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Callaway Unveils Great Big Bertha Epic Drivers, Fairway Woods

January 4, 2017

Back in 2014, Callaway unveiled an innovative technology with its Big Bertha Alpha driver — players inserted a rod through the sole to shift the club’s CG higher or lower. The rod also connected the crown and the sole, which stiffened the body and caused the face to react differently at impact than previous models. Thus began a multiyear R&D project to study the relationship between body stiffness and face flex. The fruits of that labor are found in two new multimaterial drivers: the Great Big Bertha Epic and the Great Big Bertha Epic Sub Zero.

“Our new driver family represents a breakthrough in technology, innovation and performance,” says Evan Gibbs, Callaway’s director of R&D for woods. “First and foremost, ‘Jailbreak’ technology consists of two 3-gram titanium bars that connect the crown and sole near the face and fundamentally change the way the body and face behave at impact.” The company says a rigid body combined with a more flexible (and thinner) face reduces the amount of ball deformation at impact, which leads to better energy transfer, faster ball speed, and, ultimately, longer drives.

Additional shared design components include a triaxial carbon crown and a strong, light titanium body (called an “exo-cage”). The woven fiber crown — 64 percent lighter than the crown in the XR16 driver — saves 10 grams compared with a standard titanium crown. Plus, large sections of the sole are filled with composite, so up to 37 grams can be used at the designers’ discretion. And the updated aerodynamic “Speed Step” crown triggers an uptick in head speed and ball speed. Both 460 cc models also have OptiFit hosel technology (-1° to +2°) for additional loft options.

The biggest difference between the clubs lies in their moveable weights. Here’s more.

Callaway Great Big Bertha Epic Driver

The standard Epic has a sliding weight tucked into the back of the head to help control shot shape and straighten wayward drives: The club’s heel/toe settings offer up to 21 yards of directional difference and 450 rpm of sidespin. Callaway’s most adjustable driver has 13 percent higher MOI, and 18 percent tighter shot dispersion than the previous GBB. Stock shafts include the Aldila Rogue Max, Fujikura Pro Green, Mitsubishi Diamana Greenboard and Project X Hzrdus Green. $500; in stores January 27th.

Callaway GBB Epic Sub Zero Driver

The Sub Zero has removable 12- and 2-gram sole weights for spin and trajectory control. The heavier weight in the rear generates 200 rpm more spin and a higher launch. (The club has 150 rpm less spin than the Epic in this setting, and 350 rpm less with the 12-gram weight near the face.) Plus, the Sub Zero is more forgiving than the typical low spin driver — it has 43 percent higher MOI than the Big Bertha Alpha 816, and with the 12-gram weight in the rear, has even a higher MOI than the regular Epic. Still, the Epic is more forgiving overall and fits a wider segment of players because of CG location, draw bias and shot-shape adjustability. The Sub Zero comes standard with the Aldila Rogue Max shaft. $500; in stores January 27th.

Callaway Great Big Bertha Epic Fairway Woods

Matching GBB Epic fairway woods have one distinct difference from big brother: No Jailbreak construction. (Our money is on a similar Jailbreak technology in future versions.) The woods have a lightweight triaxial carbon crown to save weight high in the head and shift mass lower. (Its crown is 20 grams lighter than the steel one in XR16 fairway woods.) As a result, these new sticks produce, on average, 200 rpm less spin than even last year’s GBB fairway woods. Plus, the updated face cup boosts ball speeds on misses across the face while the Speed Step design crown improves aerodynamics (though, not as much as with larger driver heads). With the OptiFit hosel, players can adjust loft -1° to +2°. The GBB Epic comes in 3+ (14°), 3 (15°), 5 (18°), 7 (21°), 9 (24°), and Heavenwood (4-wood length; 20.5°) with Aldila Rogue Max, Fujikura Pro, Mitsubishi Diamana Greenboard and Project X Hzrdus shafts. $280; in stores January 27th.

Callaway GBB Epic Sub Zero Fairway Woods

Many of the same technologies found in the Epic woods are also found in the Sub Zero version, including a triaxial carbon crown, refined face cup and upgraded Speed Step crown. And, similar to the Sub Zero driver, two interchangeable sole weights give players the freedom to tweak launch, and spin by 250 rpm. Positioning the heavier weight (in this case, 22 grams) closer to the face and lighter one (3 grams) toward the back of the head generates lower launch, less spin and a flatter ball flight. The Sub Zero comes in 3+ (13.5°), 3 (15°) and 5 (18°) with the Aldila Rogue Max shaft. $280; in stores January 27th.