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Like soft balls? Callaway launches Chrome Soft

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The “have your cake and eat it too” of golf balls? It just might be Callaway’s new Chrome Soft, a golf ball that’s promising tour-level distance and short game control that’s not typical of its marshmallowy soft feel.

In general, softer golf balls tend not to go as far as harder golf balls. Think of it this way: when a grape hits a supermarket floor, it goes splat; when a marble hits the same floor, it bounces back. That’s an extreme example, but you get the point.

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The Chrome Soft ($37.99) uses Callaway’s HEX Aerodynamics and will be available in stores Jan. 16, 2015.

Callaway has invested heavily in the science of low-compression, softer-feeling golf balls, the result of which is the Chrome Soft. The three-piece ball has what Callaway calls a Soft Fast core, which works together with its slightly stiffer ionomer mid layer to retain more energy than Callaway’s previous low-compression models.

“In general, as you make the materials inside the golf ball softer they get slower,” says Dave Bartels, Callaway’s senior director of golf ball R&D. “We’ve been able to buck that trend with [Chrome Soft].”

All this talk about speed leaves out what is often the most important component of a golf ball: spin. The Chrome Soft’s low-compression design makes it lower spinning with a golfer’s long clubs (driver, fairway woods, hybrids, long irons and mid irons). Less spin creates less drag, which creates more distance.

But what about short-game spin, you might be asking? The Chrome Soft’s urethane DuraSpin cover is Callaway’s softest ever, which helps it grip the grooves of the club face on wedge shots and generate tour-level spin around the greens.

Screen Shot 2014-12-15 at 2.25.41 PM
Above: Callaway’s Chrome Soft is available in White and Yellow.

My take? I tested the Chrome Soft on the course this fall. It felt balata-ball soft compared to today’s leading tour balls, which have compression around 90. The Chrome Soft has a compression of about 65. Discerning golfers will be able tell the difference with every club, especially with the putter.

At my swing speed of 115 mph, I saw similar driver distance with the Chrome Soft and slightly increased distance with my fairway woods, hybrids and irons. Golfers with slower clubhead speeds, particularly those under 105 mph, should see the most gains.

With wedges, the Chrome Soft launched slightly lower, but it carried enough spin to stop where I wanted it to stop. The ball’s extremely soft cover actually improves durability, a plus for golfers who play balls for consecutive rounds.

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  1. sven johannson

    Dec 19, 2014 at 11:52 pm

    I’m looking forward to trying this ball, i’ve been playing with the Callaway Supersoft and Wilson Duo, Curious to see if the Driver goes as far as the Supersoft they do feel great on soft shots around the green and off the putter.. can’t wait

  2. Bill Cosby

    Dec 17, 2014 at 8:17 pm

    The ladies love soft balls. Well I think they do. You know what I have no clue what they like. So sleepy all the time

    • aaaaa

      Dec 18, 2014 at 1:58 pm

      Golfwrx bashes patrick reed and ted bishop but publish articles asking whether you like “soft balls”??

      You guys make sense…

  3. RAT

    Dec 17, 2014 at 5:12 pm

    Wilson Staff has the DUO ball and their Tour ball is 65 compression and they were introduced about 3 years ago. “4 layer tour ”
    Like Mikie “try it you’ll like it” They have a sticky coating the best for the money..

  4. mike

    Dec 17, 2014 at 12:25 pm

    Tried this golfball for 3 holes and was outdriven by my whole group…the ball went nowhere..felt great off the irons and putter..don’t get me wrong..90+ mph on the driver but it felt DOA off the driver face. switched back to Taylor Made dicontinued “Lethal” ball and back came my distance. just sayin….

  5. Jonny B

    Dec 17, 2014 at 10:02 am

    Who cares about new golf balls? They’re all pretty much indistinguishable from the other brands nowadays in terms of performance.

    Not to mention they’ll be for sale on all the used golf ball sites in about 1 month for 1/2 the price. I only buy used golf balls now, who can afford to throw 2-3 ProV1’s away per round at $4/ball? Not me. I load up 1-2 times per year on premium balls (AAAAA mint condition) for about $10-$15/dozen. Heck, a few months ago I got TM Lethals in AAAAA Mint condition for $6/dozen. Sorry, but when I can get year-old models for 20% of the cost of new, I’d be stupid not to.

    The golf industry is declining while equipment prices and greens fees are rising… recipe for disaster if you ask me. To get a set of decent clubs new – new driver will set you back $400 today, new irons $800, 2 new wedges $250, new bag $150, new balls $30-$45. Can’t the top-level execs of these companies and courses see where we are headed here? Or maybe they don’t care.

