Callaway Stages a Comeback with Two New Big Bertha Alpha Drivers

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Callaway’s new clubs push the limits of club design and engineering. 

In the last two years, under new leadership, Callaway has staged a nice comeback. The company has returned to its roots as a premium brand that produces only products that push the limits of golf club design and engineering. The reintroduction of the Big Bertha brand for 2014 was definitely well received. Both the Big Bertha and Big Bertha Alpha drivers were popular and had golfers legitimately looking at Callaway for the first time in years. On November 14 Callaway is releasing two new Big Bertha drivers for the 2015 season. We recently had the opportunity to test the Big Bertha Alpha 815 versus its predecessor the Big Bertha from 2014.

For 2015 Callaway is launching two new Big Bertha Alpha drivers.

One will be known as the 815, while the other is the 815 Double Black Diamond (like the skiing slope). Both are packed with technology. Each driver features Callaway’s Forged Composite Crown that allows the manufacturer more discretionary weight to locate in beneficial areas within the head. Both drivers also feature Callaway’s Gravity Core, a new technology in 2014 that allows a player to adjust the center of gravity and therefore the spin their driver imparts on the ball by orienting a rod that runs from the sole to the crown (more on that later). New for 2015 is Callaway’s R-Moto technology, which supports the face of the driver, allowing designers to make it thinner than ever. The standard 815 is intended for the masses while the Double Black Diamond is definitely for the better player. We put them both to the test. 

The Big Bertha 815 Test

Our Big Bertha 815 tester was a six handicap that is consistent off the tee and a little shorter than the average player. We put the 815 up against the Big Bertha that was introduced for 2014. Both drivers had 10.5 degrees of loft and a stiff flex shaft. Titleist Pro V1 golf balls were used for the testing. Here are the results as measured by TrackMan. 

Results of the Big Bertha 815 Test 

Our tester noticed immediate results. With over 3 mph less club speed, our tester actually picked up ball speed, and a lot of it. Three mph more ball speed, combined with a lower launch angle and reduced spin led to 6 yards of additional carry and 10 yards of additional distance. That’s almost 5% longer.

Our tester was also much more consistent with the Big Bertha Alpha 815. All but one of his shots with the 2014 Big Bertha was shorter than his shortest 815 ball. We loved how similar the trajectories were with each of his 815 test shots.

image1Conclusion: The 815 is faster and more consistent, with a huge range of adjustability. 

In this case, our test really wasn’t much of a test. The Big Bertha Alpha 815 was much faster off the face (even at a lower clubhead speed) and much more consistent for our tester. Given the 815’s incorporation of Callway’s Gravity Core and the player’s ability to tweak spin, this driver has a lot going for it. 

To throw more fuel on the fire, Callaway has 16 (that’s right SIXTEEN) premium shaft offerings available at absolutely no upcharge. Shafts that usually cost hundreds of dollars like Aldila’s Rogue or Fujikura’s Speeder are available here for not a penny more.

We love the direction Callaway is headed, and we’re looking forward to using the adjustability and shaft offerings of the Big Bertha 815 to maximize distance. 


image3Big Bertha Alpha 815 Double Black Diamond: A Driver for Better Players

The deeper profile and increased workability of the Double Black Diamond is definitely intended for the better player. One look at its sleek dark finish will tell you that. For this driver we knew we had to get not only a good player, but also a consistent player that could really help us determine how this driver stacks up to the popular Big Bertha Alpha from 2014. 

The Alpha 815 Test 

Our tester is a former collegiate player that plays to a scratch and has a ton of clubhead speed at almost 115 mph. In fact, every single ball our tester hit ended up over 300 yards! Our tester has also been using his 2014 Big Bertha Alpha since it came out. Both drivers were tested at 9 degrees of loft with stiff flex shafts. The Mitsubishi Fubuki Zeta Tour was used in the 2014 Alpha and the new Aldila Rogue in the Double Black Diamond. Tilteist Pro V1 golf balls were used for the test.

Here are the results as measured by TrackMan.

image4Results of the 815 Alpha vs. 2014 Alpha Test 

A player of this caliber has the ability to hit all drivers well. In fact, the measure of a great driver and just an ok driver is much less than that of a less skilled golfer. As you might imagine, the better player has the ability to adjust to a club much better than the average player. When looking at the results, what stood out first were the best and worst shots. During our test his best drive was with the Double Black Diamond and his worst came with the 2014 Big Bertha Alpha.

Our tester was able to generate almost 4 mph more ball speed with the Double Black Diamond versus the 2014 Alpha, from club speed that was just 1.8 mph faster. The increased ball speed, combined with a slightly lower launch led to an average increase in carry of 7 yards, for a total of 6 yards. That is rather significant for a player of this caliber. The Double Black Diamond was also very consistent. The tester couldn’t help but compliment the improved look and feel.
image6Conclusion: The Double Black Diamond is a Significant Step Up from the 2014 Big Bertha Alpha 

The Big Bertha Alpha Double Black Diamond (who names these things anyway?) is a slight but significant step up from the 2014 Big Bertha Alpha. Once again we love the 16 premium shaft options that are available at no additional charge. The Double Black Diamond is clearly intended for better players, but we think they’ll love it.

Callaway’s Gravity Core

We’ve been using Callaway’s Gravity Core to tweak spin rates for a little over a year. The Gravity Core was a new technology introduced in the 2014 Big Bertha Alpha driver. The Gravity Core is essentially a stick with one end heavier than the other. Accessed from the sole of the driver, the Gravity Core can be oriented with the heavy side positioned at the top of the club near the crown or at the bottom of the club near the sole. The change moves the Center of Gravity upward or downward increasing or decreasing spin. The significance of the technology is really in its independence from the face. Other spin increasing or decreasing technologies are either fixed, not allowing adjustability, or require a change in loft and face angle. That is not always something a player wants.

With the new deeper design of Callaway’s Big Bertha Double Black Diamond, in theory the Gravity Core should have an even greater effect on spin rate. That’s because the Center of Gravity will shift more, since the weighted end of the gravity core moves a farther distance. While we had the new Big Bertha Alpha Double Black Diamond out for a test drive we thought we’d measure the effects of the Gravity Core, too.

Callaway claims the Gravity Core can affect spin rate at an average of 200-300 RPM’s for some and even more for others. We had our tester, a scratch golfer with significant club speed, hit the same driver with the Gravity Core in both positions and measured the results with our TrackMan.

image7As you can see, for our tester the Gravity Core switch brought down his spin rate on average a little more than 200 RPM. That change lowered his overall ball flight casing the ball to travel an average of 10.6’ lower at its apex (max height). The angle at which his ball descended into the ground (land angle) was reduced by 3 degrees allowing for 3.5 yards of additional role. Furthermore, the increased spin with the Gravity Core in the up position was too much for our tester and cost him distance through the air as well.

Conclusion: The Adjustability of the Core Can Help Optimize Your Drives 

What we love about technology like Callaway’s Gravity Core is its adjustability. Whether up or down is better for you, you’ll be able to easily and cheaply (it’s free) adjust the core and experiment. During our test the Gravity Core did hold up to Callaway’s claim of being able to adjust 200 RPM of spin. We think that’s cool. Whether you have the 2014 Big Bertha Alpha or plan to purchase one of the new Big Bertha Alpha 815, we’re happy to help you adjust your Gravity Core to optimize your drives.

 

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