Ball tested: Callaway HEX Diablo
Specs: Construction – Two-piece; Cover – Trionomer blend; Core – Polybutadiene; Dimples – 332
Price as tested (new): $19.99 per dozen
Ball notes: Since revolutionizing golf equipment with the Big Bertha driver, Callaway has been one of the game’s most innovative companies. In the ball department, Callaway’s “big new thing” is a dimple arrangement that covers the entire surface with hexangular (six-sided) indentions. The honeycomb-like pattern is designed to reduce in-flight drag and produce a penetrating trajectory.
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.
The HEX Diablo is aimed at mid-handicap golfers who crave extra distance, but want a little feel along with it. Callaway installed a large, low-compression core and thin cover to deliver both qualities. Golf Digest, for one, believes the Diablo fulfills its promise, awarding the ball a silver medal in 2013 Hot List testing.
Sound and feel: Keeping in mind this is a two-piece ball built for distance first, the HEX Diablo feels pretty soft when launched with a full swing. That’s a testament to the large, easy-to-compress core and thin cover (just 0.044” thick).
Off the tee: The average golfer – e.g., one who swings the driver at around 90 mph – will love the Diablo’s oomph. This ball’s got some serious giddy-up. It explodes off the clubface and carries beautifully, with no detectable wobble or excess sidespin. So it’s not only long, it’s straight too.
From the fairway / rough: Again, the HEX Diablo must be judged against its peers (i.e., the Bridgestone e7 and Titleist NXT Tour), not the high-performance likes of the Titleist ProV1. By that measure, it does just fine. We were impressed with the Diablo’s stability when hitting into the wind. It wavered very little and, when struck properly, delivered more distance than expected.
Around the green: While we’d prefer a bit more stopping power than the Diablo provided, short game results were satisfactory. In a ball this long and accurate, we don’t mind sacrificing a little greenside grabbiness.
Bottom line: Did we mention the Callaway HEX Diablo is long? How about straight? It’s a genuine star off the driver, woods and hybrids, and holds up well enough in other categories to merit a serious look from mid-level players.
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