    I will give Callaway credit for one thing – their preowned equipment website. Someone over there saw where this industry was headed a long time ago and thought they better get some of the used equipment market share. Kudos to them as that website is awesome and their sales reps are great, much better to do business with than the average ebay rep.

    • Pat

      Dec 18, 2014 at 3:48 pm

      Golf has always been and will always be for the middle to upper class. Lower class will never have access because green fees and equipment is out of their league(thank God). Besides, every single time I’m stuck behind some ghetto, trashy 4 some, it ruins my entire day. They come out wearing tank tops or shirts that are 3 sizes too big, play so damn slow because they stink and are usually loaded up on beer. Usually these clowns don’t even have the decency to let the groups behind them pass by and the round ends up being 5+hours.

      • Sam

        Jan 27, 2015 at 1:07 am

        You are the exact reason why golf is in decline. This disgusting attitude is completely at odds with the modern world. I hope you take you elitist attitude away from the game and never return.

        Golf is evolving.

  6. Gary

    Dec 17, 2014 at 9:31 am

    Really looking forward to trying out these golf balls. The hype sounds too good to be true but I hope it is true. If these golf balls perform about as advertised the SR* series, which might not be doing well sales wise considering the price, would probably disappear fairly soon and simplify things some.

  7. Matthew Carter

    Dec 17, 2014 at 12:58 am

    For the value, I’ll buy Supersoft all day. Soft, a lot of spin and long off the tee.
    There isn’t a better ball in the market at $20.

  8. Jeff

    Dec 16, 2014 at 11:11 pm

    I think Callaway golf balls could use a makeover or make under to cleclean them up and maybe find a way to clarify which of their balls are premium.
    My favorite thing about Pro V1s is how clearly different the logo is stenciled on, to not be so distracting and bold. Just my comment

  9. Ryan K

    Dec 16, 2014 at 8:16 pm

    Ok gotta know more in durability. This was the only thing steering me away from the chrome plus otherwise they were the best ball I’ve ever used.

  10. Jesse

    Dec 16, 2014 at 8:06 pm

    Zak, were you able to test this ball on a launch monitor, Im courious how much more it spins then SR3, prov1x or the ball your playing now? Also how much distance did u loose on the driver?

  11. Pat

    Dec 16, 2014 at 7:03 pm

    If the Chrome Soft does what it claims to do, golf stores are going to have a really hard time keeping them in stock. If it performs like the Prov1x, at 38 dollars a box, it’s a bargain. I love the Hex Black and am on my last box. Callaway’s line up after the Hex Black has been mediocre and I am hoping the Chrome Soft can pick up the slack or else I will just have to load up on Hex Black balls.

  12. golfing badger

    Dec 16, 2014 at 3:00 pm

    Chrome + was one of the best balls ever, but I could never get the 1 hop and spin wedge shot. Chrome Soft will deliver that…this is a phenomenal ball !!!

  13. Jonzy

    Dec 16, 2014 at 1:19 pm

    My father in law is a Supersoft guy and he can’t wait to try these out. I wish I could bump into a Callaway rep and get a couple for him to try out!!!!

    • Kevin

      Dec 17, 2014 at 11:53 am

      You could actually buy a sleeve … don’t be cheap!

      • Tom

        Dec 18, 2014 at 3:29 pm

        They haven’t been released yet here in the UK Kevin, don’t know about the US

  14. Bogeypro

    Dec 16, 2014 at 11:10 am

    I like Callaway balls, but they really need to clean up and clarify their ball lines. Just too much and too confusing…

    • Scooter McGavin

      Dec 16, 2014 at 11:45 am

      I agree. They have too many models/variants. I think they would do better with a simpler line.

      • Scooter McGavin

        Dec 16, 2014 at 11:56 am

        I have thought this for a while, actually. They have SR (which has 3 variations), Hex Chrome, Hex Chrome +, X2 Hot, X2 Hot +, Supersoft, Warbird, (now) Chrome Soft, the Strata line, and then the lady Solaire line. If you count the three variations of the SR separately, that’s 13 different golf ball models. Compare that to Titleist, the most successful ball company, that has I think, 6 models? Sure, they will probably phase some of these out now, but for a while, they kept going with both the Chrome and Chrome +, along with the X2 Hot and SR lines. Hopefully they will slim it down a bit.

        • golfing badger

          Dec 16, 2014 at 2:58 pm

          yes, titleist has 6 and there are 3 pinnacle models. they keep the confusion to a minimum by keeping the pinnacle and titleist brands separate.

