Pros: Callaway’s Speed Regime line includes three tour-level golf balls (the SR-1, SR-2, and SR-3) matched to three segments of swing speeds: Moderate, Athletic, and Tour-Level. Each ball delivers distance, plenty of short game spin and the softest feel of any Callaway tour ball to date.

Cons: All three Speed Regime balls, but especially the very soft SR-1, are not as durable as some other balls at the premium price point ($47.99 per dozen).

Bottom Line: Playing a ball fit for your game is as important as playing equipment fit for your game. The Speed Regime line gives every golfer, regardless of swing speed, the option to put a true tour-level golf ball into play optimized to deliver performance where it matters most.

Overview

I love where the golf equipment market is at right now. It seems like every new piece of equipment brings the word “fit” into their product description. While it might seem like pure marketing, there is no denying that playing equipment fit for your game — from golf clubs to golf balls — will generate better performance.

With the 2014 Speed Regime SR-1, SR-2 and SR-3 golf balls, Callaway stepped up its game from offering two versions of its tour-level golf balls in 2013 to three in 2014, all designed with customized aerodynamics for different swing speeds. The result is that golfers can now easily match their swing speed to a specific golf ball to maximize performance with every club in the bag.

SR-1

callaway_srs

The dual-core, four-piece SR-1 is designed for golfers with swing speeds of less than 90 mph or what Callaway refers to as a “moderate swing speed.” By looking at launch monitor data of golfers with moderate swing speeds, they realized that those golfers won’t see the fast ball speeds of a tour pro and would benefit more with an aerodynamic profile that focuses on increasing the lift of the golf ball to maximize carry distance.

The SR-1 has a thin mantle layer that allows the ball to launch with less spin off the driver, but more spin off the shorter clubs. It also has the softest urethane cover of all of the Speed Regime golf balls.

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SR- 2

The five-piece SR-2 will likely be the sweet spot for a majority of golfers with an “athletic” swing speed between 90 and 105 mph. Callaway engineers focused on creating a balanced golf ball that seeks to reduce drag during the high-speed portion of a ball’s flight and at the same time, increase lift during the last third of a ball’s flight.

The SR-2 has an additional mantle layer that boosts ball speeds and also reduces spin off the longer clubs. Like the SR-1, the SR-2 has a thermoplastic urethane cover with a softer feel than the SR-3, but not quite as soft as the SR-1. The SR-2 has been the ball of choice for many of Callaway’s LPGA and Champion’s Tour staff players.

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SR- 3

The SR-3, also a five-piece ball, is designed for tour-level swing speeds of 105 mph or more. This golf ball has been the ball of choice for the company’s PGA Tour and European Tour staff players, as well as better amateurs. For the SR-3, the HEX aerodynamic pattern is designed specifically to reduce drag at high ball speeds, increasing distance and accuracy. While a soft feel has not been a hallmark of Callaway tour balls in the past, the soft urethane cover of the SR-3 is as soft as last year’s Chrome +, producing a noticeably softer feel than the company’s other tour balls.

Learn more from CallawayBuy Now on Amazon

All three Speed Regime golf balls are currently available and carry an MSRP of $47.99 per dozen.

Performance

My playing swing speed with a driver is 107 mph right now. If I was choosing a ball off the shelf based purely on Callaway’s recommendations, I would put a box of SR-3 golf balls in the cart. But heading into this test I was curious to see if a swing speed of only 2 mph over the minimum printed on the box would actually be enough to make the SR-3 the best performing ball for my swing. Would having a slightly lower compression ball with tweaked aerodynamics help me launch shots a little higher and generate a bit more carry distance?

Instead of waiting until the end of the review to answer that question, I’ll just give the answer now… Yes. While my swing speed falls within the SR-3 range, I saw better overall performance out of the SR-2 for my swing speed. This reminds me of the current debate better players are having over the merits of playing slightly larger, more forgiving irons like the new Taylormade SLDR or Callaway Apex, versus playing traditional blades. While golfers might fit the “profile,” it doesn’t automatically translate into the best performance, and that is definitely true for my swing with the Speed Regime balls.

