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Callaway’s Big Bertha is Back, and She Means Business

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Written By: Tony Covey

Unless you go out of your way to avoid Callaway Golf on Facebook, Twitter, and even YouTube, you almost certainly heard days, if not weeks, ago that #BERTHASBACK.

For those of you who don’t keep current on your hashtags (or don’t watch cartoons), what that actually means is that Callaway Golf has resurrected the iconic Big Bertha name for use on its 2014 Premium driver (and fairway) offerings.

Big Bertha? Again? For realz?

At least it’s not the Bertha X or X2 Bertha, or RAZR Hot Bertha 2 XTREME.

Who can keep track? Certainly not Johnny Miller.

Nobody is ever going to accuse Callaway of being overly-original with their product names.

Callaway Big Bertha-36

Apex is back.

Edge is coming back too.

Everything old is new again, which I guess is a lot like rebirth if you really think about it.

This notion of Bertha being back; that’s the company’s oh-so-subtle way of letting you know that Callaway, and everything that made it the dominant force in golf not so long ago, is also back …damn near all the way back, and well-ahead of schedule too.

Clever, right?

Watch out TaylorMade…and I mean that sincerely.

What’s So Special About Big Bertha?

Callaway Big Bertha-1

The first thing you need to know about Bertha is that she’ll initially be available in 2 models. I don’t have any direct knowledge that Callaway plans to release more Berthas down the road, but given how the X Hot fairway release went down last season (SuperDeep, Phrankenwood, etc.), and that both models announced today are 460cc, anything is possible; especially if Phil Mickelson gets the urge to tinker.

Regular Big Bertha is being billed as a “Total Performance Driver” that, of the two Berthas, should fit the broadest range of golfers.

It’s the everyman’s Big Bertha.

Big Bertha’s higher MOI design (compared to Big Bertha Alpha) features Callaway’s Hyper Speed Face which is designed to help maintain maximum ball speed (which means maintaining distance) on those shots that aren’t exactly perfectly centered.

Callaway’s research indicates that guys with handicaps of 10 or more don’t always hit the center of the face, and Big Bertha, says Callaway, can help mitigate that particular problem.

Side bar…This required research?

Big Bertha is for those guys…and everybody else.

“Big Bertha isn’t just long, it’s Bertha long” – Callaway Golf

I’m not sure what that actually means. I’d have probably gone with “Big Bertha isn’t just long, it’s John Holmes long”…and now you know why I don’t write copy for any of the golf companies.

It Looks Like A Mizuno

Callaway Big Bertha-3

In addition to an interchangeable heel weight, Big Bertha features what Callaway is calling Adjustable Perimeter Weighting.  APW is an 8 gram sliding weight (fixed within a 5” track) that can be repositioned along the rear (and side) of the head to help control shot shape and dispersion. Basically APW is part of the system that enables Callaway to help you control shot shape (draw/fade bias).

And yes…more so than SLDR ever did, Bertha’s track-based weighting system most certainly resembles Mizuno’s FastTrack system (first seen on the MP-600 driver).  We’ve covered it before, but because I’m certain not everybody reads every word I write (I tend to write a lot of words – occasionally I spell one or two of them correctly), it’s worth mentioning again:

As far as patents from big golf companies are concerned; TaylorMade’s patent pre-dates Mizuno’s, and Callaway’s patent pre-dates TaylorMade. So while I’m not a big fan of all this “they stole the idea from…” nonsense, if you’re absolutely compelled to make one of those arguments, at least make sure you have your facts correct.

Familiar Adjustability

Callaway Big Bertha-35

The rest of Big Bertha’s adjustability comes from the by now familiar OptiFit Hosel. The Big Bertha implementation is the same dual-cog system found on this season’s OptiForce. The relatively intuitive system allows for loft to be adjusted 1° down and 2° up, while a 2nd independent lie angle adjustment allows the head to be placed in either the standard or upright position; the latter theoretically promoting a draw.

Callaway would probably also appreciate me taking a moment out to mention that OptiFit’s dual-cog system allows you to make hosel-based adjustments without altering the alignment of the shaft graphics. For graphics obsessed and those who habitually send shafts off for SST Puring, this is sort of a big deal.

With a total head weight under 200 grams, Big Bertha should prove versatile enough to work with shafts in a variety of lengths and weights, without becoming unwieldy.

Perhaps the last noteworthy bit about the Big Bertha (and Big Bertha Alpha) is that instead of a familiar black crown, both are outfitted with midnight blue paint. In nearly every lighting condition the driver looks black, but when the light hits it just right…oh my god…its blue! Not so blue that anybody is likely to have a problem with it, but blue nevertheless.

Callaway Big Bertha-29

Big Bertha will be available in lofts of 9° and 10.5° and 13.5° HT. The stock shaft is the new Fubuki Z. Big Bertha will also be available for Udesign customization.

Retail availability starts February 14th 2014 with a street price of $399.

Big Bertha Alpha

Callaway Big Bertha-13

The bigger driver story for Callaway (actually, it’s arguably the biggest driver story for Callaway since the original Big Bertha) is the Big Bertha Alpha, which I suppose you might categorize as the Big Bertha Pro...sorta…maybe just a little bit…at least for now.

Big Bertha Alpha features the same OptiFit hosel as the rest of the Callaway driver family. It’s got adjustable/moveable weights like the RAZR Fit and RAZR Fit Xtreme (promotes a draw or fade bias and/or alters swing weight), and oh by the way, it’s got a Gravity Core.

What the hell is a gravity core?

Callaway Big Bertha-23

Callaway’s answer to TaylorMade’s SLDR is the FLPR (I’m tweeting that the second the embargo lifts).

Gravity core is an actual first. Not only that, Gravity core is arguably an actual innovation.

Physically, gravity core is a lightweight, glass fiber reinforced nylon rod that’s ± 2 1/8” long. Thanks to a 10.5 gram tungsten weight on a single end (the rest of the core weighs only 1.5 grams) the golfer is able to alter the vertical center of gravity within the clubhead itself.

When the tungsten weight is placed closest to the sole (low CG), Big Bertha Alpha should produce a flatter, more penetrating trajectory with measurably less spin and more roll.

Flipping the gravity core results in a mid-CG placement which produces higher spin and what Callaway calls a “more controlled” ball flight.

According to Callaway, moving from the higher CG position to the lower one results in an average of 300 RPM less spin. Callaway’s player testing has shown as much as a 600 RPM decrease, while one individual who had a chance to hit Big Bertha Alpha told me his spin rate changed by nearly 800 RPM.

Reducing Spin Without Reducing Loft

Callaway Big Bertha-26

When you consider that a 300 RPM change is roughly equivalent to what you get from a 1° change in loft, whether it’s 300, 600, or nearly 800 RPM, the practical fitting implications of gravity core are potentially substantial. Callaway would call them game-changing.

Callaway might be right.

What we’re really talking about here is the functional decoupling of launch angle and spin. Previously, if a golfer was looking to reduce spin, the only option short of a shaft change was to reduce loft. When you reduce loft, the ball doesn’t launch as high. Who the hell wants to compromise?

What if your launch angle was already near-ideal? Do you leave it at that, or do you try and knock off a little bit of spin? Do you optimize for spin at the expense of loft? That’s the exact fitting conundrum Gravity Core seeks to eliminate.

Callaway Big Bertha-16

For the first time it’s possible to reduce spin without having to reduce loft to make it happen. That’s some seriously cool shit right there.  And as I said, for those who might want to tinker with loft, the OptiFit hosel still does its thing.

In case you haven’t been keeping count, that’s 4 ways to adjust the Big Bertha Alpha Driver:

  • CG Bias (and swing weight) – weights can be used to promote a draw or a fade, or simply to achieve the desired swing weight.
  • Loft (OptiFit hosel) – reduce loft by 1° or increase loft by 2°.
  • Lie angle (also OptiFit hosel) – The upright position promotes up to a 9 yard change in lateral dispersion (left/right)
  • Vertical center of gravity (Gravity Core) – Reposition the center of gravity lower in the face to reduce spin without reducing loft.

I never thought I’d see the day, but Callaway has totally out-wrenched TaylorMade.

Is Big Bertha Alpha Right for You?

Callaway Big Bertha-15

While Callaway will tell you that Big Bertha Alpha, because of its versatility, is an outstanding option for a large percentage of the golfing population, they’ll also concede that the low CG setting is more suitable for Tour guys, skilled amateurs…and potentially jackasses like me who hit down with the driver and/or produce excessive amounts of spin.

