Ball tested: Callaway HEX Solaire
Category*: Value/Recreational/Distance (Women)
Tested for golfers with average driving distance of: 125 yards or less (carry + roll) / 126 to 195 yards (carry + roll) / 196 to 245 (carry + roll)
Specs: Construction – Two-piece; Cover – Trionomer blend; Core – Polybutadiene; Dimples / Pattern – 332 in HEX (hexagonal) design
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): $19.99 per dozen
Ball notes: Callaway is, first and foremost, a golf club company. But its HEX ball lineup has won raves from many players, even those who dismissed the brand’s previous efforts.
HEX symbolizes the hexagonal shape and arrangement of dimples on the cover. Callaway says that the pattern gives shots better lift, longer carry and more stability in the wind. Our tests of Callaway’s men’s offerings, including the HEX Black Tour, HEX Chrome and HEX Hot models, bear out these claims.
While the Solaire shares its dimple design with the entire HEX family, it’s different in other ways. It features an extra-soft “s-Tech” core for low compression and high resiliency, plus a sparkly “Pearluminous” cover finish designed to aid visibility in both white and pink versions.
On the clubface: It stands to reason that the slower one’s swing, the less compression—or “smush,” to use a non-technical term—one will feel when ball meets clubface. Yet the Solaire produces a decidedly soft sensation regardless of who is hitting it, or what club they’re using. Putts and chips are especially satisfying with the Solaire.
Off the tee: We liked not only the distance Solaire delivered, but also its medium-high launch and sustained carry. Our tester is a very accurate driver who hits few if any wildly curving shots, so she’s not the best gauge of a ball’s accuracy or tendency to spin off line. That said, Solaire flew dead on the money with her alignment.
From the fairway / rough: The Solaire proved easy to get airborne with fairway woods and hybrids, a definite plus for any women’s golf ball. Short irons and wedges carried nice and high, too, with better than expected spin. Golfers who rely on the run-up shot to reach many greens need not worry about excess backspin stopping the Solaire too quickly, though. It gave ample roll-out on low shots.
Around the green: Like we said, Solaire provides exceptional feel in the short game. Better yet, it performs beautifully. Well-struck shots checked up after a hop or two, and shots caught a touch thin still grabbed before hurtling over the green. This ball feels great off the putter and holds its line like a champ.
Bottom line: Callaway has hit on a winning formula with its Solaire golf ball. It does everything you want a women’s model to do. It flies high and straight, provides spin off the short irons and good roll on longer fairway shots, and behaves like a well-trained collie around the greens. Solaire just might make you say “So long” to your current golf ball.
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