The History of Callaway Big Bertha Golf Clubs

By Michael J. Brna Ph.D.

Ely Callaway, founder of Calloway Golf, chose the name Big Bertha for the new driver he introduced in 1991. He borrowed the name from a German WWI howitzer, nicknamed Big Bertha because of its massive size and power. However, most people now associate the Big Bertha name not with an outdated weapon but with a driver that has enjoyed almost 30 years of widespread popularity. The Big Bertha was revolutionary at the time for its fully stainless steel construction at a time when many golfers still used traditional wooden drivers. The head of the original Big Bertha, while small by today's standards, was quite large by 1991 standards and immediately set the club apart from competitors. 

Revolutionary Design

Besides setting a new standard for size and materials, the Big Bertha driver was revolutionary in that it put more weight around the clubhead's perimeter resulting in a thinner, more forgiving clubface. The design rapidly increased the sweet spot compared to persimmon drivers, while remaining lightweight. 

Big Bertha Irons

Big Bertha irons were introduced in 1994. Similar to the driver, the clubs' oversized clubfaces and large, highly forgiving sweet spots targeted high-handicap golfers.

Evolutionary Changes

As the club design changed, so did the club names. As other manufacturers introduced larger drivers, Callaway kept pushing to provide bigger and better drivers. When new rules limiting the size of driver heads to 460 cc, simply increasing the size was no longer a way to set the Big Bertha drivers apart from the rest. As a result, Callaway focuses on design changes, including using lightweight carbon in the construction and the addition of adjustable weights. 

Callaway Pros

Although the Big Bertha line was designed to help high handicappers play better, touring pros have also benefited. Phil Mickelson, Sergio Garcia, Ernie Els, Henrik Stenson, and Xander Schauffele are all current Callaway pros. 

About The Author

Michael J. Brna, Ph.D., conducts public speaking and small group facilitation training and is a member of the Library of Congress Teaching with Primary Sources Quarterly Newsletter Editorial Review Committee. He considers himself a Jack Lemmon-type golfer who writes fact sheets for

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