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New golf balls

Callaway ERC Soft, Warbird golf balls: What you need to know

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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Golf ball manufacturers understand a few things. Among them is the fact that consumers often base their buying decisions on economics as well as performance characteristics. That’s why Callaway has unveiled new ball offerings covering a wide range of price and performance levels, specifically the new ERC Soft and lower-priced Warbird models.

PRICE: ERC Soft, $40 per dozen; Warbird, $20 per dozen.

3 COOL THINGS

1. More than just two pieces. Golf ball manufacturing has been likened to baking a cake, and there’s some truth to that. Much like a two-layer cake uses more than two ingredients, a golf ball has more than just the couple of parts that make it up.

So how many materials go into Callaway's new offerings? In the ERC Soft, there are more than 100, claims Eric Loper, Callaway's senior director for golf ball R&A. “There’s a lot that needs to come together to provide meaningful benefits to the golfer out on the course," Loper said. "So, all the changes that we’ve made are all material changes.”

For the ball's core that involved reformulating the design to keep maintain a low compression while squeezing out more speed. From a chemistry perspective, we yield the floor to Loper.

“At the molecular level, you have millions of elastic chains that are all cross-linked together,” Loper said. “What we discovered were some unreacted material groups that aren’t resilient … those impeded the ability of that material to be elastic. We developed a new technology that goes in and reacts with those unreacted material groups and pulls them into the material matrix that gives us a higher cross-linked density. That leads to more elastic energy at deformation, and that’s the goal. We’ve retained all the attributes that we seek and we’re able to get a little bit more speed at deformation. It’s about converting deflection into energy.”

In layman’s terms, ball go far.

2. Getting a grip. There were material changes to the cover as well. Seeking to add as much greenside spin as possible while not reducing speed, the company employed a new urethane coating for the first time that, Loper says, can generate as much as 400 rpm more spin on such shots, something that can have a particular benefite around the greens.

“The new Grip Urethane Coating is really focused on improving wedge control,” Loper said. “And what’s fantastic about this technology is that it only really influences your wedges. We focused on using a higher elongation formulation that allows that material to stretch more.” Loper went on to explain that by stretching more, it helps improve the engagement between club and ball, thus generating more spin.

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3. More yards, low cost please. For those seeking pure distance and a palatable price point ($20/dozen), there is a new Warbird model.

Players looking at balls in this category dream of hitting that short-game shot with lots of spin to stop it, but don’t have the skill to pull it off. As such, they tend to gravitate to balls that give them as many yards off the tee as they can get.

A two-piece ball, Warbird boasts a large, fast core engineered to transfer energy at impact more efficiently into the ball, translating into more distance. Also contributing is the Hex aerofynamic package that reduces drag and promotes not only more speed, but a higher launch with more carry.