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Callaway Big Bertha Irons and Hybrids

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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.

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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.

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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]

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Specs

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Click here to see what GolfWRX Members are saying about the 2015 Big Bertha irons in our forum.

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52 Comments

  1. Want to buy em

    Feb 15, 2015 at 5:40 pm

    When will the price drop
    Hate to buy em and a week later
    Could’ve got em for $300 less

  2. Mark

    Nov 20, 2014 at 11:11 pm

    I hit the alpha Hybrid during some testing and gained 30 yards consistently on the hybrid. current 3 hybrid is a 250 club worth 260 on a perfect strike, and hit the alpha 280 repetatively but 290 on a perfect strike. couldn’t even feel the ball off of the face. I can’t wait for another day of testing more product.

  3. Bert

    Nov 3, 2014 at 1:13 pm

    Wife decided her new Mizuno’s were out of the bag and going in were the 2015 Big Bertha irons with “Recoil” shafts. Lucky she hesitated and asked the right questions and I did the research and found the supposed Recoil shafts are not offered by Callaway and to get “real” Recoil shafts you must pay a $75 upgrade per club. Now think about it; Callaway charges you $75 upgrade for a $40 shaft and keeps the original shaft (whatever a 460 Recoil is. This is another gimmick to fool the buyer into believing they’re not. My wife was fitted by a rep using their fitting cart. She hit an iron with a 660 Recoil shaft and was never told the shafts she received would be different (460’s). She was never told the factory shafts were something of less quality.

    Advice; BUYER BEWARE and stay abreast of technology since the fitter will tell you anything you wish to hear and sell you something you weren’t fitted with.

    So the bottom line is the shafts being sold in the 2015 Callaway Big Bertha Irons are not the Recoil shafts played by better golfers and Callaway will not tell you such. They are a lesser, cheaper iron shaft and if you desire a Recoil Shaft be prepared to pay quite a bit more.

  4. Chris

    Oct 17, 2014 at 12:32 pm

    Would love to see the handicaps of people commenting on these irons. Also consider most high handicappers slice the ball. In fact roughly 80 percent of golfers slice the ball.

    There is definitely a target group of golfers for these irons, and they will help them. Personally, I’m hitting the hybrids on my way home. I currently game the 913H.

  5. Alex T

    Oct 7, 2014 at 4:45 pm

    Seen it all before. Fusion. Slingshot. Rocketballz. Etc. These kinds of designs are as niche as butter knife thin blades. There’s only about 1% of golfers who could actually get any benefit out of them, the only difference being that everybody wishes they were good enough to hit blades. Nobody wishes they were bad enough to hit these monstrosities. These will be forgotten in a heartbeat and will be on sale for $499 by next march. Here’s a tip: If you want two clubs more distance hit two clubs more. 20 yards more distance and I won’t even charge you $1000 dollars for it.

  6. marcel

    Sep 30, 2014 at 2:13 am

    well what counts is being on the fairway… yes BB hit further but he lost control and ended up in sand… these clubs are “game improvement” clubs for 30+ handicapers

  7. simon

    Sep 25, 2014 at 4:00 am

    I’m pretty sure if you measured the swing speed on those two 6 iron shots they would be very different.
    Maybe the Big Bertha does go further but certainly not 23 yards.
    Plus they are seriously ugly to my eye.The top edge must 8-10mm. A little thicker than a garden spade.

  8. JH

    Sep 25, 2014 at 1:39 am

    Is the target golfer of these clubs really going to plunk down $1000+ for a set of these?

    Can’t believe that price tag.

  9. BeenInHB33

    Sep 25, 2014 at 12:53 am

    Maybe the ugliest irons I’ve ever seen.

  10. Phat

    Sep 25, 2014 at 12:37 am

    Haha so the old 1 or 2 iron is now a 4 iron. Took me a while to figure out why the new school 4 irons were hard to hit.

  11. Gonzo

    Sep 25, 2014 at 12:30 am

    I wonder if these will stay at this price point, like the Apex, or be subject to massive price cuts, like the X2 Hot.

