It wasn’t that long ago the choice of golf balls for club golfers was pretty limited. Players who’d reached a reasonable standard and weren’t put off by the price plumped in their droves for the gold standard of golf balls, the urethane-covered Titleist Pro V1.
If that was out of reach, the choice came down to less expensive, harder surlyn and ionomer-covered balls that went a country mile but sounded and felt really harsh, especially on a cold, frosty morning. And it’s no secret distance balls drastically reduced feel and spin in the short game.
But the golf ball market has changed massively over the last few years. Direct to consumer tour-level urethane balls are now available at reduced costs and thanks to several brands making it their mission to break Titleist’s stranglehold on the premium ball market, lots of new ideas have evolved.
Plenty of that evolution has been aimed squarely at club golfers, as we buy (and lose!) the most balls. But also because tour balls aren’t typically optimised to perform at the “normal” swing speeds of amateurs.
At the start of 2020 Srixon, TaylorMade and Callaway all unveiled brand new balls. But rather than targeting tour pros all were designed to satisfy the demands of club golfers. And to hit the spot they needed to combine great driver and iron distance, with good wedge spin, as well as delivering the feel modern golfers are accustomed to with a very sensible price tag.
Each of the three new models have urethane covers – the bit that used to elevate tour balls above the competition – but the good news is between them, all three are 23% – 37% less expensive than a Pro V1.
So to see how the Callaway Chrome Soft measures up and see if it can help you save on your ball budget without sacrificing anything in terms of performance, we put them in the hands of a five-handicap club golfer. This is what happened...
What you should know about the Callaway Chrome Soft golf ball
RRP: £39.99 Construction: Four-piece Cover: Urethane Models: White, Yellow, Triple Track, Truvis,
Typical club golfers hit 20-25 iron and hybrid shots and 30 putts per round (as opposed to 10-14 drivers), so the Chrome Soft is designed to perform across the whole game while delivering soft feel and helping reduce the impact of typical club golfer accuracy inconsistencies.
Verdict: Callaway Chrome Soft golf ball
The move Callaway have made with the Chrome Soft for 2020 is a very clever one. Giving a bigger performance gap between the standard and X ball clarifies brilliantly who each ball will perform best for. Make no mistake Chrome Soft is a tour ball, but it’s just been designed to work well for the more average swing speeds of club golfers.
Once your club speed gets above 100mph and certainly over 105mph you really should be looking at the brilliant new Chrome Soft X.
Callaway’s ‘strokes gained’ claims are supported by our data as it performs well across the board. First and foremost golfers get the soft, low compression feel they desire, as the Chrome Soft is about 13% softer than the Pro V1.That soft feel means giving up 2.5% of driver distance (6 yards), but then you’re gaining 2% on iron shots, which you hit more often, and you save £1 a ball (23.1%).
As Callaway say the softer Chrome Soft is more forgiving in terms of sidespin, our tester saw 23% less sidespin (joint lowest with the TaylorMade Tour Response) compared to the Pro V1, which will help accuracy for the target golfer. For those whose game evolves around wedge spin and control, our data suggests you give up 8.7% wedge spin; what you do get though is a higher ball flight and steeper descent which undoubtedly helps shots stick on the green.
If we were choosing a Chrome Soft we’d be opting for the Triple Track version, because you get all of the above performance plus the cost savings, but as we found out in our “alignment golf balls’ test, you’re also likely to hole 15% more six foot putts than an unmarked ball, too.
How they compare in data
Review written by: Simon Daddow
Job title: Today's Golfer - Equipment Editor