MyGolfSpy Ball Lab is where we quantify the quality and consistency of the golf balls on the market to help you find the best ball for your money. Today, we’re taking a look at the Callaway Chrome Soft X. An overview of the equipment we use can be found here. To learn more about our test process, how we define “bad” balls and our True Price metric, check out our About MyGolfSpy Ball Lab page.
For the first Ball Lab of 2021, we’re going back to the ball (or at least a similarly named one) that started it all. As the only high-compression offering (which I’d argue makes it the only legitimate Tour ball) in the Callaway ball lineup, the Chrome Soft X is going to be the better option (among Callaway balls) for the overwhelming majority of higher swing speed players.
That, of course, is only half of the story. The more relevant aspect for today’s discussion centers around general quality. Our test of the 2020 Chrome Soft suggested Callaway had some work to do regarding the quality and consistency of its golf balls.
It is what it is.
The company has been upfront about those issues, likening the process of upgrading a functioning factory to changing the tires on a moving car. That’s a challenge, to say the least. Analogies aside, the larger point is that we fully expected it was going to take some time for the benefit of the improvements to be realized.
So as you move through the results of the Callaway Chrome Soft X Ball Lab, keep a couple of things in mind. First, by all accounts, it’s easier to make a high-compression ball than a low-compression one. That means Chrome Soft X is a bit easier to manufacture.
Second, Chrome Soft X came several months after Chrome Soft. Our samples were purchased roughly three months later than our Chrome Soft samples. That’s three months’ worth of additional time to improve the factory.
Let’s find out what all of that means from a quality perspective.
About the Callaway Chrome Soft X
Like the standard Chrome Soft, the Callaway Chrome Soft X is a 332-dimple ball with a urethane cover. According to Callaway, the Chrome Soft X can generally be described as a mid-launch, high-spin ball. The spin profile most closely resembles those of the TaylorMade TP5 and Titleist Pro V1x.
As with Chrome Soft and ERC Soft, the Chrome Soft X is manufactured in the USA at Callaway’s ball plant in Chicopee, Mass.
Callaway Chrome Soft X – Compression
There is perhaps no more dubiously branded product in golf than the Callaway Chrome Soft X. With an average compression of 95 on our gauge, it’s significantly firmer than the Chrome Soft (compression measured at 75) and way (way, way) firmer than the 41-compression Callaway SuperSoft.
That’s 54 compression points from end to end. Even within the Tour ball category, Chrome Soft X offers slightly firmer than average compression. As I’ve said countless times, Chrome Soft X is, by no reasonable metric, a soft golf ball.
Once again, it is what it is.
Callaway Chrome Soft X – Weight and Diameter
- A single ball in our test sample exceeded the USGA weight limit of 1.620 ounces.
- A single ball in the sample also failed to meet our standard for roundness.
- While a couple of the balls in the sample flirted with the gauge, none failed to pass the USGA’s minimum allowable diameter test.
Having a ball not conform to the letter of the USGA rule is never good but it wouldn’t be enough to disqualify the sample. While it’s not perfect, having two balls in the sample come up short for weight and roundness isn’t terrible.
Callaway Chrome Soft X – Inspection
Centeredness and Concentricity
We found some degree of core centeredness and/or layer concentricity issue in roughly 75 percent of the balls in the sample though in most cases the issues were minor. The majority were a mix of inconsistent thickness and small layer incursions (like the one in the core image below). Almost all of them were found in the outer mantle layer. It sounds like a high number but minor imperfections that are unlikely to have performance implications are common across most brands.
What’s perhaps most encouraging is that while defects in eight percent of the balls tested were significant enough to be flagged as bad, we didn’t find any of the eye-popping disasters found in the previous generation.
Core color consistency was relatively consistent. We did find a few balls that were slightly paler than the rest but not significant enough to suggest a serious problem. Otherwise, the cores were clean and well-mixed. We didn’t find any miscellaneous chunks or anything else unusual or out of place.
Chome Soft X covers were excellent. We found no defects that warrant a mention and thickness was generally uniform across the sample.
Callaway Chrome Soft X Consistency
In this section, we detail the consistency of the Callaway Chrome Soft X. It’s a measure of how similar the balls in our sample were to one another, relative to all of the models we’ve tested to date.
- Consistency (of weight) across our Callaway Chrome Soft X sample fell within the average range.
- Diameter consistency relative to the other balls in our database also fell within the low end of the average range.
- Compression consistency across the sample was average as well.
- A single ball was flagged for having a significant variation across the three compression points measured. Cutting it open revealed a significant layer incursion which is the most likely explanation.
True Price is how we quantify the quality of a golf ball. It's a projection of what you'd have to spend to ensure you get 12 good balls.
The True Price will always be equal to or greater than the retail price. The greater the difference between the retail price and the True Price, the more you should be concerned about the quality of the ball.
Callaway Chrome Soft X – Summary Report
To learn more about our test process, how we define “bad” balls and our True Price metric, check out our About MyGolfSpy Ball Lab page.
- There is some evidence to suggest Callaway’s factory improvements are having an impact.
- Quality is significantly better than what we found with Chrome Soft.
- Values for all quality metrics fall within the middle of the average range
The majority of balls had at least one minor defect. In total, eight percent of the sample were flagged as bad.
The True Price for the Callaway Chrome Soft is $53.99. That represents a 13-percent increase over the MSRP at the time of purchase ($47.99). While that doesn’t place Chrome Soft X among the category leaders for overall quality and consistency, it’s a solidly average result that suggests the brand’s investment in quality is starting to pay off.
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