  12. Jeff Daschel

    Sep 24, 2014 at 11:17 pm

    Anybody else think it’s funny P Reed hit a hook with the new big Bertha iron ? Middle of the fairway 186 or 209 in the left bunker? No wonder high caps don’t get better

    • BeenInHB33

      Sep 25, 2014 at 12:55 am

      HAHA was thinking the same thing! There’s like a foot of offset on these “irons” lol. Terrible. These should cost $75 or less.

    • Ben

      Sep 25, 2014 at 2:00 pm

      Way too much offset. I feel bad for the high capper who struggles with a hook because the GI selections on the market will only make it worse.

      • Eugene Marchetti

        Dec 19, 2014 at 9:08 pm

        I totally agree. I hit these hybrids/irons this week and the offset was very visible. Consequently, I actually hit them way right because I was so afraid I would hook the heck out of them, I didn’t release the club. Too thick and too offset for me.

  13. Joey

    Sep 24, 2014 at 9:34 pm

    Tisk tisk. The more things change the more they stay the same. Pure propaganda, their selling campaign at this point.

  14. Jimmy

    Sep 24, 2014 at 9:12 pm

    1300 bucks with hybrids and the irons are not forged WONDER WHY NO ONE WANTS TO PLAY THIS GAME ANYMORE i could see if it was hybrid 3-7 irons 9-pw with graphite shafts all around but man those are nit cheap you better get your 2 clubs worth of distance

  15. Vandy

    Sep 24, 2014 at 8:39 pm

    Anyone else notice that the specs read that the 4 iron is at 20.5…. about half a degree stronger than a normal 3 iron, and are at 39.125″. So yeah their “4” iron will go farther than yours.

  16. Justin

    Sep 24, 2014 at 6:31 pm

    Is it just me, or does the hybrid look similar to a Titleist 910h?

    • Peter

      Sep 25, 2014 at 10:42 pm

      yes they do. the only reason why i read some comments was to see if anyone else thought so too. i think its the big fat toe on the above view and it also has a surefit hosel lol.

  17. Desmond

    Sep 24, 2014 at 4:39 pm

    In the late 90’s those would be called hybrids, not irons….

  18. Pingbrad

    Sep 24, 2014 at 3:55 pm

    The longer distance comes from bending the clubs stronger and lengthening the shafts. The 5 iron is this set equivalent to most other manufactures 4 iron.

  19. Feel

    Sep 24, 2014 at 3:35 pm

    They feel awesome!

  20. Don

    Sep 24, 2014 at 3:11 pm

    Sometimes I get the feeling these companies think we are all lemmings and that they can guide us to the cliff.

  21. mrjoe

    Sep 24, 2014 at 2:52 pm

    So what’s new here? Cup face has been done in irons. Max COR has been done in irons.

    Callaway just catching up.

  22. Lime Shark

    Sep 24, 2014 at 2:07 pm

    The Callaway 7-iron has a loft of 30 degrees and a length of 37.25 inches.

    Compare that to the Ping G5:

    Ping G5 6-iron – loft = 30.5 degrees, length = 37.25 inches.

    Ping G% 7-iron – loft = 34 degrees, length = 36.75 inches.

    At least one club worth of “extra length” can be attributed to the fact that the 7-iron is really a 6-iron.

    • TW

      Sep 24, 2014 at 2:52 pm

      I was gonna say the same thing.
      most standard 4 irons are 24-25 degrees, callaways is 20.5. I am and have been a pure callaway guy for a few years. Will likely keep my hex chrome plus but will be looking to go another route on irons this season. (looking at titleist first and might give nike a shot, on balls and irons but doubt I switch balls)