Like other balls I’ve reviewed, I wanted to get a true sense of performance, so I tested all three balls on a launch monitor and on the course. To get the data, I hit the balls on a launch monitor with a 60-degree wedge, 6 iron and a driver. While I prefer testing outdoors, I needed to retrieve the balls for multiple tests and headed to Golfsmith Extreme in Smyrna, Ga., where they let me take over a private fitting bay for a few hours.

60-Degree Full Wedge Shots

SR Wedge Numbers

My two main data points in a full wedge test are spin rate and peak height. The others are important, too, but I want to see a healthy amount of spin and a peak height that allows me to go into greens high, soft and spin back if I need it. Controllability is critical, and I expected to be able to flight these balls low as well. My expectation heading into the wedge test was that all three would perform similarly, but I expected a little less spin and more peak height out of the softer compression SR-1.

Ball speed and carry distance were identical across the board and launch angle was within two degrees. But the SR-3 proved to generate the most spin in the group. The numbers were close and statistically too similar to separate the SR-3 from the SR-2, but the SR-3 did generate a little more than 200 rpm more spin on average.

Interestingly, when testing the other balls in Callaway’s 2014 lineup, I was surprised to see the X2 Hot and X2 Hot+ generate very similar spin, launch and peak height numbers. For distance balls, they actually generated a shocking amount of spin with a full wedge. That will turn out to be the one of the only times those balls performed similarly to the Speed Regime line, but very important because it means golfers looking for a distance ball will actually be able to get some stopping power with the short irons.

The SR-2 had a peak height of 1 yard higher than the SR-3 and 1 yard lower than the SR-1. At this point, the SR-2 and SR-3 would both be good balls to put in the bag. Even the other balls in the 2014 product line generated good spin, launch and carry numbers. As is the case with all golf ball testing, as we move away from the green the differences will become more stark and important.

6 Iron Shots

SR Iron Numbers

The three Speed Regime balls continued to perform similar to each other during the 6-iron testing. In fact, the SR-1 matched the SR-2 with identical averages in half the categories. The SR-3, not surprisingly, had a slightly lower launch and peak height while spinning almost 200 rpm more. When looking at carry distance, the SR-2 was the longest in the group of Speed Regime balls, but not the longest overall. The X2 Hot and X2 Hot+ both averaged 3 more yards of carry, but they also generated less spin and a shallower angle of descent, which will make it harder to hold greens on longer shots.

As I move down into the longer irons, I want a ball that is going to help me launch shots a little higher, hitting a nice peak height with a good amount of spin to help me hold greens, but not too much where the ball will balloon. The SR-2 fits those requirements with a 6-iron.

Driver Shots

SR Driver Numbers

I’ve been working hard this year to bring the spin down with my driver. Like many other golfers, I tend to generate a little too much spin, so the golf ball I put in play needs to generate less spin relative to the other options. I also have a tendency to launch the ball lower with my driver, so choosing a ball that will give me a little lift will help as well. My expectation prior to the test was the SR-2, with a balance between lift and drag, would give me the characteristics I’m looking for.

The results were very interesting. The SR-3 launched slightly higher on average with less spin, which made me want to lean in that direction.   But the SR-3 also generated 2 mph less ball speed than the SR-2. This resulted in the SR-2 carrying an average of 5 yards longer than the SR-3, creating 4 yards more in total distance. With the exception of the X2 Hot, the SR-2 was the longest ball for me. With my swing speed, I knew the softer compression SR-1 didn’t stand a chance. The balance of compression and aerodynamics in the SR-2, even with a swing speed fitting the SR-3 profile, generated the best numbers.

While the spin numbers between the Speed Regime balls were fairly tight, there was a much wider dispersion between the spin rates of the entire 2014 lineup. The X2 Hot generated substantially less spin than the other balls as did the X2 Hot+ and Supersoft. For golfers looking for maximum distance, the X2 Hot and X2 Hot+, which we will review in the future, would be really good options to consider.

Compared the Chrome+

hex-chrome-plus-12-ball-box-2013

I played the Chrome+ last year and really liked having a tour-level ball with a nice feel and plenty of spin around the greens. Like many golfers, I was curious if the Speed Regime would provide enough performance enhancement to make it worth switching, especially now that the Chrome+ can be found for less than $30. That’s why I wanted test the Chrome+ during the same launch monitor testing as the Speed Regime line.