How can you actually design a club for Tour players, yet still make it playable for the general population? Big Bertha Alpha is how. #BOOM.

Other Big Bertha Alpha Details

Like the regular Big Bertha, Alpha features a Hyper Speed Face, and is made from Callaway’s forged composite material (remember those Lamborghini ads that kinda sucked?). The fact that nobody really talks about forged composite anymore tells me that everyone is basically over the sound and feel issues that plagued Callaway’s early composite releases. They figured it out, and it’s no longer really worth discussing.

Big Bertha Alpha will be available in 9° and 10.5° lofts.

You may have noticed that, as they did last season, Callaway is once again using premium shaft offerings in their drivers. For Big Bertha Alpha, the new Fubuki ZT is the stock offering (rumor is Callaway will be adding a plethora of zero-cost alternatives, but don’t hold me to that).

Hands on with Big Bertha Alpha

FlightScopelogo

While a full review will come at a later date, we thought it was important to give you some idea of whether or not this Gravity Core thing is complete BS. Using our FlightScope launch monitor, I hit a series of shots with Big Bertha Alpha with the Gravity Core configured in each of the possible positions. A 3rd party chose the gravity core placement (and did the flipping) so I wasn't aware which position the Gravity Core was in until after testing was complete. Basically it was a blind test. Given the way I was swinging, you might have thought I was blind too.

I hit the club in the default position (9°, standard), however; on the course I would likely configure the club at 8° with a draw bias (upright). I tossed out only the worst of the shots (greater than 30 yards offline), and wound up with the same number of shots with each configuration. Here are the pertinent results:

big-bertha-high-cg
bigbertha-low-cg

As you can see, despite remarkable similarities for both ball speed and launch angle, the low CG position reduced my spin rate by 327 RPM. Allowing for the fact that this is just one guy, the preliminary evidence suggests that Callaway might actually be telling the truth of about this Gravity Core thing.

For those who care about things like sound and feel...Bertha Alpha feels noticeably heavier than Regular Bertha (it's got a heavier shaft, so that makes sense), and feels significantly different from Optiforce and RAZR Fit Extreme. It's more solid...firm, I suppose, across the whole of the face. It's probably a bit duller than Callaway's premium drivers, and for sound and feel alone, I prefer Optiforce.

While I could live without the alignment aid, visually I prefer Regular Bertha (it looks bigger at address - which I like when I'm not swinging well). I like the Regular Bertha feel a bit better as well, but given how Alpha kept my spin under control on a day when my swing was so bad 4500 RPM wouldn't have been out of the question, it's very like the one I'd be more inclined to play.

Like Regular Big Bertha, Big Bertha Alpha will also hit retail on 2/14 with a street price of $499.

Whoa…let’s talk about that (right after this next bit about the fairway wood).

Callaway Big Bertha-34

There’s a Big Bertha Fairway Wood Too

Look, this article is way too long already (and I’m just getting started), but I feel compelled to tell you that Big Bertha fairway woods are coming as well.

They’re adjustable (same hosel system as the driver), and they share X2 Hot’s face technology. Given the available configurations, and the popularity of the franchise, my guess is you’ll buy X2 Hot anyway, but if you want adjustability in your fairway wood, just know that Big Bertha offers it.

Big Bertha in the Bigger Picture

Callaway Big Bertha-7

To say Big Bertha is a significant release for Callaway would be a gross understatement. It’s easily the most important release of the Chip Brewer era (a strong statement given how important X Hot was last season), and given the hole Callaway is trying to climb out of, you could make a case that 2014’s Big Bertha is the most important release in company history.

We can argue the finer points of release significance, but believe this much; Big Bertha (and Big Bertha Alpha) is a really big deal for Callaway, and they’ve treated it like such every step of the way.

It’s hard to be certain of what’s organic and what’s contrived, but what I do know is that short  of TaylorMade’s R11, the buzz (literally…my phone was on vibrate most of the last 2 weeks) around the Bertha product is the greatest I’ve ever witnessed.

Callaway staff professionals, retail guys, you name it; guys who got an early look at Bertha have gone out of their way to tell everyone that they possibly can how good these new drivers are.

We heard about gravity core, and the sliding weight system, and basically everything else. Guys told me how long it is, how straight it is, and how dispersion patterns blow away anything else on the market today by insane margins.

Along the way I heard some pretty substantial performance claims (none directly from Callaway), but at no point did I actually see a photo of the damn thing. Believe me, that’s pretty incredible.

My gut tells me that team Callaway explicitly encouraged guys to talk about Big Bertha, while at the same time going out of their way to make sure nobody leaked any images.

Heard (about), not seen was the plan.

big-bertha-crown-side-by side2

Callaway, I believe, meticulously planned for Bertha to be the most hotly anticipated surprise of 2014, and while there hadn’t been much in this new Callaway Golf to suggest they could keep anything under wraps, damned if their own pre-release leaks aside, they didn’t do just that.

Whether Big Bertha is that good, or Callaway orchestrated the whole thing doesn’t much matter. Word got out on Big Bertha and that’s all that actually matters at this stage of game.

Callaway has very quickly gotten a whole lot better at managing the media.

Kudos guys. Golf clap.

When was the last time images of new TaylorMade product stayed hidden until embargo day?

And since somebody just mentioned TaylorMade (yes, I know it was me)…

Is Big Bertha the SLDR Killer?

Callaway Big Bertha-9

For those keeping track of the TaylorMade vs. Callaway thing and the fight dominance in the golf equipment world, SLDR vs. Big Bertha is this season’s ground zero.

I’m hearing admittedly unsubstantiated stories that major retail accounts (GolfSmith, Dick’s, etc.) are actually predicting that Big Bertha will be the #1 Selling Driver of 2014 and that Callaway could overtake TaylorMade for #1 in total driver (if not metalwood) market share.

“I felt a great disturbance in the force” – Obi Wan Kenobi

How great would that be for Callaway?

My prediction as big mouth media guy…it’s not going to happen…at least not in 2014.

I will submit that for the first time in anyone’s recent memory Callaway does have the upper-hand when it comes to the driver. Unless SLDR somehow dramatically outperforms Big Bertha, basically everything is leaning Callaway’s way right now:

Gravity Core is a much more compelling story than SLDR’s slider and both SLDR and JetSpeed’s Low/Forward CG. The irony is that low and forward is, from a performance standpoint, TaylorMade’s most compelling story in years. The problem is that more than a few golfers have grown tired of TaylorMade stories, and those who haven’t can’t actually see a low/forward CG.

Gravity Core…that’s a seriously visible, tangible, tactile experience. It’s not without its gimmicky qualities, but it absolutely makes sense, and that’s going to matter too.

Callaway Big Bertha-24

After a couple of questionable moves (SLDR release was bumped up, then JetSpeed was bumped up too) in response to slower than expected sales it appears that TaylorMade is more focused on boosting last minute club sales and hitting 2013 numbers than preparing for a full-on Callaway onslaught in 2014.

That could prove to be a costly mistake.

With actual consumer intolerance for TaylorMade’s release cycles and price-slashing inching closer to what the online community believes it already is, the only thing Callaway’s biggest rival may have left in the tank for early next season is a 430cc, Tour Preferred SLDR.

TaylorMade can’t actually release another new driver 2 months from now, can they? SLDR has to live for the duration…or most of it.

Callaway for its part will have X2 Hot and Big Bertha sitting on the shelves as newer (and in the case of Alpha) more compelling alternatives to TaylorMade’s JetSpeed and SLDR. 2013 was no 2012, but 2014 could be an especially rough year for TaylorMade metalwoods.

That said, Callaway still trails TaylorMade by a significant margin in the metalwood category, and of greater relevancy to this discussion; while Callaway most certainly wants to reclaim the #1 spot, they’re going to be extremely measured in how they achieve it. They’re not going to fight TaylorMade for every last dollar.

And that brings me all the way back to that $499 Big Bertha Alpha sticker price.

Big Bertha Won’t Be Price Competitive… and Callaway is Cool With It

Callaway Big Bertha-10

TaylorMade’s RBZ Stage 2 and R1 drivers are already selling for basically nothing (the byproduct of excess inventory coupled with a market share-focused approach). The same is basically true of Callaway’s X Hot and RAZR Fit Xtreme. This season, Callaway and TaylorMade crawled in the mud together. Both slashed prices, and quite frankly, both came out of their respective puddles looking more than a little dirty.