  23. Thomas J Coyne jr

    Sep 24, 2014 at 1:38 pm

    And we all wonder what the reasoning is for the loss of golfers, beginners, sales of equipment, golf course closures? All of this stuff is made in China. All of it is also duplicated with another name, like Bertha/Bursur. The new gimmicks, soul weighting, comeon, Browning did that with the 440 and 440 plus 40 years ago. I’m still hitting them and regrove them myself. I also have a set of Bursurs. Talked to the importer-he said they come from the same factory as Callaway’s. Only the price is 90% cheaper. We live near a small country golf course, 9 holes, par 36 each 9 from 2 sets of tees, some holes are short but it’s in good shape and hilly, greens are small, upsets visiting pros, when they barely break par. Price for 9 is around 10 or 12 for seniors. Cart for another 5 or 6. Affordable, but it’s the only deal in the Portland, Oregon area. All others are in the 40’s plus for 18. In these economy days this is why golfers are dropping out, plus the fact that there is less organized golf now. Used to have local men’s clubs, every Sat., all gone as the clubs want fresh money and it’s not there, so they lost all around.
    I asked some kids why they were spending more time on the I-phone than playing sports. Easier, less cost, no instruction, no pressure from coaches, teach themselves, Keep up with their friends or what they call important stuff. It’s all about money-eh?

  24. Scooter McGavin

    Sep 24, 2014 at 12:42 pm

    And people need to stop complaining about strong lofts on distance irons. That lower loft is there to help with distance. You can’t compare your old or Player’s club lofts to something where the weighting has been engineered to launch the ball higher. Higher launch means they can strengthen the clubs and still maintain ideal ball launch/height.

    • Lane

      Sep 24, 2014 at 1:48 pm

      So at what point does it become apples to apples? You say can’t compare because of weighting, yet the manufacturer will want to compare when they make distance claims (2 clubs longer). So how about you call them up and say they can’t claim that because the weighting of the club is different and can’t be compared to older irons?

      • NMBob

        Sep 24, 2014 at 11:21 pm

        exactly. If this goes two clubs farther..ha ha ha what a crock of you know what. That would make my pitching wedge go a full 150. What iron set has no irons you can score with inside 150. Did they just reinvent the nike slingshot? You guys know how many guys I have had to sell real pitching wedges to that had burner 2s or diablos with 41.5 deg pitching wedges that cam e in the set. At what point do folks start to remember they need a set of tools spread across distances to help them score and changing the numbers on clubs and in truth simply removing the Pw and now almost 9 irons from folks sets leaves them without the tools to score from certain yardages. Also, making that shaft longer, how many 4 or 5 irons are now pushed out of the realm of consisting hitting because it is just too long?

    • Chris

      Oct 17, 2014 at 12:28 pm

      Titleist explained this well last year with the new 714 line, and how moving the CG around necessitates the decreasing in loft to get the proper trajectory for each iron.

      People continue to go on, and on, ad nauseam about “de-lofting”, “longer shafts”, blah, blah, blah. If you don’t like them, don’t buy them. You aren’t offering anything earth shattering to the equation here.

      • Viper

        Oct 21, 2014 at 9:59 pm

        I agree with Chris if you don’t like the irons, don’t buy them and moved on. I just played our club championships (match play) the guy who came runner up, gamed this irons and his almost scratch 1.1 index, his in mid 30s and using the F3 Regular Flex Recoil.

  25. Scooter McGavin

    Sep 24, 2014 at 12:38 pm

    I thought it was called a “cup face”, not a “face cup”.

    • OhioGolfDude

      Sep 25, 2014 at 9:50 am

      Take a look at the photo of the hybrid – it specifically states “Hyper Speed Face Cup”

  26. Boner

    Sep 24, 2014 at 12:31 pm

    Wow the ball went on fire with the Big Bertha iron!!!!!! Those irons mean serious business! I have already per-ordered, can’t wait!!!!!!

  27. dapadre

    Sep 24, 2014 at 12:28 pm

    These look more like Hybrid irons. I find the 2 clubs longer claim though, sighting that my 5 iron is 28deg and this is 23deg. So essentially my 5 iron is their 7/8 iron, ok I get it. Do like the look of the hybrid but at $249, come on.

  28. Ev

    Sep 24, 2014 at 12:14 pm

    Think I’ve finally found a possibly replacement for my X-12’s!

  29. RobN

    Sep 24, 2014 at 12:12 pm

    The irons? No thanks, I’ll stick with my Apex. Now that hybrid I DO like!! The adjustable hosel should make that one a winner. But I’m still not giving up my X2 Hots. They are just too good.

  30. Don

    Sep 24, 2014 at 12:10 pm

    These look … clunky to me. Not really drumming up any excitement for Callaway for me.

