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5 things you didn’t know about Callaway golf balls

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Not to downplay the science and engineering behind making golf clubs, but there’s an extra-impressive complexity in the chemistry and precision necessary to make golf balls, especially when you’re making them by the millions.

There’s also an impressively off-putting, rotten-egg-like smell that emits from a golf ball factory that awakens the nostrils.

Recently, I headed to Callaway’s golf ball manufacturing facility in Chicopee, Massachusetts, as part of a GolfWRX member experience — check out the thread here for photos and info from the event — to learn more about Callaway golf balls and tour the plant.

Get the full, step-by-step process of how Chrome Soft golf balls are made here.

Below, I highlight 5 things you may not know about Callaway golf balls, the golf ball facility and the company’s history.

1) Chico-what? Chico-who?

The front entrance to Callaway's Chicopee facility

The front entrance to Callaway’s Chicopee facility

How does one of the largest golf ball manufacturers in the world end up in a place called Chicopee?

During the Revolutionary War, George Washington fancied the area as a National Armory because of its location on the Connecticut River, according to Vince Simonds, who is the Senior Director Global Golf Ball Operations who has spent more than 30 years working at the facility. At that time, and still to this day, metal and gunmakers thrived in the area, making it a place for manufacturing business to thrive.

The building, which we know today as Callaway’s golf ball facility, was built in 1915 for car manufacturing, but Ford’s monopoly put the brakes on that business. Spalding later purchased the facility, where it made the world’s first dimpled golf ball, and Top Flight golf balls for years. The company also made other products including basketballs, volleyballs and more equipment for a variety of sports. In fact, the halls of fame for basketball (Springfield) and volleyball (Holyoake) are each located nearby. As the story goes, James Naismith invented basketball at a YMCA in Springfield in 1891… while volleyball surprised everyone in the world, including me, by having an entire Hall of Fame dedicated to the sport.

In 2003, Callaway beat out TaylorMade in an auction for Top Flight’s assets, which included patents and the Chicopee golf ball plant. And there you have it.

2) The secret’s in… the secrets

CS16 Chicopee-4-3

“The key to this business is the tooling,” Simonds said.

Since Callaway makes all of its tooling in house, including the cavities used to formulate the dimples — which is a trade secret with which I’m sworn to secrecy — it’s a safe bet you’d never be able to replicate a Callaway golf ball.

To make its 2016 Chrome Soft golf balls, which generate big ball speeds from a low-compression design, Callaway makes its core, mantle and outer layers from a unique type of rubber and a special mixture of Surlyn.

3) Is Truvis the truth?

Callaway’s new Chrome Soft Truvis golf balls currently represent 30 percent of sales in the Chrome Soft golf ball umbrella. THIRTY PERCENT!

We should have seen this coming, since soccer is the world’s most popular sport (about 115 million people watched the 2015 Super Bowl, while more than 1 billion tuned into the 2015 FIFA World Cup final, according to multiple sources). A golf ball designed with soccer-ball like pentagons is certainly a shift from the norm — a shift that is apparently working.

GolfWRXTruvisCallaway

The labeling on a Truvis golf ball requires a special machine and process. When the company decided on bringing the concept to production, it planted one of the “Truvis machines” in its Chicopee plant.

“We forecasted the machine would be collecting dust by now,” Simonds said.

On the contrary, there now sits three machines in the Chicopee plant, and there’s no dust in the forecast.

Fun fact: The Truvis design is treated as a logo on a golf ball, meaning you can play a Chrome Soft regular ball (all white or all yellow) and switch in a Truvis Chrome Soft ball mid-round without violating the USGA’s one-ball rule.

*Congrats to forum user Lavaone who made his first hole-in-one using a GolfWRX Truvis golf ball!!

4) 45 degrees

ChromeSoft45degrees

Callaway has a machine that orients the logos on each Callaway golf ball the same way every time. The “seam” on each golf ball runs at a 45-degree angle to the lettering on the side of each ball. According to Simonds, aligning that seam a certain way to the target will have no effect on its flight.