The numbers were not surprising because I expect major manufacturers like Callaway to be improving with each new product launch. The SR-2, overall, generated 2 mph more ball speed, 1-degree more launch, slightly more spin with each club and a higher peak height. Also, the carry distance with the driver and 6-iron was 4 yards longer with the SR-2 and 1 yard longer with the wedge than the Chrome+. I still believe the Chrome+ is a great ball for many golfers, but Callaway did manage to increase performance with the Speed Regime golf balls.

On-Course Testing

Speed Regime Bentwater

With the launch monitor data collected and analyzed, it was time to hit the golf course. I started the round with the SR-2 — the ball that on paper appears to be the best ball for me — but I put all the balls in play as the round continued.

I was impressed with the performance right from the first tee. The launch and carry off a driver was exactly what I was seeing in the fitting bay and there wasn’t any sense that the ball was going to balloon up or get out of control. The flight was stable and I was able to control the trajectory nicely. Spin off the shorter irons delivered impressive hit-and-check power and I could spin back any club from pitching wedge up. Spin control became important starting with my 52-degree wedge. The same was true for the SR-3, although I wasn’t seeing as much carry distance with any club. Spin and trajectory all seemed very similar. The SR-1, however, did have a tendency to get up in the air a bit more than I would like to see. But again, it is not optimized as well for my particular swing speed. I hit a few longer hybrid and iron shots into the greens and while I definitely got some run out, the Speed Regime balls came in softly with nice spin to hold the green.

Around the greens, they performed like a tour ball. I had all the control I needed and the confidence to go after more aggressive shots. I had a good day with the putter, too, and the SR-2 was a nice balance of softness between the SR-1 and SR-3.

Wedge Spin

Half Wedge Shots

I did have a chance to hit half wedge shots during my on-course rounds, but wanted to spend a lot more time hitting a variety of shots. Thanks to head pro Cobie Lunsford, I had a chance to get out on the back nine at Bentwater Golf Club in Acworth, Ga., one morning before the early wave made the turn. The 15th hole at Bentwater has a nice, relatively level front portion of the green, which is what I wanted to find for the test.

All three balls performed exactly as I hoped they would. The flattest part of the green also happened to be where the pin was cut, but going 10 feet long meant hitting a slope and rolling about 40 feet to the back of the green. It created an on-course feel for the test and I was able to fire at the pin with low spinners that checked nicely. I could also hit high, soft pitch shots that landed softly. All three balls have the stickiness and controllability I expect to find in a tour ball.

Around the Green

My expectation around the green is that all three golf balls would perform very similarly to each other and that was the case for me. Within 40 yards or so, the urethane cover really does drive performance and the only difference between the three Speed Regime balls is the slightly softer feel of the SR-1 compared to the SR-3.

As expected, I was able to hit any shot I wanted to from bump-and-run shots to quick-spinning chips that hit once and check up. I could open the face and hit soft shots, and out of the bunker I was able to hit a variety of shots from tight spinning shots to chunk and runs.

The feel of each ball was similar, but with touch shots around the green it was becoming a little easier to distinguish the softer feel of the SR-1 from the slightly firmer feel of the SR-3.

Putting

For me, the feel of these three golf balls separated themselves on the green with a putter in hand. All three felt as soft or softer than the Chrome+ and rolled smooth and true, but they didn’t all feel the same. There was a distinct difference in the softness from the SR-1 to the SR-3. I really liked how the SR-1 felt off the face. It was super soft and felt like it almost melted off the putter while still producing the speed I expected. For a Callaway ball, this was a unique and new feel. The SR-2 was firmer, but not too much firmer. The SR-3 was the firmest and when it came to sound, it had the highest pitched impact off the putter face.

