Callaway has a new golf ball called the Tour i(s), and from the immediate success it has seen on tour, it will be a hit. Just ask Ernie Els and Ryan Moore; using the new ball, they finished second and third this past weekend at the WGC HSBC Masters in China, behind Callaway staff player Phil Mickelson, who is still using the Tour ix. “I started playing a new golf ball that Callaway made,” Els said. “This is what I’ve been looking forward to, is this golf ball. It would have been unbelievable if I could have won with this ball. It would have been great for Callaway and myself. I’m looking forward to the future now, and I think my equipment is now spot on.”
Many companies have been researching and testing new golf balls for their tour players in response to the groove rule change that goes into effect on January 1, 2010. Since the groove placement and shape is being reduced, players are looking for a way to maintain high spin without losing distance. Taylor Made has released the new five piece Penta golf ball, and now it seems like Callaway has answered with the new Tour i(s) ball.
I played 18 holes with the new Tour i(s) ball recently. It was a cold and windy day at Falcon’s Fire Golf Club in Orlando Florida, a day after the close of the PGA Merchandise Show, but we braved the elements in the service of our readers! OK, and because we’re kind of nuts too.
Callaway’s vice president of ball R&D, Steve Ogg, called the Tour i(s) the most highly-engineered golf ball product they have ever come out with. Using four piece construction, it is the softest ball they have ever developed. To increase performance, the new ball features a large degree of spin separation. What this means is the inner core and outer core work together on certain types of shots to reduce or increase spin. For example, on a driver swing, the force of the shot compresses the very soft inner core of the ball, reducing spin. On an iron shot, the force of the shot reacts with the harder outer core, producing more spin for greater control. The result, according to Callaway, is a ball that is much softer with higher spin than anything they have ever offered without losing any of the distance as compared to the Tour i and ix.
My first impression of the ball was that even in 50 degree temperatures, the ball felt very soft off the putter. It’s very similar in feel to the Titleist Pro V1. What I don’t like about the V1 is it’s durability (or lack thereof) and the performance in the wind. The Callaway performed beautifully in the windy conditions that day, which was a bit of a shock. Usually a soft, high spinning ball will have a tendancy to balloon into the wind, but the Tour i(s) was solid and stable into the wind, and in cross winds the ball doesn’t budge! I hit many a solid iron shot that simply didn’t drift towards my target as I expect in a cross wind. This ball likes to fly straight when hit crisply. I also expected a ball this mushy feeling not to go, but that wasn’t the case either. This ball flew as far as any other ball I hit against it, including my current gamers, the Srixon Z-Star X Tour Yellow.
Callaway seems to have been able to combine a soft feeling, high spinning ball without sacrificing distance or wind stability. It’s early adoption on tour suggests it has a winner on it’s hands, and my play test with it in the strong winds and on firm greens confirmed that this golf ball is indeed a winner. In fact, I’m seriously considering switching to it. I’ll have to do some more testing to be sure though. The Callaway Tour i(s) will be available in mid-January 2010 for about $43 per dozen.
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