5) Dimple patterns used to be designed and tested on bowling balls

BowlingBallCallaway

Golf ball manufacturing wasn’t always the super advanced and highly technological process it is now. Callaway used to layout different dimple designs on bowling balls, as pictured above. And instead of files of feedback compiled on a computer, feedback was compiled on handwritten sheets of paper, and stashed in actual files. Remember those?

It wasn’t until later the now-famous HEX dimple was developed, but it is possible the idea was conceived on a bowling ball.

And no, the bowling balls were not made by Spalding.

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He played on the Hawaii Pacific University Men's Golf team and earned a Masters degree in Communications. He also played college golf at Rutgers University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism.

38 Comments

38 Comments

  1. Dave r

    Oct 23, 2016 at 7:57 pm

    So how do they make a ball with interior balls and a cover without seams ? Are they one piece injected into a mould ? Who knows the answer ? Please

  2. Golfer

    Oct 22, 2016 at 4:12 pm

    All their balls as good as not to be used at the tour. Most of the guys play special made callaway balls made for them. Forget and buy prov1 or x and have the real best ball.

    Callaway is no real ball. Period.

    • John

      Oct 25, 2016 at 9:40 am

      Sorry to burst your bubble of hatred, but I know for fact that balls used by the tour players are the very same ones used by the likes of you and I. I know this as I used to be involved in the manual printing of their personal logos on the balls in the UK.

  3. BIG STU

    Oct 22, 2016 at 8:09 am

    Pretty informative well written article. I gave it a like
    Now not wanting to burst any one’s bubble but Callaway was not the first to come out with the hex dimples. US Royal did it in the early 70s with the Royal Plus 6 ball. Some of us old timers were hashing it over the other night in the Classic Golf Forum of WRX. At the time it was the distance leader hands down for Balata balls but it would balloon bad into the wind and do some funky stuff it the wind was behind you. It would also do some funky stuff out of a flyer rough lie. Normal play it would fly and spin on a approach shot as good as any other Balata ball at the time and it putted decent too. They only made them a couple of years until the US Royal golf division went belly up

    • Joe Golfer

      Oct 22, 2016 at 11:43 pm

      I remember those Royal golf balls, with the hexagonal dimples.
      Back then, I was in middle school, so I played pretty much whatever golf balls I could get my hands on, regardless of brand name or type. Thus, I never really knew the difference between different brands or models of golf balls.

      • John O'Neill

        Oct 26, 2016 at 10:35 am

        Thanks for the input, I too was thinking about the Royal ball when reading the hex claim in the article! Just for fun I remember another ball that came out around the time of the Royal remember Polaris the ball that supposedly would not hook or slice? At least I think that was the claim.

  4. Kenny

    Oct 21, 2016 at 3:39 pm

    I have never seen a Truvis ball on the course. Amazing that many are being sold. Is that mostly overseas?

    • Hack

      Oct 21, 2016 at 6:14 pm

      I have been playing them for over a year now and just recently had to mark my ball for the first time as another in my foursome was playing them. I can’t find them in any brick and mortar retailer and in fact have trouble finding them online except for Callaway’s site. I have a buddy that is good friends with a rep and he wanted to get me a dozen, rep told him he can’t get his hand on any.

      • Big Diesel

        Oct 21, 2016 at 8:33 pm

        Interesting, the shop at my club sells them and Dick’s has them in the shelf next to the plain white and plain yellow. I’ve been trying the truvis and I like the optics although my normal playing partners can’t stand seeing this “ugly” thing on the green.

      • Diesel425

        Oct 21, 2016 at 8:37 pm

        That’s interesting, the shop at my club sells these and I just saw a bunch of boxes at Dick’s. Wonder why your area is running low?

      • jim

        Oct 27, 2016 at 2:55 pm

        my buddy plays them, i can’t help but yell GOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLL when he sinks a long one

    • Ben

      Oct 21, 2016 at 10:39 pm

      Golf Galaxy carries ball in White/Red and Yellow/Black.

