Callaway's new Chrome Soft balls aim to use Nobel Prize technology to improve driver distance, short-game spin
The new Callaway Chrome Soft and Chrome Soft X balls probably won't be candidates for winning the Nobel Prize, but they may be benefiting from one. And the results are balls designed to further enhance the difference in the golf ball performance paradigm of low spin off the driver and high spin on the short shots.
The key behind both balls is the use of graphene, a one-atom thick nanoparticle that is part of the new balls’ dual-core construction. While that sounds an awful lot like science (and it is, as the discovery of graphene was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics in 2010), what Callaway sees it as is “a game-changer,” according to Dave Bartels, Callaway’s senior director of golf ball research and development.
The Chrome Soft and Chrome Soft X are multilayer urethane cover balls that feature a dual core. The graphene is incorporated into the outer core layer to increase the difference in compression between the outer core and the inner core, Bartels said. He said that increase means the inner core can be larger and softer than it’s been on past Chrome Soft balls to help full shots launch higher with less spin, but it also helps the soft urethane cover compress against a firm mantle and higher compression outer core for better short shot spin.
“We figured out how to incorporate graphene into the outer core in a way that opened up the design space for us to create a larger inner core that gives us the ability to increase launch angle with lower spin and incidentally improve the feel and sound of the golf ball,” Bartels said, calling the graphene “an enabling technology.”
The new Chrome Soft and Chrome Soft X balls continue Callaway’s emphasis on lower compression cores for softer feel and less spin off the tee, but they also utilize a softer cover and mantle layer under the cover to produce spin on short game shots. The softer compression also makes the balls more forgiving, said Alan Hocknell, Callaway’s senior vice president of research and development.
“When you don’t hit the center of the face, the softer balls still compress and therefore still convert head speed to ball speed more efficiently than harder golf balls,” Hocknell said. “It’s why people out on the course, who have no idea of the physics of the golf ball, see a shot creep over the lip of a bunker and get on the green when they know they didn’t quite hit it well enough.”
The Chrome Soft is softer than the firmer-feeling Chrome Soft X, which is designed for higher swing speed players (105 miles per hour driver swing speeds and higher) who are looking for less spin on full shots, including not just the driver but the long and middle irons, as well. Hocknell said the Chrome Soft X’s firmer construction converts more speed to the ball when swing speeds are higher.
The use of graphene in the outer core has raised its profile in Hocknell’s mind.
“It’s really illustrated to me the importance of this outer core layer of the golf ball,” he said, calling the graphene-infused outer core a “thinner but stronger crash helmet for the inner core.”
“I think the outer core is misnamed. It doesn’t do it justice for the role that it actually plays. It’s really highlighted its role in the performance on the full shots and its role in controlling the performance of the short shots. It’s really an underrated part of the golf ball.”
The Chrome Soft and Chrome Soft X are available for pre-order on Feb. 2 and slated to be in stores Feb. 16 ($45 in white and optic yellow) Both balls will be offered in two Truvis patterns, as well (white-red and yellow-black as standard, along with other color patterns at various times during the year). The Truvis features pentagon-shaped color swatches distributed all over the cover in soccer-ball fashion, designed to improve a player's view of the ball.