  31. jc

    Sep 24, 2014 at 12:08 pm

    that’s why I went to ping….not as many changes…and only every couple of years between the next ones….I will stick with my g25s even if they don’t have turbulators or a new name.

  32. JIMMY

    Sep 24, 2014 at 12:05 pm

    Yikes, probably great for 25-capper, that huge offset screams,
    FORE LEFT!!!!!!!

    • Roger S.

      Sep 24, 2014 at 2:24 pm

      I would seriously hook those clubs about 100 yards left. The ball would probably make a 90* in the air.

      • li0scc0

        Jul 28, 2017 at 9:36 am

        Then you are not a very good golfer. I’m a 12 handicap, and I can hit these, or a zero offset, straight. My 6 iron distance is 198, generally. Offset does not cause hooks, draws, etc.

  33. BcavWecllh

    Sep 24, 2014 at 12:04 pm

    The sole of the irons look like the Rocketballz.

  34. David Smith

    Sep 24, 2014 at 11:58 am

    This is sad… what is going on?!?!

  35. cb

    Sep 24, 2014 at 11:56 am

    Hey patrick swing easy with this club and now really go at it with this club. Oh my gosh! your second swing went farther than the first!

  36. WHY!?

    Sep 24, 2014 at 11:43 am

    So many lines and models. Its TM vs. Callaway these days. I can see Monte playing these when you consider his current gamers.The hybrid doesnt look that bad. Not much offset and nice shape.

  37. SMH

    Sep 24, 2014 at 11:17 am

    Sadly they’re really starting to become like TMAG and just jamming product after product down the consumer’s throat. I still haven’t hit a hybrid yet that I would take over the old Titleist 503H that I’ve been playing since it first came out.

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What GolfWRXers are saying about the best “5-woods under $125”

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In our forums, our members have been discussing 5-woods, with WRXer ‘gary3aces’ looking for a 5-wood for between $100 and $125. He’s looking to replace his current “M2 5 wood with something a little easier to hit”, and our members have been discussing the best options in our forum.

Here are a few posts from the thread, but make sure to check out the entire discussion and have your say at the link below.

  • C6 Snowboarder: “Take a look at a used Callaway Heavenwood in the Epic Flash model = pretty Friggen sweet. It is Heaven!”
  • Golf64: “Bang for the buck, hard to beat Cobra, but find Ping one of the easiest to hit off the deck. Since you are limited in the funds dept., maybe an older model Ping 5W would do the trick?!”
  • tilasan1: “G400 7 wood turned down or just use it as is.”
  • jbandalo: “Fusion fairways. Highly underrated, cheap, easy to hit and go for miles.”
  • RyanBarathWRX: “PING G fairway would be hard to beat and easily in price range:
  • Nelson.br.1515: “Another vote for the Callaway Big Bertha Fusion. Great stick!”

Entire Thread: Best 5-woods under $125″

 

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What GolfWRXers are saying about “blending Ping i500 irons with Blueprints”

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In our forums, WRXer ‘ballywho27’ has asked for thoughts on combining his current Ping i500 irons with the brand’s Blueprint irons. ‘Ballywho27’ is considering going “i500 in 3-4 iron and blueprint 5-W” and has asked for fellow member’s thoughts on the idea – who have been sharing their takes in our forum.

Here are a few posts from the thread, but make sure to check out the entire discussion and have your say at the link below.

  • jblough99: “I had a combo set for a minute, 3-5 I500 and 6-PW Blueprint. I could not get used to the transition, HUGE difference in looks at address. If I had it to do over I would just go 4-PW Blueprint and maybe a 3 I500 with graphite shaft as a driving, iron.”
  • animalgolfs: “iBlade{5i} – BP{6i-pw}. That’s my combo.”
  • Chunky: “I have i500 4-5 and Blueprints 6-PW. As mentioned above, there is a significantly different look at address. More importantly for me, the i500s are 1/2 to 1 club longer than the BPs (they fly much higher, too). Make sure you account for that added i500 distance when blending lofts or you’ll have a large gap.”
  • howeber: “I’ve done that exact set — 3 and 4 i500 and 5-PW Blueprint. It’s perfect for me since the 3 and 4 are more like a traditional 2 and 3.5. 4 is usually the longest iron I carry, so I like a little extra oomph out of it. At the end of the day though, when I finally tested them vs my MP4s, the Blueprints performed identically, while the i500 launched a little higher (same specs same shafts). Mizzys are still in the bag.”

