- The Callaway Chrome Soft X LS gives Callaway a second legitimate offering in the tour ball category
- CSX LS is a high launch, low spin ball that compares with the Titleist Pro V1x Left Dash and TaylorMade TP5x
- Retail price is $47.99
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.
But What About …? No.
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.
Where CSX LS Came From
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.
Chrome Soft X LS Performance
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.
Chrome Soft X LS – Who is It For?
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.
Chrome Soft X LS Aerodynamics
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.
The Battle Inside 40 Yards
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.
Where Chrome Soft X LS Fits in Callaway Lineup
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.
Chrome Soft X LS – Full Retail Availability
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.
Chrome Colors, Pricing and Availability
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.