In 2016, Callaway’s goal is greater distance and greater playability for players of all skill levels. The Great Big Bertha line will suit a larger group of players, while stronger players will want to take a look at the Alpha 816 line. Both offer players the ability to adjust loft and lie, as well as to configure the club’s weight distribution for their preferred shot shape.
Callaway Great Big Bertha Driver
Club Tested: GBB Driver Shaft: Mitsubishi Kura Kage TiNi 50; Flex: Stiff; Loft: 9°
The 2016 Great Big Bertha has some noticeable changes from the 2015 version starting with addition of Adjustable Perimeter Weighting. There is now a 10 gram weight on the perimeter of the club head to add stability and offer players a stronger fade or hook bias by just simply moving the weight into a different position, all without sacrificing forgiveness. This head also has Callaway’s next generation R*Moto Technology which provides a thinner face, leading to higher ball speeds on all center hits and off-center hits too. The aerodynamic head shape and multi-material allows for a lightweight club design for higher club head speeds.
Who’s It For?
Unlike the 2015 version, this year’s model will fit a larger range of players due to a much lower spin rate and an excellent range of shaft weights and designs. These updates allow this head to really cover most any player, even tour players like Jim Furyk.
I really like the changes that were done to this year’s GBB. It’s shape is more in line with the Alpha 816 than in the past. The head is somewhat shallow compared to most driver heads with a very narrow heel area that works to a much larger toe area. This gives the head the look that it’s quite upright at address and sits quite square. Also at address you cannot miss the “murdered out” black crown (flat black dull finish) with the chevron alignment aid. I found the feeling of this head to produce a solid feel with a very muted sound, I found both appealing. My launch and spin were also excellent with a nice penetrating flight that fits my eye to a tee. The Kura Kage Tini 50 shaft felt light but was easy to control. With a huge assortment of upgraded shafts and Udesign offerings (design your own GGB driver color wise) makes the 2016 GGB a great new addition to the Callaway driver lineup.
Callaway Big Bertha Alpha 816 DBD Driver
Club Tested: Big Bertha Alpha 816 DBD Driver Shaft: Aldila Rogue Silver I/O 60; Flex: Stiff; Loft: 9°
New for 2016 the Big Bertha Alpha 816 features extreme distance from the Dual Distance Chambers from their Gravity Core weight. By placing the Core up or down, or in the left or right Chamber, players can change the ball flight and control the bias. It can also can increase ball speed and help with shot-shaping control. The Alpha 816 incorporates the new Next Gen R*Moto Technology providing a thinner face, leading to higher ball speeds on all center hits and off-center hits too. The deeper faced classic shaped head with a low center of gravity produces just the right amount of forgiveness and workability.
Who’s It For?
The Alpha 816 is suited towards the better player who produces medium-high to higher swing speeds. This is a low center of gravity head which produces a lower spin rate to combat the high spin issues that come with a higher swing speeds or a player that flat out just produces too much spin for their swing speed. There are plenty of adjustments for the real technical players that like to dial in their launch monitor numbers to achieve max distance and shot shape.
The Alpha 816 Driver has a simple classic look and is the perfect size in my book, it is not too big, nor too small of a footprint. The gorgeous flat black crown has a raised Chevron alignment aid. The face sits slightly open and seems to have more loft than the stated number at address which will help player’s confidence when addressing the ball. The face is deep and very evenly distributed from heel to toe. I found the feeling was very solid and produced a very muted sound. The ball flight was a touch on the low side, but I think this is mainly because my swing speed is just not quite fast enough to create the proper lift from this low spinning 9 degree head. That said, add in excellent adjustability, a huge variety of no upcharge shafts and UDesign for true customizing and you have a winner for 2016.
Callaway Great Big Bertha Fairway Woods
Club Tested: 3-Wood Shaft: Mitsubishi Kura Kage TiNi 50; Flex: Stiff; Loft: 15°
Callaway’s new GBB Fairway models produces higher ball speeds from their Forged Cup Face Technology. The Hyper Speed Face Cup produces high speeds on center hits and off-center hits. The head is larger than most fairways which creates more surface area and a higher MOI resulting in extra forgiveness. The sole plate offers players the ability to use these woods from all sorts of lies with a mid-launching trajectory. The OptiFit offers simple but effective hosel adjustments to help dial in the head.
Who’s It For?
The new GGB Fairway models are design for the players that love to use their Fairway woods often. The addition of the Heavenwood (20 degrees of loft) and the Divine Nine (24 degrees of loft) gives players who struggle with hybrids the perfect option from a fairway model. It fits really well for those that have issues elevating the ball as the shallow face design produces a lower center of gravity to help increase launch angles.
Off the Deck, I had zero issues elevating the GGB with its low center of gravity off the deck, even from a nice tight fairway lie. With its shallow face off the tee I made sure to tee the ball up fairly low and it produced a nice tight, medium penetrating ball flight. This year’s model was definitely a lower ball flight than last year’s version for me. With the larger head size, I would stick with the higher lofted heads for the majority of lies in the rough, unless your ball is sitting up nicely. The larger area tends to grab the grass more which could produce a loss of control and a very low launch angle.
I found the flat black crown quite appealing and this head was very easy to hit with surprisingly less spin than the past offering. Even with its lower center of gravity and shallow face I was able to produce a nice mid-high penetrating ball flight. Only a few off-center hits produced some high spin, high launch “powder puffers”. Off the tee and off the deck I had zero issues elevating the 15 degree head. Like the driver the feel was very solid and somewhat muted in sound. I found the club was very light in feel to me with the 50 gram shaft but I did not lose as much control as I would have thought.
Callaway Big Bertha Alpha 816 Fairway Woods
Club Tested: 3-Wood Shaft: Aldila Rogue Silver Rip I/O 70; Flex: Stiff; Loft: 14°
Callaway’s Cup Face Technology generates high ball speeds on center hits and off-center shots. Tour preferred CG positions are achieved by positioning the 3g and 16g weights front or back to lower spin or improve forgiveness. The weights can also be positioned for a longer option off the tee or more playable for approach shots into greens. A slightly larger modern shape and sole design to this head provides more MOI than you would expect out of an elite, players fairway wood. The sole design gives players control from a variety of lies. The matte black finish provides an uncluttered look at address.
Who’s It For?
The Big Bertha Alpha 816 is suited towards stronger players and players with higher club head speeds who want the ability to maximize adjustability through face and lie adjustments as well as weight positioning that can produce a desired shot shape.
Classic Callaway appearance from this fairway wood. The matte colorway is clean and simple with a very square look at address. The ball flight with the heavier weight forward produced a flatter, more penetrating ball flight. I found the head felt very solid and the strike provided enough feedback to the hands to know where on the face you hit your shot, with great workability too.