Pros: The HEX Black Tour is one of the longest, lowest-spinning tour balls on the market. The Chrome + feels a little softer and produces more spin on full shots. Both models are exceptional in the wind and provide plenty of greenside spin.
Cons: Both struggle in the durability department. The HEX Black might feel “clicky” to some golfers, and high-spin players might struggle with the tendency of the HEX Chrome + to spin back too much.
Bottom line: For $31.99, the HEX Chrome + is by far the most golf ball for the money golfers can buy. Golfers who spin the Chrome + too much will love the HEX Black Tour, which kills spin off the tee but still manages one-hop-and-stop performance with shorter clubs.
The HEX Chrome + has four layers. The core and the inner mantle are designed to create high ball speed and more distance, while the outer mantle reduces driver spin. The cover is made of thermoplastic urethane, and like the HEX Black Tour it is designed with Callaway’s patented HEX aerodynamic dimple pattern to reduce drag.
The HEX Black Tour has five layers and a dual core to provide both distance and the right amount of spin on approach shots. Its inner core has a very low compression, which allows it to be lower spinning with the long clubs than the HEX Chrome +.
The HEX Black Tour has a dual-core construction, with an extremely low-compression inner core (gray) for low-spin shots off the tee and a higher-compression outer core (black) to give golfers more spin with shorter clubs.
Driver/fairway woods: Both balls performed consistently off the tee, with the HEX Black Tour being around 5 yards longer. The trajectory control with both balls was particularly impressive. One could easily hit shots with a low flight without fear of ballooning, and shots lofted up high in the air were reluctant to be thrown offline by crosswinds.
Long/Mid irons: The long and mid irons is where I noticed the least different between the golf balls. Both seemed to produce a medium trajectory that had a stable, penetrating flight in windy conditions. As I got through the bag, the differences in the two balls became more apparent. Around my 7 iron, the HEX Chrome + had a higher peak trajectory and stopped much quicker on the greens. The HEX Black Tour maintained its more penetrating flight and produced more forward rollout on the green.
Short Irons/Wedges: With short irons and wedges, the differences between the two balls are the most obvious. The HEX Black Tour is prone to stop where it lands, while the HEX Chrome + likes to spin back. If you’re a golfer who struggles with controlling spin, the HEX Black Tour is for you. If you’ve dreamed of spinning the ball back, you’re a HEX Chrome + type of guy.
Putting and chipping: No difference.
Looks and Feel
Above: A breakdown of the features of the HEX Chrome +, which has a higher compression than the HEX Black Tour.
Both balls have a classic look. The HEX Chrome + has red numbers, while the HEX Black Tour’s numbers are black. The hexagon pattern makes Callaway balls stand out from every other ball on the market, but that’s nothing new. Golfers can also buy the Chrome + in Callaway’s “Optical Yellow” color if that’s there thing.
As for feel, the HEX Black Tour is going to feel firmer than HEX Chrome + for most golfers.
Golfers can make golf ball selection very complicated, but Callaway’s premium golf ball offerings for 2013 make things simple for golfers. If you need less spin or play golf courses with soft conditions, you’re probably going to be a HEX Black Tour player. If you need more spin or play firm golf courses (or golf courses with thick rough) you’ll probably score better with the HEX Chrome +.
The price point of the HEX Chrome + ($31.99) makes it one of the most interesting product releases of 2013. There’s certainly not an $8 differential in performance between it and the HEX Black Tour ($39.99). For many players, the HEX Chrome+ is actually going to perform much better than Callaway’s most expensive golf ball.
Dedicated golfers are going to take the time to find out what ball is best for them, and they likely won’t be troubled by paying $8 more for a dozen of golf balls if they perform better.
But for the golfer who is more price conscious, the HEX Chrome + makes a lot of sense. They can buy a mid-priced golf ball (something in the $20 range) from another ball manufacturers that no PGA Tour player has ever used in competition, or they can spend a few extra bucks and game the model that was used by Gary Woodland, Sang Moon Bae and Phil Mickelson to win on the PGA Tour in 2013.
That’s not a very tough choice.