2014 is shaping up much differently. Callaway is planning to launch X2 Hot at $349 and Bertha and Bertha Alpha at $399 and $499 respectively. Whether TaylorMade cuts prices (as they historically do), or decides to finally hold the line on something, Big Bertha and Big Bertha Alpha will absolutely remain at $399 and $499 until they’re gone.

For anyone who says “Ha ha ha, another over-priced Callaway release, I’ll wait 3 months and buy it for $200 less”; let me be the first to say “good luck with that”. It ain’t happening.

You read that right. Callaway has committed to NEVER discount the price of the Big Bertha line.

In terms of market share, and market share only, Callaway’s pricing structure will likely prove prohibitive. While $499 may match TaylorMade’s TP offering, the lack of a lower cost Big Bertha Alpha, I believe, will help keep TaylorMade on top for at least another season.

Guys will want the Alpha, and when they can’t get it for the price they want to pay, I’m not convinced they’ll choose regular Big Bertha.

If you’re Callaway, that’s probably ok too.

It’s a profitability first approach. Crazy, right?

The New Callaway Model

Callaway Big Bertha-32

Big Bertha is billed as Callaway’s premium offering. Callaway believes it actually is a premium offering, and they’re going to treat it as such.

Callaway will no longer sacrifice profit margins and the general satisfaction of their retail partners for market share.

You shouldn’t take Callaway’s unwillingness to go full Wal-Mart with Big Bertha as a sign that it plans to slow down product releases and adopt the Titleist 2-year model. Nope, that ain’t happening either.

I’d wager that in the next 24 months, Callaway is going to release more new product than anyone else in golf – perhaps more than anyone in golf has ever released. The big difference is that Callaway is going to do a much better job of managing inventory; at least that’s the plan right now.

They’re not going to produce more product than they can sell. They’re not going to leave retailers holding excess inventory, and they’re not going to continuously cut prices to try and grab a few extra percentage points worth of market share.

The new Callaway model is to produce product in smaller quantities, order more only when absolutely necessary, maintain the premium price point, and guys…when it’s gone, it’s gone.

Callaway Big Bertha-5

Come November of next season, Callaway’s goal won’t be to unload remaining Big Bertha stock at $199. The goal is already to sell out of Big Bertha just as 2015 product is being announced. If they can do that, there will be no reason to discount.

It’s a sales model that’s more consumer-friendly (raise your hand if you like it when somebody else pays $150 less for the driver you bought a week ago…nobody?), it’s more retail friendly (no excess inventory, no NETDOWN, no drop in retail margins), and its ultimately better for Callaway’s bottom line (start with high margins, and keep it that way).

Screw market share, Callaway wants Smartketshare.

I totally made that word up, but the general idea is to gain market share while maintaining healthy profit margins and generally being both consumer and retail friendly. That’s the smart way to build market share and revitalize your brand. That’s smartketshare.

Serving Notice

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Sure, the drivers look pretty good (I’m perhaps not as excited about the aesthetics as some I’ve spoken with), and there’s finally nothing to hate about them. That’s certainly progress given the way some past Callaway driver releases have been received.

Callaway has the aesthetes down (even if the sole looks Japanese Domestic Market-inspired). They’ve got the visual gadgetry (visible technology) down too, and most importantly, Callaway Golf finally has one hell of a driver story to tell. It’s the best we’ll hear in 2014.

Big Bertha Alpha is this season’s Nike Covert (laugh if you want, but Covert doubled Nike’s driver market share). It’s the one driver that’s unlike anything else we’ve seen before, and unlike anything else on the shelves next to it. It’s the driver that will turn the most heads this season.

Don’t expect top Callaway staffers to play competitor’s clubs again anytime soon. Those days are over and the rest of the industry should consider themselves put on notice; Callaway is back. They're serious about retaking their spot on top of the golf industry, and they might just have the gear (and the balls) to do it.

Callaway is ready now.

More Big Bertha and Big Bertha Alpha

Callaway Big Bertha-14

Have Your Say

What do you think so far about the Big Bertha and Big Bertha Alpha Drivers? What about Callaway’s new approach to sales and distribution? Is Callaway finally ready to once again lead the industry?

{ 114 comments… read them below or add one }

TwoSolitudes December 2, 2013 at 9:21 am

Unique, interesting and pretty cool looking. Plus a first class shaft offering and a great classic name. I’d say they have a winner here.

Is that a falling apple on the head cover? LOL.

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Keith December 2, 2013 at 9:25 am

I love it! I was skeptical for a while, jumped off the hype train, but now I’m back and ready to chug! Please don’t beat my SLDR Callaway, cause I don’t want to dish out 5 bills to pay for this thing….

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Robin Hopkins December 2, 2013 at 10:49 am

All I will say is, I want one ;-) Looks and reads excellent, I’ve only been playing 2yrs and drive with a 13 degree strong 3 wood (Cleveland ), this is the time to change and go all out and save for an Alpha.

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Deon du Plessis December 2, 2013 at 11:04 am

Funny…. I had mentioned the idea of changing CG with a distributed weight screw about 10 years ago (or so).

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Fleeter December 2, 2013 at 11:16 am

Nice looking club. Lots going on with it, but it all does come down to the shaft. When you buy the SLDR with the TM stock shaft you don’t get near the shaft that you do when you buy the Callaway or the Ping. I’d like to hit this new bertha and see how it compares to my Ping G25 …. Could be a big year for Callaway – I wonder what the folks at TM will do to counter!

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Lee December 2, 2013 at 11:24 am

Very interesting that Calli are supposedly going back to the days of not dumping their top end products so as to keep the mystic/illusion of superiority.(As fancy as it looks don’t lose sight of the fact that it’s just another Chinese produced head) Very clever marketing to make us punters part with our hard earned, would like to think that I’m not taken in as I love my X Hot but sadly I can feel the Visa card sweating.

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Andy Greenwald December 2, 2013 at 11:29 am

Does this Big bertha line mean that the Razr Fit Extreme line is not going to happen in 2014?

I would have thought the Gravity Core CG going lower would increase spin and launch angle, but it seemed to do the opposite for you.

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golfer4life December 2, 2013 at 11:30 am

Nice job by Calli coming up with some fresh innovations. Very much looking forward to seeing how the new products play and sell. As far as ‘never’ discounting the BB line? Sales will drive that decision. No way will they sit on a $500 club if its not selling. Who would?

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lord of the links December 2, 2013 at 11:45 am

callaway has to hold the price, they have to pay millions for environmental clean up in old
spalding facility in chicopee

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barbajo December 2, 2013 at 11:47 am

“Smartketshare” – love it!!! Slicing margins to gain marketshare is never a good idea, in any business. The next guy who “cuts price and makes it up in volume” will be the first.

Cool looking driver, serious innovation. Callaway’s getting dangerous!

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Berniez40 December 2, 2013 at 11:50 am

This is a great leap forward for Callaway! Looks like Chip Brewer is working the same magic for Callaway that he worked for Adams Golf.

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Dru_ December 2, 2013 at 11:52 am

Well, this is truly fascinating. In many ways, this is the driver that many are looking for, but that price may keep it out of the hands of the masses. It has the potential to be one of the most interesting drivers on the market once we see real world performance.

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Regis December 2, 2013 at 12:10 pm

Very fair and balanced article and if I am representative of next year’s buyer you are spot on. I just finished my own version of the new driver “cha-cha” meaning I purchased and traded and gamed virtually every manufacturer’s driver. (Settled on the Titleist 910) . I now know that no head technology is going to give me a significant gain in yardage or consistency. Better feel and sound-Yeah. But overall performance is more dependant on matching the correct shaft to my preferred head. So will I ever pay list price (especially $400) for a new driver with a stock shaft again – Not likely. Now when the SLDR drops in price ,Hmmmmm.

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Drew December 2, 2013 at 12:28 pm

Very nice looking driver! I will probably wait a year and picked up a used one for $150 :) .

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Mike Harmon December 2, 2013 at 12:30 pm

I find it interesting that you hype the Callaway product so heavy. All you have to do is go hit a Krank driver and it will be longer and straighter than any club you advertise. The science behind the Krank driver is unmatched. It won four more world titles this year.

