Callaway: New vs. Old and What It Means
By Matt Henderson, PGA
Out of sheer curiosity and opportunity I headed down to the practice tee at TPC Las Vegas with my Callaway GBB EPIC driver, but I also had the Original Great Big Berta with me. When I say original I mean the one from 1995. I grew up playing clubs just like this one, so what an opportunity to put it up against the latest and greatest offering from Callaway Golf.
Callaway Great Big Bertha EPIC
Callaway Great Big Bertha Warbird
The biggest difference between the drivers is obviously the head size, with the EPIC maxing out he USGA allowable head size of 460 cubic centimeters. The original GBB comes in at an measly 265 cc’s, which makes it hard to believe that I remember people making remarks about it how big it was.
The shaft length of the drivers was also much different, with the modern driver coming in at 45” of length. To add an interesting element and to level the playing field in one respect I added an EPIC with a 43.5” just like its older model.
· All numbers were achieved using the FlightScope X3
· Golf Balls used were Titleist PRO V1X (sorry no Chrome Soft were available, it is a great ball however)
· All Drivers used had or were set to 10 degrees of loft
· All shafts used were stock offerings. (PX Hzrdus in 45” and 43.5” EPIC)
· 10 Golf Balls hit with each Club
Looking at the info above the first thing that pops up is that I gained 25 yards of total distance between the EPIC 45 and Original GBB (OGBB). I averaged 19 more yards of carry. The OGBB produced the highest golf ball in terms of actual apex, but to do so it launched higher and spun more than the EPIC. The really large difference between the two came with ball speed, the EPIC45 helping to add 9 MPH of ball speed on average. For those counting for every MPH of ball speed we can hit it 2-4 yards farter depending on efficiency of strike. In this instance I added just over two yards per MPH of ball speed.
Things really got interesting when I used the EPIC with the 43.5” (EPIC43.5) shaft. As can be expected it produced the smallest miss pattern/ area. But the number between the OGBB and the EPIC 43.5 are much more pedestrian with ball speed, carry and total distances only slightly different. The EPIC43.5 barely beat its 1995 counterpart.
Technology helps…25 yards is nothing to scoff at. The modern drivers are bigger, longer and lighter which transfers into more forgiving mishits and faster speeds. Just in this small sample pattern there was an immediate gain in clubhead and ball speed. The OGBB was heavy and the shaft was questionably unstable. This test proved a few things to me, one of those items is that shaft technology is lightyears ahead of where it was in the mid 90’s. The shafts of today, even stock offerings are light and way more stable feeling than shafts of years prior.
My dispersion pattern did improve with the OGBB and the EPIC43.5 vs. the EPIC45. (see data above) This is no mystery as the shafts are shorter, but in my opinion the improvement in dispersion pattern in this case is not worth the loss of distance…Again 25 yards is 25 yards. Now, this might not always be the case and that why club fitting is so important. If you are planning on buying a new driver make sure and get fit. It makes a tremendous difference and is easy to do right here at TPC Las Vegas.
The weighting of the clubs was significantly different. Technology has come a long way in this respect. A very important thing to remember when looking at the data above is that there is one large error in the data collection, and that is my golf swing was the only one used. Different player of different skill, ability and physical makeup would have had different results. The dispersion results are perfect example, during the study I managed to average above 1.46 smash factor and above a 1.49 with EPIC45. That translates roughly into me being able to hit the middle of the clubface most of the time. If we tested a player that had a lot of point of contact mishits, the modern driver would almost certainly produce a better dispersion pattern.
Preparing for Different Situations: Deep rough
In any short game situation, the most important factor is contact. Quality contact creates friction, friction creates spin, and spin creates relative control. In a deep rough or poor lie scenario, you must be able to assess and figure out how the club is going to be able to interact with the turf. Just like anything else reading lies is a major skill, but the nice thing about a skill is we can always improve
The most important factor is always club to ball contact and finding what is ideal to produce optimal contact. Too many times golfers tend to look at situation and select a shot dependent on the sole variable of how much green there is to work with, and not the situation that their ball is in. Always assess the lie first, then pick landing and resting areas based upon that lie.
Situation: Deep Rough/ Greenside
To illustrate the above point, I will use the situation where the ball has a lot of long and/or thick grass behind it. To control contact in this lie we need to create a steeper angle of attack, essentially meaning we need to do something different than the neutral setup/short game motion. To a lot of amateurs this means adjust something dynamically in the swing, this can be confusing and disrupt sequence. The solution for consistency is to alter the body positions in the address position.
