Rebranding a popular line of golf clubs has got to be a very daunting task. If you are from my generation, you remember the first popular metal golf clubs to hit were the Big Bertha line of drivers from Callaway. The market share at the time was very big; they ruled the "oversized" driver market until TaylorMade got wise to shift to titanium.
In the last five years, Callaway got away from Big Bertha line and frankly has struggled to find their identity. The most recent woods from Callaway have rebranded the Big Bertha line with new logos in particular a cartoon version of Sir Isaac Newton and his famous apple. They have also modernized the graphics and lettering of the Big Bertha clubs. They also released two drivers: the Big Bertha and the Big Bertha Alpha. You can read the other Big Bertha review here, this review is for the Alpha driver.
For the review I was given a nine degree driver along with a Stiff Fubuki Shaft. Let's dive in to see how this club performs.
Most of the new technology on the market today involves moving weight around the head of the driver. The biggest piece of technology in the Big Bertha Alpha is also movable weight but the Alpha does this in a very different way. With a technology Callaway is calling Gravity Core, the golfer can now change the spin that is imparted on the ball by moving the weight at the core, or inside, the driver. According to Callaway for the first time ever you can control the spin of the ball without changing the launch angle of the club. So now you can get completely optimized ball flights to hit the ball farther. So you want a low spin driver, you put the Gravity Core in one position, or if you want to hit it higher you can change the configuration.
The Gravity Core is positioned with a screw that is tightened with a wrench at the bottom of the club head. You simply unscrew the head and switch the position of the Gravity Core. The Gravity Core has only two positions. By moving the Gravity Core you can move the weight higher inside the clubhead or lower depending on your corresponding launch condition that you desire.
The adjustments don’t stop there. The hosel allows the golfer to change the loft and lie of the club easily by removing the shaft and making adjustments to the hosel and then retightening the shaft. Along with this there are two weight ports, one behind the heel and one behind the toe of the clubhead allowing the golfer to hit a draw or fade depending on the desired ball flight. With my clubhead I got a one gram weight and a seven gram weight to help with the adjustments.
All of these adjustments can be done with the same wrench, interestingly the screws on this club can be adjusted by the same wrench that TaylorMade utilizes. This is a nice feature as before one of my rounds the hosel screw had come loose and I did not have my wrench, but my friend had his TaylorMade wrench and I found I could adjust my clubs with his wrench.
The original Big Bertha was a very simple gray design. Since then drivers and fairway metals have gone through a number of paint configurations. The modern day Big Bertha Alpha is also very classically done. The colors are a navy blue along with red and chrome gray. These are colors from the original Big Bertha but they now take a much more prominent role in the club design. The Blue is now a bit shinier and modern along with the red. The color scheme is now traditional but brought into the twenty first century.
The top of the driver is done with a traditional dark blue and is not distracting in any way. The blue is so dark that it could easily be confused for black when you are looking at the driver inside a store or online. There are no graphics or markings on the top of the club. The face of the club is done in steel gray and has a darkened gray “X” on the face and a few scoring lines, again simple but modern.
The bottom of the clubface has the most action on the club. Your eyes will be drawn to the screw that holds the Gravity Core in place. The screw is surrounded by a red circle about a quarter of an inch thick but makes the club look very industrial. Most of the bottom of the clubhead stays with the chrome look. The chrome color forms a T that begins where the face and the bottom meet and goes to the back of the clubhead. After a few uses the chrome begins to wear a little and loses some of the sheen that a new club has. At the back of the club is the lettering identifying the club as the Big Bertha Alpha driver.
The rest of the back of the club is done in a lighter electric blue that is one of my favorite colors for a golf club. In the heel and toe of the clubface have the screw for the weight that allows the golfer to hit a fade or a draw. The screws are chrome and very reflective.
The heel of the club starts in the dark blue and then transitions into the black hosel adjustment tool. The hosel is marked with the settings that the club can be put into, the loft changes being very identifiable. The shaft starts from the club with an off white color transferring to blue color that is covered in grey stars.
The headcover is really a great design. It is very identifiable with its electric blue and red coloring. The blue is even done with a bright sheen as many of the Air Jordan shoes have. This is one of the best headcovers that I have seen in quite some time.
Playability and Feel
This driver has quite a few configurations that you can put it in so you should give it some time to play with all of the different settings before making any kind of judgments on it. The gravity core is one configuration that I found can make a pretty large difference in the feel of the club. I am not certain that it makes such a large difference with regard to backspin as Callaway claims that it does. The launch of the club definitely appears to be affected by moving around this weight.
The hosel adjustment which is modeled in a similar fashion to the Titleist driver also has a decent amount of adjustment as well. I did have an issue with adjusting the hosel, there are two sockets that need to fit together and the bottom socket was stuck in an original configuration and I could not get it loose. I think that some epoxy might have gotten in there during the shaft attachment process and locked that bottom socket in place. This did not stop me from playing around with the configurations but I had to go against the recommendation from Callaway to get the line on the shaft lined up with the proper configuration. I found that adding loft with the hosel and using the low spin gravity core position was the best set up for me.
The shaft that comes with alpha driver is a truly wonderful shaft. I think this is one of the reasons the price of this driver is so high. It is a great touch to put such a high end shaft into a driver like this. It does make the asking price a bit on the high side, but it makes the club perform wonderfully. At 45.5 the shaft is a bit on the longer side, but I found that I was still able to control the driver very well. For some golfers it may make sense to try and reduce the shaft length.
The feel of the clubhead was solid, especially when I hit the ball on the screws. Mishits were also solid, although my feeling was not as good when the ball was hit on the toe. When I hit the ball off the toe it would feel as though the club was twisting in my hands and the ball felt like it went nowhere. It also seemed to be more penalizing in this regard in terms of distance than most of the other clubs I have measured. The driver also did not fair well in terms of distance when struck higher on the face. I seemed to have lost much more distance that I was expecting there was well.
Bringing back such a classic such as the Big Bertha was always going be a challenge but in my opinion Callaway has done a more than respectable job. The Big Bertha Alpha is really a great club. It is at the higher end of the pricing structure for drivers but with a premium shaft one should expect to pay a bit more. The driver is solid in almost every respect and should be a consideration for golfers wanting to get a new driver.
With this driver release Callaway is looking like they are trying very seriously to gain back market share. I was pleasantly surprised at how well this driver performed for me.