More than a year into its latest Chrome Soft cycle, Callaway is introducing a new member of the family—the Chrome Soft X LS. As you might surmise, the LS stands for “low spin” and while it doesn’t replace anything in the current lineup, it does give Callaway a long-needed second option in the Tour ball category.
I’m barely a paragraph in and I can already sense some of you giving me the stink eye so let’s take a second for some real talk. Over the last several years, a yarn or two may have been spun suggesting otherwise but I don’t believe anyone at Callaway would reasonably classify the standard Chrome Soft as a “Tour ball.” It’s a solid 10 compression points softer than anything played on the PGA TOUR and “soft” is, well, a specification that doesn’t hold up to higher swing speeds.
In that respect, Callaway’s lineup was lacking. Every serious ball brand has two Tour options and, with the addition of Chrome Soft X LS, so does Callaway.
Chrome Soft X LS’s origin story isn’t entirely dissimilar from the Titleist Pro V1 Left Dash. The Titleist ball was a Tour-only secret menu offering (Titleist calls them “custom performance options” or CPOs) that went directly from the Tour to retail. Kinda.
Chrome Soft X LS evolved from a Tour-only secret menu ball, though this latest iteration was designed with retail in mind. The performance characteristics between the new ball and the prior Tour-only offering are similar. The most notable difference is an update in construction from a four-piece dual-core design to a four-piece dual-mantle construction that matches that of the current Chrome Soft X.
For what it’s worth, the guys playing the previous generation have, by and large, moved into the new ball.
The Chrome Soft X LS offers the same firm compression as the standard Chrome Soft X but how Callaway gets there is what drives the performance differences.
As we’ve discussed before, spin (more accurately, high spin) is the product of wrapping firmer layers inside softer layers. Conversely, to reduce spin, manufacturers wrap softer layers inside firmer ones. To that end, relative to CSX, CSX LS has a softer core. By leveraging a firmer inner mantle, Callaway was able to maintain compression. The result is lower spin at the same speed though, depending on the player, it could potentially be a touch faster.
The total description of Chrome Soft X LS is one of a high-compression, high-launch, low-spin golf ball.
Callaway has positioned Chrome Soft X LS as a ball for the better player who fights spin and wants to hit it farther.
I’d push back a bit and say that high speed, low spin and more distance aren’t the exclusive domain of better players but the messaging here is important. Over the last several years, Callaway has done an outstanding job of reaching a broad range of everyday golfers but perhaps hasn’t had the same success with better/elite golfers.
The reasons for that are likely as multi-faceted as its signature hex dimple pattern but the lack of options certainly wasn’t helping. The Chrome Soft X LS speaks to the reality that no one ball can address all the needs of higher swing speed players and creates more options for Callaway staffers (and fitters) to dial in the ideal combination of iron and golf ball.
We’ve discussed dimple patterns before and why there are inherent disadvantages to using the same cover on every ball. The patterns are the same on Chrome Soft X and Chrome Soft X LS in that they have the same hex pattern but that’s not to say they’re identical. Callaway has altered the geometry of the facets—the six bars that come together to form Callaway’s hex dimples—to optimize the aerodynamics around the performance profile of the Chrome Soft X LS.
When we’re able to fully test balls in the low-spin space, it’s possible we’ll find two to three yards off the driver between them. Maybe golfers will notice, maybe not. The likelihood is that the biggest observable differences will be inside 40 yards where things like greenside spin and, I suppose, even feel (and feel off the putter), enter the conversation.
Callaway believes the Chrome Soft X LS compares favorably in both areas. Acknowledging once again that everything is player dependent and choosing words carefully so as not to raise either the eyebrows or the pens of its competitors’ legal teams, Callaway says greenside spin will be similar to other balls in the low-spin space, but not lower.
Since all things in the golf equipment world are relative, I figure it might be helpful to clarify the position of all three Chrome Soft balls within the Callaway lineup.
Chrome Soft is low compression with high launch and low spin. The distance math works for iron shots but high-speed players will likely take a hit with their driver. It has a urethane cover but it’s not a Tour ball.
Chrome Soft X is high compression with the lowest launch and highest spin within the Chrome Soft family.
Chrome Soft X LS is high compression with higher launch and lower spin than the Chrome Soft X.
