EXCLUSIVE: Callaway's Dr Alan Hocknell

Golfmagic sits down with Callaway's head of R&D to talk Big Bertha V Series, Tour player interaction and golf equipment industry

Andy Roberts's picture
Mon, 8 Sep 2014
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First thing we notice is how much similar the V Series driver looks to the original Great Big Bertha driver that many of us used back in the day. We assume that was all part of the design process?

It was absolutely done intentionally. Our new Big Bertha V Series driver has that heritage element. It's a 460cc version of the original Great Big Bertha head shape and features the same scoreline pattern on the face. I think a bunch of people who owned the Great Big Bertha, albeit they will now be a bit older, will look at this driver as being familiar.

From what we understand the Big Bertha V Series driver is all about lightweight design, but could we learn more about the key features and benefits of both V Series driver and fairway woods?

The Callaway Big Bertha V Series driver fulfils a role of being a speed enhanced driver with forgiveness. The primary advantage that this driver delivers is more head speed by being lighter overall and focusing on aerodynamics. It's lighter because it's got the lightest head in our line at 193g, the lightest shaft at 42g and lightest grip at 46g. All of these characteristics help golfers swing it faster.

First Look: Callaway Big Bertha V Series

You can't go too light in the head because then people kind of max out in how much faster they swing the club. You can go lighter and lighter and it won't actually help very much. The lighter you go, the harder it is to transfer extra energy to the ball. The ball has a certain mass, so the lighter and lighter the head goes, you would just be swinging the shaft. You might swing it really fast but there's nothing to hit the ball with, so it's a balancing act between how much lighter you take it and how much more speed you get but still being able to transfer energy to the ball.

So we focus on making the club lighter but construct the head so far that when you do hit the ball there's lots going on. We have the Hyper Speed Face which is good for ball speed. Even though the head is lighter, it's still got good MOI and a good CG position, as well as a draw characteristic to it. You can also configure ideal launch conditions with the adjustable hosel. That is our recipe for speed enhanced with forgiveness.

There are three driver lofts of 9-, 10.5- and 13.5-degree in the Big Bertha V Series. From the fitting data we've had, we've configured the 9-degree loft is slightly heavier than the other two as you don't see that many people who fit into a 9-degree loft that still primarily benefit from a 42g shaft. The 9-degree is heavier overall. One of reasons why the 9-degree appears on Tour is because it's a head the Tour guys configure fairly readily to Tour player specs. The headweight is more like 200g and it's a good shape with a nice sounding head.

When it comes to the Big Bertha V Series fairway wood, we've distinguished it by being lighter. There is a degree more loft with these clubs than the X2 Hot. People who found the loft on the X2 Hot a little too strong, the V Series will prove a much easier club to hit in lofts ranging from 15.5-degree to 25-degree.

We've taken weight out the internal standing weight, that would be in the X2 Hot at the front, and distributed it differently to provide a higher CG with more of a focus on MOI and easy-to-hit characteristics, and yet still packed with all the ball speed you'd expect from the Hyper Speed Face Cup. It's also got the original Warbird sole which is pretty attractive for turf interaction.

Another fun thing about the line is we've got a new Heavenwood fairway wood, which has been introduced for the first time in a while since first being brought to market as a hybrid. It's a real easy to hit club and we believe we've found a place for it in this line. Available in 20.5-degree, the Heavenwood model aids a tighter dispersion and more consistent distance.

What sort of player do you believe the Big Bertha V Series driver is aimed at?

The V Series driver has an interesting characteristic.. The 10.5 and 13.5 lofted heads are primarily going to be sold with lighter shafts so they are the ones that are speed focused. Usually when fitting 10.5 and 13.5 lofts, these people don't usually swing it more than 100mph max. So it's perfect for these guys who want to improve their head speed.

Now when you start fitting 9-degree lofts, these people are a little less speed challenged but can still take advantage of a lighter overall weight. Some of the negative feedback we've had about the Big Bertha driver with adjustable perimeter weight earlier this year was that although it has amazing technology and it's really forgiving, it's maybe just a little heavier than ideal. Those thoughts were inspiring.

We think the Big Bertha V Series driver will fit a large number of players with three different lofts and the different characters that exist between them.

You must be delighted with the early win count for the Big Bertha V Series driver with Marc Warren and Chris Kirk bagging victories with it last month?

There's a bit of a question to answer there. People have said well if V Series is a driver for people who might need benefits in speed, aren't they kind of average golfers or older golfers, and yet you've got Tour pros using it. It just shows that you can build clubs certain ways and make certain modifications to them. Tour players still like the aerodynamic advantages and stuff like that.

Dr Alan Hocknell talks more about life on Tour and gives us views on the golf equipment industry heading into 2015. Click here to continue reading our interview.

 

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