Some names are just etched in our memories, for Callaway the “Big Bertha” name is definitely one that golfers across the world recognize, and that is what made resurrecting it such a good move for them. Since then, Callaway has found a way to balance the historical with the modern and their latest evolution of drivers is no different as they have brought back into the light the “Great Big Bertha”. The new Great Big Bertha marks the return of the sliding perimeter weight along with several other design advances from what we saw two cycles ago with the return of the Big Bertha, and Callaway considers it their most complete design for the widest range of golfers.
Information on the Great Big Bertha driver from Callaway Golf:
The Great Big Bertha Driver is back, and it represents the next frontier in driver design. This advanced adjustable driver has a light, fast, stable chassis unlike any other driver we have had before. It’s a technological breakthrough, and it’s built to get the most distance for ALL golfers.
So how did we make this breakthrough? We optimized the multi-material chassis to generate more clubhead speed through aerodynamics and a wide range of weight classes to suit every swing type. We also developed next gen R*MOTO technology that provides the structure for a thinner face which leads to high ball speeds on center and off-center hits. And we added Adjustable Perimeter Weighting on the perimeter of the head for ball flight and dispersion control with exceptional forgiveness.
Specifications and other Information:
|9°||Adjustable (8°-11°)||RH / LH||45.50″||Adjustable||460||D3|
|10.5°||Adjustable (9.5°-12.5°)||RH / LH||45.50″||Adjustable||460||D3|
|13.5°||Adjustable (12.5°-15.5°)||RH / LH (Custom)||45.50″||Adjustable||460||D3|
Stock Standard Shafts:
Bassara E 42
Kuro Kage Black TiNi 50 Graphite
Speeder Evolution TS 665 Graphite
Diamana D+ 70 Graphite
Complete List of No-Upcharge Shafts:
- Aldila Rogue I/O 60
- Aldila Rogue I/O 70
- Aldila Rogue RIP 60
- Aldila Rogue RIP 70
- Aldila Tour Blue 60
- Aldila Tour Green 60
- Fujikura Evolution II TS 60
- Fujikura Speeder 565 50
- Fujikura Speeder 665 60
- Fujikura Speeder 765 70
- Matrix Ozik Black Tie 70
- Martix Ozik Red Tie 60
- Matrix Ozik White Tie 50
- Mitsubishi Bassara ‘16 40
- Mitsubishi Diamana D+ White 70
- Mitsubishi Diamana S+ Blue 60
- Mitsubishi Kuro Kage Black 50
- True Temper Project X LZ Blue 50
- True Temper Project X LZ Red 60
As always, it’s fun and enlightening to take a closer look at the technology being advertised in any new release and further break it down both in form and function for those taking an interest in the release.
- High Ball Speed from Next Gen R*MOTO Technology
“To get every last yard out of your driver, you need more speed. That’s why we put in our Next Gen R*MOTO Technology. It provides the structure for a thinner face, leading to high ball speeds on center hits and off-center hits too.”
The R*MOTO face tech was without a doubt the star of last year’s driver releases for Callaway. It truly upped the ante for them in ball-speed retention with its structural advances maintaining strength while also pushing the boundaries of face thickness. In the Great Big Bertha they have actually continued to evolve the tech by improving the internal structural ridges on the upper and lower sections of the face where it conjoins with the rest of the chassis. Essentially it provides stability to allow the thinner face to flex and not lose that energy elsewhere.
- Head Speed from Our Light, Stable, Multi-Material Chassis
“This is the best combination we’ve ever had of an aerodynamic head shape and multi-material lightweight club design. It’s the key to generating higher clubhead speed through aerodynamics and a wide range of weight classes available to suit every swing type, from 295 to 325g.”
Callaway has never shied away from the use of composite materials within their designs to try and find ways to optimize the weight to strength ratio and make it as efficient as possible at transferring energy. The Great Big Bertha really is a combination of several things materialistically as it definitely takes design aspects from both the 815 as well as the V-Series and melds them together. We see a shape that takes a lot of aerodynamic traits from the V-Series, but at the same time maintains the versatility of keeping its stability at a wide range of weight options. During testing five differently weighted shafts were utilized in the GBB head moving the total weight of the club all over the 295 to 325g gamut that Callaway discusses and the baseline performance stayed consistent which really should allow for it to be tuned into a wide range of golfers.
