Ball tested: Callaway HEX Chrome+
Specs: Construction – Four-piece; Cover – Urethane; Core – Polybutadiene; Dimples / Pattern – 332 in HEX (hexagonal) design and pattern
Some manufacturers do not reveal or emphasize the compression ratings of new golf balls. Some models are now designed and marketed to fit and appeal to a golfers preferences for price, distance, spin, feel and control.
Price as tested (new): $35.99 per dozen
Ball notes: Billed by Callaway as the company’s “fastest tour ball,” the HEX Chrome+ is the twin to the HEX Chrome. The Chrome+ features an extra mantle layer between core and cover, a speed-juicing, spin-reducing sliver that makes this the slightly firmer version.
In short, the HEX Chrome+ is designed for players with swing speeds of 105 mph and above, as in pros and stong amateurs. It joined its sibling on Golf Digest’s 2013 Hot List in the gold medal division.
Sound and feel: The HEX Chrome+ may be a touch firmer than the original, but the difference is difficult to detect. It compresses like cotton against the club – provided you’ve got ample swing speed – and produces a pleasantly muted sound.
Off the tee: Ball manufacturers have really figured out this part of the equation. Callaway, like others, proves it’s possible to make a ball that spins off the irons, but not off the driver, and that’s evident with the HEX Chrome+. We got ample carry distance and plenty of roll, a pretty unbeatable combination. This model is workable enough to hit decent-sized draws and fades if you’ve got good skills.
From the fairway / rough: And here’s where the spin kicks in. For us, the Chrome+ performed similarly to the Chrome, with just the right amount of stopping power without excess backup. We also liked its stability in the wind as the ball didn’t flutter or veer wildly off line when hit into a stiff breeze.
Around the green: The tour pedigree of the Chrome+ comes shining through on delicate shots. From average lies, we detected a bit more sharpness than with the Chrome, with the ball spinning noticeably on the first bounce. And you can really zip this baby from a tight spot. Putts felt good and rolled true.
Bottom line: There’s a pretty fine line between the HEX Chrome+ and HEX Chrome. Golfers with sufficient swing speed may get better results from the Chrome+ off the tee, and it’s also a bit more responsive around the greens. Other than that, the choice comes down to personal preference. We deem both balls top-notch.
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