• The Great Big Bertha is a new ultra-premium offering from Callaway.
  • It’s a technology-packed, lightweight design intended for moderate swing speed golfers.
  • Retail price is $499 (fairway), $449 (hybrid)
  • Available beginning Nov. 11

Do we really have an equipment off-season any longer? Sort of, but not entirely.

Generally, Callaway targets the back half of the calendar year for releases dedicated to golfers who, for one reason or another, live outside the mainstream.

In this case, the Great Big Bertha family is an “ultra-premium” line where the list of materials is exceeded only by the price tag. Callaway bills the Great Big Bertha family as born from the Epic Star franchise, yet something entirely new.

The first hint is a subtle sage green colorway but it’s much more than an updated aesthetic with a familiar name.

Step on the Scale

The holiday season is sneaking up on us and with that comes plenty of discussions focused on the benefits of losing or, in this case, reallocating some weight.  With that, the entire line is built on the premise that the target golfer should swing a lighter piece of equipment, faster.

Freeing up the required discretionary weight is a more onerous task when creating a driver than a fairway wood or hybrid. Simply, a typical driver has more volume (460 cc) and less mass (+/- 205 grams) than a fairway wood or hybrid. In general, the stock weight of a fairway wood head is 10 to 15 grams more than a driver. Hybrids can be another 40-60 grams heavier than a fairway wood, depending on loft.

With that, most fairway woods have a volume of 150-175 cubic centimeters and, as you’d expect, hybrids tend to be even smaller. The point is that with fairway woods and hybrids, it’s easier to end up with a surplus of discretionary weight rather than a shortage.

That aside, in any construction, companies use materials like carbon and titanium because they are lighter and stronger than steel. Tungsten is roughly 2.5 times denser than steel and seven times denser than aluminum. This helps concentrate more mass in specific areas to impact attributes such as MOI (forgiveness) and CG (center of gravity).

Callaway Great Big Bertha Fairway

Like the Great Big Bertha driver, the Great Big Bertha fairway (and hybrid) are lightweight products built for slower swing speeds.

Callaway believes the Great Big Bertha does for fairway woods what last year’s Epic Super Hybrid did for that equipment category. That is, by leveraging a combination of titanium and two types of carbon fiber, Callaway was able to increase the overall footprint, creating “our most powerful fairway wood ever.”

The features and benefits section of the press release reads like a resume of Callaway’s flagship technology over the last several generations: adjustable hosel, Triaxial carbon crown, forged carbon fiber, A.I. designed Cup Face and Jailbreak with Batwing technology.

The lighter weight materials mean that 53 percent of the total head weight is discretionary. According to Callaway, this allows for a massively forgiving footprint and an “ultra-low CG (location) that steel does not allow.”

Beyond that, 50 grams of internal tungsten and a 15-gram sole plate anchor the mass properties. Though it isn’t explicitly stated, my hunch is that the overall design is slightly draw-biased.

Last year, Callaway used a modified Batwing structure in place of a Speed Frame chassis on the Rogue ST fairway woods. With the Great Big Bertha release, Batwing is back as is an AI-designed titanium cup face that is unique to each loft.

Callaway Great Big Bertha Hybrid

The same ingredients but a slightly different entrée. That’s the story of the Great Big Bertha hybrids. Both the fairway woods and hybrids use the same technology suite, though the exact amount of each material is different.

With the hybrid, 78 grams of tungsten are positioned internally to “promote faster ball speeds and higher launch.” Another 22 grams of discretionary weight is the result of the titanium construction, bringing the total to 100 grams of repositioned weight per club.

While this is the first time Callaway has used Jailbreak with Batwing tech in a hybrid, the most obvious change is the shaping. Past versions (other than the Super Hybrid) tended to feature a more squared-off profile. This is particularly noticeable in the toe-section. For better players, the squared face matched well with a smaller, iron-like hybrid. Conversely, a rounder, fairway-like footprint is more in line with the expected Great Big Bertha hybrid consumer. The highest-lofted Great Big Bertha hybrid is the “Ocho” with a stamped loft of 32 degrees.

But with the adjustable hosel, you can get that up to 34. Personally, I’m half expecting to see a full set of premium hybrid-irons by this time next year. Seriously, why not?

My $0.05

I’m not the alpha buyer for Great Big Bertha. That said, it’s an intriguing release and one that I’m sure Callaway will watch rather closely. Currently, the plan is to update the uber-premium line every two years, presumably remaining under the Great Big Bertha moniker.

Part of me wonders whether a Callaway-branded product can sit comfortably in a collage of Maseratis and Porches at upscale, private courses. Put differently, you can spend $90K on a Hyundai Genesis G90 or BMW 7 series.  At a certain point, it’s no longer about the exact dollar figure.

The question is whether a mainline brand can create a sustainable, aspirational offshoot that resonates with the affluent golfer.

What do you think?

Specs, Pricing and Availability

As with the drivers, the stock shaft for this line is the UST Helium Nanocore which is available in a variety of weights/flexes.

The stock grip is a Winn Dri-Tac Lite.

The  Callaway Great Big Bertha hybrid is available in 18, 20, 23, 26, 29 and 32 degrees. The 29- and 32-degree models are right-hand only.

The Callaway Great Big Bertha fairway is available in 15, 18, 21 and 24 degrees. The 21- and 24-degree models are right-hand only.

Callaway’s Opti-Fit hosel allows fitters (and golfers) to reduce loft by one degree or increase it by two degrees and is included on all fairway wood and hybrid models.

Retail price is $499 (fairway) and $449 (hybrid). Availability begins Nov. 11.

For more information, visit CallawayGolf.com.

 

 

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