gram included as options with each driver.
When set up as standard, the Callaway Big Bertha Alpha driver measures to a D3 swingweight, but the weight adjustments can alter that within a range of D0 to D5.