  15. AW

    Dec 16, 2014 at 10:38 am

    I love Callaway balls (Chrome+ and Supersoft, mostly) but their marketing dept is a mess. They are changing their balls out every single year. So in urethane right now we have SR1, SR2, SR3, Chrome+, Chrome Soft.

    In soft balls they have SR1, Chrome Soft, Supersoft and X2 Hot.

    I don’t really know which Callaway ball to play right now, and I think that’s going to be a problem for them going forward, which may eventually lead to even more changes in the lineup.

    There’s some value in the simplicity of Titleist. You’ve got your NXT or you’ve got your ProV1 (with a few variations on that theme)

    • Scooter McGavin

      Dec 16, 2014 at 12:01 pm

      Totally agree. I think a company should have one really strong offering for each type of golfer need (tour playability, super cheap, something in the middle of the performance/price field, distance, etc.). Right now, if a person wants a mid-price/mid-performance ball from Callaway, they have like 4 or 5 to choose from. With Titleist it’s: You want tour level? ProV1(x). You want a distance ball? Velocity. You want something in the middle? NXT(s). You want a cheap ball? DT Solo. Much simpler, and it’s easier to buy for the consumer and easier to sell for the salesman.

  16. Keith

    Dec 16, 2014 at 9:39 am

    My wife loves soft balls….

    • Jackson

      Dec 16, 2014 at 10:35 am

      No she doesn’t.

      • rkristopher

        Dec 16, 2014 at 11:18 am

        Your mom.

        • Franks

          Dec 16, 2014 at 12:13 pm

          I can confirm Keith’s wife likes soft balls.

          • other paul

            Dec 16, 2014 at 2:20 pm

            Lol. My wife just looked over my shoulder and saw the article title and asks what the *&$% I am reading. I scrolled back so she could read the whole title. She laughed, winked and walked away.

    • Ben

      Dec 16, 2014 at 12:00 pm

      I was browsing the replys for this comment before I left a duplicate… well played.

  17. Danny

    Dec 16, 2014 at 9:39 am

    Interesting how last year the new breakthrough in technology was 3 balls for 3 swing speeds… a year later they ditch that concept all together. It’s hard to argue the skeptic of everything golf equipment related.

  18. br61

    Dec 16, 2014 at 9:19 am

    Few days ago, my pro’s Callaway rep dropped off couple Chrome Soft balls for me and my friend to test. After few holes, I liked the feel of them and the distance seems similar to Pro V1x. My friend who’s using Callaway clubs, lost his ball into water so I gave him mine’s. He seemed to like the way they played. Definitely felt softer.

    When they come out on market, I probably will test a dozen.

  19. Greg

    Dec 16, 2014 at 9:08 am

    Sounds similar to the original chrome, which was (is) a fantastic ball. I’d like to see the two compared.

  20. other paul

    Dec 16, 2014 at 8:58 am

    I hate investing in golf balls. Usually lose one per 18. Durability for me is the least important factor.

    • rgb

      Dec 16, 2014 at 10:48 pm

      I know what you mean. I like the ones with string.

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What GolfWRXers are saying about the best “5-woods under $125”

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In our forums, our members have been discussing 5-woods, with WRXer ‘gary3aces’ looking for a 5-wood for between $100 and $125. He’s looking to replace his current “M2 5 wood with something a little easier to hit”, and our members have been discussing the best options in our forum.

Here are a few posts from the thread, but make sure to check out the entire discussion and have your say at the link below.

  • C6 Snowboarder: “Take a look at a used Callaway Heavenwood in the Epic Flash model = pretty Friggen sweet. It is Heaven!”
  • Golf64: “Bang for the buck, hard to beat Cobra, but find Ping one of the easiest to hit off the deck. Since you are limited in the funds dept., maybe an older model Ping 5W would do the trick?!”
  • tilasan1: “G400 7 wood turned down or just use it as is.”
  • jbandalo: “Fusion fairways. Highly underrated, cheap, easy to hit and go for miles.”
  • RyanBarathWRX: “PING G fairway would be hard to beat and easily in price range:
  • Nelson.br.1515: “Another vote for the Callaway Big Bertha Fusion. Great stick!”

Entire Thread: Best 5-woods under $125″

 

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What GolfWRXers are saying about “blending Ping i500 irons with Blueprints”

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In our forums, WRXer ‘ballywho27’ has asked for thoughts on combining his current Ping i500 irons with the brand’s Blueprint irons. ‘Ballywho27’ is considering going “i500 in 3-4 iron and blueprint 5-W” and has asked for fellow member’s thoughts on the idea – who have been sharing their takes in our forum.

