Golf manufacturers release new equipment on what feels like an almost daily basis, each time promising more distance, increased spin, greater control, higher flight, enhanced feel, better job security, a boost to your virility, the elixir of eternal youth, and anything else they can think of.
They have to do this, of course, to encourage you to buy the new things. It’s their job to make you look adoringly at the new thing, then glance down unhappily at your old thing and think, “that new thing is better than this old thing”.
This isn't specific to golf, of course. BMW don’t release a new model and say “it’s basically the same as the last one, but the horn sounds a bit different,” much as Apple don’t release a new iPhone with a swanky press conference to say “unless you’ve smashed the screen on your old one, we wouldn’t bother upgrading”.
And in most cases the new piece of golf equipment will be better. But, unless your old thing is very old, the difference will likely be quite subtle. If every new piece of golf gear made you 25% better at golf, as much of the marketing would have you believe, you’d be about 4,475% better at golf by now. (Yes, I realise that’s not how percentages work, I’m exaggerating for effect.)
In reality, the rules of what is and isn’t allowed in terms of golf equipment don’t change, so the improvements manufacturers are able to offer in terms of performance tend to be incremental, rather than revolutionary.
But there are exceptions.
Be it metal woods, graphite shafts, hybrids, launch monitors or chunky putter grips, golf occasionally sees a release that changes the game.
The Callaway Chrome Soft TruVis golf ball could be one of those.
What's so special about it, then?
It looks like this:
Right... But why would I want a golf ball that thinks it's a football?
There are four reasons. Those four reasons are these:
1. It looks bigger
Look at this image.
The ball on the right looks a tiny bit bigger, doesn't it? Well, it isn't. In fact, that's a still from a video. Both balls are identical, other than the patten.
Here's the science behind why it looks bigger: "There are over 30 distinct visual areas in the optical system," says sports vison specialist John Rose. "The ball's pentagonal design provides a simple method of stimulating those receptors, enabling greater feedback than you get from a white ball. The repeating symmetrical markings increase the contrast of the ball against its background, making it easier to see."
A ball that appears bigger inspires confidence. Confidence is good. Confidence helps you perform better. Confidence is king.
2. You can see it spin
Not as it disappears off your driver face at 150 mph, of course. But on shorter shots, particularly chips and pitches, you can see how the ball reacts as it hits the green and on each subsequent bounce. This is not only bloody lovely, it's useful, offering feedback on what your ball is doing, and why certain shots spin back or release in a certain way.
3. You can see it roll
We all know that the ball skids before it rolls on putts, but never before have we been able to see it so easily with our own eyes. Few players genuinely know when they've made a pure strike with their putter, but with TruVis, the evidence is there for all to see. Is the ball rolling true, end over end, straight along the target line, or have you imparted unwanted sidespin? Now you know.
4. It's fun
It really is. And, for most of us, isn't that kind of the point?
If it's so good, why hasn't anyone done this before?
They have. In fact, seven years ago, we ran a story announcing the fact that TruVis were working with several golf ball manufacturers to bring TruVis to the mainstream.
It didn't take off then, but it could be different this time. In Chrome Soft, golfers can play a genuinely top-quality ball with TruVis technology. Tom Watson used it on the Champions Tour only last week. As soon as Phil Mickelson puts one into play and viewers worldwide see his ball spinning across a PGA Tour green like a washing machine drum, sales will explode. If it proves popular, other manufacturers will be quick to release TruVis versions of their own balls.