Ball tested: Callaway Chrome Soft
Category*: Designed for full range of golfers
Tested for golfers with average driving distance of: 125 or less to 300+ yards (carry + roll)
Specs: Construction – Three-piece; Cover – Urethane; Core – SoftFast; Dimples / Pattern – 332 in HEX (hexagonal) design
Price as tested (new): $37.99 per dozen
Ball notes: Callaway made quite a splash when launching its newest golf ball in late 2014. “Chrome Soft,” the company proclaimed, “is going to change the golf ball category.”
Callaway doubled down by marketing Chrome Soft as “the ball that changed the ball.”
So much for keeping expectations low.
Why so much hype, and so much confidence, from Callaway? Because the company believes that the Chrome Soft “cracks the code” regarding compression and performance.
Where the typical lower-compression ball generates extra distance for slower swingers, high swing speed golfers may actually lose distance with them. The 65 compression Chrome Soft is designed to work for guys who can swing as fast as, say, Phil Mickelson.
Indeed, Mickelson tested Chrome Soft and reportedly told Callaway reps it was the best ball he’d ever played. He proceeded to use the ball in his early 2015 tourney appearances as well. (Rumor has it, though, that a special 85 compression version was made just for Phil.)
Chrome Soft’s not-so-secret ingredient is Callaway’s SoftFast core, which is more resilient at impact than other soft cores. Long story short, that makes it compatible with swing speeds of 105-plus mph.
The final piece is a urethane DuraSpin cover, designed to provide the feel and greenside spin better players demand.
We were dying to know if the Chrome Soft justified its billing. Here’s what we found.
On the clubface: It’s soft all right. Softer than “tour” models like the Titleist ProV1 or Bridgestone Tour B330, to our hands, yet firmer than the ultra-low compression likes of the Wilson Staff Zip. In our book, that’s a happy medium.
Chrome Soft feels and sounds great coming off the club, whether it’s a driver swung full-bore or a tap-in with the putter. It’s got that confidence-boosting “stickiness” on chips and pitches, too.
Off the tee: It’s one thing to make a soft golf ball. It’s another to make a soft ball that doesn’t cost fast swingers precious distance. Based on our results, Callaway has done it. While the Chrome Soft doesn’t appear to be any longer than tour models like the ProV1, it can at least keep pace. One of our testers swings the driver right at 105 mph on average, and he achieved a high launch with nice carry and roll.
Our slower swinger got results in line with other soft balls, such as the Maxfli Revolution Low Spin and Srixon Soft Feel. We’ll call it a win-win.
From the fairway / rough: High yet stable trajectory, good spin on landing. The Chrome Soft performed well from both fairway and rough, “sticking” to the face and making our testers smile. It’s not the most workable ball out there, but few golfers will complain about a ball that’s tough to curve.
Around the green: This is where the DuraSpin cover yanks the spotlight from the SoftFast core. Chrome Soft can match high-end tour models chip for chip, pitch for pitch and blast for blast for greenside responsiveness. This ball is grabby on the greens, spinning and checking with alacrity. Feels wonderful off the putter, too.
Bottom line: Is Callaway’s Chrome Soft the greatest golf ball ever made? We won’t go that far. We will, however, acknowledge its all-around quality for a wide range of golfers. Faster swingers might still prefer traditional tour balls, which could give them a few extra yards. Anyone else would be hard-pressed to find a ball that delivers distance, accuracy, feel and short-game performance to exceed this one.
As good as Chrome Soft is, we’ve got a feeling it’s just another step toward an even better one.
Value/Recreational/Distance – Designed for mid- to high-handicap golfers with swing speeds below 90 mph; typically feature two-piece construction and firm covers; promote greater distance over high spin rates. Examples: Pinnacle Gold, Slazenger RAW Distance
Premium – Designed for low- to mid-handicap golfers with swing speeds of 90-99 mph; typically feature multi-layer construction and medium-soft covers; happy medium between Value/Recreational and Tour categories for distance and spin qualities. Examples: Titleist NXT Tour, Callaway HEX Diablo
Tour/Advanced/Performance – Designed for low-handicap and professional golfers with swing speeds in excess of 100 mph; typically feature multi-layer construction and soft covers; promote greater spin rates and enhanced feel over distance. Examples: Titleist ProV1, Bridgestone Tour B330