- Forgiveness and Control from Adjustable Perimeter Weighting
“There’s a 10g sliding weight on the perimeter of the clubhead. We put it there to add stability, and you can slide the weight for more dispersion control to hit your drives on line. You have virtually unlimited draw and fade bias options, more additional draw bias than ever before, and you get all of this without sacrificing forgiveness.”
The return of the APW (adjustable perimeter weighting) is a pleasant surprise as the original used on the Big Bertha has to this day been the only sliding weight mechanism out there where a change was really seen in testing for this reviewer. More interesting is that the effectiveness has been improved upon by altering the placement in the rear of the head thanks to the weight savings through the material-design aspects. Additionally, it sits much more heel side allowing for a much larger range of draw adjustment than in the last iteration, though with how the heads flight plays out in standard settings, it really didn’t need as much fade bias availability as in the previous version based on what testing showed. The slightly off centered look may bother some users, but it’s aesthetically well done and you can’t see the weight/track from address.
- Simple Adjustability
“You can quickly slide the weight to any position you want on the track. And the Optifit hosel lets you choose from 8 different configurations to tune loft, lie, and face angle.”
With this releases we are again seeing Callaway stick to the dual cog Optifit adapter seen for several cycles now. Something that undoubtedly keeps golfers with shafts tipped from prior heads quite happy as opposed to forcing them to change tips all the time. Easy adjustments on the dual cog (-1 to +2 range, w/ draw options) are joined with the sliding APW which has plenty of demarcations on the track for fade to draw placements. Simple adjustments, but they offer a TON of versatility for those who really do enjoy tuning in their drivers.
Where looks are concerned, the Great Big Bertha really is both a combination of things we have seen in recent releases and something different entirely. The shape is pretty standard overall and is very similar to the 815 Alpha with the exception that it does have a little more rounded toe section like the V-Series. The face in depth is close to what we saw in the 815 Alpha but with a little more depth in the toe region. Overall it’s not as deep as the XR Pro or Double Black Diamond offerings but not exactly a shallow face either. The shape sets up nicely behind the ball though, and there really isn’t anything out of the norm going on. For alignment there is the traditional Callaway “Chev” but this time it is raised up and in the same finish as the crown rather than having the contrasting paint outline. The fact that it is done in the same finish as the rest of the crown is a good thing, so it should appeal to both the pro-alignment camp as well as those who prefer none.
The finish/color scheme of the GBB is also a departure from what we have seen in the Big Bertha and Alpha 815 and instead takes a page out of the XR and XR Pro book by utilizing a fully matte black finish on the crown. The matte is hit and miss for individuals, but Callaway has confirmed that the uDesign will return this year with the GGB line so there will be options for those who prefer something else. The rest of the head has a pretty modern stylization to it as the sole is finished out with a very angular look done in a combination of metallic silver, gloss black, white and metallic red accents. Some traditionalists may think it’s a bit busy, but in the opinion of this reviewer is that it fits in with all of the tech and emphasis on speed from the company with this release. The metallic finish on the accents, particularly the APW weight and around the sole weight, is stellar. It really does just pop in the sun bringing focus squarely on the tech in hand. This release also is a move from the black face used last year, but it has a sort of smoky trait to it rather than being standard satin chrome. This lets it show contact position as well as the black face does while not showing the wear as quickly, and it really is interesting.
Lastly, with 19 different no-upcharge shaft options there will clearly be a lot of different looks possible and luckily the matte black finish will blend well with all of them. Worth noting on this though, is that as always with the drivers Callaway has finished it out with a really nice Golf Pride NDMC grip in black, grey and red. We also have a continuation of the “retro” style headcover from the 815’s last year again in bright red with gray and black accents. It still won’t be for everyone but it’s a heck of a lot better looking than traditional stock driver headcovers.
THP was able to spend some time working with the new Great Big Bertha driver paired with the standard Mitsubishi Bassara E 42 shaft both on the range as well as the course.
Callaway puts a lot into the acoustics of their metal-woods because they understand that sound transfers into the user’s interpretation of feel. For the Great Big Bertha there is a lot more of a similarity in the sounds with the Big Bertha than with the 815 and in the opinion of this reviewer that is a good thing. The GBB really might be their best sounding driver yet, as it is a real balance of a solid yet incredibly full sound at impact. The GBB is absent of the resonance of the XR driver and also avoids the more composite tendencies that the 815 Alpha had to it. Misses on the face are easily identified thanks to tone changes as well as the tactile feedback, but thanks to the stability of the design it lacks the twisting issues on extreme misses. The nice thing about this feedback is that though the tone changes based on contact points, it keeps that full trait and is easily differentiated across the face.
