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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.

Screen Shot 2014-12-15 at 2.25.35 PM

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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36 Comments

  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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Equipment

Titleist Vokey SM8 wedges: Leading with performance

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Say “Vokey” to any golfer and they will instantaneously know you are talking about wedges. The name Vokey, along with Titleist, is synonymous with performance. In 2020, Vokey is introducing its most performance-driven line yet, the Vokey SM8 wedges.

Built on the foundation of what were already the number one wedges on the PGA Tour, Vokey SM8’s take precision and control to the next level thanks to refined shapes, cosmetics, sole grinds, and for the first time, multi-material technology to improve performance.

2020 Vokey SM8 wedges: How did we get here?

Vokey wedges are the standard by which wedges are judged by most golfers, similar to the way new golf balls are often compared to the Titleist Pro V1 and Pro V1x. Dating all the way back to the original Spin Milled wedges, Titleist has lead the way with spin performance and quality club after club. This comes from the fact that each and every single wedge manufactured is tested for groove dimensions before ever being built.

Titleist believes that there are three key performance factors that golfers should consider when choosing new wedges

  • Distance and trajectory control
  • Shot versatility, in varying conditions
  • Spin depreciation and groove wear over time

Distance control is important for reasons I probably shouldn’t have to explain, and as golfers get into their wedges, the old mindset of just getting 52, 56, and 60-degree wedges to make sure you have all the shots is out the window. Golfers now have to consider where they transition from their irons to wedges and the lofts are of those clubs, which means if you have a 44 to 45-degree pitching wedge, grabbing that conventional 52 might not be the best idea. This is exactly why Titleist decided to put the lofts of its pitching wedges on the bottom of the T-Series irons: to better help golfers make good gapping decisions.

Loft decisions also rely on the type of shots players hit with each club, because if you are only taking full swings with your gap wedge and sand wedges, then those lofts need to reflect those shot choices and the desired distance goals. The shortest wedge can then become a specialty club built for versatility, and this is where grinds come in.

Wedges need to be the most versatile clubs in any golfer’s bag because of the variety of shots hit with them; from full swings to short touch shots around greens, they have to offer absolute control to help players not only score but also recover under diverse conditions.

This is why player dynamics, shot choice, and conditions play such a big role in selecting the proper short game tools, and as far as options go, Vokey wedges offer the most off-the-shelf options in the game.

Spin equals stopping power. As mentioned earlier, not only do Vokey grooves get pushed to the limit, but thanks to extremely high-quality control standards all the way up the manufacturing chain, you can be assured that you are going to get spin control shot after, which also leads to improved trajectory control. Less traction leads to less spin and higher launch, and as much as that might be helpful with a driver, it’s the last thing you want in a wedge.

What’s new with Vokey SM8 wedges

For the new Vokey SM8 wedges, performance is about creating better short game tools for golfers of all skill levels, shot after shot. It’s not about chasing an elusive spin number or building a wedge designed with a single task in mind, it’s about offering state-of-the-art technology alongside tour-proven consistency to give golfers more control than ever before.

“Out of head” center of gravity and multi-material construction

This is the biggest overhaul to Vokey wedge design since the introduction of Spin Milled grooves. For the first time in North America (there have been multi-material wedges made for the Japan market), the 58 to 62-degree wedges will have tungsten placed in the toe to push Center of Gravity more forward and out of the head into a space beyond the face of the club to offer more rotational control. When asked why the tungsten is kept hidden and is not a visible technology in the wedge, we were told: “it’s to keep with the classic styling associated with Vokey Designs.”

It might seem counterproductive to put tungsten in the toe of a wedge when a higher center of gravity has been proven to offer more trajectory control in higher lofted clubs, but the engineers at Titleist balanced out this toe mass by increasing hosel length to raise CG and MOI. These design tweaks create a seven-percent higher MOI than SM7 with even great vertical stability, too.

The rest of the Vokey line beyond the highest lofts still feature the proven center of gravity shifting to aid in trajectory control but now in a more subtle looks package.

The face and grooves

The Vokey Spin Milled groove design has not changed since Vokey began offering variable depth and width designs depending on loft. Tolerances continue to get pushed, but since the design was already at the limit, it’s now more about being able to replicate rather than search for an elusive few hundred RPM.

When talking about those extra RPMs gained by potential tool and radius changes, Titleist likes to use the analogy of a pencil. You can sharpen a pencil to an absolute point, but the first thing you are going to notice when you start to use that pencil is how quickly that extremely sharp point dulls back to a “standard” sharpness. This relates directly to groove radius and Titleist’s philosophy to offer maximum spin for the life of the wedge, not just those first five rounds of golf, because unlike PGA Tour players, regular golfers can’t just wander into a tour van and ask for a new lob wedge every week.

vokey-sm8-wedge-face-2

Titleist also extends the life of the grooves with a centralized heat treatment to the face of all the wedges to harden the metal without negatively affecting feel.

