Ever since the golf world caught sight of Phil Mickelson’s Phrankenwood designed by Callaway, the notion of playing a “mini” driver or tee club has become quite popular amongst many golfers. While Callaway ended up bringing the “Deep” model fairways with their X-Hot, X2Hot, and now XR lines of metalwoods, they never truly brought an honest-to-goodness miniature driver to the masses until now, but the Bertha Mini 1.5 is just that. Sitting 35% larger than the typical 3-wood, this is a club with the purpose of walking a line somewhere between driver and fairway wood, and with the tech from both sides implemented into the design it is also one of the most curious clubs we have seen in terms of how individuals can implement it into their games.
Information on the Bertha Mini 1.5 from Callaway:
- More MOI Than Our Typical 3-Wood
Off the tee, it’s a better option for players than our typical 3-wood. It has higher MOI from a 235cc head that’s 35% larger than XR, and a shape that gives you confidence over the ball.
It has high ball speed from a Forged Hyper Speed Face Cup, a Forged Composite crown, and the cambered Warbird Sole makes it easy to hit. You’re getting all the best features of a driver in the framework of a larger fairway wood.
- Long Off The Fairway For Better Players
If you have a high swing speed, you can play this off the fairway for high speed and amazing distance. You know that long Par-5 you’ve been trying to reach in two? You might be able to get home now.
- Adjustability To Fit Your Shot Selection
Depending on how you want to play it, the Bertha Mini 1.5 can be a replacement driver, a longer option off the tee than a 3-wood, or a club that’s playable off the fairway. That’s why we’ve put in an OptiFit Hosel to tune it to your settings. Choose from 8 different combinations for your loft (-1, S, +1, +2) and lie angle (Draw or Neutral) configurations.
|Mitsubishi Kuro Kage||L,R,S,X||63g-69g||Mid (X=Mid-High)||Mid (X=Low)|
|Fujikura Speeder 565||L,R,S,X||56g-58g||Mid||Mid|
Hearing that a club has a “Hyper Speed Face Cup” and a “Composite Crown” from the company is great, but most golfers won’t really understand what that means for a design. So with that, we should take a moment to break it down and make it more digestible for everyone.
- Hyper Speed Face Cup:
At its essence, the Hyper Speed Face Cup is designing and applying a more light-weight face made of 455 Carpenter Steel that can be pushed to extremes through thickness manipulation, which makes for increased ball speeds all across the face. While many will be quick to point out club limitations on center strikes that are in place through the regulating bodies of golf, the Hyper Speed Face Cup increases the ball speed retention seen on strikes particularly around the perimeter of the face. Simply put, increased ball speeds on misses means increased distance retention as well as helping to harness in some of the gear effect seen on those misses. This is something that Callaway has applied for some time in drivers and fairways. They have not only continued to evolve it with each line, but are now also implementing it in hybrids and even irons.
- Composite Crown:
Additionally, Callaway has implemented a composite crown like that which they have used in their driver designs. By going with a composite there is a significant savings in weight through the crown, which allows those grams to be used elsewhere in the design. In the case of the Mini 1.5, it let the footprint grow larger while having the weight saved in the crown to be pushed further to the perimeter, which increases the overall MOI of the design. This increase in MOI means a higher resistance to twisting on impacts away from center on the club, helping retain distance seen on these strikes.
In terms of looks, the Mini 1.5 is best described as “something else”. At 235cc is it is clearly a lot larger than a standard 3-wood (35% according to Callaway) and when the headcover comes off it definitely draws a unique response.
The black and red color palette of the design clearly fits with the rest of the 2015 offerings from Callaway and frankly it’s good to see a simple and classic color combination on such a unique club. The gloss-finished crown makes the footprint of the club seem much more compact than it would as a matte finish and really was a savvy decision. The sole features a “Warbird” design and bevel intent on aiding the ability to hit the club off of the deck, though to the naked eye it honestly doesn’t really stand out like it has in some of their traditional sized fairway designs.
Other aspects worth mentioning are the headcover and the stock grip of the Bertha Mini 1.5. As for the grip, it leaves a lot to be desired as it really doesn’t fit the uniqueness or performance of the club. It’s an off-putting texture and feeling overall in the opinion of this reviewer. It is definitely an easy fix, but it would be nice to see improved stock offerings in the future given the price points of the clubs. Though the grip is a bit of a down-note, the headcover is fantastic. Unlike with the Big Bertha 815 drivers and their BRIGHT red headcover that turned some off, the Bertha Mini features a slick retro style headcover in two tone grey and black that is likely to blend with any golfer’s bag seamlessly.
The Bertha Mini 1.5 was tested in both range and course conditions through a variety of lie and weather conditions. For this review THP utilized the 14° version paired with the Kuro Kage shaft setup.
The Bertha Mini 1.5 definitely looks unique, so it’s only fitting that it also sounds a bit unique, particularly when compared to the 815 and XR offerings in the Callaway lineup. The head definitely has a strong composite tendency with a bit of a hollow metallic sensation that harkens back to the old FT-i, but not NEARLY as boisterous. It needs to be put clearly that it is not, in the opinion of this reviewer, a turn-off sound, it is simply different than expected. However, the sound also varies on contact position. Strikes center to low on the face put out the most solid sensation, while as contact moved to the upper, heel, and toe region of the face it becomes a bit louder.