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Cobra Nut December 2, 2013 at 1:32 pm

True they have won four long drive competitions but being one who watched this last one I can tell you that hitting one out of five straight is not good odds. They may be long but the are not more accurate if you are using the long drive as a reference to how good they are. I would love to try one out on a few courses in my home state but we have no Krank dealers anywhere around.

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Ryan December 2, 2013 at 3:15 pm

I was one of the first owners of a Krank Element or whatever it is called now. It is an ok Driver but it isn’t any better or worse than any other head. It all comes down to getting the correct loft and shaft for each individual. Just because it won or was competitive in a long drive competition doesn’t mean jack for the average golfer.

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SMRT December 2, 2013 at 4:38 pm

Well said. I have hit a lot of the component / LD heads and the Krank was not any longer or straighter than my Geek or Sinister or even my old MOI. There will never be 1 driver that every golfer will say is the best. I have put regular driver head on longer shafts and they go just as far as the LD heads but they do not last very long.

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Mike Harmon December 3, 2013 at 12:15 pm

I watched the championship also. On any given day these guys might hit 1 to 6 out of 6 fairways. They only get paid for in the grid and they know it is going to take 400 yds plus. I have gone from a 10 handicap to a 6.5 using the Krank driver. Each driver is custom made and you will probably not find it in a retail store because the wholesale price of the driver is three times that of a Callaway. Callaway is a marketeer. Most pros who use their club do not use their shaft. Krank has patented technology and is the only forged driver on the tour. On a iron byron their driver was 23 yds longer than Cobra which was the second longest driver. Go to their web site and read up on them. They are the real deal.

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Ryan December 3, 2013 at 4:25 pm

I’ve played their newest driver. It is a good club. It will not turn 280 into 300. I can promise that.

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SMRT December 5, 2013 at 12:47 pm

What tour are you talking about? How “custom” can they be if I call up and order over the phone? Or from their website?
Krank makes a good driver but this year at world’s a Geek driver and a Callaway driver hit a new record distance of 475 yards. Are they not considered the real deal as well?

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Dave December 2, 2013 at 12:40 pm

Can’t wait to try it. But at $500???? Sorry Callaway – I doubt it provides $250 worth of improvements.

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ed donahue December 2, 2013 at 12:40 pm

Great write-up ! Sounds like you’re a mix of a golfer, marketing guru, and future teller !
Really, good job !

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Chomper December 2, 2013 at 12:44 pm

“Big Bertha isn’t just long, it’s John Holmes long”… Classic!

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Mike Harmon December 3, 2013 at 12:16 pm

It is 25 yds shorter than a Krank driver .

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TwoSolitudes December 5, 2013 at 4:28 am

Strongly doubt that. But I guess we will see after the shootout.

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Ciena December 26, 2013 at 8:34 am

How many Krank drivers are being played on any of the 4 tours, PGA, web, LPGA or champions tour, let me see NONE

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M VanTress December 2, 2013 at 12:46 pm

Having never owned nor used a Callaway poduct, this sounds quite promising. Very cool to look at and I am sure, to use. I WILL be trying this. May be a goodbye to the Anser…..

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Gordon December 2, 2013 at 12:53 pm

Very cool looking clubs and Tech, I must admit. The price points will probably keep me away unless they absolutely blow away everything else I try in the simulators. But with the GCore, maybe that is exactly what will happen. I also like that they are offering real deal premium shafts more often than not. That’s a big deal for any manufacturer IMO.
I am legit excited about a Callaway Driver… that hasn’t happened very often lately.

BTW, when I first saw the Alpha, the first thing that popped into my head was the old Zevo Compressor, obviously not the same technology, but did anyone else have the thought too? Or even remember that club at all? LOL. I still have one in my garage, literally brand new, never hit once, and I have a friend tha still plays one. (Yes I got off topic there) LOL

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johnleyer December 2, 2013 at 12:56 pm

If this were TM doing this, everyone would call it a gimmick. Because it is. Or rag on the mizuno BS.

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Tony Covey December 2, 2013 at 12:58 pm

Truer words never spoken. It’s the reality of being on top. TaylorMade is the Yankees…at least they have been for the last several. Callaway is the Red Sox…maybe even Rays. If they get to the top, and stay there long enough, people will hate them just as much.

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golfercraig December 3, 2013 at 10:00 am

T, people already hate the Sawx. Rightfully, I might add.

#bostondouche

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Freddy December 2, 2013 at 1:03 pm

Well, all sounds fantastic ! Too bad the mid-high amateur they will not see any difference ! The other day I was playing on a Gary Player course with two nice guys, one with a TM Stage 2 driver and the other with a XHot, with all the change you can make on those and the long shafts. Well, unfortunately, most of the time they were looking all over the place for their balls. I was hitting 90% of the fairways with mine cut at 44.50 ! By the way, my driver was an Acer Warp Speed 12 degree from Hireko, with no adjustability. The major two brands they make good products, but they are not in the business to really help amateurs, they are in the business to sell clubs, which is fine. But you tell me what could be more beneficial for an amateurs, a $399 driver or maybe three more hybrids in their bags ?

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Bob December 2, 2013 at 1:33 pm

Are we still playing golf with this thing or going to Mars?

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Matthew December 2, 2013 at 1:33 pm

Outstanding write up! I’m still laughing as I write this…
Let’s face it, next time we go to demo clubs after February 14th (if we don’t make a special trip just for the second coming of Bertha) we will step into the booth and take our swings. If we hit it well, most of us will find 5 extra bills in our budget to bag it. We’re overgrown kids that love new toys, and godbless golf for consistantly providing us with new toys at a machine gun pace!

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Brian December 2, 2013 at 1:58 pm

Those numbers you posted were terrible. If you are spinning the ball that much with that high of a launch you aren’t getting any distance. I’m looking forward to trying out this driver but the spin rates better be at least 1000-1500 less rpm’s then what you posted to even have a chance of getting into my bag. Also I don’t get why they don’t offer lower lofts for the Alpha version. 9*/8*adj. is way too high for longer hitters.

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Tony Covey December 2, 2013 at 2:03 pm

You can’t look at one guys spin numbers any make any larger determination. I tend to be a very high spin player. For a bad (which it was when I tested), 3300 is generally pretty low for me. I think when we put this head to head against other drivers with more guys swinging you’ll see guys in the 2200 range.

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Hula Rock December 2, 2013 at 2:16 pm

What where the distance numbers ???? Carry/Total Distance.

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Duncan Castles December 2, 2013 at 3:57 pm

‘Gravity Core’ is indeed a clever marketing story. The question is, does a 300RPM reduction in backspin actually deliver more distance at swingspeeds under 110mph??
If it doesn’t then it’s nothing more than a marketing story…

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Rex December 2, 2013 at 3:58 pm

Good looking clubs….not too sure about the flux capacitor thing but if it performs…

TM, on the other hand, may be knee deep in giving the Devil his due… payback for years of customer, media, consumer and brand abuse… Problem is… the Devil won’t stop collecting until you are in over your head.

You need a home run badly TM… and that “Speed” crap is a single stretched thin to a double… at best.

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SMRT December 2, 2013 at 4:40 pm

I like the looks and will probably demo one if I get a chance. I am a little surprised they did not use this technology in their new X-Hot LD drivers. The ability to change the CG and Spin rate could be a great option for them based on weather conditions on competition day. Maybe next year?

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lloyd duffield December 2, 2013 at 4:50 pm

I GOT TO SAY IF THERE WAS A DRIVER CAPTAIN AMERICA WOULD USE IT WOULD BE THESE VERY AMERICAN LOOKING CANT SEE THESE SELLING WELL IN EUROPE NOT ENLESS YOU LIKE CAPTAIN AMERICA AND THE USA.

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RAT December 2, 2013 at 4:58 pm

Hello Mizuno MP600!!!!
Well this will help drive down the cost of the new old optiforce,Xhot2 and etc.

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vin December 2, 2013 at 5:08 pm

Looks like a beer can

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tony December 2, 2013 at 5:15 pm

I think a callaway had a real chance to challenge TM with their 2014 line up but they’ve blown it by charging too much. X Hot 2 should be 299, BB 349 and Alpha 449. The never to be discounted bit should be interesting, let’s see if they stick to that when sales aren’t as high as they hoped due to price.

