Introduced in February 2014, the Callaway Big Bertha Alpha has created some amazing buzz. According to Callaway, it’s the most technologically advanced driver the company has ever made. That’s saying a lot, but after reading up on its specs I think they’re right. It just might be Callaway’s best driver for “better players” in several years. This review will describe some of its features.
Here’s the biggest news regarding the Big Bertha Alpha: it’s the first driver to let players make independent adjustments to four important driver performance characteristics. With some drivers, you can’t adjust anything. Some let you adjust the loft; others let you adjust the loft and face angle. A few let you adjust the loft, the face angle and the center of gravity to promote a draw or a straight shot. But the Callaway Big Bertha Alpha is the first-ever driver to let you adjust all those parameters and also adjust the height of the head’s center of gravity. This isn’t merely “news” – it’s a big-deal bombshell. This Callaway club sets an entirely new standard for adjustability and flexibility.
Everyone’s swing is different. Now, if you’re playing a Callaway Big Bertha Alpha, you can customize four different important performance characteristics to suit your individual swing and optimize your drives.
By using an included handheld torque wrench and the “Gravity Core” (a little piece of metal you insert into a port in the center of the sole), you can now adjust the amount of backspin the driver generates without affecting the launch angle. Ordinarily, launch angle and backspin are linked, but Callaway’s Gravity Core smashes that connection to smithereens.
Adjusting the head’s center of gravity with the Gravity Core couldn’t be simpler. You unscrew the port’s cover and insert the Gravity Core, with its heavier tip either up or down. Tighten it up and you’re done. Depending on which way you point the heavier tip (toward the center of the head or toward the sole) you’ll either raise or lower the head’s center of gravity. Voila, you’ve altered the club’s spin rates without changing your loft and launch angles.
Here’s why this is such a big deal: too much or too little backspin can affect the distance of your drives. As a general rule, the higher the loft of the club, the more spin it will generate. The key is to find the right combination of loft/launch angle and spin, meaning the combination which promotes drives with the longest carries that still land at the right angle to provide the longest rollouts. Because everyone’s swing is different, that “right combination” differs from golfer to golfer. The Gravity Core lets you adjust the height of the club’s center of gravity and modify spin rates without having to also change the loft or launch angle. For some players it can make a big difference in distance and ball flight.
Above and beyond the Gravity Core setup, the Callaway Big Bertha Alpha also has an adjustable hosel. It lets you independently adjust the club’s loft and lie angle to maximize your distance. You can choose from two different lie angles – “D” to promote a draw, or “N” to promote a straight shot. You can also adjust the loft down a degree, up a degree, or up two degrees (of course, you can also stick with the “base” loft of the club). Eight different combinations of loft and lie angle are possible. Find the right combo and it could help improve your distance and shot dispersion.
On top of all that, the Callaway Big Bertha Alpha also lets you adjust the head’s center of gravity perimeter-wise to promote the shot shape you want. Four interchangeable weights come with the club (1-gram, 3-gram, 5-gram and 7-gram). Screw one of these weights into the port in the toe and another into the port at the heel of the head. Depending on which weights you use and where you place them, you’ll promote a different shot shape (and make the overall weight of the head either lighter or heavier).
The pear-shaped crown is made of Callaway’s strong but lightweight forged composite (see our review of the Callaway RAZR Fit Xtreme driver for a description of its advantages). In short, it’s what allows the Callaway Big Bertha Alpha to have all its adjustment mechanisms without becoming too heavy. The stock shaft is the increasingly popular Mitsubishi Rayon Fubuki Zeta Tour.
At $499 MSRP, the Callaway Big Bertha Alpha is expensive. It also emphasizes adjustability much more than forgiveness. Both factors mean it’s probably most suitable to “better players” who are looking for the best possible launch conditions.