As mentioned earlier, THP spent time with the GBB paired with the lightest stock offering in the Mitsubishi Bassara E 42 (remember, there are 4 off the shelf stock offerings). The setup itself showed a pretty significant launch angle with the peak height coming in right at 32 yards. Additionally it did put out spin numbers in the 3,000’s. Before someone knee jerk reacts to any of that though, keep in mind that is definitely a personal fit thing and this is the lightest offered setup of the GBB from Callaway which isn’t for everyone, though it had no issues holding up to 105+ MPH swings.
With that said, since Callaway is pushing the fact that the Great Big Bertha will fit a wide variety of swings thanks to the 295 to 325g total weight range this reviewer also put into play four other shaft setups with each hitting a different weight segment. All of these setups (and the Bassara) were also played in the same lofted 815 Alpha with the same standard settings and on average there was 0.5° launch angle increase as well as over 423 RPM’s less spin with the exact same peak height in each setup. The lower spin and added launch really showed up visually each and every time as the ball works on a much more aggressive path to its apex, and did lead to a touch more run-out after coming down. Fact of the matter is, the head showed that it can be incredibly versatile in terms of spin and launch (spin ranged from the low-mid 2000’s to the mid 3,000’s depending on the setup for this user), and with 19 different options at no upcharge there really isn’t much of a reason for someone to not find something that fits their needs. No, not every single head will fit everyone, but the data recorded off of the Great Big Bertha really does point towards it covering an incredibly large segment of golfers.
The Great Big Bertha sets up much more neutral than the 815 Alpha did for this reviewer, and as such it played just fine to a natural draw or fade depending on the user. Where ball-flight aspect of the head really came to life though was when the APW (adjustable perimeter weight) was put into use. Yes, the weight/track is definitely more draw biased visually in its setting options than in the last iteration, but based on the natural setup and weighting of the head it makes sense. Callaway states that in their testing the APW could affect ball flight up to 18 yards, for this reviewer even as a natural fader of the ball who can benefit from the significant draw options, there was not that much movement when tracked on the monitor, but it was more effective than in the Big Bertha. Keep in mind though, as with anything else the 18 yards is a POTENTIAL for the clubhead and the effectiveness of that will depend on the user and the fit. It’s honestly no wonder we are seeing such an emphasis from Callaway on what a proper fitting with the Great Big Bertha could do in terms of “lost yards”.
When looking at “forgiveness” in any club, ball speeds created and retained are what tell that story. Of course, strikes dead on the button with the GBB compared to the 815 (with the same clubhead speed) showed practically the same ballspeeds. Where a different story was seen in testing was on misses across the face, the ball speed retention there was improved by a surprisingly sizeable margin.
The R*MOTO face is really starting to become a benchmark here. While there were spin and flight changes in the different misses on the face, they maintained a significant portion of distance, but more importantly the dispersion was stellar when it came to negating the spin axis tilt on toe or heel strikes. As a golfer who can wear out the heel of a wood when having an off day, seeing the vaunted heel-fade toned down leaving the ball much more in play is a happy sight. No, the Great Big Bertha will not correct our swing faults and make a bad swing a good one, but it does do a very good job of reducing the movement seen on those misses.
However, where distance is concerned, testing showed that compared to the 815, the average clubhead speed on the GBB increased no matter what the shaft weight/setup was which no doubt has to do with the actual weight and aerodynamics of the head. When this is combined with less spin and a touch more launch there was about a 5 yard increase in carry seen for this reviewer. Please keep in mind that everyone swings differently and has different needs, but the fact of the matter is that after an immense amount of data collection there is most definitely a lot of performance to be found here in the Great Big Bertha.
With bringing back the “Great Big Bertha” name and placing it on this new release, there is a certain level of expectations based on history alone and just how much the original took the game by storm. Because of that, the best thing Callaway has done is to design a club that is incredibly versatile not just in settings to alter the ball flight, but also understanding that golfers across the spectrum have different needs in terms of overall weight. By offering up 19 different shafts giving the ability to hit club weight ranges from 295 all the way to 325 grams the GBB literally becomes playable for the slowest swingers up to the strongest. In the end, Callaway has released a very well rounded and option filled driver that will undoubtedly be on the radar for many to get some time in with.
The Callaway Great Big Bertha driver comes with an MSRP of $449.99, more info on it and the rest of the Great Big Bertha lineup can be found at www.CallawayGolf.com.