Here are a few posts from the thread, but make sure to check out the entire discussion and have your say at the link below.

  • jblough99: “I had a combo set for a minute, 3-5 I500 and 6-PW Blueprint. I could not get used to the transition, HUGE difference in looks at address. If I had it to do over I would just go 4-PW Blueprint and maybe a 3 I500 with graphite shaft as a driving, iron.”
  • animalgolfs: “iBlade{5i} – BP{6i-pw}. That’s my combo.”
  • Chunky: “I have i500 4-5 and Blueprints 6-PW. As mentioned above, there is a significantly different look at address. More importantly for me, the i500s are 1/2 to 1 club longer than the BPs (they fly much higher, too). Make sure you account for that added i500 distance when blending lofts or you’ll have a large gap.”
  • howeber: “I’ve done that exact set — 3 and 4 i500 and 5-PW Blueprint. It’s perfect for me since the 3 and 4 are more like a traditional 2 and 3.5. 4 is usually the longest iron I carry, so I like a little extra oomph out of it. At the end of the day though, when I finally tested them vs my MP4s, the Blueprints performed identically, while the i500 launched a little higher (same specs same shafts). Mizzys are still in the bag.”

Entire Thread: “Blending Ping i500 irons with Blueprints”

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GolfWRX Vault: Avoid these 5 club building disasters

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It’s never too late to go back to basics, especially when it comes to club building.

Even with modern new club release cycles the do’s and don’ts of building clubs haven’t changed much in the last few decades except for clubs with adapter sleeves and greater amounts of multi-materials incorporated into the design.

With that in mind its time to revisit an article from the GolfWRX Vault from June 2016.

——————

I’ve been fitting and building golf clubs for more than 15 years, and in that time I’ve seen a lot of really poor workmanship—stuff that would make most GolfWRXers cringe. But like anyone who ever did anything new, I didn’t start being naturally good at putting together clubs. It took a lot of time, ruined components, and trial and error to get where I am today.

I believe my attention to detail now stems from the fact that my dad was a machinist by trade, and anytime we ever worked on something together his attitude was to take your time and do it right the first time. My dad’s approach always had an impact on me, because I feel that if you do something right — even when it takes a bit longer — the job is not only more satisfying but also makes things work better and last longer.

The goal with this article is to help WRXers avoid the most common mistakes and assumptions in club building that lead to broken or ruined clubs, as well as real danger.

Over-prepping a graphite shaft

The shaft on the left has been prepped properly. The one of the right, which has noticeable taper, shows signs that layers of graphite have been removed.

This happens far more than it should, and can ruin an expensive new shaft purchase. To prepare a shaft properly for installation, you only need to remove enough of the paint to make sure that the epoxy adheres to the graphite. This is also true for the inside of the hosel.

Be careful to remove residual epoxy, dirt or rust (common with forged carbon steel club heads that have been sitting around for a while), or some type or solvent like the one used to put on grips, as it can cause of bond to break down very quickly. A proper reaming tool, a wire brush and some compressed air (either a small can or a large air compressor) can make cleaning simple, and prevent a golf club from falling apart.

UPDATE: Over prepping specifically applies to shafts that are designed to go into parallel heads and is especially important for 335 shafts with less material at the tip going into drivers and fairway woods. For information on how to properly taper a shaft to go into a tapered head, check out the video below:

Overheating a Shaft When Pulling it

This is what happens to a graphite shaft when overheated.

This is what happens to a graphite shaft when overheated, and the resin holding the graphite sheets together breaks down. It’s not always as noticeable, but if the shaft starts to fray it means the bonds have been compromised and it’s more likely to fail. 

Overheating a shaft when pulling it is another common mistake that can result in ruining a golf shaft. It also highly increases the chance of breakage. There are quite a few methods I’ve learned over the years to remove a shaft from a club head, from heat guns to large propane torches, but personally I find that using a small butane torch with a regulator for graphite offers the best results. It allows a club builder to easily control and focus the heat only where it’s needed. Bigger torches are fine for iron heads, as long as you don’t damage any plastic badges in the cavity or materials in slots around the head.

One of the best advances in club technology has been the invention and mass adoption of adjustable hosels. They not only help golfers adjust the loft, lie and face angle of club heads, but have also greatly decreased the need to pull shafts. So as long as a golfer is staying with the same metal wood manufacturer, they can usually test several different clubs heads with the same shaft, or vice versa — several different shafts with the same clubhead.

