Callaway adds low-spin Chrome Soft X LS to lineup, but it's not just about driver distance
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Callaway adds a third entry to its Chrome Soft lineup of multilayer, urethane-cover balls with the Chrome Soft X LS. As the name implies, it’s a lower-spinning model aimed at consistent ball strikers who are looking for more distance from their long and mid-irons.
Price: $48 (dozen). Available March 18.
THE DEEP DIVE: It is maybe a little lazy to simply suggest that the new Callaway Chrome Soft X LS ball—the third model in Callaway’s multilayer/urethane cover family with Chrome Soft and Chrome Soft X—is lower-spinning, or worse, that such an effect is mostly about driver distance. Some of that most certainly is the case, particularly for faster swing speeds that tend to benefit the most on spin changes off the driver. But really what the Chrome Soft X LS is trying to do is line up with a particular player’s preferred ideal ball flight, and that sense might often not rest solely with the tee shot.
“It’s mostly a mid- and long iron decision,” said Eric Loper, Callaway’s senior director of golf ball research and development. “With driver technology and shaft technology and fitting technology, we can fit into any window that they really want [on the driver]. So it really comes down to their irons.”
Of course, within that decision-making process is the idea that to even be in the consideration process for Chrome Soft X LS, a player needs to be able to produce consistency from their long and mid-iron swings. That’s why the choice between Callaway’s three balls might best start with understanding how consistent your impact pattern is with the longer clubs. For example, if your usual collection of impacts off a dozen or so driver swings is fairly broad, Loper said a better ball choice is likely going to be regular Chrome Soft for significantly more average golfers than either Chrome Soft X or X LS. The softer core construction on regular Chrome Soft is going to be more forgiving on mis-hits, producing better launch and spin on your less-than-best hits, of which there might be many more of those than there are of your best hits.
The decision between Chrome Soft X and Chrome Soft X LS may be more subtle, however. Both balls feature the same construction with a urethane cover surrounding two polymer mantle layers encasing a resilient polybutadiene rubber core. The LS features a slightly softer core, different thicknesses in the mantle layers and different cover hardness. But that’s just golf ball chemistry. The fundamental difference is what a player wants his iron shots to look like and/or how she prefers to execute those types of shots.
Loper said the Chrome Soft X player might struggle with a need for more spin, based on how the clubface is presented at impact. That player prefers a “low launch but rising type of trajectory because that’s “what they grew up with and feel comfortable with that type of flight, they know how that type of ball might get held up in the wind and they’re used to that,” he said. He also said a Chrome Soft X player likely will prefer to work the ball more, and “that player is more comfortable taking spin off with how they present the club.”
The new Chrome Soft X LS, however, might be part of an emerging player type that’s comfortable with finding more distance through optimized, lower-spinning iron shots.
“It’s the type of player who wants to see that ball flight launch in a particular window and reach a certain apex in a certain way, a little bit more parabolic versus the low launch, rising type of flight,” Loper said. “It’s a flatter more boring type of trajectory.
“The decision really comes down to, ‘Does this iron performance get me the launch conditions that I’m seeking? And if it doesn’t, then I go back to the CSX.’”
While a handful of tour players have already adopted the Chrome Soft X LS, including Marc Leishman, Akshay Bhatia and Maverick McNealy, Loper thinks Chrome Soft X will remain the predominant choice. Still, he said. “as we start to learn more and understand how beneficial this type of tool is to fitting players into their optimum launch conditions or maybe even outside of what they think their optimal launch conditions are, the percentage in LS will grow, I would expect.”
The new Chrome Soft X LS will be available in three varieties: traditional all-white, white with the Triple Track alignment markings and yellow with Triple Track. It will be in stores March 18 ($48 per dozen).
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