Over time, Callaway Golf spun the Big Bertha into the Great Big Bertha, Great Big Bertha II, Biggest Big Bertha and other similar names, with the hope that the line would maintain its heavyweight status among drivers. But in recent years, the feeling among Callaways innovation and marketing team was that the Big Bertha brand was starting to lose some of its luster; that it was becoming more synonymous with forgiveness and game improvement than power. They needed a brand name with more attitude.
Enter the Big Bertha Diablo driver. The word diablo means devil in Spanish; it also happens to be the name of Greg Sabellas high school mascot. Sabella is Callaway Golfs director of marketing for woods products.
We thought that in some ways the Big Bertha got soft, said Luke Williams, Callaway Golfs director of innovation. We wanted to make sure this driver had a broader appeal and a little more edge to it.
Since hitting stores in mid-March, Callaway has had a devil of a good time marketing the Diablo. Print and television ads have run such slogans as, Release your inner Diablo, Get medieval on your foursome, and Play with Fire. It helps that Callaways poster boy for the Big Bertha Diablo is Rocco Mediate, one of the most popular players on the PGA Tour. Mediate first tested a prototype of the Diablo driver last September, three months after he gave Tiger Woods all he could handle in a 19-hole Monday playoff at the U.S. Open.
The first ball I hit with it, I pretty much said, Okay, Im done for the year. This is the one, said Mediate. Its the best driver Ive ever hit in my life. I absolutely love it.
At the FBR Open in February, Mediate averaged 296 yards off the tee with the Diablo, an increase of 18 yards over the previous year. For the year, hes averaging 282 yards per drive, a jump of almost 3 1/2 yards from 2008.
It reminds me of the Biggest Big Bertha, said Mediate, referring to the first Callaway driver he played back in 1996. I cant believe how good it is, how quickly it has become part of me. I can hit it up, down, fades or drawswhatever. I can really make this sing.
Mediate is known for his sweeping right-to-left draws, and the Big Bertha Diablo comes in draw and neutral clubhead shapes to help golfers create the ball flight of their choosing. The crown on the draw head is skewed toward the heel of the club so that as you look down at address, the head looks to be pointing right of the target. This helps you visualize the proper path on the takeaway, which is to the inside. Most slicers tend to take the club back to the outside and then swing down into impact from outside-in. The shape of the Diablo promotes the proper inside track into the ball.
At the same time, the face of the draw head is slightly closed, to help reduce the possibility of hitting a slice. The shaping of the head also allows more mass to be moved toward the heel of the club, which helps create a draw.
For a player who slices the ball, were trying to do as much as we can to help them get the clubface back to square, said Williams.
The neutral head is more symmetrical, and the weight more in line with the center of the clubface. The face is also less curved, to give golfers the ability to shape the ball in both directions. A weight chip is inserted in the head to allow the engineers to move weight toward the heel (draw-bias) or the center of the face (neutral-bias) and bring the center of gravity back, farther away from the face.
One of the other unique features to the Diablo is what Callaway refers to as Hyperbolic Face Technology. A raised X-like pattern, made of cast titanium, is welded onto the inside of the clubface to help maintain more consistent ball speeds across the face. The X-pattern is thickest in the center region and tapers off as it stretches toward the perimeter of the clubface, which changes the way the face flexes and allows ball speeds to remain fairly high even on off-center hits.
Like most Callaway drivers, there is no hosel on the Big Bertha Diablo (except in the Tour Authentic model), which allows engineers to move more mass toward the perimeter of the clubhead to lower the CG and increase MOI (Moment of Inertia). The result is an all-titanium driver that is forgiving, yes, but also very powerful, and devishly delicious.
The draw version of the Big Bertha Diablo driver comes in lofts of 9, 10 and 11 degrees; the neutral version 8, 9 and 10 degrees. The street price is $299.
Leftys choice of 3-woods
The Big Bertha Diablo line also extends to fairway woods and hybrids. The fairway woods ($179 steel, $199 graphite) feature two heads (draw and neutral), just like the driver. The neutral head is slightly smaller than the draw head and is designed for better players and Tour players. Phil Mickelson carries a 13-degree neutral 3-wood.
The face on both heads is relatively shallow, and designed so that the leading edge sits very close to the ground. This gives off the appearance that the head is sitting below the ball, which gives the average golfer more confidence that they can get the ball up in the air.
Phil says its the best 3-wood hes ever had, said Williams. He uses it a lot as a second driving club because he can hit it miles, but he also feels he has more control with it on tighter holes.
The hybrids ($139 steel, $159 graphite) dont have the similar shaping properties of the Diablo driver and fairway woods. The emphasis is on the Dual Runner Sole of the club, which is designed to work well through a variety of different surfaces ' off the tee, tight lies, and out of the rough ' and helps lower the leading edge to make the sweet spot more accessible.