Looks and Feel

It’s official, Callaway’s “click” problem is dead. One of the loudest criticisms of Callaway golf balls in the past was the firm feel, even as recently as the 2013 Hex Black Tour. The Chrome+ was the first ball to really provide a noticeably softer feel and with the Speed Regime line, Callaway has managed to compose all three golf balls with a feel as soft or softer than the Chrome+. Callaway claims that the SR-3 feels about as soft as the Chrome+ and the SR-2 and SR-1 are softer. I agree. The balls felt softer on all shots and especially around the green. They aren’t the softest feeling tour balls on the market, but if feel was a reason people dismissed Callaway balls in the past, now is a good time to try them again.

When it comes to looks, golf balls are separated by the finer details. All three balls look like premium golf balls. The alignment mark on the side has a more streamlined and aggressive look than last year’s Chrome+ or HEX Black and it gives the ball a sense of motion and speed even at rest, which ties in nicely with the name. The biggest improvement, especially from Callaway’s perspective, is that the logo on each side of the ball is facing the same direction. Other manufacturers have been doing this for a long time, but if you’ve held a Callaway ball with the logo right side up and then turned it over, you would notice that the other logo is upside down. That is not the case any longer. Like I said, it is the finer details that separate a good looking tour ball from an average looking tour ball.

Durability

SR1 Balls
SR2 Balls
SR3 Balls

I attempted to complete all my testing, both on the launch monitor and on the course, using only three of each type of ball. I was only able to complete the test with the SR-3. The firmer thermoplastic urethane cover of the SR-3 held up nicely after being subjected to a variety of different shots. There are scratches and marks for sure, and I don’t feel the ball held up quite as nicely as the 2014 Titleist Pro V1 and Pro V1X, but I could keep the same ball in play for an entire round.

The SR-2 and SR-1 however, both with softer covers than the SR-3, didn’t hold up as well. During on-course testing, I took a slice out of the SR-2 that was bad enough that it wasn’t going back in play after I finished the hole, but not quite as bad as the SR-1. With the SR-1, I took a substantial chunk out of the ball during indoor wedge testing. While it can be argued that my swing speed doesn’t match the composition of the SR-1 and those with more moderate swing speeds likely won’t have the same issue, I’m a little disappointed to see that I can slice into the SR-2 as easily as I did.

Bottom Line

The aerodynamics and construction of each of the 2014 Speed Regime golf balls work together to create three different tour-level balls with distinctly different profiles and performance, all matched to three segments of swing speeds. The clear and simple segments of swing speed ranges — which include moderate, athletic, and tour — make it very easy for golfers to select the best Speed Regime ball for their swing.

With solid performance and the softest feel of any Callaway ball to date, the Speed Regime golf balls deserve to be on the list of any golfer getting fit for a new golf ball.

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When he is not obsessing about his golf game, Kane heads up an innovation lab responsible for driving innovative digital product development for Fortune 500 companies. He is also the co-founder of RoundShout and creator of Ranger GPS, the free iOS GPS app for the driving range.

On a quest to become a scratch golfer, Kane writes about his progress (for better or worse) at kanecochran.com and contributes golf technology-focused articles on GolfWRX.com.

33 COMMENTS

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  1. I received half a dozen SR3 balls at a demo day at my course. I have been strictly playing the pro v 1 x for years now, and was impressed. The short game control was very nice, i think i was able to get the ball to “check” more aggressively from 50 yards and in, however it was at the cost of the cover. I feel like i have noticed this trend with their balls over the years, and time id find one or try one out the covers seem to shred on contact with a full wedge.

    Overall i think they are a very well designed ball, and its performance is worth the price. However i will be sticking to my ways with the pro v x

  2. Kane,

    Very good review. I have been playing the SR3 for a couple of months. I have always been a pro v1x lover for years. I think these balls hold up nicely vs the overwhelming tour favorite titleist. My swing speed is around 115 so I have only been playing the 3, I feel like they hold up nicely and honestly feel like I actually hit these a little more straight than the pro v1x.
    By the way, Dicks had an online sale three weeks ago and I got 2 dozen delivered to the front door for $70. Pretty good for a tour level ball.
    Keep the reviews coming, loved hearing someone reinforce what I was already thinking.