Which is right for you is ultimately a fitting question. That reality poses both an opportunity and a challenge for Callaway.
By making Chrome Soft X LS available through all of its retail partners, Callaway hopes to seize the opportunity created by Titleist’s unwillingness (so far anyway) to mass distribute Left Dash.
There’s little doubt in my mind Left Dash is the longest Tour ball on market right now. There’s no doubt in my mind there’s a market for that so it strikes me as odd that Titleist has never directly hinted as much while continuing to maintain Left Dash’s position as the best ball nobody knows about.
If you know, you know. If you don’t, Titleist seems OK with it.
With CSX LS, Callaway is taking a more direct approach. Niche or not, “for a lot of players, it’s a better product,” says Jason Finley, Director of Brand and Product Management for Callaway. “They’re going to hit it farther and golfers want that.”
You don’t say.
Why wouldn’t you put your longest golf ball on every retail shelf and make sure everybody knows about it?
The answer is that there is a legitimate risk of golfers buying the wrong product for their game. They may even hold it against you.
Counter argument: That’s what golfers often do. It’s unavoidable.
While not every golfer (or nearly any golfer) is going to get fitted for a golf ball, Callaway is going to provide what Finley calls “selection guidance.” The idea is to help golfers understand if Chrome Soft X LS might be right for them but ultimately to make sure they have the tools (info and easy access to the ball) to make the performance decision for themselves.
The Callaway Chrome Soft X LS will be available in White, White Triple Track and Yellow Triple Track, which brings me today’s Did You Know.
Did you know that Triple Track is Callaway’s best-selling option in every model where it’s offered? It outsells white. In any given week, 25 to 35 percent of Callaway’s PGA TOUR staff is using a Triple Track ball.
This “patterns on a golf ball” thing isn’t going away anytime soon. It’s probably time everyone got on board.
Retail price for the Callaway Chrome Soft X LS golf ball is $47.99. Availability begins March 18.
For more information, visit CallawayGolf.com.
There is a lot of cool gear in the golf equipment world that doesn’t always fit neatly into Most Wanted Tests or Buyer’s Guides. You still want to know how it performs. In our We Tried It series, we put gear to the test and let you know if it works as advertised.
Dave Wolfe – MyGolfSpy writer and putter fanatic. I am always looking for ways to improve my “non-Tour level” golf game.
I’m not ashamed to admit I’ve bought a bunch of training aids through the years. I know I am not alone in this. Millions of training aids have been purchased by improvement-minded (aka desperate) golfers. The draw of the training aid is that it, theoretically, allows you to improve on your own. Unfortunately, it has been my experience that most of training aids don’t really help. For me, only the Orange Whip and Tour Striker have proved their usefulness.
Typically, an exceptionally poor round of golf sends me searching for a new training tool. Most recently, it was the flexible blue shaft of the Lagshot that caught my eye. The Lagshot reminded me of the Orange Whip which was instrumental for me to finally feel the correct sequencing and tempo with my driver. When I saw the Lagshot, my brain said, “hittable Orange Whip.” I had to give it a try.
Essentially, the Lagshot is a 7-iron with a little more heft and a very flexible shaft. According to the Lagshot literature, it “promotes ideal tempo, sequencing throughout your golf swing and boosts lag so you can hit longer, more accurate golf shots.”
What golfer wouldn’t want all of that?
When the Lagshot arrived, I bypassed reading the instructions and started swinging it in the backyard as soon as I had it out of the box. It was a promising first pass as it did feel like the expected lovechild of a 7-iron and an Orange Whip.
Next, I took the Lagshot to the range. After my usual warm-up, I hit some balls with the Lagshot. Those first shots were not pure. Like “duck for cover” not pure. While it was easy to swing the Lagshot and feel some tempo and sequence feedback, hitting a ball was not automatic.
The first balls I hit with the Lagshot were erratic so I started hitting half shots to see if I could keep the ball inside the range. After a spell, I could do just that. Nothing amazing but I could control the club and hit balls roughly in the intended direction.
Soon I was taking full swings with the Lagshot. I did make sure to mix in my own 7-iron here and there to ensure that whatever I was grooving in with the Lagshot wasn’t making my normal club unhittable. Oddly, my 7-iron seemed to be producing some better-than-normal shots. No, I don’t have launch monitor data to show specific changes but the shots I was seeing on the range were atypically good.
