Martin Hopley
By

Before I started frittering my life away reviewing golf equipment for your pleasure, I qualified in marketing so I am also very interested in the brand positioning of equipment.

Therefore when someone decides that they are going to name a driver Epic, then it had better be the real deal as there are not many places to go after that if you get it wrong.

Callaway Great Big Bertha Epic Driver

However in some ways it's nice to see companies put a stake in the ground every now and then and say 'here we are' and the arrival of the Callaway Great Big Bertha Epic driver has the potential to be one of those moments.

Before the COR rules came in 2003, Callaway led the way in fast driver faces with models like the ERC and you feel that with the GBB Epic that they are finally back thanks to their new Jailbreak technology.

Callaway Great Big Bertha Epic Driver

It solves the problem of the crown and sole diverging at impact as the face gets stretched vertically and loses energy. By casting two 3g titanium bars into the body behind the face to connect the crown and sole, Callaway are able to stiffen the structure of the head so that the face has to flex more, which in turn increases ball speed.

Callaway Great Big Bertha Epic Driver

Now I have written thinner crown/save weight/lower CG so many times I wake up reciting it, but this is the way to the Holy Grail of distance and the Epic Triaxial Carbon crown is 30% thinner than previous versions and 64% lighter than the titanium crown on the Callaway XR 16 driver.

Callaway Great Big Bertha Epic Driver

In fact 52% of the body is now Triaxial Carbon as the Epic builds on the titanium exoskeleton of the Callaway Big Bertha Fusion driver, but now the carbon is created as a single piece that is bonded to the titanium from the inside.

This gives designer Doc Hoc and the boys 37g to play around with and they combine this with a face that is 20% thinner than the XR 16 driver to convert that club head speed into ball speed more efficiently.

Callaway Great Big Bertha Epic Driver

Does it work? Well, at the launch Callaway brought along Frenchman and European Tour #2 longest hitter Sebastien Gros to demonstrate. Just switching the Epic head in for his current XR 16 with the same shaft and loft he gained 3 mph ball speed and an extra 5 yards carry to 299 yards roling out to 326 total.

Callaway Great Big Bertha Epic Driver

For average amateurs with a 100mph ball speed, Callaway say you can expect a 2mph gain or about 8 yards. So I tried it on Trackman against an XR 16 that I had been fitted for and it did gain me 7 yards thanks to more ball speed combining with a higher launch and less spin.

Callaway Great Big Bertha Epic Driver

Compared to the XR it is a lower spinning club so even swinging at 102mph I was using a 10.5° head with the standard HZRDUS 55g shaft, which I liked as it was firm, stable and retained a lot of feel.

Callaway Great Big Bertha Epic Driver

I didn't need to adjust the loft down using the adjustable usual OptiFit hosel as I had done on the XR 16, but it is there if you need it.

Callaway Great Big Bertha Epic Driver

I also didn't take advantage of sliding the 17g sole weight around the back of the club head to vary the spin by up to 450rpm and create up to 17 yards of 'correction' to my accuracy.

Callaway Great Big Bertha Epic Driver

This mechanism was first used on the original second coming of the Big Bertha driver and in the Epic it is more on the underside of the rear of the head, rather than directly on the back to keep the CG lower. There are 17 hash marks on the track, but it is possible to position the weight anywhere you please.

At address it has a lovely look and shape with a slightly drawn back head that just stays on the right side of being pointy.

Callaway Great Big Bertha Epic Driver

From here you can also see the Boeing inspired Speed Step on the crown that first appeared in the XR 16 to help smooth the airflow over the head to reduce friction. This is now a 3D printed Speed Step that is then applied to the head.

Callaway Great Big Bertha Epic Driver

What struck me most from playing with the GBB Epic was how forgiving it is. All that weight shifting has made this one of the highest MOI drivers Callaway has created and anecdotally it seemed a very straight driver when used in anger on the course.

The sound is slightly carbonised and maybe not as sharp as the all titanium XR 16, but it still tingles the ears and feels great too.

Callaway Great Big Bertha Epic Sub Zero Driver Review

If you are a high ball spin generator then there is also a Sub Zero version of the Epic to keep things down.

Callaway Great Big Bertha Epic Sub Zero Driver

It has a smaller and taller profile than the standard Epic and has a front and back weight port for a 12g and a 2g screw to fit in. Put the heavier weight at the front and it will create a lower flight and put it at the back and you will have a driver with a higher MOI than the ultra-forgiving Big Bertha Fusion.

Callaway Great Big Bertha Epic Sub Zero Driver

However before you all rush out and think this is the answer, I have to tell you that 8 out of 10 Callaway tour cats prefer the standard Epic and I am with them on that.

Callaway Great Big Bertha Epic Sub Zero Driver

This is because the Sub Zero version is an even lower spinning club than the Epic for me and I could not consistently generate as much carry at my measly swing speed to justify putting it in the bag.

Callaway Great Big Bertha Epic Sub Zero Driver

It was by no means that far behind distance wise, but I felt you had to be more precise with your set up and swing to get the right results and I got better distance more often with the more forgiving standard Epic driver.

Summary

The Callaway Great Big Bertha Epic driver is a very good driver and it is great to see genuine innovation in driver design that not only makes sense, but clearly delivers on what it sets out to achieve.