  5. Troy Sheaffer

    Oct 21, 2016 at 1:16 pm

    Nice article and informative.
    Have been playing the Chrome Soft’s since they were introduced and love them.
    They have great feel on and around the greens, very good distance and are priced well.

    I have found a few differences in the 2015 and 2016 models.
    At least for me I found the 2015 version seemed to be longer on every shot, but only average spin around the green. I am one half club longer with my irons with this ball.

    the 2016 doesn’t appear to be quite as long but has more spin/bite on approach shots and especially pitches and chips around the green.
    Both versions are great to putt.

    For the money, I don’t feel you can find or play a better ball.

    • Ben

      Oct 21, 2016 at 10:40 pm

      The 2015 ball is 3-piece. The 2016 is 4-piece.

  6. Pingback: 5 Things You Didn’t Know about Callaway golf balls | Swing Update

  7. Ob

    Oct 20, 2016 at 8:50 pm

    These balls have seams? No wonder they play like cr@p. The most overrated ball that changed overrated balls

    • Ignorant

      Oct 20, 2016 at 9:44 pm

      A ProV1x and pretty much any other golf ball out there has seams…

      • SI

        Oct 21, 2016 at 3:38 am

        Except for Srixons. Z Stars have none

        • Scott

          Oct 21, 2016 at 5:26 pm

          nope, srixon has seems

          • ACGolfwrx

            Oct 21, 2016 at 5:59 pm

            Bridgestone don’t have seems, that’s it.

            • mhendon

              Oct 22, 2016 at 10:13 pm

              All balls have seams they just learned how to hide it by following the dimple pattern instead of going straight

  8. Matt

    Oct 20, 2016 at 7:30 pm

    Seriously want a Golfwrx dozen!!!!!!!

  9. alexdub

    Oct 20, 2016 at 2:55 pm

    Sorry to be negative— but for such a cool experience, the photos accompanying this article are absolutely terrible. Doesn’t seem like much work to bring a DSLR and get something worth posting. A great opportunity shouldn’t be held back by bad content.

    • ooffa

      Oct 20, 2016 at 3:04 pm

      1 up

    • Boobsy McKiss

      Oct 20, 2016 at 5:20 pm

      You don’t think Callaway had all kinds of restrictions on what he could take photos of? Wake up. It’s called protecting your business. An engineer familiar with the business could possibly dissect important information from detailed photos. They have proprietary manufacturing processes and the writer was apt to point that out in the article. Obviously the writer incorrectly assumed readers such as yourself would be smart enough to figure out why there are so few photos to accompany the article.

    • Regis

      Oct 21, 2016 at 12:04 pm

      I’ve visited a lot of plants and facilities for all sorts of product manufacturers, shipping and routing facilities etc. I represented them in litigation. You’re not bringing a Film crew or even a DSLR into any of them. You want pictures-ask and they’ll send them to you. Matter of fact you usually are only given access when the workers aren’t present.

  10. Luis Carrion

    Oct 20, 2016 at 2:21 pm

    How can we get a hold of the CS Truvis with the GolfWRX logo?

  11. Luis Carrion

    Oct 20, 2016 at 2:20 pm

    How can we get some of the GolfWRX Truvis Golf Balls???

  12. Sl

    Oct 20, 2016 at 1:08 pm

    Srixon: Seamless = Better balls.

    • Scott

      Oct 21, 2016 at 5:25 pm

      From Golf Digest “According to Rae, the aerodynamic properties of a ball are different in a dimpled area than they are across a seam. To help maintain ball speed in the air, Srixon developed a system that fuses the two halves of the ball together without creating a straight seam. Instead, the seam is created between, over and around dimples. By eliminating the straight seam, the ball should simply fly better, and more predictably, through the air.”

      Therefore: Srixon = seem

    • ACGolfwrx

      Oct 21, 2016 at 6:04 pm

      Srixon has a staggered seam. Bridgestone is the only company that make seamless golf balls.

  13. the bishop

    Oct 20, 2016 at 12:22 pm

    5 things you didn’t know about Callaway golf balls. #4 is pretty unnerving.

    • es

      Oct 20, 2016 at 4:40 pm

      i use the yellow / black truvis chrome soft balls and love it.