I found that the most important aspect of the Lagshot was that gave me massive amounts of feedback. It felt like it almost forced me into better swing positions. This felt uncomfortable initially but that’s to be expected as my “comfortable” swing is flawed. The Lagshot helped me feel the club load and it couldn’t be rushed from the top. Feedback is critical for functionality. Since you don’t have an instructor watching, the only way to know if you are in the correct position is if the tool tells you. A tool that can do this well is a treasure. Check a box for the Lagshot.
By the end of a few sessions with the Lagshot, I was hitting fairly frequent “soft” shots with my 7-iron. What is a “soft” shot? You know that feeling when the ball just feels squishy at impact and then goes forever? It’s the effortless power that comes from pure contact. You good players out there likely feel this all of the time. For a chop like me, finding that pure feeling at impact is like capturing a leprechaun while it’s riding a solid gold unicorn.
Even without following the instructions or doing any official drills, the Lagshot helped me hit better shots. Additionally, the Lagshot proved to be durable, holding up well versus mats and winter-hardened range balls.
Encouraged by my experiences, I read the directions. By “directions,” I mean the 10 Lagshot instructional videos provided with the included-in-price Scratch Golf Academy app access. The Scratch Golf Academy is run by Florida golf instructor Adam Bazelgette. I had not heard of Bazelgette or his academy but, since access was included with the Lagshot, I thought it worth checking out.
The videos focusing on the Lagshot are excellent tutorials. After watching them, range sessions with the Lagshot have been more productive and focused. I appreciate Bazelgette’s relaxed teaching style. The instructional videos are easy to follow and the demonstrated drills are easy to practice.
Although it has only been a few months, the Lagshot has helped my golf swing. My sequencing and tempo are better. Though I’m not yet seeing a jump in distances, I do feel like distance gains are destined to happen. Should improvements continue, I have no doubt the the Lagshot will see a great deal of use in the coming months, ideally years.
The Lagshot has a MSRP of $119 and is available in both left- and right-handed models. That price equates to the cost of a one-hour golf lesson in my area. Nothing will replicate time spent with a quality golf instructor. However, I’ve definitely had lessons with instructors that have had less of a lasting impact on my swing than the Lagshot. To me, trying the Lagshot seems less risky than trying a new golf teacher for an hour. Plus, the Lagshot also comes with a 30-day money-back guarantee. I’ve yet to have an instructor offer that.
Find out more about the Lagshot at Lagshotgolf.com.
Vokey SM8 Slate Blue Wedges are coming to retail next month. They offer the same tech as the current SM8 wedge with a new finish option.
That’s basically the whole story and, if it sounds familiar, that’s because … swap an 8 for a 7 … I wrote this story two years ago.
It was a cool refresh then and it’s just as cool now because Slate Blue is Vokey’s best finish. That’s entirely an opinion and I should be clear that there’s no actual science behind it. The Vokey guys would tell you that performance from Slate Blue wedges is the same as any other finish in the Vokey catalog.
Vokey says the application of its Slate Blue finish is similar to PVD but that it’s more time-intensive. As you’d expect, there’s a trade-off for that. Slate Blue wedges cost more but the finish is more durable than PVD so they’ll look better longer.
It’s worth it.
We all have our favorites but, in the grand scheme of things, the finish probably isn’t nearly as important as a proper fitting — even when it’s the best finish, which Slate Blue is.
Ideally, everyone reading this would take the time to do a proper outdoor wedge fitting. I understand that’s not always possible. The sad reality is that it’s almost never possible. At a minimum, I’d recommend you fight the impulse to hit the “Buy Now” button just long enough to use the Vokey Wedge Selector tool to get a better idea of the right loft, bounce and grind combinations for your bag.
The Vokey SM8 Slate Blue wedge release presents the rare case wherein no one has to be disappointed. Slate Blue wedges are available in all 23 SM8 loft, bounce and grind options and every last one is available for both right- and left-handed golfers.
Granted, the same is true for Vokey’s other finishes but, as I’ve mentioned a time or two before, Slate Blue is the best one. Frankly, as of five minutes ago, I can’t stand to look at my Jet Black wedges.
