It seems fitting that Callaway announces its 3rd generation of Big Bertha irons and hybrids on the heels of Veteran’s Day. The product line, which first appeared in 1991 with the original Big Bertha driver, takes its name from the howitzer used by the German army during WWI. That piece of artillery tipped the scales at 47 tons. This one, Callaway promises, weighs quite a bit less but like its namesake, should provide mid and high handicap players with plenty of distance and ample forgiveness.
2019 Big Bertha Irons
Firmly in the SGI (super game-improvement) category, the 2019 Big Bertha Irons are slimmer than the Big Bertha OS irons released in 2016, though the engineering objective is largely the same – create an iron which launches higher and farther without sacrificing feel. Callaway feels the current edition improves in all areas.
The tech story revolves around a Suspended Energy Core, which Callaway declares is a first of its kind construction in the golf industry.
The core starts with a MIM’d (metal injection molding) tungsten weight which is 50% denser than the tungsten used by most OEMs. At this density (18 gr/cm3) it can’t be welded directly to steel, which is why most OEMs don’t employ it. However, because it is denser, it does a better job pushing the CG (center of gravity) lower in the club head to promote a higher launch.
The tungsten weight is wrapped in a TPU (thermoplastic elastomer) jacket which is then surrounded by urethane microspheres which are effectively microscopic glass bubbles inside a gooey plastic. Once hardened the urethane microspheres dampen unwanted vibrations and work in concert with Callaway’s thinnest 360 Cup Face to increase face flex and COR (ball speed).
Admittedly, the Big Bertha OS looked a bit clunky and lacked a solid feel. The refined physical structure is there in part to address the “hollow aluminum can” sensation of the Big Bertha OS and a Smokey PVD finish gives the irons a premium look for as long as it holds up.
The basic premise of SGI irons is greater distance through faster ball speeds and higher launch. Callaway believes its Suspended Energy Core broaches new territory in this category and will bolster its position as the #1 selling brand of irons in the world.
Callaway opted to go with the UST Recoil ESX or ZT9 as the stock graphite shaft and the KBS Max 90 as the steel offering.
Big Bertha Hybrids
Also geared toward mid/high handicap players, the Big Bertha hybrid serves as a line of demarcation as it combines two of Callaway’s defining technologies in a single package. The shorter (and lighter) adjustable hosel gives players opportunities to fine-tune launch and ball flight while Callaway’s signature Jailbreak technology works alongside the thin 455 Carpenter steel face to generate faster ball speeds as compared to the Big Bertha OS hybrid.
Jailbreak technology, which Callaway first introduced in the Epic driver, serves the same purpose in the Big Bertha hybrids. By stiffening the body, increased impact load is transferred to the club face to increase COR (trampoline effect).
All things being equal, adjustability is a beneficial technology for players though adapters are relatively heavy and work against a low/rear CG placement. To this end, Callaway designed an adapter which is shorter and 12 grams lighter than the previous iteration. Less weight above the centerline of the club head allowed Callaway engineers to position the CG lower in the club head to help promote a higher launch.
Like the Big Bertha irons, the darker finish is sleek and gives off an up-market vibe.
Players in Callaway’s target demographic continue to replace traditional irons with hybrids. As such, Callaway is extending this line to include both a 7 and 8 hybrid, affectionally named “The Ocho”. It’s a bold strategy Cotton, and one has to wonder how far off we are from a full set of discrete loft hybrids – 7-brid, 8-brid, anyone? As a point of reference, Callaway’s EPIC 8-iron has 34.5° of loft- The Big Bertha 8 hybrid has 33° of static loft.
The stock graphite shaft in the Big Bertha hybrid is the UST Recoil ESX or ZT9.
Retail availability for the 2019 Big Bertha Irons and Hybrids begins 1/18/19.
Retail price for an 8-piece iron set is $1,200 – steel, $1,300 – graphite.
Hybrids are $269.99 each.
For more information, visit CallawayGolf.com.