Now that the long, awful winter is over, golf season is here.
That means it's time to start thinking about buying new golf clubs. Sure, you could start thinking about getting lessons to fix your swing, but what fun is that?
Buying a new golf club is a lot more fun, especially if you've been using the same stuff for a while.
There's two companies making a hard push to get your money — Callaway, which is reintroducing its "Big Bertha" brand and Taylor Made which has the SLDR driver.
For a few weeks now, I'be been hitting both clubs, which were provided to me by the companies for a review.
The Big Bertha brand got stretched out and overused for a while, so Callaway retired it in 2008. But, customers were still asking for Big Bertha, so Callaway brought it back. The new club is a solid addition to the Bertha legacy.
As for Taylor Made, it feels like it introduces a new driver every other week. I've owned a Taylor Made R7 driver, Burner 2.0, and an R11, but I've never really liked any of those drivers. (I am currently playing a Titleist 910D2 with 12 degrees of loft. I'm a 9 handicap.)
My quick review: They're both excellent clubs, but if you put me in store and forced me to pick one, I would go with the SLDR. It's a more forgiving club.
The Big Bertha is good. When I hit the Bertha square, I smoke it. But I found my misses were more exaggerated with the Bertha than the SLDR.
Here's a slightly longer review for each club.
The Big Bertha is gorgeous to look at. The head of the club is a deep black. The bottom of the head is a glittery navy. The shaft and grip are a matching white and blue.
When I was playing in Florida at Streamsong, I dropped my bag at the front, and they brought it to me in the back. One of the caddies told me all the other caddies took the head cover off the club and gawked at it for a while. It's that good looking.
But there's more to a club than looks. The Bertha has all the modern bells and whistles on a driver these days. It has an adjustable weight in the back that is supposed to help you hit fades or draws. When I adjusted the weight though, I didn't see much of a difference.
You can also adjust the loft of the face up by 2 degrees or down by 1 degree. Tweaking that leads to a noticeable difference in ball flight.
For the most part I was happy with the Big Bertha. The thing that I struggled with was keeping in the fairway. I tended to slice it hard out right. When I tightened up my swing I would keep in play, but there was always a risk of the big miss out right. Or, if I tighten my swing to compensate I can hit a hook.
As for the SLDR...
I don't think it is much to look at. It's kind of ugly, really. The bottom of the club is all over the place, and the top of it is a dark grey that doesn't really pop. But who cares about looks? It's all about performance.
The SLDR, much like the Bertha, is adjustable out the wazoo. You can raise and lower the loft. You can adjust it for draws and fades. Unlike the Bertha, the weight adjustments make a big difference. When I adjusted the weight from neutral to draw, it cut down on my tendency to slice.
I was testing a 14 degree driver, which really launched the ball high in the air. A little too high, to be honest. It felt like it cut down on distance a tad. When I hit the Bertha straight, I hit it further.
But the extra loft made the club more forgiving, and the distance given up wasn't that significant. I was consistently in the fairway, which is the number one thing I'm looking for.