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John Marsh December 2, 2013 at 5:34 pm

Hope testing Big Bertha for the average swing speed (85 – 95) shows a plus side
The adjustable fairway wood might fit us better if it has the same plus side

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Sam December 2, 2013 at 6:57 pm

Yeah I don’t see the mid-high handicappers dropping $400 on a new driver around here too often, let alone $500.

I’ll stick with my Diablo Octane and spend that money on lessons or the range.

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Mike waychowsky December 2, 2013 at 7:56 pm

I’m playing XHot now and will want the Xhot2
After hearing Phil talk about it

Great article
You know how to speak to the avg man
I gave. 12 index

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drbloor December 2, 2013 at 9:34 pm

This is like club ho haiku.

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Craig December 2, 2013 at 8:53 pm

Here we go again, I’m still waiting for someone to come up with some new technology.
Nothing on these drivers that hasn’t been done before by some other manufacturer. I’m amazed that the head is not a bore-thru like the originals were back in the 90′s. So at the end of the day, these are just more gimmicky heads because technology has gone to the limit in driver heads.

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dunn2500 December 2, 2013 at 8:59 pm

Its a razr hawk with different paint and bottom…..drivers dont change much and this one no different….I know some people think these are high tech NASA built pieces of equipment but they are not…..like poster said profit profit profit…..these prolly cost 10-25$ to make $50 max ( not much tech in those numbers)…made in china right next to knockoffs…..just isnt much to a driver head….move weight around and size thats bout it…..until you thin face, nothing new….looks just like ftz and razr hawk to me…have hit everything new and my burner 2.0 TP was best….have a blue rage mizuno driver from god knows how long ago and its just boit same distance as current models…..most of it is marketing bs

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Bill Tetley December 3, 2013 at 9:58 am

You have such a poor grasp on the industry that if it weren’t for the poor grammar and over use (misuse, nonetheless) of ellipsis I would have assumed you to be a troll.

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RAT December 2, 2013 at 9:09 pm

I wouldn’t recommend stashing your drugs in that hole .Dogs can sniff it out and you would lose your 400 + dollar club. Ugly too.

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Chad December 2, 2013 at 10:31 pm

What ever happened to that old design adage “Less is More?”

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Frankie December 2, 2013 at 10:45 pm

Please remember this: All these new Drivers ALL go the same distance…The USGA will ban the longest driver…

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Tony Covey December 3, 2013 at 7:27 am

Please remember this: Frankie is incorrect. Somebody typed this story into a forum once…somebody else repeated it, and the myth that the USGA’s CT limitation equates to a firm distance limitation was born.

There’s nobody in R&D anywhere in-between the smallest and largest company in golf who actually believes this.

The USGA’s conformity test was designed to measure the rebound effect from the center of a titanium driver face. That’s it. Not the slightest little thing more.

CT/COR provides a loose correlation to ball speed, but it hardly creates a hard limit on distance.

The USGA doesn’t measure COR/CT from off center impact. Today’s drivers are significantly better at maintaining ball speed on off center hits, and the area where near-max COR/CT is maintained is continuing to improve. For anybody who doesn’t always hit the center of the face (and that’s everybody), this means a driver that produces more average distance than those of just a few years ago.

The USGA doesn’t measure spin rates or launch angles. Even if we accept that nothing can be done to improve ball speed (false); if you can launch higher with lower spin, you create more distance, and you do so outside the confines of the USGA’s test.

The USGA doesn’t measure body structure, while not all in the industry agree it can be done without impacting face CT, most will tell you that it’s possible to optimize the flex properties of the driver body to create better energy transfer and therefore more ball speed without exceeding the COR limitation.

The USGA doesn’t account for aerodynamics. If you fundamentally shape a head so that it creates less drag, you increase head speed, which has a direct correlation to ball speed, which increases distance.

The USGA’s test was designed to test CT on a titanium (and ONLY TITANIUM) face driver. Different materials have much different flex properties. I know of at least one manufacturer (which means there are probably 5 others) working on something other than 100% Titanium faces. New materials are something everybody in the industry I’ve spoken with agrees can fundamentally change the distance equation, while remaining inside the USGA COR limit.

The USGA is not forward-looking. They are reactive in their approach to equipment, and that means they’ll always be behind the technology.

So remember this: it absolutely is possible to create a USGA conforming driver that goes longer (not 20 yards at a time or anything, but longer nevertheless) than what’s on the shelf right now.

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golfer4life December 3, 2013 at 11:00 am

Well said and written Tony. Its a shame that to many people won’t understand a word you said because they already know everything. Apparently they are so frickin good they care nothing about how hot a club can be off the sweet spot. Thanks to people like you and a few others it makes it tolerable to enjoy still coming on here. I find nothing wrong with learning something new, whether right or wrong I’m always willing to learn. We can only hope that some of the trolls can stop commenting on how there 2006 driver is still better than anything else. If that is the case, great enjoy it. Don’t just keep coming on to tell us about it every time there’s a new release.
Cheers All!

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johnleyer December 3, 2013 at 11:54 am

A man of wisdom. Now, to actually get people to listen would be another story. But that’s golfers for ya.

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Mike Harmon December 3, 2013 at 12:24 pm

You are correct. All drivers except one is cast. Meaning they are made 6 at a time. Every driver out there is manufactured under specs because driver can change with heat and use. The Krank driver is 20 yds longer than the rest for several reason but dealing with science it is forged. It is 20 percent harder than any other driver and is still legal. 14 world long drive titles attest to the technology. When you combine the tehnology witih custom fitting and a proline Fujikura shaft you have the best driver in the game.

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Tony Covey December 3, 2013 at 12:35 pm

Yeah…don’t know where to start with this. We work closely with the guys at Krank, and I would imagine that if there was irrefutable evidence that their driver was 20 yards longer than anything else, they probably would have mentioned it to us. We tested Formula 5 earlier this year, and 20 yards longer would be overstating any distance advantages Krank has.

Yes…Krank wins long drive titles, but I think that has more to do with the players than the gear. By your logic, (Krank wins therefore they’re the best), Nike absolutely makes the best equipment in golf since they’ve won the most majors in recent history.

As far as forged vs. cast…here’s the irrefutable truth on that subject; it costs roughly 50% less to make a forged driver than a cast one (basically the opposite of iron construction). Forged vs. cast isn’t a performance consideration, it’s almost exclusively a cost consideration.

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MattF December 4, 2013 at 6:29 am

Mike is obviously a Krank ho. Look at every post in this article that he’s had…krank, krank, krank.

formula2tom December 5, 2013 at 4:33 pm

“if you like your driver you can keep your driver Period”. to quote another BS artist. dude i get it, your check is in the mail from Krank.

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Glenn kirk December 2, 2013 at 11:44 pm

i have tried every driver ever made, tried a mates xhot whoa best driver on the market by a mile sent to states got a tour shaft bought the 9.5 pro rarely miss a fairway its long straight and sounds great ,new models will have to be impressive for me to upgrade.

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Bullwinkle December 3, 2013 at 1:08 am

Beautiful and I love the fact that Callaway has reached into its history to re-establish its once dominant marketing position. The pricing likely puts some of its products out of the reach of the average player, or in my case poorer players, ha. Still if any product is really revolutionary we will beg, borrow, steal or maybe kill to get one (metaphorically speaking of course). Looking forward to demoing products.

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Dropking December 3, 2013 at 3:44 am

Slowly but surely my bag is filling up with Callaway at the expense of TM and Titleist!!

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Christian December 3, 2013 at 6:46 am

“Different Weight Screws Allow Center of Gravity Movement to change launch angle by up to 2.5º while also changing spin up to 500 rpms for later release players.”

http://wishongolf.com/designs/drivers/739-ccg/

So is this really a new thing ?!?

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Kevin December 3, 2013 at 11:54 am

It is not new technology. It was also done in a persimmon driver years ago.

The $500 would be better spent on lessons and fittings. Support local fitters and pros!!

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Cherm December 5, 2013 at 11:47 am

Yes it is. That is not the seperation of launch angle and spin rate like this technology is. Read th earticle again and understand the difference before trolling.

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Roger Roger December 3, 2013 at 6:55 am

Okay, so the idea behind the driver is good and the concept as well. The big problem is going to be the price 399/499. So callaway will have 3 new drivers the xhot 2, big bertha and big bertha alpha price points 299/399/499. The game is not growing rounds are down as well. If the big bertha series were 100.00 less i think the golf consumer would buy it but at those prices it will be a hard sell. Callaway should have held off on bringing out the xhot2 and drop the price to 199.99 and then the others at 299/399. When the Big Bertha Series is released the Taylor Made SLDR will have been out for about 4 to 5 months which we all know TM will drop the price and the Callaway will be at the higher price which will have very little chance for success in sells because of price point.