Entire Thread: “Blending Ping i500 irons with Blueprints”

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GolfWRX Vault: Avoid these 5 club building disasters

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It’s never too late to go back to basics, especially when it comes to club building.

Even with modern new club release cycles the do’s and don’ts of building clubs haven’t changed much in the last few decades except for clubs with adapter sleeves and greater amounts of multi-materials incorporated into the design.

With that in mind its time to revisit an article from the GolfWRX Vault from June 2016.

——————

I’ve been fitting and building golf clubs for more than 15 years, and in that time I’ve seen a lot of really poor workmanship—stuff that would make most GolfWRXers cringe. But like anyone who ever did anything new, I didn’t start being naturally good at putting together clubs. It took a lot of time, ruined components, and trial and error to get where I am today.

I believe my attention to detail now stems from the fact that my dad was a machinist by trade, and anytime we ever worked on something together his attitude was to take your time and do it right the first time. My dad’s approach always had an impact on me, because I feel that if you do something right — even when it takes a bit longer — the job is not only more satisfying but also makes things work better and last longer.

The goal with this article is to help WRXers avoid the most common mistakes and assumptions in club building that lead to broken or ruined clubs, as well as real danger.

Over-prepping a graphite shaft

The shaft on the left has been prepped properly. The one of the right, which has noticeable taper, shows signs that layers of graphite have been removed.

This happens far more than it should, and can ruin an expensive new shaft purchase. To prepare a shaft properly for installation, you only need to remove enough of the paint to make sure that the epoxy adheres to the graphite. This is also true for the inside of the hosel.

Be careful to remove residual epoxy, dirt or rust (common with forged carbon steel club heads that have been sitting around for a while), or some type or solvent like the one used to put on grips, as it can cause of bond to break down very quickly. A proper reaming tool, a wire brush and some compressed air (either a small can or a large air compressor) can make cleaning simple, and prevent a golf club from falling apart.

UPDATE: Over prepping specifically applies to shafts that are designed to go into parallel heads and is especially important for 335 shafts with less material at the tip going into drivers and fairway woods. For information on how to properly taper a shaft to go into a tapered head, check out the video below:

Overheating a Shaft When Pulling it

This is what happens to a graphite shaft when overheated.

This is what happens to a graphite shaft when overheated, and the resin holding the graphite sheets together breaks down. It’s not always as noticeable, but if the shaft starts to fray it means the bonds have been compromised and it’s more likely to fail. 

Overheating a shaft when pulling it is another common mistake that can result in ruining a golf shaft. It also highly increases the chance of breakage. There are quite a few methods I’ve learned over the years to remove a shaft from a club head, from heat guns to large propane torches, but personally I find that using a small butane torch with a regulator for graphite offers the best results. It allows a club builder to easily control and focus the heat only where it’s needed. Bigger torches are fine for iron heads, as long as you don’t damage any plastic badges in the cavity or materials in slots around the head.

One of the best advances in club technology has been the invention and mass adoption of adjustable hosels. They not only help golfers adjust the loft, lie and face angle of club heads, but have also greatly decreased the need to pull shafts. So as long as a golfer is staying with the same metal wood manufacturer, they can usually test several different clubs heads with the same shaft, or vice versa — several different shafts with the same clubhead.

That being said, one of the most important tools that any hobbyist club builder should have or have access to is a high-quality shaft puller. It’s a necessary tool for anyone who wants to do repairs and helps prevent damage to a shaft while pulling it. The more linear pressure that can be applied to the clubhead, and the less heat used to break down the epoxy, the better. It makes sure both the shaft and the head are reusable in the future. For steel shafts, you can use a bit more heat, and twisting isn’t a problem. Again, with increased heat, be careful not to damage any of the badging, or permanently discolor an iron head.

Botching a Grip Installation

Using calipers and two-sided tape, you can replicate the taper of shafts to makes every grip feel exactly the same size in your set.