      That said – can we have more clarification on #4, “According to Simonds, aligning that seam a certain way to the target will have no effect on its flight.” what does that mean? does that mean we should be using the lettering to line up drives? I never pay attention to how my ball sits on the tee, are you telling me I should?

    • rymail00

      Oct 20, 2016 at 7:20 pm

      Anyone which way to line the ball for limited effect?

      Just curious.

  14. Greg V

    Oct 20, 2016 at 12:14 pm

    So if Top-Flite sold their assets to Callaway, who is making the Top-Flite Gamer and Gamer Soft?

    • cgasucks

      Oct 20, 2016 at 12:50 pm

      Callaway…

      • RVA USMC

        Oct 20, 2016 at 4:13 pm

        Actually Top Flite is owned by Dicks and they make Top Flite and Slazenger balls.

    • tzed

      Oct 25, 2016 at 1:22 pm

      Top Flite are made overseas, I believe in Taiwan or Chine. I’ve played the Top Flite Gamer Tour, a 3-piece urethane ball. You can get 2-dozen for $35 at Dick’s (and only at Dick’s). They’re not as good as Chrome Soft or Pro V1s around the green, but better than mid-priced balls like the e6, NXT Tour Project(a).

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Equipment

Wunder: I’ve hit THESE new drivers this year…and this is what I think

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During this lockdown, I have done quite a few “Friday Q & A’s” on my IG, and one of the questions I get asked constantly is “have you hit this?” That, and “whaddya think?”

So, in the spirit of organizing my brain, it seemed like the right time to share what new drivers I have actually hit this year…and this is what I think.

Now, it needs to be said that there is a lot of new gear out there, but, to be honest, I’ve only actually hit a select few enough to actually build an opinion. “Enough” in this case is at least 20 balls. Some of these sticks I tested during our pre-launch preview with the OEMs, at the PGA show, a friend has one, or I actually have it in the bag.

Here we go.

TaylorMade SIM

Setup tested: SIM 9 @8.25 w/ Mitsubishi Chemical Kuro Kage XTS 70TX

LOOKS: The best way to describe how SIM looks behind the ball is “comfortable.” TaylorMade has always made drivers that just look correct. The lines are clean, the shape inspires playability, and I dig the paint job. They hit a home run with this one for sure.

FEEL: Best sound out there in my opinion. Heavy, dense, and if you get one dead-nuts center, it lets you know. The feel at contact is just as TaylorMade drivers have always done, center strikes feel like Thor’s hammer and mishits don’t kill your good vibes.

VS THE M5: I get asked this a lot. I loved the M5. Still do. To be honest the two drivers data wise were legit apples to apples. The only difference is my stock shot with M5 was a low spin straight ball and with SIM its a slight draw with a touch more spin and slightly lower launch. I prefer that.

OVERALL: In my opinion, the TaylorMade SIM is the cool kid in high school for 2020. Last year it was F9 followed closely by M5. TM knocked it outta the park on this one.

TaylorMade SIM Max

Setup tested: Sim Max 9 @8.25 w/ Mitsubishi Chemical Kuro Kage XTS 70TX

LOOKS: It has a bit more of a longer face at address, which makes the head appear shallow which inspires a bit more confidence to turn it over. That’s the main thing I noticed with MAX. Other than that its a tried and true TM shape.

FEEL: Like its sibling, it has a nice solid hit audibly at the impact. So, overall its apples to apples with SIM. However, due to the front weight missing on the MAX, the actual strike doesn’t feel AS meaty as SIM. Not a negative necessarily just something I noticed.

VS M6: Both of these sticks I launched a bit too high versus the weighted versions. That’s why they never got any serious consideration to actually put in play.

OVERALL: As a high launch, more forgiving option, it’s an ace.

Callaway Mavrik Sub Zero

Setup tested: Sub Zero 9 w/ Mitsubishi Chemical Tensei Blue AV 65TX

LOOKS: To my eyes, the newer versions of the Callaway drivers have looked a bit more compact than its competition. To me, this always looked “low spin” for whatever reason. The Mavrik has the same shape which is good.