In terms of tactile feedback, combined with the acoustics of the head there is enough here to appease golfers all over the spectrum. Misses across the face are easily identified and there is no “blurred” sensation which is sometimes seen in some of the larger profiled fairway woods out there. It is also worth noting that while this reviewer doesn’t really care for terms like “hot” when describing impact sensations, the Bertha Mini is one where despite having a really solid tendency the ball never feels like it hangs on the face. In simpler terms, it really feels like the ball jumps at impact.
In a club like the Mini 1.5 that walks the line of being many different things in terms of utilization, the distance and ball flight are going to be a top curiosity for those looking into possibly finding a spot in the bag for the club. Data recorded throughout the testing did indeed repeatedly show ball speeds higher than what is typically seen off of a 3-wood, reaching the 150’s with this reviewers swing speed. With that said, the speeds were not quite “driver level”. This could be impacted by the playing length being only 44” and this reviewer playing a 46” driver, however there are a lot of other variables that could be in play as well. With that said, it honestly makes sense for it to have slotted between the driver and a typical 3-wood, calling it “1.5” is fitting since it literally fits between them. Because of the ball speed potential here, the distances possible make the club a legitimate driver alternative or compliment depending on the needs of the user. In fact, though for this reviewer it may not have been as long as driver, it was on average within 8 yards.
For ball flight a lot of what each golfer needs to take into consideration is the shaft choice, as the Kuro Kage offers a mid/lower option and the Speeder 565 hits the other end of the spectrum at mid/higher. With the Kuro Kage that was in the club sent to THP for review, no matter the location the club was being hit from, the ball flight maintained a penetrating nature with a solid ascent to and decent from its peak height. Workability is definitely possible for those who seek it as well, and the general flight can certainly be manipulated by playing with the tee height a bit. With the Mini 1.5 it is easiest to separate the more detailed information into shots from the tee and those from off of the turf in order to differentiate those specific traits.
o From the Tee
Clearly, the most appealing use for many with this club is going to be from the tee. After all, it is a mini driver. As such, it’s no real surprise that with its profile and massive face this is where it excelled the most during review. Thanks to the ball speed potential, the distances were more than adequate to be played in place of this reviewer’s driver on all holes, not just the short par 4’s. With that said, it also instilled a good bit of confidence standing on the tee on those short and tight par 4’s over time knowing that the distance is going to be there while bringing the sensation of more accuracy to the table thanks to its shorter length. The ball flight sat right in the mid-high range from here with the Kuro Kage. An incredibly important feature of the club here is with the adjustability. Thanks to the Opti-Fit adapter, the loft and face can easily adjusted and allowed this reviewer to play with maximizing carry or roll with clearly visible changes in the ball flight.
o From the Deck
The big question mark when it comes to dropping a 3-wood and putting something like the Bertha Mini 1.5 into the bag is whether or not it becomes a one-trick-pony (because of its size/footprint) or if it maintains some versatility. Testing certainly showed that, as Callaway has said, it definitely can be hit off of the deck, but it should be noted that even as a player with what classifies as a higher swing speed, it proved difficult to truly elevate the golf ball.
Distance-wise here it was within the 3-wood realm, but the ball flight with the Kuro Kage was low enough that it posed issues hitting into greens for this user. This is the place though where the Opti-Fit adapter shines the most if you are a user who is adamant about making sue this can be an option off the deck. During testing, upping the loft settings of the 14° to +1 and +2 showed definite improvements off the ball flight when being hit off of the deck. With that said, when a face of a club gets deeper, its simply going to get harder to hit off of the ground. Those with a steep swing will probably struggle to hit this effectively off of the ground. It’s similar to a driver in that manner – it can be hit off of the deck, but not with a steep attack on the ball.
While the majority of the focus for the Mini is with where it can be used and just how far one can hit it from those places, how the club reacts to misses is just as pertinent to discuss. Thanks to the larger footprint and the composite crown of the club (allowing more weight to be placed along the perimeter to up the MOI), the Mini 1.5 actually shows solid traits of forgiveness. In terms of ball speed, the retention across the face tested out for this reviewer very well, particularly high and low on the face. The head also does really well at resisting any issues of twisting on misses toe and heel side. These still generate their respective draw/fade spin and reactions, but they were definitely playable. Overall it definitely showed itself to be an accurate club off of the tee with a lot of distance potential. This could certainly be in part to the 44” length that while longer than most 3-woods is certainly more manageable than 45.5”-46”. In the end, the Mini 1.5 is what it is – it’s a tweener club that offers a good bit of playability, but it needs to be kept in mind that it is still a demanding club and will not be an instant fix for all that ails someone.
Mini drivers are without a doubt a big trend right now among many amateurs. There is a lot of allure with them in terms of hoping to bring the distance of a driver and combine it with the accuracy of a 3-wood. The Callaway Bertha Mini 1.5 definitely brings those things into a package that will appeal to many. It offers ball speeds almost on par with drivers, accuracy on par with many of the better 3-woods out there, and a confidence-inspiring look. With all that said though, the big question for golfers in the opinion of this reviewer is not so much about performance, but rather about where it does or does not fit in the bag. In the end, it can be a lot of things, driver replacement, driver supplement, and even for a small margin an off the tee as well as the deck 3-wood replacement. The fact is, it won’t be for everyone, but it will be something that could be for many. Half of the fun will be finding out if it is or not.
The Callaway Bertha Mini 1.5 is priced at $299.99 and more information can be seen at www.CallawayGolf.com.