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benseattle December 3, 2013 at 8:47 pm

<>

Allow me to echo what has certainly been said before. Unless you can show me tangible, measurable and DRAMATIC increases in distance and/or accuracy, then there’s No Way I will pay hundreds more. There’s no gimmick, no prestige, no “technological advance” and no Keeping-Up-With-The-Joneses obsession that will persuade me to shell out more for a golf club whose sole appeal is that it’s “new.” Unless Callaway has created a heretofore undiscovered MIRACLE, this new line of metalwoods simply isn’t going to lower scores or make the game more fun. This club line will appeal to Callaway fan-boys and the handful of saps who believe everything a 23-year-old big box golf clerk will tell them. Sad thing is, however…. it won’t show up on the launch monitor. Or the golf course.

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Will December 3, 2013 at 11:10 pm

Just wait until the limited edition SLDR Black+ with Gravilaunch comes out, the ball goes so far it will hit you in back of your head.

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Yohansn December 4, 2013 at 1:14 am

Great article and comments.
How much to do U design with the colors Harry?
And how long will that take?
I am with you T . . . A Donkey Headcover is manditory half of us . . . Or more?
Do you think they will get that gravity thingy into the flat sticks.for those of us who really hit down on everything?

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Eddie December 4, 2013 at 4:41 am

It looks like more gimmics to spend money on. I use to buy callaway but Taylor made got my attention.and my money. now I buy cobra and i feel I got my moneys worth out if them– WHAT IM SAYING IS IM TIRED OF THE THE ADDED STUFF TO A CLUB FOR A PROMISE THAT I’LL HIT THE BALL BETTER FOR MORE MONEY I JUST WANT A CLUB THAT Will DO THAT With less money and more results and less hype (aka more screws to turn so it can cost more).

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Glenn Kelly December 4, 2013 at 12:51 pm

Callaway keeps knocking it out of the park. Love the new innovations and improvements.
They are constantly and consistently leaders in the industry.

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Bob R December 5, 2013 at 7:28 pm

You sound like you run PR for Callaway. This statement is completely false.

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JS December 4, 2013 at 7:28 pm

At first I didn’t that CG screw made any difference, but it does I hit the alpha with the weight in different positions and there a noticeable change in ball flight and spin that I could see and according to my Flightscope the numbers significantly different as well as accuracy.
Its a pretty good Driver.

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eric December 4, 2013 at 10:02 pm

You want a great driver with no gimmicks, go find a Bridgestone J33 R. And it will reduce your spin and bomb it past any of these remakes of the Mizuno MP 600. Get STONED.

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JS December 5, 2013 at 9:03 am

Hey Guys relax if your a Callaway nut you will like the driver. I still hit the Adams F11 9.5 tour with a VTS black 6X that I built, and I have yet to hit anything better according the numbers on the Flightscope. I like that these club makers are always trying to come up with something new. If that means taking some old ideas and improving on them. if this new driver is not for you then it’s not for you. I hit the Alpha with the movable CG weight and it made a difference now I didnt care for the shaft that came stock, but with the right shaft who knows.

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Ralph Rodriguez December 5, 2013 at 12:42 pm

As long as they offer a senior shaft option I’m in. Looks pretty good.

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Mo December 5, 2013 at 1:00 pm

Taylormade introduced adjustabilty .callaway had to follow.what else is there to say guys.

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formula2tom December 5, 2013 at 4:34 pm

“if you like your driver you can keep your driver Period”

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javier vigil December 5, 2013 at 9:19 pm

I like the alpha, kinda reminds me of Phil’s Phrankenwood

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joro December 6, 2013 at 4:33 pm

Amazing and a good, smart name change. Doing away with Razor, Hot, and Super Hot to name a few is a good thing. Classic companies do not do that like Wilson Staff, or Hogan Apex, Cleveland Classic, to name a few. A quality company is wise to keep the name people know and respect. Like Wilson for example, those of us that played Wislon Staff in the old days have a warm spot for that Staff name and the same will Big Bertha, it is a familiar name and changing it was a big mistake. Also the new iron named Apex, another mistake. I loved my old 02 Big Berthas and hated my old Apex, why use an old Hogan name ? Bring back the Blg Bertha name of all the Callaway product, it wiil sell.

I will probably try the new stuff and already feel good about the Bertha Woods,,, now if they had Bertha Irons it would be complete. Why do they feel they have to change success, I don’t get it.

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1 Putt December 6, 2013 at 9:51 pm

Correct me if I am wrong, but putting the “gravity core” in the Alpha Bertha lowers the center of Gravity and moves the weight forward. The result is lowering spin. If you use more loft on the driver aren’t you doing what TM is touting?

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GolfWhiler December 10, 2013 at 8:05 pm

I predict the BB Alpha will be something of a bomb for Callaway. Too few will sell for it to achieve the kind of reputation necessary to carry the technology to the next season. Without a big reputation on such a big price point, Callaway will be forced, yet again, to deliver another new technology in 2015. Callaway should have priced it at $399 and tried the game of “holding the price.” That $500 price tag will teach many golfers that they can actually make due with their 2013 equipment and take a few lessons instead.

Psst, Callaway: It’s too late now to lower the list price. So here’s what you do: Offer a $100 coupon toward Callaway products with every BBA purchase, then re-price in 2015 hoping the earth-shattering scope data saves the day.

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Sammy December 17, 2013 at 12:10 am

Great article!!! One of the best club write-ups I have ever read!

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Ernie mackinnon December 30, 2013 at 7:48 am

Sure!! Callaway is not going to discount Big Bertha- tell than to someone who bought the X Hot Pro irons or drivers in 2013 only to see Callaway discount them and collapse the value of our clubs.

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joro December 30, 2013 at 12:01 pm

Amazing stuff here, the search for the Holy Grail and willing to pay through the nose for it, it being 3/4 yds. if lucky. For several years now some major manufacturers have been producing new product like crazy. TM started it, Callaway has followed and others. In the old days a new club went a couple of years before a redo, now it is 6 months with promises the new one is better. As PT Barnum said, there is a sucker born every minute, and make it and they will come. Amazing, that is all I can say, Amazing.

Newer is not always better.

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alan January 10, 2014 at 10:27 am

Great, another pair of adjustable drivers, with a bit more flex to help fine tune the club to your swing flaws.
Most middle hccp. players want one thing — MORE DISTANCE !! With CT maxed out and all of these clubs being USGA conforming, WHATS THE BIG DEAL ?????
Another pretty paint job? More hosel adjustments? More exotic shaft availabilities?
There are only two variables that make the ball go longer a higher swing speed and a higher CT.
If you cannot move that driver head any faster into the back of the ball, then spend some real bucks and get a high end Japanese non-conforming driver with a COR of 0.88 and drive your buddies crazy !!!!1
Oh, that’s right, it’s cheating, well as Callaway use to say with their ERC model “enjoy the game”

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Tony Covey January 10, 2014 at 10:32 am

In the interest of expedience, I’m just going to paste my reply to an equally ill-informed comment from a previous post:

Somebody typed this story into a forum once…somebody else repeated it, and the myth that the USGA’s CT limitation equates to a firm distance limitation was born.

There’s nobody in R&D anywhere in-between the smallest and largest company in golf who actually believes this.

The USGA’s conformity test was designed to measure the rebound effect from the center of a titanium driver face. That’s it. Not the slightest little thing more.

CT/COR provides a loose correlation to ball speed, but it hardly creates a hard limit on distance.

The USGA doesn’t measure COR/CT from off center impact. Today’s drivers are significantly better at maintaining ball speed on off center hits, and the area where near-max COR/CT is maintained is continuing to improve. For anybody who doesn’t always hit the center of the face (and that’s everybody), this means a driver that produces more average distance than those of just a few years ago.

The USGA doesn’t measure spin rates or launch angles. Even if we accept that nothing can be done to improve ball speed (false); if you can launch higher with lower spin, you create more distance, and you do so outside the confines of the USGA’s test.

The USGA doesn’t measure body structure, while not all in the industry agree it can be done without impacting face CT, most will tell you that it’s possible to optimize the flex properties of the driver body to create better energy transfer and therefore more ball speed without exceeding the COR limitation.

