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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 [email protected] 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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Whats in the Bag

WITB Time Machine: Phil Mickelson’s 2013 Open Championship winning WITB

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Fairway wood: Callaway X Hot 3Deep (13 degrees)
Shaft: Fubuki K 70 X 

Hybrid: Ping Anser (17 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Kuro Kage

Irons: Callaway X Forged (4-PW)
Shaft: KBS Tour (4-6); KBS Tour V2 (7-PW)

Wedges: Callaway X Series JAWS (52, 56 degrees), Callaway Mack Daddy 2 (60, 64 degrees)
Shaft: KBS Tour V2

Putter: Odyssey Versa #9

Ball: Callaway HEX Chrome+

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Callaway Chrome Soft: Building a better golf ball

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“Changing a tire on a bus while it’s moving.” That’s how Callaway’s Norm Smith, Vice President, Global Manufacturing, Engineering, and Quality at Callaway describes the never-ending process of upgrading and improving operations while continuing to produce golf balls and equipment to satisfy current demand — which, for Callaway, like the rest of the golf equipment world, is at record highs.

While Smith oversees operations, including Callaway’s Chicopee, Massachusetts, ball plant, which produces all the company’s Chrome Soft and Truvis golf balls, Jason Finley, Callaway’s Global Director Product Strategy, Golf Ball and his team are locked into the 18-month process of developing the next generation of the company’s flagship ball offerings.

This delicate dance can take the form of identifying opportunities to bring new products to market — such as this year’s Chrome Soft X LS golf ball — researching new technologies — such as graphene, which Callaway uses in the core of Chrome Soft balls — and looking at every element of the previous product to see what can be optimized and enhanced.

In developing the current Chrome Soft line, engineers were faced with the challenge of taking a product that has done well both on tour and at retail and determining what can be improved upon. This process relies on feedback from everyone from tour pros to retail consumers and a look at the Chrome Soft line through the lens of a few questions: What tools do we have at our disposal? How can we make it faster? How can we optimize spin? How do we cater to a range of spin profiles? How do we increase quality?

According to Norm Smith, Callaway’s well-documented Chicopee ball plant upgrades have included night-and-day changes in just the past six months. More broadly, in recent years, from start to finish, the entire process and the machines involved therein have been assessed and upgraded. Indeed, the company has improvements to the packaging operation in its sites next as it is both literally and figuratively the end of the Chrome Soft production process.

In addition to new cover molding equipment, Truvis equipment, and paint lines, as we detailed in this piece, Callaway’s $60 million-plus investment in the Chicopee ball plant includes.

  • State-of-the-art rubber mixer: This giant mixer is a four-story tall machine built for absolute precision mixing batch after batch. It precisely measures chemical compounds and polymers needed to build each layer. It also regulates multiple parameters during the process to make sure the final product meets strict quality control measures.
  • New 3D X-Ray system: If for some reason a bad golf ball gets past the first steps of the quality control process without fault, the 3D X-Ray system will prevent it from going any further. As Callaway has stated, “these machines can’t make the ball pieces more centered, but it prevents ones that aren’t from ever leaving the plant.”
  • New core-molding tools: Balls are built from the core out, and without consistency, the rest of the pieces don’t quite matter as much. Even with automation already a huge part of the process, Callaway is adding more to not only help respond to ever-growing demand but to ensure quality core to core.

Now, a refresher on the Chrome Soft line being produced in western Massachusetts.

Chrome Soft

Callaway’s latest Chrome Soft golf ball features a Dual SoftFast Core with a 34 percent larger volume inner core. It’s also equipped with a thinner, graphene-infused outer core for better wedge spin and faster ball speed.

Beyond the Dual SoftFast Core, inside the Chrome Soft is a new mantle system made of proprietary, high-energy ionomer to promote fast ball speed.

Chrome Soft’s 10 percent thinner urethane cover is designed to promote less spin on full shots and added distance — without sacrificing soft feel and excellent greenside spin and control.

The final element of the new Chrome soft is a new lower drag aerodynamic dimple pattern that promotes higher launch, higher flight, and ultimately, longer distance.

Lower spinning than the Chrome Soft X, the Chrome Soft is the highest launching, softest ball in Callaway’s CS lineup.

Chrome Soft X

Designed to promote faster ball speed, the Chrome Soft X ball contains a significantly larger SoftFast core than its predecessor, and a 15 percent thinner cover to produces lower spin on full shots (and added distance).

Inside the Chrome Soft X is a new mantle system combines a softer inner mantle with a firmer outer mantle. Both elements feature proprietary ionomer blends.

This firm outer mantle works with the a new, thinner cover that yields increased greenside spin and control. A lower drag aerodynamic dimple pattern is also new in the Chrome Soft X. It is designed to produce penetrating flight and longer distance.

Higher spinning than the Chrome Soft with driver and irons, the Chrome Soft X features the highest wedge and greenside spin and is more workable overall, in addition to offering a firmer feel.

Chrome Soft X LS

The most recent addition to the lineup, the Chrome Soft X LS features four-piece, single-core construction engineered to increase speed through a SoftFast Core, a Dual Mantle System, and a refined urethane cover.

According to Callaway, players see a 300-400 rpm decrease in spin from the X with the LS ball on mid-irons.

The LS contains a significantly larger high-speed core design that aims to provide more distance through the bag. It functions in concert with the mantle system to deliver high resilience and speed.

The Chrome Soft X LS is equipped with a thin proprietary urethane cover for high spin, low launch, and excellent feel in a player’s scoring clubs — without sacrificing greenside control.

Higher launching with driver and irons than the Chrome Soft X, the LS is, not surprisingly, lower spinning than the Chrome Soft X across the board while offering similar feel.

The Callaway Chrome Soft family of golf balls are at retail for $47.99 per dozen. All three models are available with Callaway’s Triple Track Technology.

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What GolfWRXers are saying about the best players combo set

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In our forums, our members have been discussing the best players combo sets currently on the market. WRXer ‘Texas_Golfer’ is on the hunt for a set that offers a “blade like club with a touch of help”, and our members have been sharing their suggestions 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.

  • lefthack: “Nike VR Pro Combo. My KZG’s started as a combo set (split at 6/7), but I ended up full blade because they were so good to hit.”
  • 1163: “Sub 70 639 CB/MB Forged combo set.”
  • ChipNRun: “Check out Callaway’s Apex family. Apex not only offers four distinct iron models, but it has pre-mixed combo packages for different fine-tuning desires. Be sure to check out their Triple Play set.”
  • hattrick11: “I would throw the King Tour MIM in there too. Bit larger than the ZX7/T100/921 Tour but still a “players” look/feel with more forgiveness and no need to combo.”

Entire Thread: “What GolfWRXers are saying about the best players combo set”

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