Callaway GBB Epic driver (2017) v original Callaway Big Bertha (1991)

A breakthrough club in 1991 against a leading driver in 2017 - what's the performance difference?

Charlie Lemay's picture
Fri, 2 Jun 2017
Callaway GBB Epic driver (2017) v original Callaway Big Bertha (1991)

Some 26 years ago, Callaway brought a driver to the market that was revolutionary – the original Big Bertha.

This was golf’s first stainless steel driver,  while most others were still made of persimmon wood, and featured permiter weighting and a bore-through hosel. In 1991, this 190cc big stick was considered oversized.

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It was renowned for its forgiving nature, and was a breakthrough in driver design.

We picked one up for around £10, in 10 degrees and with a True Temper Memphis 10 steel shaft.

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Callaway GBB Epic driver (2017) v original Callaway Big Bertha (1991)

Fast forward to 2017, and Callaway have the Callaway Great Big Bertha Epic driver.

Debuting Jailbreak technology – two bars that sit behind the face to connect the crown and sole – this club has a carbon crown, sliding weights and has an adjustable loft sleeve. We had it in the 10 degree setting, with a Fujukura Aldila Rogue shaft. It will set you back £469.99.

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We wanted to know the difference in performance between these two clubs, so we headed to the Shire London armed with a Skytrak launch monitor to find out.

We spent the morning hitting balls on the range with both clubs, and then went out on to the course with TaylorMade TP5 golf balls.

Callaway GBB Epic driver (2017) v original Callaway Big Bertha (1991)

Averages

Distance

Callaway Big Bertha: 228 (carry), 253 (total)
Callaway GBB Epic: 258 yards (carry), 281 (total)

Ball speed

Callaway Big Bertha: 132
Callaway GBB Epic: 139

Spin

Callaway Big Bertha 3,610
Callaway GBB Epic: 2,230

Forgiveness

Callaway Big Bertha: Distance was dropping off around 35-40 yards when not struck from the middle. Towards the toe the club is particularly unforgiving, and feel drastically diminishes when you miss the sweet spot. Looking down at the tiny head did not fill us with confidence.

Callaway GBB Epic: A much larger sweet spot on both toe and heel sides. The feel is slightly more hollow, but does not reduce anywhere near the amount we found with the original Big Bertha when we strayed from the centre of the bat. We were averaging a loss of around 20-25 yards when missing the sweet spot.

Feel

Callaway Big Bertha: It has a hard feel, but we quite liked it. The shaft obviously feels heavy and cumbersome.  

Callaway GBB Epic: Soft, lively and powerful feel. Very enjoyable. Lots of feedback offered.

Verdict

We picked up around 30 yards in distance with the new Callaway GBB Epic. Spin rates were also much lower, and when it comes to forgiveness they are not in the same ball park.

While we did like the feel of the original Big Bertha, the Epic gave us a softer feel with a lot more feedback.