The USGA doesn’t account for aerodynamics. If you fundamentally shape a head so that it creates less drag, you increase head speed, which has a direct correlation to ball speed, which increases distance.

The USGA’s test was designed to test CT on a titanium (and ONLY TITANIUM) face driver. Different materials have much different flex properties. I know of at least one manufacturer (which means there are probably 5 others) working on something other than 100% Titanium faces. New materials are something everybody in the industry I’ve spoken with agrees can fundamentally change the distance equation, while remaining inside the USGA COR limit.

The USGA is not forward-looking. They are reactive in their approach to equipment, and that means they’ll always be behind the technology.

So remember this: it absolutely is possible to create a USGA conforming driver that goes longer (not 20 yards at a time or anything, but longer nevertheless) than what’s on the shelf right now.

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GolfWhiler January 10, 2014 at 3:18 pm

Tony, I appreciate your distinctions and keeping this info in front of MGS readers. It will eventually sink in to my head.

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Rawt February 5, 2014 at 5:38 am

Played the new “Big Bertha” today,it’s a beast straight as an arrow very long sensational shaft the Fubuki ,trying the Aloha Saturday then bagging one …. CALLAWAY is back bigger than ever

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Charlie February 11, 2014 at 11:39 am

Instead of overpricing at $500 and then dropping it to a realistic and sell-able price 3 months later, you’re suggesting they simply hold the price at that ridiculous high price???

Why not simply price this driver to sell from the start and then let that value hold over the drivers life. There are plenty of fools out there who buy every driver that hits the market at crazy high prices, but i doubt there are enough to sell out a product at 500 bucks.

price this thing at 390, and the average golfer would take a serious look at buying. otherwise, the Alpha will be an afterthought.

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Robert Taylor February 16, 2014 at 1:40 pm

I hit the new Bertha and Alpha drivers yesterday at a demo day with full Trackman data capture and I first have to say I have never owned a Callaway driver and have not been much of a fan of their drivers. I have played Titleist 910 D2 the last 1-2 years and many other brands including TM, Mizuno, and Ping drivers prior. I was blown away with the performance looks and feel of the new Big Bertha though! The Alpha has a smaller footprint, lower spin, lower launch for me, and no alignment mark on the head, while the Bertha was better looking at address with a larger footprint, slightly higher launch and spin, and an alignment mark. After dialing in a 10.5 degree head 2 degrees up to 12.5 degrees of loft in a neutral hosel and APW sliding weight setting with the heavier 60 gram Fubuki ZT shaft from the stock Alpha driver- I found my new driver for this year! Consistent 260-270 yard high straight bombs! Numbers averaged 13.5 degree launch with 2000-2400 spin rate at 96-103 mph swing speed, and dispersion was very tight. Of note, even when I felt like I mishit the center of the face a little, my smash factor was always close to 1.50, when I hit it what I felt was dead center, smash factor was 1.51-1.52 ! There may really be something to the whole variable face/cupface technology enlarging the sweetspot. I compared my numbers from my Titleist 910 D2 and my Ping G25 and the Bertha was consistently longer and straighter with a very solid feeling clubhead. I thought the blue color would throw me off a bit, but it is actually very good looking and looks black from address in most lighting. Hope you all try it and no I don’t get paid by Callaway to say these things and yes I am a club “ho” always looking for any extra help in my game. First time ever buying a Callaway driver was yesterday though!

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Warwick Weedon February 18, 2014 at 2:12 am

Great post Robert! Thanks for sharing with us. I loved my BB back in those days and will have to get another one to replace my 910!!

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Warwick Weedon February 18, 2014 at 2:14 am

And to match my XHot irons and XHot 3 wood:)

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Lorenz Holder February 21, 2014 at 5:22 am

Hey guys,

Just a small question about the new Big Bertha. Is the 5g weight interchangeable? If yes, do the old weight screws from the razr fit driver fit in there? Is this a way to increase the D2 swingweight? Or will added weight in that position lead to a draw, without changing the the slider at the back?

Thanks a lot for your help!!
All the best, Lorenz

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Grant April 9, 2014 at 11:47 pm

I was testing drivers today. I hit about seven or eight in all but came down to a final three of the big Bertha (which I never considered an option prior to the fitting, the titleist 913 and the SLDR. I had hit the SLDR last year and loved it and was planning on getting that driver. It turns out I hit it the worst out of the three. I was consistently drilling the callaway, and occasionally. What I never thought as an option ended up being the driver I got. Goes to show you should never have preconceived notions about a club based on brand name, appearance, etc.

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froneputt April 28, 2014 at 1:28 pm

Okay … some don’t like the Fubuki… good shaft? dead shaft? Is the Tour blue the better choice? I have hit Fubukis in fairways but meh…

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Ross May 27, 2014 at 9:16 am

I went into Dick’s yesterday to buy a SLDR. I still had the original BB in my bag but I’ve put on a few years and pounds and my swing has changed to a fade from a draw so I wanted something with a bit more length and forgiveness. I figured that upgrading a 15 year old plus driver would do the trick.

The salesman (who was also a local pro) immediately pushed me away from the SLDR to the Big Bertha. I demoed both clubs in the cage and the BB felt like a better fit for me. The numbers looked very similar in the cage – 105 Club Head Speed, 12.5 degree trajectory, spin under 3000 (can’t remember the exact number) 280 yards. So I ponied up the 400 bones for the BB and immediately went down to the local walk-on public course.

My BB was set at 9 degrees and not surprisingly I hit the ball pretty low. The fairway grass was a little long but I hit almost every ball around 260 with a slight push to the right. I tried but couldn’t get the ball to draw. The feel of the club was good, the forgiveness was good and the length was OK but didn’t wow me.

The course was open so I was able to walk up and down the first and second hole and bang a number of drives. I met a guy doing the same thing and coincidentally he had recently bought the BB with a 10.5 loft that he had adjusted to 11.5 with an extra stiff shaft.

We swapped clubs and he was at least 20 yards shorter with the 9 degree loft. He was an arm hitter and averaged around 230 – 240. The fairway grass just gobbled his ball.

I was straighter and around 10 yards longer with the 11.5%. It went too high for my liking and I felt like I left at least 10 yards on the table, but I lost the right push / fade and hit the ball straight down the middle. That’s a pretty big deal for me.

Until I hit the 11.5 I was thinking about taking the BB back but now I’m going to play around with the settings and up the loft to at least 10 degrees. It’s an obvious improvement on my old BB but I wasn’t wowed … but generally feel good about it.

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trnmnt_22 July 3, 2014 at 3:45 pm

Where did the notion that Callaway was NOT going to drop the price on the big bertha line come from? Specifically, WHO told you this? In light of recent developments, the following lines from your article are very interesting.

“Big Bertha and Big Bertha Alpha will absolutely remain at $399 and $499 until they’re gone.

For anyone who says “Ha ha ha, another over-priced Callaway release, I’ll wait 3 months and buy it for $200 less”; let me be the first to say “good luck with that”. It ain’t happening.

You read that right. Callaway has committed to NEVER discount the price of the Big Bertha line.”

MyGolfSpy has always claimed to be independent from manufacturers’ influence… is that still true?

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Tony Covey July 4, 2014 at 8:50 am

We got the info from a 3rd party source, and then confirmed with Callaway insider. Info was correct at least as far as the operational plan at the time was concerned. What we’re hearing now is that EVERYBODY in the industry basically just wrapped up one hell of miserable Q2, but for some…especially those operating in the red, it’s worse than others.

After making a strong run in March, Callaway’s market share numbers have steadily declined since. Alpha was never a strong performer at retail (I don’t believe it ever climbed past #6 or #7), it was grossly over-priced to begin with (part of Callaway’s strategy of trying to maintain higher profit margins), and while the technology does what it says it does (changes spin without loft), the reality is more spin isn’t anything the overwhelming majority of golfers would benefit from.

So far they’re holding the line on regular Bertha, but even that must be tenuous by now given the economic realities.

As for your last question…not sure how it’s related, but yes. Still true. We take no advertising dollars from big golf companies, and they have no input in the content we produce. By way of comparison, our competitors accept 6 figures plus annually from the likes of TaylorMade, Callaway, and others. What do you think that kind of money buys?