Grind, finish, and custom options

titleist-vokey-sm8-wedges

Constant refinement is the name of game, and the SM8’s featured Vokey’s six tour-proven sole grinds—F, S, M, K, L, and D—to allow golfers of all skill levels to be expertly fit for their swing types, shot-making preferences, and course conditions. The wedge bounce matrix has changed too, with Titleist eliminating the 58-degree L grind, adding 54 and 56-degree D grind options for more higher bounce versatility.

The new SM8’s will come stock in Jet Black, Brushed Steel, and Tour Chrome, with the option for Raw available through custom order. Raw is the biggest news since it is normally reserved exclusively for tour and Wedge Works—and at an upcharge.

Last but not least, the most obvious design change is the overall aesthetics of the SM8 versus any previous Vokey design. The top half of the back of the wedge is entirely blank, and except for small script on the hosel, the name Titleist has been left off.

Call it modern minimalism mixed with the respect that Titleist has for Bob Vokey and the product that bears his name. What this canvas comprised of soft steel also allows is even more customization. Titleist hasn’t given any further details on what this could mean from a consumer standpoint, but it’s likely to be revealed through the Wedge Works program. For the artisan and at-home wedge stampers alike, this means, now more than ever before, you can customize too.

New Vokey SM8’s will retail for $159.99 in all finishes with custom upgrades available through Titleist Custom order.

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Equipment

Adidas launch new CODECHAOS footwear range

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New for 2020, Adidas Golf has unveiled its CODECHAOS footwear series which features three new golf shoes for both men and women.

The CODECHAOS ($150) shoe is designed to blur the lines by giving a connected look with the ground and features a spikeless outsole that blends a soft, yet durable, rubber outsole with a first-of-its-kind TPU insert.

2020 Nike CODECHAOS

The shoe’s outsole contains a proprietary traction system – Twistgrip – which was developed by evaluating heat maps in swing studies, specifically focusing on the way golfers distribute and shift their weight throughout the swing. Through this process, Adidas was then able to determine precisely where traction was needed most and what lug shapes would provide the best grip, regardless of conditions.

2020 Nike CODECHAOS

The CODECHAOS golf shoe also features an all-new upper which is made of multi-layer mesh, and is designed to give the shoe a unique texture while enhancing durability and breathability, but also keeping it extremely lightweight. By encasing these layers in film, Adidas ensured the CODECHAOS shoe provides golfers with a waterproof shoe for all conditions.

2020 Nike CODECHAOS

Also included in the new addition from Adidas is full-length Boost cushioning. The Boost cushioning aims to give players all-around comfort and energy return during their round, while a Torsion X stability bar is also included in a bid to ensure that all players are given tour-level support for every swing.

2020 Nike CODECHAOS

Designed to push the boundaries of what a stereotypical golf shoe looks like, the CODECHAOS lineup is aimed at golfers of all levels. Speaking on the new 2020 series, Masun Denison, global footwear director, Adidas Golf stated

“Golf continues to evolve and is in an exciting phase right now where the traditions of the game and how it can be played are all being challenged. We’re excited about this movement which has inspired us to break down barriers and create unique footwear and apparel for anyone that picks up a club. CODECHAOS is meant to challenge what a golf shoe can look and feel like while still delivering top-notch performance to all golfers whenever or wherever they play.”

2020 Nike CODECHAOS

Also featured in the new line is the CODECHAOS Boa ($180) which is a waterproof shoe designed to offer a clean look featuring a hydrophobic stretch-knit collar, and a lightweight slip-on construction.

2020 Nike CODECHAOS

The shoe features the L6 Boa Fit System designed to provide a customized and locked-in feel, while also making it an easy on-and-off option.

2020 Nike CODECHAOS

Completing the new series from Adidas is the CODECHAOS Sport ($130). The shoe is built on a spikeless rubber outsole, and the silhouette is designed to provide players with an even lighter construction for maximum versatility.

2020 Nike CODECHAOS

The CODECHAOS Sport is another waterproof addition and includes a mixture of both Boost and Bounce cushioning for excellent comfort.

2020 Nike CODECHAOS

The CODECHAOS, CODECHAOS Boa and CODECHAOS Sport shoes come in a variety of colors for both men and women and are available starting Jan. 31, 2020 on adidas.com and at select retailers worldwide.

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Whats in the Bag

Rory McIlroy WITB: 2020 Farmers Insurance Open

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Driver: TaylorMade SIM (9 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Kuro Kage XTS 70 X

3-wood: TaylorMade SIM (15 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro White 80 TX

5-wood: TaylorMade SIM (19 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro White 90 TX

Hybrid: TaylorMade SIM Max (19 degrees)
Shaft: Project X HZRDUS Yellow Hybrid

Irons: TaylorMade P790 (2), TaylorMade P750 (3, 4), TaylorMade P730 (5-PW)
Shafts: Project X Rifle 7.0

Wedges: TaylorMade Milled Grind 2 (52, 56, 60 degrees)
Shafts: Project X Rifle 6.5

Putter: TaylorMade Spider X Copper

Ball: 2019 TaylorMade TP5 (#22)

Grips: Golf Pride Tour Velvet Cord

*Obviously, McIlroy has more than 14 clubs in the bag in practice and will reduce the number prior to competition. 

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