TRIVIA QUESTION: What was the Callaway Big Bertha line of clubs named after?

I will never forget the moment. I was 20, and known locally as a guy that could hit it past almost everyone. My lifelong buddy and I were both home from college, and his dad asked if we wanted to play at his country club. Free rounds were the only rounds we could afford at the time, so I quickly showed up in my best ragtag gear.

I stepped up to the first tee and drove one long and straight. "Great ball! Man you are long," said the dad's friend. His dad, however, he said nothing. Crickets. I think I remember hearing him chuckle under his breath a little.

I quickly found out why. He had a secret weapon, and he couldn't wait to show it off.  And show it off he did. When he removed that headcover, addressed the ball and dropped that piece of titanium artillery on the ground, I swear I felt the ground shake. It was that German Howitzer we talked about, and it whipped my ass into shape and taught me a lesson, all-day long.

It was the biggest big thing I had ever seen. It also gave a dad who was what seemed like a football field behind my drives the summer before a very real advantage.  He wasn't just near me; he was hitting it past me on some holes. This couldn't be real. What the hell was this thing?

It was the Callaway Biggest Big Bertha.

That was real.

Today we have another Callaway driver making claims to be as revolutionary. It was only natural that we put these two to a head-to-head test for you to see for yourself.

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CALLAWAY DRIVER HISTORY

  • 1989-1993 S2H2 Woods
  • 1991-1994 Big Bertha Woods
  • 1995-1998 Great Big Bertha Woods
  • 1997 Biggest Big Bertha Woods
  • 1999 Great Big Bertha Hawkeye Woods

HOW WE TESTED

  • Two Callaway drivers were tested head to head to head (Biggest Big Bertha and Epic).
  • Both were tested at 9° loft (Epic weight slider in neutral position).
  • Seven golfers with handicaps ranging from 0-15 and driver swing speeds between 90 and 115 mph participated in this test.
  • Each tester hit 12-14 shots for each club from every set (frequently rotating between clubs).
  • Gross mishits were eliminated and are not included in the shot counts.
  • Remaining outliers were identified using Median Absolute Deviation (both distance and offline), and dropped before calculation of the final averages.
  • All testers hit Bridgestone B330-RX Golf Balls.
  • Ball Data was recorded using a Foresight GC2 Launch Monitor.

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THE RESULTS

Callaway Big Bertha Epic

Callaway Big Bertha Epic

Distance
252.20 yds
Accuracy
20.82 yds
Spin
2,501 rpm
Launch
14.81 deg
Ball Speed
143.64 mph
Callaway Biggest Big Bertha

Callaway Biggest Big Bertha

Distance
235.83 yds
Accuracy
17.36 yds
Spin
2,976 rpm
Launch
15.44 deg
Ball Speed
138.21 mph

OBSERVATIONS:

If you've read our previous Head 2 Head of the M1 vs. r7 SuperQuad, we showed what 10 years of technology improvements could do to a driver. With the Biggest Big Bertha released in 1997, this year marks 20 laps around the sun for Callaway.

As you would expect the 20-year window provided some significant "gainz" on downrange performance:

  • The Big Bertha Epic produced shots on average of nearly 20 more yards than its 20-year-old predecessor.
  • The Epic also launched faster (8 mph to be exact).
  • While the Biggest Big Bertha launched higher than the Epic, this could be contributed to the higher spin rate (and likely more flexible shaft).
  • The only parameter that the Biggest Big Bertha trumped the Epic in was accuracy- producing shots that finished on average 3 yards closer to the center line.
  • On average, testers swung the Epic over 3 mph faster than the Bertha.

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Epic vs BBB

ClubBall SpeedLaunchSpinHeightCarryYardsYards From Center
Callaway Epic143.6414.812,50133.61239.61252.220.81
Callaway BBB138.2115.442,97634.56222.49235.8317.36

20 YEARS TIME

There you have it - the data suggests the Callaway Epic is far superior to the Biggest Big Bertha. Maybe this statement does stand true, "20 years equals 20 yards (almost)."

While the Biggest Big Bertha did certainly receive positive subjective feedback - unfortunately the data shows otherwise.  I guess it's time to tell my dad to get rid of his entire '97 Big Bertha set, at least the driver.