The Local Knowlege

Gear & Equipment

The next Callaway driver hints at swing speed

By Mike Stachura

When a company starts putting physics formulas on its products, it's probably not a stretch to assume the nod to science has something to do with the product's performance intent. 

So when the USGA updated its conforming list of clubheads this week to include a driver emblazoned with the equation for kinetic energy, it's safe to assume the driver is going to be pushing the idea of creating swing speed. In golf, kinetic energy is best described as the energy created in the clubhead coming into the ball as a result of its speed. In scientific terms, it is the product of the mass of an object (like a clubead) and the velocity (or swing speed) squared, times one-half. Because velocity is squared in the equation, this means that for an object like a clubhead, whose mass might change only a relatively small amount, if you can develop a way to increase speed, you can deliver more energy into the ball at impact. More energy at impact can lead to more distance. In simpler terms, the theory might be that it may be much more important to figure out how to produce a driver that can be swung faster than to figure out how to swing a heavier driver clubhead as fast as you can swing a standard- weight driver clubhead. The idea of pursuing ways to increase clubhead speed has been seen in several companies' drivers in the past, including Cleveland's Launcher DST, TaylorMade's Burner SuperFast, Adams' Speedline and most recently Ping's new G30.

Enter the Callaway Big Bertha V-Series. Although the company is mum on specifics, the USGA's listing describes the club as having a sole that includes the company's trademark caricature of Sir Isaac Newton and its catchphrase, "You can't argue with physics." The sole also includes the words "Speed Optimized Technology," as well as the aforementioned equation for kinetic energy. The listing references 9, 10.5 and 13HT lofts, and from the image the club appears to be adjustable. It would not be a stretch to suggest the "V" might stand for "velocity." 

Given that it's been a year since Callaway launched the FT Optiforce, which promoted the idea of increasing swing speed through a more aerodynamic head shape and lighter overall weight, it seems natural the Big Bertha V-series with its reference to kinetic energy could be the next evolution of those ideas. Last year, the FT Optiforce actually drew some interest and success from tour players; both Chris Kirk and Patrick Reed won with one in the bag in late-season events last year, and Jim Furyk used one to shoot a 59 during the BMW Championship. 

It is not clear whether the Big Bertha V-Series will be played or even tested at any tour events this week, but being on the conforming list means the club is available to be used in competition immediately. More details are sure to be available fairly, er, quickly.