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Where Callaway is certain to raise a few eyebrows is with the introduction of its Big Bertha Alpha, which the company is heralding as its most berthaalphainnovative driver ever. Considering its rich history and commercial success in the category the statement is bold and has significant standards to exceed. The Alpha is the first driver, according to Callaway, to enable independent adjustments of four performance characteristics: loft, lie, CG (draw) bias and where it backs up its claim of innovation is through the ability to adjust the CG height.

The goal of driver design was to individualize performance optimization for every golfer, therefore giving everyone the best chance to optimize driving distance. Where the Alpha stands out from any other driver on the market is its tungsten tip weighing. It lives in carbon fiber sleeve connecting the crown and sole of the head.

It has a tungsten end, weighing 10.5 grams, and a glass fiber reinforced body, weighing just 1.5 grams. The gravity core can be inserted into the club head in two different ways, which allows players to change the vertical center of gravity and alter the spin rates based on how it is positioned. When the tungsten end is closest to the sole, it will create a lower center of gravity and lower backspin, Callaway said. When the tungsten end is inserted first and therefore closer to the crown, it creates more of a mid-CG position.

Generally, players with above average head speeds or those who are trying to prevent excessive spin will benefit from the lower center of gravity, which a creates a flatter, more penetrating trajectory accompanied by more roll out. For those looking for a more controlled and workable ball flight and less roll out, the mid CG position is recommended Callaway said. Player testing has shown as much as a 600-rpm spin differential between the two Gravity Core settings without a change in loft, Callaway Golf stated. As a rule of thumb, the Gravity Core in Low CG setting is considered for more advanced players who already get too much spin. The Gravity core in High CG setting expands the usage appeal to broader range of players since the club has good stability or MOI.

The Alpha has eight materials in its head construction that allow for weight savings and structural design to enable the combination of the forms of adjustability. Screw weights in the heel and toe can adjust total headweight of the driver. It comes standard with 7 &1 gram, and Callaway will also offer 5&3-gram options. By using a variety of combinations, players can adjust the total swingweight from D0 all the way up to D5, which is preferred by stronger players. The Big Bertha Alpha also carries a Mitsubishi Fubuki Zeta Tour shaft (a $300 aftermarket product), an evolution of the Fubuki Alpha, which has been popular on tour.

The Big Bertha Alpha Driver will be available in loft offerings of 9-degrees, 10.5-degrees. It also features a hosel loft adjustment of +2degrees or -1degrees for a total of 4 degrees variance. The Alpha will debut at retail on February 14, 2014 and carry a suggested retail price of (US) $499.

As 2013 draws to a close, the driver segment just got a little more interesting. It should carry over into 2014 as the concept of low spinning drivers looks to be the engineering focal point to begin the New Year. The Big Bertha Alpha’s Gravity Core lets golfers adjust spin independently of launch angle and breaks the fixed relationship between launch angle and backspin for the first time, providing a major asset in the fitting process to find greater distance for a wide range of players’ abilities. It should be interesting to see how the competition reacts to this as well as golfers themselves once they have the opportunity to test the Big Bertha Alpha.