In the last two years, Callaway Golf has seen its U.S. dollar share in golf equipment sales — that is the amount of money consumers spend on Callaway’s clubs versus other companies’ clubs — grow 37 percent.
The company’s growth points to several factors, such as the strong play of Callaway Staff members and the revival of iconic golf clubs names such as Big Bertha and Apex. Inside company headquarters, however, there seems to be one key development that sounds through the halls of its R&D department, its marketing team and even CEO Chip Brewer. It’s the face cup technology that debuted on Callaway’s 2013 X Hot line of fairway woods.
Remember when Phil Mickelson used Callaway’s X Hot 3Deep fairway wood as his driver in route to winning the Scottish Open and Open Championship in back-to-back weeks? The extra distance he was getting from his 3 wood was thanks to a face cup.
Last year, Callaway added face cups to its X2 Hot and X2 Hot Pro hybrids to much fanfare and a perfect showing in our 2014 Gear Trials: Best Hybrids list. And now, for the first time, face cups will make an appearance in a Callaway iron: the 2015 Big Bertha.
The debut of face cup technology in the new Big Bertha irons comes with a bold claim of more distance. Just how much more? According to Callaway, the Big Bertha irons will be up to two clubs longer for certain golfers.
Note: Callaway’s distance claim is based on head-to-head testing against its 2011 RAZR X HL irons.
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Let’s be clear: not every type of golfer is going to see game-changing distance from the new irons, nor will every golfer want it. Many better players will hit the Big Bertha irons too high, struggle to work they ball with them and they probably won’t enjoy their appearance at address, either. They’re larger than the company’s current Apex and X2 Hot irons, with wide soles, generous blade lengths and quite a bit of offset.
A Big Bertha 5 iron at address
Scott Manwaring, Callaway’s director of design, put it this way:
[quote_box_center]“[The Big Bertha irons] are for center-of-the-green players. They’re past aiming for pins and they’re not necessarily working on their game.”[/quote_box_center]
One of the easiest ways for golfers to hit more greens is to hit a shorter club into those greens, which is why the Big Bertha irons were designed with two parts. The first part is a lightweight face cup that’s made to be as hot as possible. Those faces are welded to the second part: stainless steel bodies that move weight low in the head for a higher launch. Both the club heads and faces are cast from 17-4 stainless steel.
So what creates all the distance? The face cups, of course. Their construction allows for extremely deep undercuts that sit behind the bottom of the club faces and act as hinges at impact. The more these hinges bend, Manwaring said, the more ball speed can be created, which is why the hinges are shaped to create as much bending as possible. The theory is similar to the one that has companies putting slots in its metal woods and irons for more distance, although Manwaring believes the benefits of face cups outweigh those of slots.
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The Big Bertha irons ($999 steel, $1099 graphite) are available in 4-PW, AW and SW, although most golfers who are a fit for the clubs might want to skip the long irons. For them, Callaway has designed Big Bertha hybrids, which are adjustable to help golfers fill the distance gaps the long-flying irons are sure to create. The hybrids use the same Opti-Fit hosels as the company’s Big Bertha drivers, giving them a 3-degree range of loft adjustability and two independent lie angle settings: neutral and upright.
The Big Bertha hybrids also have the same 455 Carpenter Steel Hyper Speed Face Cups as Callaway’s X2 Hot hybrids, although they have a larger, more fairway-wood like shape than those hybrids. That makes them more forgiving and slightly higher spinning.
They’re available in the following models: 3H (19 degrees), 4H (22 degrees), 5H (25 degrees), 6H (28 degrees) and 7H (31 degrees). By themselves, the hybrids sell for $249 each, but golfers can create an 8-piece Big Bertha combo set with 2 hybrids and 6 irons for $1299.
The Big Bertha irons and hybrids will be in stores October 17.
Click here to see what GolfWRX Members are saying about the 2015 Big Bertha irons in our forum.