Callaway Great Big Bertha Epic Sub Zero Driver

You will have to sell something treasured to afford it, but the combination of increased ball speed with increased forgiveness is obviously a winning formula and when it is packaged in a good looking, sounding and feeling head then you know that Callaway are on to a winner.

I looked up the dictionary definition of Epic and one of the things that came back was 'impressively great' and I think that is a pretty good bit of brand positioning for this Callaway driver.

Golfalot Rating: 5 stars
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Callaway Great Big Bertha Epic Driver - Product Details

UK Launch27 January 2017
UK Launch RRP£469
USA Launch27 January 2017
Handicap Range
Low
High
GolferMens
Hand AvailabilityLeft, Right
Left Handed Lofts9°, 10.5°, 13.5°
Right Handed Lofts9.5°, 10.5°, 13.5°
MaterialComposite
Head Volume460 cc
Club Length45.5 inches
Swing WeightD3
AdjustabilityLoft, Face Angle, Weight
Shaft NameDiamana M+ Green, Project X HZRDUS, Fujikura Pro Green, Aldila Rogue Max
Shaft TypesGraphite
Shaft FlexRegular, Stiff, X Stiff
Shaft Weight40g, 50g, 60g, 70g, 80g
Manufacturer's WebsiteCallaway Website

User Reviews

Michael - Australia
June 2017

Just played nine holes with a borrowed Epic from the local pro. Had a 10 year old Cobra driver. Two of my four drives today were astonishingly the longest ever - somewhat effortlessly. I'm not a brand man....but wow....this driver has me intrigued...and green is my favourite colour. Thinking to try some other drivers....but somehow I could not be bothered. I just want to tame a new Epic into my next comp round....impressed!

Adam
May 2017

I have been playing the Epic with the HZRDUS 50 gram shaft, for thirty days now, and have some thoughts. 1) It is definitely shorter (about 8-10 full yards) than my Ping G that I got rid of. For me this is the difference of +1 club for approach shots. This is not to be taken lightly. Compared to the G, it just doesn't feel like it rockets off the face (and with the thud, compared to the sonic boom beer can sound that you get from the G, this may just be placebo effect, IMO). I'm also no longer the longest driver in my foursome... just ego, but wanted to mention that. 2) The ball dispersion pattern is just so much tighter than the Ping G ever was, even on a good day out with the G. Today I hit all but two fairways, and as it turns out this was just alignment error. I also fight a slightly open clubface on mishits... the ball goes where the face is pointed at impact, dead straight in that direction. So, if you get the settings dialed in, this is straight, straight, straight! (but a little short). I would highly recommend putting this on a Trackman at your local club fitter vs your existing driver, and see if it really does improve ball dispersion. The data don't lie. Don't just buy this club because it's the hot new thing. I'm hitting 25% more fairways but it's putting me just out of range of going for the par 5s in two. Trade-off here.

KJ Singh
April 2017

Got the Epic driver about a week ago and it was better than my TaylorMade M1. Added about 2 MPH swing speed . I hit it higher and longer and I believe more accurately. But after playing about 3 and a half rounds the head came flying off on the tenth hole today. Very disappointing. Have to return it to Pro Shop for repair. Sort of like getting that new sport car but after a week have to return it to the shop for repairs. I guess the Callaway assemblers didn't use enough epoxy.

April 2017

The Great Big Bertha Epic is the best driver I have ever used. I have gained over 20 metres distance and a lot more control. I have the Aldila Tour Green shaft with a stiff flex. I would recommend this driver to anyone who wants more control and more distance.

April 2017

Just got off the course in Chicagoland 75 degrees. I use the XR but my friend just brought out his new Epic driver so I tried it. Amazing! 20-30 yd distance gain. I might add that the conditions are still soft so not much roll out. Absolutely seduced. My XR is not even a year old and spending $500 seems crazy to me so I don't no what the hell to do. Also my XR is 10.5 R shaft. His Epic is 10.5 with a custom Mitsubishi Stiff Shaft (60g) that doesn't seem much stiffer. When I looked at the face in the sun my ball mark was centre hit vertically & 3/4 in toward the toe (twice), He stated "bud you didn't even catch it pure". Astonishing.

March 2017

Best decision I've made in years. I'm hitting straighter and longer and gaining in confidence off the tee with every shot. You won't be disappointed!

February 2017

Booms off the face. I've ordered mine with matrix black tie 75g shaft.

February 2017

I golfed with friends when I was younger and got out when ever I could. Due to my job I had a 20 year break from golfing at all. Over the last 2 years I decided to get golfing again. It seemed to be a lot like work because of my pain so I bought a set of XR16 in hopes of letting the clubs do the work. I was diagnosed with lupus which was causing my pain. However the XR's did help, in fact I shot a round in the 70's for the first time in my life. I got the Epic driver this year and used it once and fell in love it really does do the work for me longer straighter. I can't wait to save up to get the 3 and 5 to compliment this amazing driver.

February 2017

Just bought the Callaway Epic. What a driver! Replaced my Ping G30 but the Callaway does it for me in sound, feel and length. Callaway has a awesome product here and if you want a new big stick you should try it.

January 2017

Oh my days this is my amazing - my wife's getting threw out of the bed and when my epic arrives that's taking her place!! It's that good you'll want more.

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