CALLAWAY BIG BERTHA ALPHA 816
CATEGORY: Better Player Fairway Woods
WE TESTED: 16° (adjusts 15° to 18°) and 18° (adjusts 17° to 20°) with Aldila Rogue I/O 70 graphite shaft
KEY TECHNOLOGIES: The forged cup face bolsters ball speed on misses.
PLAYABILITY: It performs well from funky lies; easy to hit straight, and shaping shots is a piece of cake; moving the sole weights definitely affects ball flight.
ACCURACY/FORGIVENESS: Keeps the ball in play -- not a ton of sidespin, and pretty fair forgiveness on off-center hits; you can expect shots to go to the target most of the time.
DISTANCE: All the length you need in just about every situation; noticeably longer than a few guys' 3-woods off the tee; good rollout leads to solid distance on misses.
FEEL: Shots jump off the face with a firm, powerful click; heavyish head combines with the shaft for extreme stability throughout the swing; never jarring when you don't catch it just right.
LOOK: Tasteful matte black finish won't distract you; guys like the compact head and classic shape.
For some testers, it's more difficult to get airborne than other woods; the understated look can be almost too plain; a few guys want more pop.
BOTTOM LINE: The Big Bertha Alpha 816 offers plenty of maneuverability -- and adjustability -- for strong swingers. It's a balanced performer that's one of the best models in its class.