Callaway has been going back to its roots lately with the Big Bertha name, the Sir Isaac character and quoting physics everywhere.
Whilst the first product to get the treatment was the Callaway Big Bertha and Big Bertha Alpha driver the V Series gives us more Big Bertha, but this time with soul.
Well actually I mean sole, as the V Series features the return of the classic Warbird contoured sole that was not only extremely popular, but defined a whole category of products when it was launched in 1991.
I have to say it is great to see it back as I alway felt it was the ideal answer in woods for all the different lie angles that you come across, so it is good to see it back, especially on the V Series fairway.
Aside from a trip down memory lane, what does the V Series driver offer that's new? The clue is in the name, as V stands for Velocity.
As Callaway's marketing for the V Series says, "you can't argue with physics" and basically if you make something lighter and more aerodynamic it will move through the air quicker. In case you wonder how this works, they have put the formula for kenetic energy (Ke) equalling a ratio of mass (m) and velocity (v) as Ke = ½mv² subtly in the background of the grey graphics on the side of the head. You can only see it at certain angles, like a subliminal message from the other side when you play Beatles' songs backwards.
In a more visible position on the sole where you normally find a weight, Callaway give you gravity, or the bloke that discovered it in the form of their cartoon Sir Isaac Newton. It's purely cosmetic and I suppose it adds a little lightness to the technical story and the dark looks.
The V Series driver replaces the successful, but short lived Callaway Optiforce driver which was one of the fastest drivers through the air. It was way more popular than Callaway predicted so they sold out pretty quick, hence why a lot of you may not have heard of it.
You can see the influence of the Optiforce in the aerodynamic slots round the 'waist' of the clubhead in the V Series, even though they are not as pronounced. The high point down the centre of the Optiforce sole is carried through to the V Series, so the warbird sole is not just for cosmetics.
I had an Optiforce to hand and decided to put it up against the V Series in a speed test with Trackman. To make things fair I used the same shaft and swapped the heads using the Optifit adjustable hosel on both clubs.
The Optifit Hosel is the same as the one on many previous Callaway models allowing loft to change by -1°, +1° or 2° in combination with face angle adjustments of neutral or draw. It is simple to use and means you can change loft and lie indepently in a limited way and is good to fine tune the loft on the club that arrives in your hands.
The Optiforce 440cc had beaten all comers for speed in our review sessions so far, but it met it's match with the V Series as the new head was just as quick through the air when we measured it on Trackman.
One of the key design aims for the V Series was to reduce weight and despite being larger, the 460cc head at 190 grams is 3.5 grams lighter than the smaller 440cc Optiforce head. When you swung you could feel this difference, but the great thing was that it did not feel light at impact and gave a reassuring thud into the back of the ball.
Whilst the all titanium Callaway X2 Hot driver is also about speed, the V Series uses a lighter Forged Composite crown in a more aerodynamic head, so it will be an upgrade in performance and no doubt price too.
The V Series driver in the higher 10.5° and 13.5° lofts comes with a 43 gram MRC 2nd Generation Bassara E-Series 42 shaft which is a few grams lighter than the stock PX43 shaft in the Optiforce to help reduce the weight of the driver further.
At 45.5 inches the shaft is just 0.5 inches shorter than the Optiforce shaft and even though it is still a long shaft, the V Series head looked just the right size, as the smaller Optiforce head seems distant at times.
All this club head speed is no use unless you can transfer that energy into ball speed and Callaway have been very good at this for a long time with their Hyper Speed Face that is fast and forgiving.
When the Big Bertha driver first re-appeared I mentioned to my friends at Callaway that they needed to combine the speed from the head shape and face of the Optiforce with the size and forgiveness of the Big Bertha and I got a knowing wink. The V Series was the glint in their eye.
The extra head size is very forgiving right across the face and that is the big advantage over the Optiforce 440, especially in the 9° V Series driver that comes with a slightly heavier shaft and a "more aggressive" centre of gravity (CG) location for lower spin.
The sound is excellent giving a lovely solid crack noise. Even the original Big Bertha score lines on the face and alignment chevron on the crown are back and that's great to see.
I really liked how it looked at address too. Even though the glossy finish to the head is very reflective, the white alignment chevron stands out well and it all looks very classy.
The profile is quite rounded and even when the face is adjusted to a draw setting, it still sits nice and square, thanks to that Warbird Sole. For those of you old enough to remember, it is very reminiscent of the original Biggest Big Bertha with a glossy dark makeover.
This is probably how I can sum up the Callaway Big Bertha V Series driver. It's a perfect blend of the best from the past and the present of Callaway drivers.
From the past you have the styling and the classic Warbird sole which makes a long overdue return. Combine that with the lightweight Forged Composite crown, Hyper Speed face and modern aerodynamics and you have the real return of the Big Bertha.
The 'standard' Big Bertha and Big Bertha Alpha drivers offer more custom fitting options for you to move the centre of gravity (CG) around for some extreme fine tuning.
However with a RRP at £50 to £100 cheaper than the super-adjustable Berthas, the V Series offers better value as the feel and performance is better and personally, I prefer the look too.
With the V Series, Bertha really is back.