Retail price for Vokey SM8 Wedges is $199. They will be available at retail beginning March 19. Customization will be available through Vokey.com. Additional fees apply.
The stock shaft is the True Temper DG S200. The custom grip is a Golf Pride New Decade Multi-Compound (Blue/White with BV Wings).
For more information, visit Vokey.com.
2021 Most Wanted Driver results are finally in and we’re here to break down which clubs came out on top.
and all major podcast apps.
Headcovers have come a long way since April 13th, 1997 when Frank, the ever-present headcover of the world’s most famous Tiger, captured plenty of attention on the bag that won the Masters by 12 strokes. Once a rare novelty, customized headcovers are now a common sight both on tour and the local club. Today there are numerous online, direct-to-consumer brands offering covers with everything from a simple monogram to fully-customized designs unique to the individual. Let’s take a look at a few of the top names in the space and examples of what they offer.
Dormie Golf Workshop was created by PGA Canada members and brothers Jeff and Todd Bishop, with the intention of bringing fellow golfers really cool covers and allowing the customer to be involved in the process. Dormie focuses on quality and individuality, creating high end products with a passion for design. While a range of stock items are available at Golf Galaxy locations around the country, Dormie also places a large emphasize on customized products through direct web sales, with each item made to order.
Dormie’s Big Block Top cover is available for drivers, woods, and hybrids and is a good representation of the quality of products they offer. This headcover is made with full-grain leather in Nova Scotia and offers personalization through a text line at the bottom of the cover. Additionally, this cover has various colorways through combinations of black, white, and red. This level of personalization is also available on a wide range of designs to suit many tastes.
In addition to personalization, Dormie also offers fully unique creations through their site. Customers can submit a form with what they want and Dormie’s design team will create a mock-up and price quote. If approved, then Dormie will start work and 6-8 weeks later a custom cover will be ready for your bag.
Fore Ewe headcovers are handmade in Portland, Oregon from 100% US wool yarn. Their products provide the classic look of knit headcovers, but fit for modern clubs and fully customizable. Since 2018, Fore Ewe has been part of MacKenzie Golf Bags. Also based in Portand, MacKenzie creates custom leather carry bags. Taken together, these brands can provide a one-of-a-kind style for you out on the course.
While Fore Ewe does have set designs including classic stripes and poms, what really sets them apart is their online design builder allowing customers to create exactly what they want. This builder allows for eight custom selections for driver, fairway, and hybrid clubs. This includes color blocks, top treatments, and stitched monograms.
Whatever design is created, it will be knit with double-waxed yarn for durability. Covers start at $55 and increase with the various options added.
Cayce Golf doesn’t share much about their story on the website or social media, but what they do share are some incredible headcover designs. The brand has declared war on the boring, stock headcover and currently sells over 100 unique designs along with special limited runs and custom services. With such a wide variety and a clear sense of humor, it’s easy to see why Cayce earned a spot in the 59 AWARDS.
While it might not be a kind reflection on the state of your game, this “Dumpster Fire” design from Cayce will make your bag stand out. Available for drivers and fairway woods, the headcover is made with a durable water and stain repellent material and is machine washable.
For Cayce’s custom-made headcovers, you fill out an online form with artwork attached or a description for the desired look at an extra fee. From there the design team will mock up a headcover for your approval. Custom covers start at $129.99, however they can discount for bulk ordering in larger quantities.
Robert Mark Golf was founded in 2012 with the intention of disrupting the golf industry with dynamic made-to-order and customized accessories. Their handcrafted leather headcovers and putter covers have gained a loyal following in the years since, providing high-quality products with designs that stand out from the crowd. These designs are stitched by master seamstresses in New England with attention to the smallest details.
RMG’s trademark design is the skull-and-crossbones and that is featured on many of their set products, such as this driver-fairway wood combo with orange rugby stripes. Customized designs start at $85 and can be built directly online with a range of color and graphic options. Additionally, truly one-of-a-kind creations can be created by uploading your own custom logo art.
Pins & Aces Golf Co. was founded by garment manufacturing veterans and avid golfers who were tired of poorly-designed and made headcovers. They figured they could do better themselves with the know-how needed to change the headcover game with wild and unique designs. They also committed to be 100% American made with production in their home state of Colorado. While politics might be a taboo topic among a golf group, several Pins and Aces designs allow golfers to show their support right on their golf bag.