Neutral Shortgame motion Characteristics
1. Neutral width stance (Heels 8-10 inches apart)
2. Centralized sternum (Buttons of shirt over belt buckle, right shoulder lower that left)
3. Buttons of Shirt behind ball at impact.
4. Shaft neutral (almost vertical in the above picture) at low point
The sequence and characteristics above produce a somewhat shallow angle of attack. If it is determined that that the club head needs to move differently, then a non-compensatory adjustment must be made. In the case of the deep rough situation we are seeking a club head that moves more steeply to the ground, while still presenting the preferred dynamic loft for the shot at hand.
Deep Grass Adjustments (Greenside)
1. Wide Stance to help create angle
2. Grip down on club (shortens the radius of the arc_
3. Lean forward, as we lean forward head, sternum and handle are all in front of the ball. With the handle forward the clubhead will want to move up more abruptly.
4. Put pressure and weight in lead side by flexing into the lead quadricep
5. Make sure Ball position and loft match desired ball flight
Notice the different elements in the address position (zoomed pictures below). The shoulders move to level, handle forward, gripped down. This allows the clubhead to move up abruptly, creating the angle we need to hit the golf shot. There are no dynamic adjustments, or altering the swing to hit the shot differently. We simply added some steep elements to the address position.
A great way to feel everything discussed above is to hit a few shots off an inclined lie where the trail foot is above the lead foot. To hit the shot successfully the body is going to have to level to the slope, in doing so putting pressure in the lead quadricep, just like we wanted in our deep rough setup. The shots have a lot of the same characteristics.
Matt Henderson is the Director of Instruction on-site at TPC Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada and brings over 14 years of experience as a golf instructor and coach. Ranked by Golf Digest as the #2 instructor in Nevada, (2014-2015) Matt was also the recipient of the Southern Nevada PGA’s Teacher of the Year Award. (2013)
As a PGA Class A professional Matt has worked and studied under some of the game’s best-known instructors. Matt also has extensive experience in the field of fitness and junior development and is certified by the Titleist Performance Institute in both areas. Matt specializes in short game instruction and competitive player development. He enjoys coaching players of all skill levels, from beginner to the TOUR in all elements of the game.
For Information about lessons and educational programing call 702-575-8829
Most of us are guilty of moving elements of our full swing into our shortgames. Quite frankly because that information has been handed down for what is now generations, “the small swing is the same as the full swing.” Always as in life, it is not quite that straight forward. The Goals of full swing are much different than shortgame. In Full Swing, maximum speed is important, the bounce of club and added effective loft are often harmful. In Shortgame speed must be well managed, softness has a value and so does controlling the ground interaction of the club’s bounce. Standing up and hitting a driver as far down the fairway as we can is a different skill than being able to hit the ball 15 feet with a controlled spin rate. The caveat is that in playing the game of golf we would like to be relatively skilled at both.
The things that come to mind when looking at the picture on the left with the driver or power setup would be: wide stance, side bend or tilt, distance away from the ball. The picture on the right features a shortgame setup with power features. Short of narrowing the stance and moving the ball back the picture of the wedge contains many of the same distance producing factors as the driver setup. Over a period of time the player using thease setup features to hit shortgame shots would experience fat and thin contact mishits, difficulty controlling speed, and inconsistancy of height carry distacne. This is solely based on the distance factors noted in the setup position.
Gaining control over the setup is a crucial part of being able to become proficient at the varying skills needed to play quality golf and control the overall consistancy of performance. Here are the three simple steps:
The short game stance is very narrow vs. full swing…this is optimum for stability in shortgame, but opposite of full swing. It would be tough to create power from the position in the below right picture, which makes it optimal to hit short shots
This helps assist level shoulders through impact, which can be a lead contributor to controlling the low point in the short game motion.
Sternum or shirt buttons in front of ball. If we set up with the chest behind the golf ball, the low point will tend to be behind the golf ball.
These steps do a lot to reducing the amount of power we can create, but they also do a lot to aid in controlling the lowpoint. Lack of the latter is generally a large problem for most amateurs. Optimal lowpoint control comes when the shoulders are fairly level through impact (below right picture), this provides a covered look with the chest (chest points more toward the target than where the ball was). Step numbers two and three do a great deal to facilitate this. Flaring or opening the lead foot helps the body maintain the level shoulders through impact.
One of the worst things that could happen dynamically though the execution of the shot would be if the hips tilt up, (ie) the lead hip being higher than the trail hip through impact. If this reverse tilt occurs it will move the lowpoint backwards. (see bottom left picture) This happens because as the hips tilt up the spin tilts backwards. For this reason, step number three of referencing sternum position becomes very important. It prevents the same thing that dynamically happened with the hip tilt from happening via setup.
Champions do not have restricted lower
bodies. They move their knees, an
action that not only accommodates the rotational motion of the pivot but also
reduces the risk of injury.