FEEL: They really fixed the sound. The Epic Flash sounded like a pop can to me, and the Mavrik Sub Zero sounds like a sledgehammer. The good thing here is the sound now matches up with what the hit feels like. I think the Mavrik is the best feeling driver Callaway has made since Epic.

VS EPIC FLASH SZ: To me, a complete improvement on all fronts. Sound, feel, and performance for me were all substantially better. Now I must say that the Epic Flash Sub Zero was a great driver, I always got great numbers out of it, but the sound took me out of it. I’m sure there isn’t that much difference audibly between the two, but in this game, even something minor can represent so much. Sound to me is huge.

OVERALL: In all honestly, I haven’t given a Callaway driver a real hard look to actually put in the bag since Epic. The sound got louder wit Rogue and Epic Flash. The Mavrik SZ  however is a fantastic driver and will def get some more testing out of me.

Cobra SpeedZone

Setup tested: Cobra Speed Zone 9 @8.5 w/ Fujikura Ventus Black 7X

LOOKS: The F9 was a winner on all fronts. The only critique I had was optically it looked like the driver was a little too fade biased. The SZ with its milled in top line gives it softer look at address and for me, softer lines mean more workability, just what my eyes tell me.

FEEL: As with F9 and the earlier mentioned SIM, the Speed Zone sounds EXACTLY how a driver should sound. It has a very heavy hit audibly and that’s across the face. I love the sound of this driver.

VS F9: Apples to apples, it’s the same. Beyond the optics, it feels, sounds, and performs like the F9. Not a bad thing though, the F9 was the driver of 2019 in my opinion.

OVERALL: Nothing wrong with repeating an already awesome driver. SpeedZone will stand up to anything out there. If I’m being fair, I think F9 elevated things in 2019, and this year the competition caught up to it. Changes nothing about how good this driver is.

Cobra Speed Zone Xtreme

Setup tested: Cobra Speed Zone Xtreme 9 @8.5 w/ Fujikura Ventus Black 7X

LOOKS: Like the other drivers in this higher MOI category, it looks a little longer heel to toe.

FEEL: No different than the SpeedZone, sounds great, the impact is solid across the face, and even thin shots feel solid.

OVERALL: The Xtreme is the sleeper hit of 2020 and I’ve heard the fitters love this thing. It’s by far the easiest to hit and overall good time of any driver on this list. Is it longer? No. But is it Xtremely (no pun) playable and competitive? Hard yes. It’s a blast.

PXG Proto

Setup tested: PXG Proto 9 w/ Graphite Design Tour AD IZ 6 TX

LOOKS: Slick. Like all PXG gear, the look is there. The matte crown and elegant lines make it very pleasing optically. I also appreciate that although it’s designed to look high tech. The lines inspire playability, and who doesn’t love a driver that looks like a stealth bomber?

FEEL: I only hit about 20 balls with the PXG Proto in the short time I had with it, but, wow, did this thing surprise me. The sound oddly enough is a bit higher-pitched than the others on the list but for whatever reason, it’s not a distraction. It actually adds to the experience of the hit. I typically detest that, but this sound matched up with the solid hit I was getting. I’m not sure if this is the final version since its a limited tour proto but what is happening is definitely interesting.

VS GEN2: It’s just better. Feels better, sounds great, more playable across the face. The Gen2 did one thing better than everyone else, it destroyed spin. The problem I had was control. The PXG Proto is still low spin but with the new 4 weight system (no intel on the tech yet) seems to add quality launch to the low spin profile and puts the player in a situation where very few to any sacrifices are made.

OVERALL: I was a fan of Gen2. No doubt. But it never flat out beat M5, F9, or SIM. The Proto has elevated PXG’s driver game. I don’t think its a matter of whether or not the driver stands up with the irons, I believe PXG is on the right track to having a driver that eliminates any “yeah, but…” to the conversation. That’s a huge leap since Gen1. These guys are trending hard.

I hope this was helpful.

