Some golfers need a driver with a low center of gravity, while others need a driver with a higher center of gravity. Callaway’s two new Big Bertha Alpha drivers are designed to help both types of players.
The Big Bertha Alpha 815 ($449) and Big Bertha 815 Double Black Diamond ($499) use two distinct shapes and three forms of adjustability to help golfers dial in the launch, spin and shot shape that will give them maximum distance. They’ll be in stores November 13.
The hallmark of the two new drivers is the inclusion of Callaway’s Gravity Core technology, which allows golfers to adjust each driver’s center of gravity (CG) lower or higher in the clubhead.
It works like this: Insert the Gravity Core with its heavy side down (closer to the sole) and the driver will produce less spin. Position the Gravity Core with its heavy side up and the driver will produce more spin.
More spin? “Who needs that,” you might be saying.
According to Evan Gibbs, Callaway’s manager of performance analysis, plenty of golfers.
Callaway debuted the Gravity Core in its 2013 Big Bertha Alpha driver. While it wasn’t as popular as the company’s 2013 Big Bertha driver, it was an important fitting tool for many golfers on the PGA and European tours.
“If 90 percent of the players were in the low-CG position, we’d say, ‘we don’t need this mid-CG position,’” Gibbs said. “But the split was about even. That validated that there was value in having this Gravity Core.”
It’s not just better players, however, who can benefit from a higher CG.
“Some people need a little big higher CG in order to generate enough spin,” he said. “And if a player tends to contact the ball high on the face, they tend to lose ball speed with a low-CG club.”
The new Big Bertha Alpha 815 brings the Gravity Core to a driver that is much more forgiving than the 2013 Big Bertha Alpha. It’s built on a 460-cubic-centimeter chassis that’s similar to the 2013’s Big Bertha driver, with a large profile at address that boosts its moment of inertia (MOI) to make it more forgiving.
The Big Bertha 815 also has a Forged Composite crown that makes it surprisingly low spinning for its level of forgiveness — unless the Gravity Core is in the “up” position, that is.
The Double Black Diamond has all the technology the Alpha 815 has, but as its name indicates it was designed for experts. The low, forward CG position that allows it to be so low spinning also makes it the company’s least forgiving driver for 2015. In other words, golfers should steer clear of the Double Black Diamond if their main goal is to improve performance on mishits.
According to Gibbs, the Double Black Diamond is about 100 rpm lower spinning than its predecessor, the 2013 Big Bertha Alpha, and it adds more forgiveness to shots hit high on its face. That’s partly thanks to the company’s new RMOTO technology (also used in the Alpha 815), which is a new geometry on the inside of the club head that allowed engineers to remove about 3 grams of weight from the face and place it lower and deeper in the head to improve MOI.
Visually, the Double Black Diamond has a rounder, more opened appearance at address that should resonate with better players.
Enough talk, where are the numbers?
I had a chance to test the Big Bertha Alpha 815, the Double Black Diamond and Big Bertha V-Series drivers at Callaway’s Ely Callaway Performance Center in Carlsbad, Calif., on a Doppler Radar launch monitor to see just how different the three drivers would perform.
Each of the drivers was hit with the same shaft and had nearly identical measured lofts. Each driver was also tested with the same shaft, a Mitsubishi Rayon Second-Generation Plus-Series Diamana White Board 70TX at 45 inches.
Testing process: I hit about six shots with each club in the following order: V-Series, Double Black Diamond and Alpha 815. I then hit about five more shots with each club and they were hit in the same order. The outliers – those one or two shots that were radically different from the eight or nine other shots – were then deleted to create these averages below.
The numbers explained
Don’t walk away from this story thinking that the Double Black Diamond is Callaway’s best driver for 2015 because of my experience. What’s important is to notice the distinct performance of each head.
V-Series is Callaway’s most forgiving 2015 driver, with a CG that is higher and more rearward than the other drivers in the line. For most golfers, this will translate to more consistent ball speeds across the face, but it will also contribute to the lower launch and higher spin that I saw in my testing.
This will likely be Callaway’s most popular driver, both at retail and on the professional tours, because of its balanced design. My numbers show its ability to launch the high with a fairly low amount of spin and still retain a high level of ball speed on mishits.
Double Black Diamond
Most golfers won’t be a fit for a Double Black Diamond, but when they are the results will be fantastic. With nearly identical builds, the Double Black Diamond was an average of 9 yards longer than the V-Series thanks to its higher launch and lower spin.
How did they perform on mishits?
I saw a ball speed variance of 4.4 mph with the Double Black Diamond. That doesn’t sound like much, but it was by far the worst of the three models. The Alpha 815’s ball speed variance was a mere 3.3 mph, while the V-Series was just 1.7 mph.
Shafts and Specs
The Alpha 815 driver will be available in lofts of 9, 10.5 and 12 degrees and comes stock with Fujikura’s Motore Speeder 565. The Double Black Diamond will come in lofts of 9 and 10.5 degrees with Aldila’s Rogue Silver 60 shaft.
Don’t like those offerings? Callaway is offering the following 13 shaft options at no upcharge:
- Mitsubishi Rayon Bassara 42
- Mitsubishi Rayon Bassara 52
- Matrix Ozik White Tie 50
- Aldila Rogue Silver 60
- Matrix Ozik Black Tie 70
- Fujikura Motore Speeder 565
- Fujikura Motore Speeder 665
- Fujikura Motore Speeder 765
- Second-Generation Mitsubishi Diamana S+ 62
- Matrix Ozik Red Tie 60
- Mitsubishi Rayon Fubuki ZT 60
- Mitsubishi Rayon Fubuki Z 50
- Aldila Tour Green
The Alpha 815 comes stock with 7-gram and 1-gram interchangeable heel-and-toe weights, while the Double Black Diamond comes stock with 5-gram and 1-gram weights. Moving the heavier weight to the toe of the club will create more fade bias, while moving it to the heel of the club will create more draw bias.
Both drivers also use Callaway’s new Opti-Force hosel, which is slimmer than previous versions yet is still compatible with 2013 driver models. It’s 3-degree range of adjustability (2 degrees up, 1 degree down in 1-degree increments) also includes two independent lie angle settings: neutral and upright (more draw bias).