Alan Hocknell talks Great Big Bertha and Alpha 816

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We tracked down Callaway’s Head of Research and Development Alan Hocknell to get the lowdown on the new drivers, this is what he told us:

TG: It's almost 25 years since the original Great Big Bertha hit the shops, what’s new with this new incarnation?

AH: The new GBB blends some of our most advanced driver technologies into one club. It features the R-Moto face, a forged composite crown and a new highly engineered sliding weight around the perimeter of the head. This gives ultimate control in shot shape whilst maintaining forgiveness.

TG: How different is the new Great Big Bertha to last year's Big Bertha?

AH: There are several key differences between GBB and last year’s BB. It’s lighter weight, helps improve club head speed and feel. It’s lower spinning, which helps golfers reduce their backspin for more distance. It’s more draw capable, which helps golfers minimize a slice and hit straighter drives. There’s also a higher MOI, which helps raise ball speed and improve launch conditions on shots not hit in the centre of the face.  And lastly, the head shape is more aerodynamic, which helps contribute to higher head speeds and consequently more distance. 

TG: Does the slide rail offer anymore adjustability than last year's driver?

AH: The overall dispersion pattern that results from moving the sliding weight is similar but the GBB is more draw capable, which helps golfers who struggle with a slice.

TG: Has the R-Moto face really been improved? How?

AH: The R-MOTO face has been fine tuned to take even more weight out of the face, which ultimately is repositioned back into the club head to help improve performance.

TG: How much of a draw can be generated with the slide rail weight set to the maximum draw position?

AH: The difference in dispersion between the two extremes is about 18 yds.

TG: Who is the Great Big Bertha aimed at? Which type of golfer will benefit most from it?

AH: One of the unique things about the GBB is that it appeals to nearly every type of golfer. From beginners all the way up to tour pros, especially when you consider how many shaft options are provided. 

TG: With the new Bassara 43g shaft coming as a standard shaft offering, is this a "Speed" orientated driver?   

AH: The Bassara shaft is one of many shafts golfers can get with this driver, and it’s one of the 2 primary shaft offerings. We used the same shaft in our V-Series driver, which was designed to make the club easy to swing, to give golfers with slow to moderate head speeds a little more speed at impact.

TG: Moving onto the new Big Bertha Alpha 816 Double Black Diamond driver… What’s new compared to the 815?

AH: The new 816 combines the low spin characteristics of the 815 DBD with the forgiveness of the standard 815. The gravity core is closer to the perimeter of the club head, which raises the MOI. 

TG: How different is the 816 compared to the 815?

AH: The 816 features all the adjustability of the 815 models, making it our most comprehensive fitting platform. But its a lot more forgiving, particularly on shots hit high on the face which is a common mishit for better players.

TG: How much of a draw or fade bias can be created, by switching the weight and gravity core?

AH: The difference in dispersion between the draw and neutral settings is about 14 yds.

TG: Can you explain how matching the gravity core to your impact position increases ball speed?

AH: By more closely aligning the CG to the golfer’s impact location, the efficiency of the impact improves. There is less twisting of the clubhead at impact which results in higher smash factors and greater ball speed.

TG: Who is the 816 aimed at? Which type of golfer will benefit most from it?

AH: The 816 driver is definitely designed and configured with better players in mind. Generally speaking, it’s for players who tend to have fairly consistent and efficient swings but are looking to fine tune their trajectory and shot shape to optimize distance and control. 

TG: A D4 Swingweight is quite high, are swingweights generally getting heavier?

AH: While D4 is higher than some of our other products, it’s consistent with the type of configuration that’s preferred by better players.