Within their “Presidential Series,” Pins and Aces has an Abe Lincoln design that’ll definitely grab attention, particularly for the faux-hair beard. At $44.95, these covers are less expensive than many other headcover brands. Custom covers are available by request only. The company promises fast lead times and high quality for these covers through their complete supply chain.
Could tee height solve the USGA’s “distance problem”?
The question came from one of our Twitter followers (yes, we do read your messages). It’s an intriguing propositon.
MyGolfSpy Labs tests are born from questions and curiosity. And given the context of the larger distance debate, it only made sense to grab a couple of tees (of different heights, of course), bring in some testers, and see where the data leads us.
Not only does our data reveal some significant differences that suggest that limiting tee height could help throttle distance on TOUR, we also found some insights that could help you hit the ball farther and more consistently.
For this tee height test, we tested two heights: 1.5 and .5 inches (measured from ground level).
Our data suggests a 1.5-inch playing tee creates 14.19 more carry distance on average than a .5-inch playing tee. That is a massive difference. Furthermore, the same data reveals that total distance of the 1.5-inch was 14.66 yards longer on average
Bottom line, a tee that’s 1-inch shorter produces significantly less distance. The next few points will explain why.
Tee height affects launch angle because, simply put, it influences where you hit the ball on the club face. With a higher tee, you’re more likely to hit it higher on the club face and vice versa.
It’s not particularly surprising that shots hit using the .5-inch tee launched appreciably lower (3.54 degrees on average). The largest contributing factor to the lower launch angle was low face impact. With the .5-inch tee, impact location was more than 4mm lower on the face than with the 1.5-inch tee.
Low face contact is a recipe for increased, often undesirable, backspin. For many golfers, backspin is a distance killer and that’s what we observed.
In our test, backspin was 326 rpm higher on average with the .5-inch tee. In addition to the lower impact location, with the shorter tee our testers delivered the club with a slightly more open face which further increases spin and compounds the distance loss.
The guys at Foresight Sports define “angle of attack” as “the descending or ascending path of the clubhead measured in degrees.” How much are you hitting up or down on that ball? That’s the angle of attack measurement. A more positive attack angle typically produces higher launch, less spin and ultimately more distance. We told you all of these things are related, right?
Backspin is a distance killer and a negative angle only adds to the problem. When you hit down on the ball and add unwanted spin, distance suffers.
So how does this factor into tee height?
With the taller tee, our testers’ average angle of attack was 1.68 degrees more positive. At a ball speed of 150 mph, the change in launch conditions attributable to that difference will result in nearly four yards of additional carry and five yards of total distance.
If you’re looking for a better understanding of how ball speed, launch angle, backspin, and angle of attack work together to influence distance, PING’s “Unlocking Distance: Launch Conditions and Angle of Attack” is an excellent resource.
Who likes to hit fairways? We all do. You know what else we like? Gaining strokes.
We found the 1.5-inch tee produced higher strokes-gained values, fairways-hit percentage and better forgiveness. What does this have to do with distance?
As we have seen, the .5-inch tee was significantly shorter across the board. Multiple distance metrics were affected by the tee height difference as were other key metrics. The .5-inch tee is worse in strokes gained, fairways hit and forgiveness.
Bringing this all back to our original question; yes, absolutely, limiting tee height is a viable way to limit distance, though we suspect it wouldn’t take long before TOUR players and equipment manufacturers find a workaround. Call them mini drivers, big fairway woods … it doesn’t matter. They’ll go every bit as far and, because of the smaller, more aerodynamic shapes, Tour players might actually gain distance.
For the other 99.99% of us for whom the only problem with distance is a lack thereof, a taller tee could be part of the solution.
Our results suggest that golfers using shorter tees could be leaving upwards of 15-yards on the table. A shorter tee also produced less consistent results.
While there is some individual preference (and comfort level) when it comes to selecting the right tee height, there’s definitely something to the adage “tee it high and let it fly!”
We can’t recommend enough that you grab some tees of varying heights, run your own lab, and find out how much you stand to gain by using a taller tee.