Callaway Big Bertha Alpha 816 Driver Review

Callaway Big Bertha Alpha 816 Driver_0135

50 Words or Less

The Callaway Big Bertha Alpha 816 driver offers another new wrinkle to Callaway’s very impactful Gravity Core adjustability.  Great looks and feel.  A must try for better players.

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Introduction

Callaway’s “better player” drivers, the Big Bertha Alphas, have been a huge hit here at PluggedInGolf since the line was introduced two years ago.  Not only do they look, sound, and feel great, they brought with them the biggest advance in adjustability that we’ve seen in a long time.  This time around, the Callaway Big Bertha Alpha 816 driver is doubling down on its signature Gravity Core technology with Dual Distance Chambers that can change spin rates and shot shape.

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Looks

From the original Big Bertha Alpha to the new Alpha 816, Callaway has set the standard for great-looking players drivers.  The Callaway Big Bertha Alpha 816 driver continues that trend with a compact, rounded head, deep face, and no alignment aid.

What’s new for the 816 is the matte black crown; previous versions have been high gloss.  While some people may be sick of the matte black, I love the mean look and glare killing.

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Sound & Feel

In a year of great drivers, the Callaway Big Bertha Alpha 816 driver may be tops for sound and feel.  As its “better player” target audience will appreciate, the sound is muted without much metallic quality.  I would describe it as a “pop,” but that doesn’t really do it justice.

The feel is even better.  This is the rare driver that actually feels hot.  Most drivers fake a hot feel by being loud or metallic, but the Alpha 816 would feel hot even if you were wearing ear plugs.  This latest generation of Callaway’s R*MOTO face technology gives you the sensation of the ball being fired out of a cannon, which does great things for your confidence on the tee box.  All that said, the feedback is still every bit of what you’d expect from a players driver.

BB Alpha 816 LM Data

Performance

When I tested the original Big Bertha Alpha, I said that the Gravity Core was a “game changer for club fitting” and the “most significant step forward in adjustability in years”.  With the Big Bertha Alpha 816’s Dual Distance Chambers, you can take all that praise and double it.  Where all previous Alpha drivers had two positions – Gravity Core Up and Gravity Core Down – the 816 has four: Up and Down in both Draw and Neutral positions.  Each position changes the feel of the driver completely.  If you pick up this driver and don’t like it, don’t put it down, just change the Gravity Core.

The weight change does more than change the feel; it also has a huge impact on ball flight.  Moving the Gravity Core up and down changes the trajectory of the ball noticeably.  When you move the weight from the Draw chamber to the Neutral chamber, you move the sweet spot toward the toe and change the way the club performs on heel and toe strikes.  As a hooker who likes to see the ball fly high, I found the best success with the Neutral/Down setting which also felt the best to me.

In addition to having some of the best adjustability available, the Big Bertha Alpha 816 is also surprisingly forgiving.  The R*MOTO face keeps ball speeds high even on mishits, and the launch and spin numbers don’t change much on small misses.  Coming into this review, I was in a funk with my driver and the prospect of testing a “players” driver was worrisome.  Just a few balls later, I was swinging with abandon because the results I was getting were so good.

Finally, I have to mention how impressed I am with Callaway’s commitment to fitting and that you need to take advantage of it.  Not only is it beneficial to have a fitter guide you through the process of dialing in the Opti-Fit hosel and the Dual Distance Chambers, you’ll also need one to help you find the best shaft.  Callaway is offering 16 different shafts at no up-charge from names like Fujikura and Mitsubishi Rayon.  If you don’t take advantage of this, you’re leaving yards on the table.

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Conclusion

Though you’d think it would be impossible based on the performance of its predecessors, the Callaway Big Bertha Alpha 816 driver exceeded all the expectations that I had for it.  The Dual Distance Chambers make a huge difference to the feel and performance of this club, and the R*MOTO face makes it long and forgiving.  Don’t be scared by the “better players” label, if you’re looking for a new driver, you need to try being Alpha.

Matt Saternus

8 Comments

  1. Hi Matt. Great review. This is a great a club, looking at shafts that produce the right numbers for me. BTW, are you going to review the new Great Big Bertha. I am interested in your opinion. Thanks.

  2. Why such low numbers on the 816 alpha? It seemed the original alpha had a lot larger distances than the 816 on your simulator. I just bought the 816 alpha and on the course I’m getting longer drives with the 816. Head to head I’m getting an average of 10 yards more. I am a 4 hc golfer with a pretty consistent swing. Did you change testing equipment? Thank you ,Kenny

    • Matt Saternus

      Kenny,

      It’s important to realize that the LM numbers should never be compared apples to apples unless we explicitly say that two sets of numbers are comparable. The two clubs were tested a year apart. There are a handful of possible variables, but chief among them is the person swinging the club.

      Regardless, I’m happy to hear that you’re hitting the 816 longer. I think it’s an awesome driver.

      -Matt

  3. Hi Matt,

    Looking for your review of the XR16 and Ping G drivers? Interested in your thoughts.

    Thanks,

    John

  4. Hi Matt,

    Thanks for your review. Any comments on how this compares, to the 815 Double Black Diamond? Wondering if it’s worth an upgrade, and in particular if it’s more forgiving than last year’s model.

    Thanks,
    Edwin

    • Matt Saternus

      Edwin,

      The only way to know if it’s worth an upgrade is to try it head to head with yours and see if there are improvements. I would say the forgiveness is fairly even.

      Best,

      Matt

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