A couple of months back there was a lot of talk around Rory Mcilroy. And it wasn’t about breaking off an engagement or winning another tournament. It was about him hitting a new piece of equipment from a brand that not many people expected to hear Rory moving to. He had been seen last fall hitting the TaylorMade M2, just like Tiger was. With Nike going away from the golf club business, their tour players were all up for new club deals. There seemed to be many tour pros going the route of TaylorMade. But another top pick by many of those ex-Nike staffers was Callaway. To the general public, we knew the brand was Callaway; that was the most we knew about the new driver Rory and others were testing. Then came some Instagram posts and a new commercial… with two bars and the sound of something banging against metal finished by the slogan “Something Epic is coming 1.27.2017” and Callaway’s logo.
Callaway’s new driver, the Epic Great Big Bertha (GBB) has two titanium rods behind the face, that they call jailbreak technology. The Callaway engineers came across this technology when they designed the gravity core in the Big Bertha Alpha and Big Bertha 816 Double Black Diamond drivers.
The gravity core was attached to the sole and crown of the driver; this changed the performance characteristics of the face. This stiffened the sole and crown, so they didn’t bulge as much on impact. The added weight of the jailbreak technology meant there needed to be weight saves elsewhere. With a titanium exoskeleton and a triaxial carbon crown and sole, the crown only weighed 9.7g. This allowed them to design a driver with an extremely high moment of inertia (MOI) and forgiveness. The jailbreak technology stiffens the crown and sole, and then transfers more energy back into the face…translating into higher ball speeds. Because jailbreak technology isn’t reliant on swing speed, Callaway says that the golfers’ club head speed doesn’t matter, all swing speeds will benefit from this new technology.
Other technologies found on the new Epic are the speed step on the top of the crown and the perimeter sliding weight (found only on the GBB Epic not in the GBB Epic Sub Zero model). The speed step is a similar technology to last years’ Callaway XR. For the XR, they brought Boeing in to help design a driver with greater aerodynamics. The perimeter sliding weight found on the GBB Epic model is said to be able to change direction up to 21 yards. On the GBB Epic Sub Zero there are two weight ports that hold a 12g and a 2g weight. There is one port closer to the face and one closer to the back, allowing you to have more forgiveness with the heavier weight in the back, or less spin with the heavier weight closer to the face.
When you hear such great things from pros testing the Epic and read about all this new technology, it makes you want to go see how it performs for you. I did just that. From the first swing of the Callaway GBB Epic Sub Zero driver, I fell in love. The feel off the face is something everyone needs to feel. It’s really hard to explain. It’s very solid, losing a lot of the flex you get from other drivers. While at the same time, it’s so soft it feels like you are able to feel the ball flexing along with the face…those few milliseconds before it springs off. The soft feel may have a little bit to do with the type of ball I have been hitting. I have hit the Epic with the new TaylorMade TP5, Titleist Pro V-1, Pro V-1X and the Callaway Chrome Soft, all premium level golf balls. Immediately I saw average gains of 3 MPH more ball speed and roughly 10+ yards of carry distance. All of this testing being in Wisconsin was done on a launch monitor originally. It wasn’t until our amazing spring warm up this past weekend that I have been truly able to see accurate carry distances outside. Even though it’s warm enough to golf, the ground is still very soft and there is no roll; most of the time the ball plugs. This makes it very easy to laser range carry distances. The soft ground also negates the extra roll you can get from a draw ball flight over a fade. With this club, my carry distance has increased by at least 10 yards. I can’t wait to hit it in regular conditions, since this driver has brought my spin down on average of 500 rpm.
There are a bunch of premium shaft offerings from Callaway at their $500 Epic price point. Their stock shafts are the Diamana M+ Green 40, Project X HZRDUS T800 55, Aldila Rogue Max 65 and the Fujikura Pro Green 62. There are many other premium shafts offered at no up-charge. I loved the feel and performance of the Aldila Rogue Silver 70 so much in my previous driver, that I have the same shaft in my new Epic. This is a low spin, low launch shaft that allows me to keep the heavier weight in the back of the head for more forgiveness, as my spin is already very low with this shaft head combination. So not only are my distances up but my accuracy has improved as well.
Like I mentioned earlier, Callaway has made the Epic in two different head designs. I chose the Epic GBB Sub Zero for myself. This decision was made from slightly better numbers and a better feel. Both of these things are per person. I would suggest testing them both, and depending on swing type and feel, you should see one of them perform and feel better for you. The reason the feel is so different, is the sliding weight track in the back of the Epic GBB. It leads to a different layout of the club head from a weight distribution aspect. I preferred the feel from the Sub Zero model. Anyone looking for more customization options should look at the Epic GBB since there are many more settings to help dial in the ball flight. All of this is similar to what TaylorMade is doing with their M1 and M2 club heads.
With most drivers coming out having technology we have all seen before… and for the first time in a long time TaylorMade not really even coming out with a new driver, the Epic is a driver you need to try.
In my first article I gave you all a brief description of myself and what I am currently playing. In my next article I will take you on a deeper dive into my bag and review how I chose the rest of my current set.
Accuracy is key, fairways and greens!
3 thoughts on “Product Review: Callaway GBB Epic”
A good detailed review … thank you.
I have hit the EPIC driver at a Callaway Demo Day. This wasn’t very “telling” because at my level the quality of a drive depends more on the quality of the particular swing I produced than on the club.
However, I’ve also recently played rounds with two people who used the EPIC driver. Perhaps their reactions are more meaningful.
One round was with long drive champion Lisa “Longball” Vlooswyk. Lisa hits the ball literally farther than I can see it. So I began watching her face to judge the drive … a satisfied smirk usually grew there.
The other round was with a 15 handicapper in my local “old foggy golf group”. He hit a lot of really solid drives that day … and walked off the tee boxes grinning from ear to ear.
I suspect Callaway has something going here.
A Hui Hou,
Thanks for checking out the post. Callaway definitely has something going on here. Fun to hear about the your experiences with the club as well as your playing partners! I am actually a new writer writing product reviews and anything golf for Paul. I love the game and everything that has to do with the game.
Keep having fun in the sun, we have finally lost all of our snow. . . again back here in Wisconsin. So hopefully spring golf is right around the corner.
I’m sorry about getting the name wrong. I will look forward to more posts. I hope you get back on the courses soon. Read about my rounds on http://www.kauaigolf.me – I’d like to know what you think of my golf stories.
A Hui Hou (until next time),