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trnmnt_22 July 9, 2014 at 11:04 am

Tony -

Thank you for taking the time to respond to my question. I had hoped that MGS was still independent, and not just a marketing arm of the golf manufacturers, glad to hear that is still the case.

The reason why I brought that point up: the part of your article I quoted regarding ‘no price drop’ seemed like an outrageous claim and pure marketing speak (that couldn’t really be true). Your article (and others) gave buyers incentive -and security- in purchasing their Big Bertha Alpha, and yet not even 6 months later, here comes the inevitable price slash.

Have you spoken with your sources since the drop? Do you feel like you were used by Callaway and misled on purpose?

FYI: if you do a google search for ‘Calloway Big Bertha no price drop’ (note: that is misspelled on purpose), an article will pop up. The ‘preview’ text has verbiage that no longer appears in the current version of the article on golf wrx, text that poses similar information that appears in your article regarding no price drop.

So, I guess that answers the question about what those marketing dollars on other sites buys… editorial control and journalistic integrity.

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Tony Covey July 10, 2014 at 12:59 pm

It’s always interesting, and I don’t think many golfers think about what’s behind what they read.

One industry contact recently described the entire system as communism. Basically, golf companies give media money, media promotes product, golf companies make money, and the cycle continues to the symbiotic benefit of the greater good (survival of golf companies and big media outlets).

Understand this much: Ad deals with large traditional print media. We’re talking 7 figures annually (per company). When you consider that golf is in decline, print media is basically dead, and that most of the content is available for free online…you can understand why there is clear and necessary motivation to keep the golf companies happy. Something has to power the machine. It’s how it has always been done, and now it’s necessary for survival.

I don’t begrudge Golf Digest anything, and there are some tremendously talented writers on staff there, but with respect to the Hot List…even if you’re willing to accept that advertising has no influence on the result (a huge IF for most golfers), it’s hard to look past the fact that GD charges a licensing fee for Hot List medals. You want to use that seal in an ad, you have to pay for it. There is unquestionable financial benefit in awarding as many medals as they reasonably can. When everybody wins, Digest wins.

Now consider online media outlets of reasonable size. The big guys pay them 6 figures annually to promote product, run contests, and in some cases, basically act as the media arm of the golf company itself. Sometimes banner ads are everywhere, sometimes there aren’t any at all, but the money is coming in all the same. You can bet that kind of money buys the ability to rewrite history as needed. Things disappear and stories get quietly modified and rewritten to ensure that today’s reality matches up with the stories and promises of the past.

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Desmond July 4, 2014 at 9:07 am

From my reading of Harry’ Arnett of Callaway, the price on BBA has now dropped because Callaway is no longer making BBA and they are clearing out inventory. Once BBA is gone, it’s gone. Callaway is coming out with something new… soon.

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Tony Covey July 4, 2014 at 9:20 am

Harry can spin it with the best of them, but let’s look at this objectively:

BBA is the top of the line…the PREMIUM offering in the Callaway lineup.
It has been on store shelves for all of 4.5 months.
You don’t clear inventory unless you have excess inventory. If it’s selling well, and they’re just simply starting to run out, why cut the price and undermine profits?
4.5 months into a premium release…one with a limited run to begin with, you don’t have a ton of inventory, unless the product has significantly under-performed retail expectations.
No doubt something new is coming (they have to do something), but the probability is an Optiforce replacement (there’s a really interesting patent for a driver with a rear spoiler that could become reality soon), but if it’s an Alpha replacement, it looks exceptionally bad for Callaway. A $500 driver with a 6 month shelf life isn’t going to sit well with even the most rabid Callaway fanboy.

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Desmond July 4, 2014 at 10:09 am

You have a valid point. The BBA like the RFE is a club for a limited market of better golfers, and Callaway says it … so that category is tough unless you are TM, which touts its tour offering as a club for everyone, which is nonsense … think about that…

A couple of different strategies exist when it comes to clearing inventory — do nothing and allow sales to clear it out while your new product waits in the wings (that may take a while);

Cut the price to clear inventory more quickly so you time the introduction of new product more precisely, knowing that when the new product is introduced, the old product will languish. This strategy helps cash flow for dealers…

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Tony Covey July 4, 2014 at 10:20 am

I’m saying no way that what’s next in the pipeline is an Alpha replacement. If Callaway replaces it now, no matter what the spin, Alpha would look like a massive failure. That’s the kind of miscalculation that people lose jobs over.

Using your RFE example…they cut prices on that late summer/early fall to try and revive the market, not to make room for a new product. That new product (Bertha/BB Alpha) was still 6 months away. I believe that’s the case here.

In this market you’d have to be insane to clear inventory on a $500 product (that isn’t selling) just to make room for another $500 product with an equally poor chance of selling.

If you’re TaylorMade (lots of green ink, #1 in the market), you can lay a complete egg in the market (JetSpeed), and absorb the hit to your reputation and move on, especially if you are able to sustain pricing on the flagship product (SLDR). Very few (TaylorMade, Titleist, and PING) can get away with it even once.

When you’re trying to claw your way out of the red, you can’t go tits-up on your flagship product this early in the game (even if it’s under-performing). Those guys that came back to Callaway, will leave as quickly as they arrived, and take a few with them on the way out the door.

This isn’t to clear out inventory…it’s the best shot to sell stagnant product (like when they cut prices on X2 Hot), and try to jumpstart a market that may not exist (for anyone) and remain competitive with TaylorMade.

Something is coming…and likely very soon, but I’d go all in on an Optiforce replacement before I’d double-down on the next Alpha.

Desmond July 4, 2014 at 10:48 am

I’ll take Harry at his word —

and we’ll see what happens next.

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GolfWhiler July 4, 2014 at 1:11 pm

Besides Callaway betting against common sense, BBA just didn’t perform as well as similar product aiming at the same audience (E.g., SLDR). Didn’t have to be a prophet to predict what is happening.

“GolfWhiler December 10, 2013 at 8:05 pm
I predict the BB Alpha will be something of a bomb for Callaway. Too few will sell for it to achieve the kind of reputation necessary to carry the technology to the next season. Without a big reputation on such a big price point, Callaway will be forced, yet again, to deliver another new technology in 2015. Callaway should have priced it at $399 and tried the game of “holding the price.” That $500 price tag will teach many golfers that they can actually make due with their 2013 equipment and take a few lessons instead.

Psst, Callaway: It’s too late now to lower the list price. So here’s what you do: Offer a $100 coupon toward Callaway products with every BBA purchase, then re-price in 2015 hoping the earth-shattering scope data saves the day.”

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Desmond July 4, 2014 at 1:15 pm

The Deciders have done already decided. :-)

Selling Out. New product coming.

Agree – the $499 price point was an error. $349-379 seems to be the high point.

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Harry July 23, 2014 at 4:21 pm

What is the diffrence in between the big beather alpha and big beather ?

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vegashacker August 4, 2014 at 1:01 am

Noticed today at a local golf retailer that the Alpha and the BB arethe same price, $329.99. Only reason I learned this is due to the fact that I broke my optiforce 460, and that Callaway is out of the left handed heads so for warranty I get offered either the BB or the Alpha. So I’m here for some insight and find that someone somewhere said no price drop, but it happened. So I am still looking for what is right for me. I am open to input. I have never had an adjustable driver until the Optiforce. I have both the 440 and the 460. I have mastered the 460 and have yet to use the 440 for anything more than the range. I set it down 1 degree and draw bias. I am consistent with yardage in the 300-315 with the 460 yet the 440 gets me 280 or so. My swing speed is 114-117 on average with a bit of a fade. The draw bias shoves it straight down the middle of the fairway. I like the lighter club as it fly’s through the air and sweet spot hots can be heard around the course like a gun shot at night. I have also hit the green twice on a 379 yd par 4 from the tee. Hard ground in Vegas and down hill helped but hell even the guys on the green weren’t mad for hitting into them. Sorry about the tangent let me get back on point. I need to realize what are the benefits and pitfalls to each. I am a scratch golfer but it is a pain to keep up with all the rapid changing club technology these days. If you had a choice of either which would you choose and why…thanks

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Nocklaus September 28, 2014 at 8:32 pm

I’m a Nike – Titleist – Mizuno – guy. I don’t like Callaway.

I have now got both Big Bertha and Big Bertha Alpha Nd some extra shafts to tinker with and I must say WOW ! Long and straight. Bertha is easier to play and work. Alpha you have to hit very clean shots, but when you do…

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