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What GolfWRXers are saying about the final version of Bryson DeChambeau’s LA Golf ‘Texas Rebar’ wedge shafts

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In our forums, our members have been discussing the final version of Bryson DeChambeau’s LA Golf ‘Texas Rebar’ wedge shafts. The look of the ultra-stiff shafts, which originated from Bryson wanting a “graphite shaft that was stiffer than the Dynamic Gold X7″, has impressed our members who have been praising the final version and sharing their thoughts on the concept.

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.

  • QuigleyDU: “Awesome.”
  • My2dogs: “Really coming out with some great new stuff.”
  • HateTheHighDraw: “MMT 125TX are absolute fire, but these must be much stiffer.”
  • Robkingasu: “Sweet!”

Entire Thread: “Bryson DeChambeau’s LA Golf ‘Texas Rebar’ wedge shafts”

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Should I move to heavier iron shafts? – GolfWRXers have their say

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In our forums, our members have been discussing the strategy of moving to heavier shafts in irons. WRXer ‘Z1ggy16’ has been making swing changes lately, and the transition has been most challenging for his iron play. ‘Ziggy16’ says:

“Been making some swing changes lately, most notably working to really shallow my club into the downswing. I’m finding that I’m doing this well with my heavy wedge shafts and driver, but I’m struggling a bit in my irons. My strike pattern with my wedges is pretty good, but the irons are a bit all over. Driver is 80g raw, wedges are 132g raw, irons 120g raw. I don’t think I want to go any stiffer, but is there a chance I’ve “outgrown” this weight and need to move to something a bit heavier to help keep these feels going through my set? No idea what swing speed is at this point, but my 7i is normally a smooth/comfortable 175-180 for me.

I really like the feel of my Accra Tour Z Xtreme 475 and my S400’s in the GW-LW. I’m kind of leaning maybe soft stepping modus 120TX or X100’s.. Heck maybe even S200 straight in? Normally I’d just get a fitting, but with Rona still going around, I’m not than keen on it. 2020 is the year of the self fit for me. FWIW, I used modus 120TX 2xSS in my GW & SW last year and that was pretty good feeling. Perhaps a touch too soft… they seemed to really whip/bend hard when hitting from the rough on full swings.”

Our members discuss whether they feel a switch to heavier shafts in the irons will have the desired impact.

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.

  • Pepperturbo: “You’re not alone. Regardless of age, some of us swing better with heavier shafts. I went from 70g driver and 85g 3wd graphite shafts to 58g Ventus shaft in driver and 70g Ventus shaft in 4wd. In irons went from 130g X to 120g 6.0 PX steel shafts which lasted about fifteen years. Then last year made another downward weight change to Steelfiber (steel & graphite) 110g Stiff shafts, lightest I have ever played. Keep in mind as you transition, changing shaft weight is not the only answer. Increasing swing weight can make up for shaft weight. Though I really like them in 6-3i, not thrilled in SW-7i, so just ordered heavier Steelfiber i125g shafts for my PW-7i blades.”
  • Jeff58: “As someone who has gone through and continues to work on what sounds like a similar situation, your ideal iron shafts will likely change. Where they change to isn’t possible to predict with any degree of accuracy. Don’t change your current irons without knowing. It’s frustrating, expensive, and you won’t have any clubs while they’re being changed out. Instead, get a single club from dealsandsteals or similar and experiment with that. Also, the only relevant experience is outdoors under your actual turf conditions. Indoor and mat use can be grossly different.”
  • Red4282: “Just depends on your tempo and load and preferences tbh. My numbers are about identical to yours; I play 77g in the driver and 125 in the irons. I don’t think I could go lighter than 125.”
  • gvogel: “I have a set of hickory clubs. Of course, hickory shafts are darn heavy, maybe 150 grams or so. I probably hit straighter shots with the irons, and particularly hit better shots with the niblick (wedge). Driver and fairway woods, not so much. That might be a stupid insertion into an intelligent thread, but heavier goes straighter, lighter goes longer. You can go heavier, and it helps in transition, but don’t go too stiff.”

Entire Thread: “Should I switch to heavier iron shafts?”

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