Callaway Big Bertha, Big Bertha Alpha

Big Bertha is back.

Callaway Golf will use the famous name for two new drivers and a line of fairway woods for 2014.

One of those new drivers, the Big Bertha Alpha, will feature a unique adjustable weight pin inserted vertically in the head. This pin, called the Gravity Core, has a heavy end and a light end, and it will change the center of gravity depending on whether the heavy end is positioned up or down in the head.

Callaway introduced the original Big Bertha driver at the 1991 PGA Merchandise Show. It was the first oversized metal driver, and it changed golf. Metal heads grew larger and larger throughout the 1990s and into the following decade, leading the U.S. Golf Association in 2004 to limit the size of driver heads to 460 cubic centimeters.

Now, almost 23 years after the debut of Big Bertha, Callaway is set to resurrect the name in the most ambitious driver project ever launched by the Carlsbad, Calif., manufacturer. The two Big Bertha drivers will be unveiled at the 2014 PGA Merchandise Show and are scheduled to be available at retail Feb. 14.

When Chip Brewer took over as Callaway Golf chief executive and president in 2012, he had a message for his troops.

“He told us he wanted all our best ideas, regardless of cost,” said Alan Hocknell, Callaway’s senior vice president of research and design. “When we got to Big Bertha, he made it clear that it’s really a big deal to put a name like that on a product. We had to make sure the product stands up to the name, and not just because there is some sense of nostalgia or something we did in the past. It was crucial to bring the product into the present, with all our best technology.”

These drivers are overflowing with adjustability. The one called simply Big Bertha ($399) features a sliding weight device on the back of the head. The other, Big Bertha Alpha ($499), has four methods of adjustment for different flight patterns.

Big Bertha features adjustable perimeter weighting with its sliding weight channel at the back of the club. According to Hocknell, the location of the entire sliding mechanism helps maintain high MOI (resistance to twisting), no matter where a player chooses to move the weight. Loft adjustment can be made with the OptiFit hosel, creating a loft range of one degree stronger or two degrees weaker than the stock loft. Golfers can choose from 9, 10.5 and 13.5 stock lofts. The OptiFit hosel also allows a golfer to adjust the face angle between neutral and draw settings.

The length of the Big Bertha is 45.5 inches. The swingweight is D2. The head weight is 199 grams, which brings this driver back into the weight range of a normal, non-adjustable driver.

Big Bertha Alpha offers four ways to adjust the driver with two interchangeable weight screws, independent settings for loft and similar settings for lie, and the Gravity Core vertical CG pin.

The Gravity Core weighs 10.5 grams and has a heavy tungsten tip on a light nylon body. It fits into a carbon fiber tube, accessible from the sole of the driver.

Hocknell says the separation of launch angle and backspin – achieved through these four adjustments – is particularly important and will help many golfers. Of course, this means that finding the best combination of settings for each individual golfer could require a considerable amount of time in the fitting process.

The Big Bertha Alpha is 45.5 inches long with a swingweight of D3. Two lofts, 9 and 10.5 degrees, are available. Like the regular Big Bertha driver, each loft of the Big Bertha Alpha can be adjusted one degree strong or two degrees weak.

Both Big Bertha and Big Bertha Alpha have Callaway’s Hyper Speed Face, which is the lightest and largest face ever sold by Callaway.

Standard shafts are from Mitsubishi Rayon: Fubuki Z for Big Bertha and Fubuki ZT for Big Bertha Alpha. These two shafts are new for 2014 and replace the Fubuki Alpha that has been very popular on the PGA Tour.

At $399 and $499, the prices of these drivers are substantial. For golfers who thrive on adjustability and experimenting with settings and features, the Big Bertha models take Callaway’s adjustability to a new level. Somewhere the late Ely Callaway, who guided the first Big Bertha to market, must be smiling.

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