Using calipers and two-sided tape, you can replicate the taper of shafts to makes every grip feel exactly the same size in your set.

This one seems simple, but when really getting down to professional level detail, it is quite important. We ALL have a preference and different opinion of what feels good in a golf grip, as well as different sensitivities. For example, we all have the ability to figure out what apple is bigger, even if blindfolded because over time we all develop brain function to understand shapes and sizes. This also applies to grips. If you use the same grips on your 13 clubs, you could potentially have 4-5 different final sizes depending on how many different types of shafts you use, because many shafts have different butt diameters.

Some shafts have larger butt diameters, while others taper faster than others. That’s why it’s very important to own a quality set of vernier calipers, and know how to properly use them. It’s also the same for putters, since many putter shafts are smaller in diameter. I have lost count of how many times I’ve had people bring me, putters, where the bottom half of the grip is twisting and turning because the installer never paid attention to the interior diameter of the grip, the exterior diameter of the shaft, and how it changed from top to bottom.

Using epoxy that’s doomed to fail

An example of epoxy that although not completely set, is no longer safe for assembling clubs.

An example of epoxy that although not completely set, is no longer safe for assembling clubs.

I’m a bit of a physics nerd and garage engineer, so this is one of those topics that goes beyond just the physical aspects of club building and into the realm of chemistry.

Here comes my nerd-out moment: In the simplest of explanations for a 0.335-inch driver hosel with an insertion depth of 1.25 inches, the amount of calculated surface area the epoxy can bond between the shaft and the head using the internal dimensions of the head is 1.49 square inches. That’s not a whole lot of area when you consider the centrifugal force being applied to a driver head traveling at 100 mph, and then the forces of torque that also come into play when a shot is struck.

In a PERFECT world, almost zero torque is applied to a shaft when a shot is hit on the center of gravity (CG) of the club head, perfectly aligned with the center mass of the ball, while traveling in the intended direction. This is vectors 101 of physics. Unfortunately, almost every single shot is NOT hit like that, and this is where the epoxy bond is put under the most amount of stress. Lap shear strength of epoxy goes beyond me, but it proves that building a golf club is not just cut and glue after all.

Note: For those of you curious, the most popular epoxies are rated for 4500 psi. 

As far are actually working with epoxy, first things first. Always check to see if the epoxy has a best-before date (yep, just like milk). Also, never store epoxy in direct sunlight. If you are using epoxy from a tube in a dispensing gun, you are using what is an almost foolproof method. Plunge out the necessary amount, mix for about a minute (mix! don’t whip), and remember, the less air that gets into the epoxy the better. If air gets in and the epoxy cures with bubbles in it, then you end up with a club that will often “creak.”

For those using two parts in larger bottles, the best way to ensure proper ratios is to pay attention to the weight ratio rather than volume. This isn’t arts and crafts; it’s chemistry, so by using the weight to calculate the ratio you will get the right amount of each part every time, and help decrease the risk of failure down the road. If you have mixed a larger batch and plan on building quite a few clubs at a time, you really have to pay attention to the consistency and viscosity as time goes on. You don’t want to glue a club head with epoxy that has started to set.

Turning an Extension into a Shank

The difference between a good shaft extension (bottom) and a bad one.

The difference between a good shaft extension (bottom) and a bad one.

This is one of those subjects I don’t even like to talk about. I very much dislike using extensions when building clubs, especially clubs with graphite shafts. Going back to my “do-it-right-the-first-time” mentality, extensions are a Band-Aid fix to a problem that requires surgery. They also counter-balance the club, and by their very nature create a weak point because of the small wall thickness at the butt end of a shaft. The only clubs I don’t mind extending on a regular basis are putters since they are never put under the same level of stress as a club being swung at full speed. I also never extend a club more than 1 inch, because I have been witness to horror stories of clubs that have been overextended that not only break but rip through the grip and cut people’s hands very badly.

If you are going to extend a club, it’s important to make sure the fit is very snug and doesn’t cause the extension to lean in any direction. It’s also best to have the epoxied extension cure with the club on its side to avoid an excess epoxy from running down the shaft and breaking off and causing a rattle.

 

 

 

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