Here I will be reviewing the Callaway Big Bertha game-improvement iron set, a Golf Digest 2015 Hot List Gold Medal winner. This is Callaway’s very first iron to feature “Cup 360 Face Technology“, which was previously only found in their woods. This technology improves ball speeds and ball speed consistency across the face. Read on to find out what you need to know about these top-of-the-line golf irons to make an informed purchase.
What are the reviews like?
The Big Bertha irons have been received extremely well, which shouldn’t be surprising since Callaway makes some of the best irons in the world. They have glowing reviews on Amazon — 4.8/5 stars with over 29 customer reviews — and on the official Callaway website — 4.6/5 stars and 92% recommended.
Customers have praised the irons for their crazy good distance (many have reported gaining 15-20 yards or more with their mid irons), amazing feel even on off-center strikes, sound trajectory (a tendency for a straight shot or slight draw) and excellent forgiveness. In terms of potential negatives: some are a little bothered by the substantial offset, and others feel that the workability (shot shaping ability) of the irons could be better.
What are the features?
The Big Bertha is the first in Callaway’s line of irons to feature the same “360 Cup Technology” that they first incorporated in their fairway woods. This technology essentially consists of a thinner and more flexible “face cup” attached to the iron body that allows for faster and more consistent ball speeds (and thus more distance) across the clubface. In terms of numbers, this translates to about a 2.5-3 mph increase in ball speeds over other irons.
This works in tandem with an “Internal Standing Wave“, which is a weight positioned low in the clubhead that provides the benefits of a low center of gravity (CG): even more ball speed, more forgiveness (minimal dispersion or loss in ball speeds on mishits), and higher trajectories. Callaway was able to place this weight freely with the help of the hollow construction of the iron body. The end result is the “hottest iron” that Callaway has ever produced.
The Big Bertha irons come with two stock shaft options: the True Temper SpeedStep 80 in steel and the UST Recoil shaft in graphite. There are also other custom shafts available. Be aware that a hybrid combo is available in lieu of a set with longer irons, ideal for those that prefer hybrids.
The specifications (loft, bounce, offset, etc.) of the Big Bertha irons for both men and women are summarized in the table below. You can see more details on specs, including those for the stock shafts, on the Callaway website.
|Name||Loft||Bounce||Length (men)||Length (women)||Lie||Offset|
How do these irons perform?
Distance and Trajectory: Callaway claims that the Big Bertha irons can be “up to two clubs longer” than your previous set of irons. These claims are true to an extent. It does, of course, depend on what irons you’re making the switch from, but it is not at all uncommon for golfers to realize gains of 10 yards and upwards. The Big Bertha irons are among the longest currently on the market. You will obviously see the best results when you hit the sweet spot, but you’ll still retain a very good ball speed regardless of where you make contact on the face.
The low positioning of the weight (and center of gravity) makes it easy to hit relatively straight, high-trajectory shots that don’t balloon and land softly on the green. This is in contrast to other similarly classed irons that have stronger lofts and tend to have a harder time holding greens.
Forgiveness: Overall, the Big Bertha irons have outstanding forgiveness. In fact, they are consistently rated the first or second most forgiving irons in the game-improvement category. Even severe misses on the toe or heel still maintain a decent line and distance. As mentioned above, the irons promote a straight ball flight, and this will help to curb any hook or slice tendencies that you may have. If you’re having a bad day out on the course, chances are the Big Berthas will still keep you in play even as a high handicapper.
What about look, sound and feel?
Look: The Big Bertha has quite a thick topline and wide sole, even for a game-improvement iron. The iron sits and aligns well with the ball at address. I’m personally not crazy about the fat and clunky look of the clubhead, which is more extreme than many other game-improvement irons like the Callaway Apex, but I can certainly look past it given how amazing the forgiveness is.
The offset is fairly large, particularly in the longer irons, and for some golfers it can take a little getting used to. The design on the back and sole of the club is slick, with a simple yet effective colour scheme of red, black and silver.
Sound and Feel: Callaway consistently manages to do a great job in the sound and feel department, and the Big Bertha irons are no exception. Center strikes feel soft and “compressy” (but still solid), which is pleasantly surprising given the amount of ball speed they generate. Feedback on off-center hits isn’t terribly distinct, as is expected with game-improvement irons. However, it should be sufficient for figuring out where you made contact on the face.
I found that the weight of the club with the stock steel shaft actually encouraged me to make smoother swings, and overall I think it helped me make good ball contact more consistently.
Solid strikes produce a crisp, higher-pitched sound. The sound produced from off-center strikes is different, but not something that I think many people would have a problem with.
Where should I buy these clubs?
At the time of writing, most set configurations (not including 4-PW, AW) can be purchased more cheaply on Global Golf (click to take you right to the listing) than on Amazon (individual clubs can be purchased here). Note that on Global Golf these irons qualify for the “30-Day Playability Guarantee” which allows you to return the clubs within 30 days even if they shows some use.
What about a used set?
If you would rather save money and get a used set of Big Bertha irons, this eBay page is great to check out; you can find some very good deals there, and you’re protected fully by the eBay Money Back Guarantee.
Also check out this offering from Global Golf. Global Golf has sweet prices for used Callaway clubs, and on top of that they regularly run sales. Try the coupon codes used15, save15, or fs49ship during checkout to save even more.
Pros: High quality build, both forgiveness and distance is among the best on the market, straight trajectory helps to alleviate slices and hooks, high trajectory allows soft landings into the green, feel is wonderfully smooth and soft at impact
Cons: Shot workability is limited (particularly out of the rough and other hairy lies), some people may not like the chunky clubhead, feedback could be a little more helpful
The Callaway Big Bertha irons are fantastic game-improvement irons that arguably every high-handicapper should at least try out. Mid handicappers, low handicappers, and “middle-of-the-green” type golfers can also reap big benefits with these in the bag. If you’re someone who wants any of:
a) loads of forgiveness, more consistency and potentially a lot more distance on your iron shots
b) modern-design golf irons with the latest technology
… then these irons are definitely an option you should consider. They are among the best that Callaway currently has to offer.
If you have any thoughts or opinions about the Callaway Big Bertha irons, be sure to leave a comment below!