  3. Hi, could you please someone explain me how it si possible to divided tha balls on the basis of swing speed??? For example if I do not want to play full shot then the ball will not work??? It is nonsense!!! Just Callaway, Bridgestone etc need to tell the customers something “new” but something what is not true. For example…PRO V1 can be used only for Tour Players with a high club head speed otherwise do not play!

  4. SuperSoft spins more on 60* wedge shots than SR3?
    And SuperSoft has the highest spin off driver of all balls?

    Strange numbers there. I don’t think there is no way you can say that SuperSoft has “Hit and Check up”.

    • I was as surprised as you were by the numbers. I actually re-tested with the wedge to ensure I wasn’t getting a bad test. The Supersoft did hit, bounce and check for me, but only on the full wedge shots. And there was plenty of height to the shots, which helped. It wouldn’t be the same kind of hit and check I would see with an SR and lower flighted full wedge. Around the green, there is no comparison between the SS and any of the urethane SR balls, which obviously have more grip.

  5. The only reason durability is important at all is because when you find one in the bush if durability is good then the ball might be fine. I break 80 and still lose a ball every 15-18 holes. So durability is not that important to me.

  6. Very nice review Kane. I played the SR2 last weekend for the first time and came away very impressed both on distance and playability around the greens. I find your review is right on in all areas. Keep up the great postings.

  7. This is going to make the Gold award givers a little mad Kane, you see you had raw data and they have raw payments paying for awards lol. Great review and just in time as I am wanting to try the SR2 and Chrome+.

  8. Kane,
    Great review!! This is why WRX is such an awesome site.
    I thought the Chrome+ was the best ball I’ve ever played and was skeptical about the SR balls. I was pleasantly surprised by the SR2.
    It’s every bit as good as the Chrome+. $20 a box better. not sure about that yet.

  9. Kane… excellent write-up. Thanks for the sidebar about your swing speed relative to the SR2 and SR3. I have played an SR2 with very good success at a driver swing speed of 108. Like you, I was ready to pull the trigger on trying out the SR3 ball but you gave me the answer I was looking for.

    • Thank you and glad I could help. For swing speeds right on the edge between any of the three balls, not just SR2/3, I think a lot of golfers will be surprised to find that if they go down one level they will see better performance. Sounds like you made a good call!

  10. One of the best ball reviews I’ve ever read. Great job! Love the level of information and comparisons provided. Now, if you could get the data for my swing, that would be perfect…

  11. Nice review Kane! This kind of detail is exactly what many of us are looking for in reviews these days without the time or resources to get on the launch monitors with all these new products! Invaluable stuff.

    Can you give us your quick opinion of the SR2 v. Prov1x (durability aside) please?

    • Thanks, JJ, we’re really happy you guys are finding a lot of value in this style of review. Hopefully we can keep doing a few more in the coming months.

      As for a comparison of the Pro V1x vs SR2… it really comes down to spin. The Pro V1x, for my swing, generated more spin on each of the 3 clubs than the SR2. Most significantly with the wedge. I generated faster ball speeds with the SR2 until I reached the driver where they were the same. Both balls would be excellent choices for my bag, but looking at the numbers, the Pro V1x launched a little lower, spun a bit more, and felt to me, even slightly softer than the SR2.

      • But the SR2 spun less off the driver than the Pro V for you. I would have thought as you stated that with all the work you are putting in to reduce the spin on your driver that the SR2 would be in the bag straight away. Short game performance is good so why wouldn’t you want to knock off that 300-400rpm straight away with a simple ball change? Great ball tests BTW, nice to see some solid testing and data on balls. Thanks.

  12. Great review, very detailed with terrific information. Although Callaway has improved their product(s) with this series of balls I just don’t see the benefit to switching from a Chrome + to achieve 4 yards more distance, especially when you consider that the SR series balls are $20 more expensive. I just think there’s too many terrific balls available in the $30-35 range. Don’t get me wrong I love the 330, Pro V1 etc but the price is getting pretty steep lately. Again great review and I look forward to your next product review.

    • Thanks for your comment, Jim. Happy to hear you found value in the article. Your point is exactly why we wanted to test the Chrome+ in the same launch monitor session as the new SR balls. It is still an excellent golf ball and will continue to find a good home in many golfer’s bags.

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