Sunday, May 24, 2015

Are Costco Exclusive Callaway Balls Identical to Chrome Soft?

There is a fair amount of speculation  about the Hex Control ball. There's been a rumor going around that the Callaway golf balls available exclusively at Costco is either identical to their premium Chrome Soft ball or the older Hex Hot.   Here's the chatter on GolfWRX

And, for $30 for two dozen (or $60 for four dozen online) compared to MSRP of $37.99 ONE dozen for Chrome Soft balls, who can blame anyone for wanting to save a few dollars.

Callaway's Chrome Soft golf ball was the highest rated ball in Golf Digest's June 2015 issue, in all categories but demand.  But after that review, we'll see if demand goes up! According to them, it has better feel than the Pro V1.  That's right, better feel than the so-called best ball on the market.

I called up Callaway to find out from the source.  It was a brief conversation (spent most of the time talking about the Callaway X-Hot clubs set, which are a smoking deal for someone who needs a new set.  Note that they sell lefty and stiff models too!)  I was told that the closest thing on the market in 2015 to the Hex Control was in fact the Chrome Soft.  I asked if the only difference was the logo.  They implied the cover was the only difference, without exact words to that effect.

Let's take a closer look.

Specs on the Chrome Soft:
Cover: Thermoplastic Urethane
Dimple pattern: HEX Aerodynamics

Specs on the Hex Control:
Cover: Trionomer Blend
Cover Hardness: 56D
Dimple pattern: HEX Aerodynamics

So, right there we know that the cover material is different.  Being that urethane is a much more expensive material, I'm neither surprised nor disappointed by this.  The Hex pattern on all modern Callaway golf balls seems identical to me.

But, what about the inside?  There was only one way to find out, so here are the results of a little vice and jig saw work:

Here's the inside of the Callaway Hex Control.  I found this watercolor palate to be the perfect holder!  (How many golfers out there would have one?  Seriously, if you do paint and golf, please comment!)

OK, what about The Chrome Soft?
Nope!  This matches the photos in the Golf Digest article, minus the blue circle in the very center.  As my cut was off center a bit and the saw blade left discoloration patterns on the ball, I'm not surprised it is not noticeable.

Here's the big differences:

The Chrome Soft has a thinner outer layer.  When I cut it, it was a lot stickier and softer.  It was also noticeably harder to cut, due to the sticky softness.  It closer to rubber than plastic and was surprisingly tough!

If I was to guess, I'd say the thin middle layer material is identical to both.  And obviously, the inner layer is different.  The green material smelled different when cut, and stuck to itself more, like you can see in the top photo. 

So, Chrome soft was been ruled out.  Others have said it was a rebranded Hex Hot, or perhaps the Chrome Supersoft with an extra layer.

Here's all four balls side by side:
Chrome Soft, Hex Control, Supersoft, Hex Hot (Yellow)

All are different!

Detail shots:  Note that the Supersoft material does not match the 2015 Golf Digest article.  This particular Supersoft ball was found on a golf course with a corporate logo.  I'm not sure if the performance is a little different, or if the dye lot is the only thing different with the material.

Older Big Bertha & Big Bertha Diablo shots in case you were wondering:

The Callaway's Costco exclusive Hex Control ball is not a relabeled Chrome soft or Hex ball, It is it's own unique ball.  The cover is thicker, and fairly durable.  The performance is great for me (a mid to high handicapper)  The reviews on GolfWRX are outstanding.  It is still a high performance ball, and is perhaps the best value per dollar that you can find on the market for well known balls (Snell, you want to send me a sleeve or two to review?  I'd be happy give you my honest opinion!)

The Chrome Soft ball is made of more expensive materials.  The cover on the Chrome Soft will likely give you more greenside control, because it's literally stickier when attacked with a metal object.

Suggestion:  If you are a mid to high handicapper and lose a ball or two per round, the Hex Control may be the best ball for you because due to the price/performance factor.  And, it's a great backup/practice/early season ball for better players.

But in terms of quality, if you can afford it (and won't lose it), go for the Chrome Soft.