That being said, one of the most important tools that any hobbyist club builder should have or have access to is a high-quality shaft puller. It’s a necessary tool for anyone who wants to do repairs and helps prevent damage to a shaft while pulling it. The more linear pressure that can be applied to the clubhead, and the less heat used to break down the epoxy, the better. It makes sure both the shaft and the head are reusable in the future. For steel shafts, you can use a bit more heat, and twisting isn’t a problem. Again, with increased heat, be careful not to damage any of the badging, or permanently discolor an iron head.

Botching a Grip Installation

Using calipers and two-sided tape, you can replicate the taper of shafts to makes every grip feel exactly the same size in your set.

Using calipers and two-sided tape, you can replicate the taper of shafts to makes every grip feel exactly the same size in your set.

This one seems simple, but when really getting down to professional level detail, it is quite important. We ALL have a preference and different opinion of what feels good in a golf grip, as well as different sensitivities. For example, we all have the ability to figure out what apple is bigger, even if blindfolded because over time we all develop brain function to understand shapes and sizes. This also applies to grips. If you use the same grips on your 13 clubs, you could potentially have 4-5 different final sizes depending on how many different types of shafts you use, because many shafts have different butt diameters.

Some shafts have larger butt diameters, while others taper faster than others. That’s why it’s very important to own a quality set of vernier calipers, and know how to properly use them. It’s also the same for putters, since many putter shafts are smaller in diameter. I have lost count of how many times I’ve had people bring me, putters, where the bottom half of the grip is twisting and turning because the installer never paid attention to the interior diameter of the grip, the exterior diameter of the shaft, and how it changed from top to bottom.

Using epoxy that’s doomed to fail

An example of epoxy that although not completely set, is no longer safe for assembling clubs.

An example of epoxy that although not completely set, is no longer safe for assembling clubs.

I’m a bit of a physics nerd and garage engineer, so this is one of those topics that goes beyond just the physical aspects of club building and into the realm of chemistry.

Here comes my nerd-out moment: In the simplest of explanations for a 0.335-inch driver hosel with an insertion depth of 1.25 inches, the amount of calculated surface area the epoxy can bond between the shaft and the head using the internal dimensions of the head is 1.49 square inches. That’s not a whole lot of area when you consider the centrifugal force being applied to a driver head traveling at 100 mph, and then the forces of torque that also come into play when a shot is struck.

In a PERFECT world, almost zero torque is applied to a shaft when a shot is hit on the center of gravity (CG) of the club head, perfectly aligned with the center mass of the ball, while traveling in the intended direction. This is vectors 101 of physics. Unfortunately, almost every single shot is NOT hit like that, and this is where the epoxy bond is put under the most amount of stress. Lap shear strength of epoxy goes beyond me, but it proves that building a golf club is not just cut and glue after all.

Note: For those of you curious, the most popular epoxies are rated for 4500 psi. 

As far are actually working with epoxy, first things first. Always check to see if the epoxy has a best-before date (yep, just like milk). Also, never store epoxy in direct sunlight. If you are using epoxy from a tube in a dispensing gun, you are using what is an almost foolproof method. Plunge out the necessary amount, mix for about a minute (mix! don’t whip), and remember, the less air that gets into the epoxy the better. If air gets in and the epoxy cures with bubbles in it, then you end up with a club that will often “creak.”

For those using two parts in larger bottles, the best way to ensure proper ratios is to pay attention to the weight ratio rather than volume. This isn’t arts and crafts; it’s chemistry, so by using the weight to calculate the ratio you will get the right amount of each part every time, and help decrease the risk of failure down the road. If you have mixed a larger batch and plan on building quite a few clubs at a time, you really have to pay attention to the consistency and viscosity as time goes on. You don’t want to glue a club head with epoxy that has started to set.

Turning an Extension into a Shank

The difference between a good shaft extension (bottom) and a bad one.

The difference between a good shaft extension (bottom) and a bad one.

This is one of those subjects I don’t even like to talk about. I very much dislike using extensions when building clubs, especially clubs with graphite shafts. Going back to my “do-it-right-the-first-time” mentality, extensions are a Band-Aid fix to a problem that requires surgery. They also counter-balance the club, and by their very nature create a weak point because of the small wall thickness at the butt end of a shaft. The only clubs I don’t mind extending on a regular basis are putters since they are never put under the same level of stress as a club being swung at full speed. I also never extend a club more than 1 inch, because I have been witness to horror stories of clubs that have been overextended that not only break but rip through the grip and cut people’s hands very badly.

If you are going to extend a club, it’s important to make sure the fit is very snug and doesn’t cause the extension to lean in any direction. It’s also best to have the epoxied extension cure with the club on its side to avoid an excess epoxy from running down the shaft and breaking off and causing a rattle.

 

 

 

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