By Jeffrey A. Rendall, Images courtesy of Callaway Golf
CARLSBAD, CA – It’s not always easy to recall the days before solid core golf balls, but the memories of playing high compression ultra-soft balata covered balls is indelibly ingrained in many of our minds.
You just don’t get that “spongy” softness in too many golf balls these days.
But thanks to the engineers at Callaway Golf and their new Chrome Soft ball, the old-time feel of balata may be making a comeback. Thankfully, the newer vintage soft balls are much more durable than the old ones, an important attribute for those of us who are good at creating big smiles on dimpled faces.
Back then, playing higher compression balata covered golf balls usually meant you’re a pretty good golfer. That ‘100 compression’ stamp was like a sign of pride, illustrating that your swing speed was high enough to be able to compress the ball. Or maybe it was just a sign of ego – only the accomplished few could really use those balls effectively.
Besides that, they were expensive, which priced out another segment of players.
In contrast, Callaway’s Chrome Soft is a ball for everyone. It gives all the soft feel of the old balata 100 compression balls, yet offers a player-friendly compression of 65. Yes, that’s right, 65.
Balls aren’t stamped with compression figures anymore, so that’s more like a term from the past. We can only assume that solid core balls are engineered these days to do what they’re supposed to do. In some cases, it means pure distance -- and in others, soft feel.
The Chrome Soft offers both distance and feel. Phil Mickelson said it would revolutionize the way we think about golf balls.
According to Callaway, “the Chrome Soft is the only ball that has the new proprietary SoftFast Core with low compression and the Tour Urethane cover. This leads to low spin off the tee for incredible ball speed and distance, a low 65 compression to compress the ball on iron shots for incredibly soft feel, and excellent control for aggressive shots into the green. With Chrome Soft, golfers no longer have to choose between great feel and hitting the ball farther.”
Because everyone should be able to compress the Chrome Soft, Callaway says you will likely see 7-10 additional yards on your irons. Be prepared to pull your seven-iron where you used to use a six.
Needless to say, extra spin around the greens will also help with your short game. And don’t forget the benefits of soft feel in putting.
In examining the latest golf ball products, one thing we noted was the importance of seeing how different balls perform on a launch monitor. Due to early season cold conditions we didn’t get to give the Chrome Soft a thorough once-over on the golf course, being limited to a driving range trial and chipping and putting in the short-game area.
Seeing the difference on a launch monitor provided more data than we would have gathered through a regular demo, however. We were able to observe some good players putting the Chrome Soft to the test – and it was instructive. All of them were okay on the ball’s distance attributes, with the only divisions in opinion occurring on the ball’s short-game appeal.
Some thought the ball was too soft, enjoying more of the “click” sound you get from other balls.
For our part, we really liked the softness of the ball around the greens. We prefer softer feeling balls when putting and the Chrome Soft was right up there in that category. Likewise, chipping with the ball was very good, complete with a terrific feel to it.
|Phil Mickelson thinks the Chrome Soft will revolutionize golf ball technology. Photo by David Vier.|
Distance on driver shots appeared to be competitive with other premium balls. The launch monitor observation session also proved that the Chrome Soft’s reduction in spin helped keep it long and straight. That’s pretty much our judgment as well.
As with any product – especially golf balls – the only real way to see if the Chrome Soft is right for you is to try it. With the ball being priced slightly below other premium brands’ top sellers, we’d recommend investing in a dozen.
At the very least, you’ll enjoy hitting a ball that gives you modern distance with the feel of old balata. Chock one up for the engineers at Callaway.
|Related Links||Comments on this article?|
Maryland National Golf Club
Hollow Creek Golf Club
Rocky Gap Resort
PB Dye Golf Club in Ijamsville
Whiskey Creek Golf Club
E-mail Jeff Rendall, Editor: