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GOLF BALL REVIEW! – Callaway Hex Black Tour & Hex Chrome

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Introduction

(Written By: GolfSpy Matt) Callaway introduced their 2012 golf ball line up with a bang: Phil Mickelson credited the Hex Black Tour’s performance as a major part of his victory at Pebble Beach.  Will the Callaway Hex Black Tour or the Callaway Hex Chrome lead your game to the winner’s circle this year?  Read on to find out…

* Note: We’ve enhanced our ball review system to include feedback from multiple players.  What you’ll see in most sections are my thoughts followed by the thoughts of our test group.  When it comes to the performance elements, I will share my data then the test group’s impressions based on their experience playing these balls.

Feel

I always start my “Feel” testing with the putter.  In this case, that led to a very long process as I really struggled to find a tangible difference between the two balls.  Both are, in my opinion, medium soft.  I was finally able to discern a clear difference after trying a number of different putters: I found the Hex Black Tour to have a deeper pitch off the putter, the Hex Chrome was more of a click.  Depending on what putter you use, you may find a small difference between the two or you may find them to be interchangeable.

Off of wedges and other clubs, the difference between these two balls is more pronounced: the Callaway Hex Black Tour is decidedly firmer and more “click-y,” the Callaway Hex Chrome is a bit softer.  I think that this can be attributed to the Hex Chrome being a lower compression ball.

// TEST GROUP: Generally speaking, it seems that the test group saw eye-to-eye with me on the feel of these two balls.  In every category (putter, irons, wedges, driver), the test group rated the Chrome and the Black very close on feel.  There was one exception: one tester felt that the Chrome was significantly softer in every facet of the game compared to the Black.

Durability

Durability on both balls was excellent: I was once again able to use one sleeve of balls for all the test shots.    The only thing that I noticed was that the Callaway Hex Black Tour got “fuzzy” after the final round of half wedges.  It wasn’t cut, and there weren’t chunks taken out of the cover, but it was as if the ball was covered very lightly in cover shavings.  The Callaway Hex Chrome was totally unscathed.

// TEST GROUP: The test group was also impressed with the durability of both the Chrome and Black.  With one exception (same guy…makes me wonder), everyone rated the durability of these balls at an 8 out of 10 or higher.

Performance

Once again, I found that launch angle did not change in any significant way between balls.  Also, with one exception, ball speed was identical.  The only real performance difference (and it was slight) was spin.

Driver Performance

Both balls offered low driver spin.  The one difference between the two was the ballspeed: the Callaway Hex Black Tour consistently gave me 3MPH more than the The Callaway Hex Chrome. This makes sense since the Chrome is advertised as being for players with “moderate swing speed.”  While I certainly don’t have overwhelming clubhead speed, I did get better returns from the Hex Black Tour.

// TEST GROUP: Our test group seemed to have similar findings: two testers rated the Chrome and Black exactly the same for driver performance.  Another felt that the Chrome was longer, which may be a reflection on it being a better fit for his swing speed.

4 Iron & 7I Performance

Performance with a 4 Iron and 7 Iron was identical for the Hex Chrome and Hex Black Tour.  I’m starting to see a pattern of balls behaving more similarly with the clubs in the middle of the set whether they are hard, soft, tour, distance, etc.  It will be interesting to see if this trend continues.

// TEST GROUP: Our test group did seem to differ with me on this point.  Everyone in the group found that both balls offered above-average distance, but, to a man, they said that the Black spun more than the Chrome.  While I’m not downplaying their perceptions, it is important to note that their ratings are based on their perceptions, not launch monitor data.  My hunch is that since the Black is the “tour” ball in the line-up, there were some preconceived notions that it would spin more.

Pitching Wedge Performance

Nearly identical launch monitor performance again.  The Hex Black Tour averaged 200 RPMs more spin than the Hex Chrome, which is hardly significant.

// TEST GROUP: Our test group, however, felt that the Black spun more than the Chrome.

60* Performance – Half Swing

Again, the two balls were very very close.  The Hex Black Tour averaged 425 RPMs more backspin than the Hex Chrome. While I know there are some who want every last bit of spin, I don’t expect that this will be the difference between backing a ball up and watching it run through the back of the green.

// TEST GROUP: The test group, once again, had different findings.  While the gap was not large (1 to 2 points), everyone rated the Black as having more wedge spin than the Chrome.

Value

The Callaway Hex Black Tour retails for $45.99/dozen and the The Callaway Hex Chrome retails for $35.99Given that they perform so similarly, it’s hard to argue against the value of the Hex Chrome.  The only caveat is that players with higher swing speeds will probably get more ballspeed from the Hex Black Tour, so, for them, it might be worth the extra $10.

// TEST GROUP: Our testers were generally in agreement: the Black was frequently rated a 5 out of 10, an average value since it’s priced the same as other tour balls.  The Chrome was seen as being a 7 since it delivered solid performance for less money.

Player Profile

As you can see from the Performance section, I found these balls to be nearly identical.  They both offer tour-level performance throughout the bag.  The only substantial difference I was able to discern was the ballspeed with the driver.  If you are a higher swing speed player (100MPH+), you will probably get more ballspeed out of the Hex Black Tour.  Players with slower swing speeds might get more distance from the Hex Chrome.

// TEST GROUP: Our test group did perceive that the Black also offered more spin with the irons and wedges, so if you are looking for every bit of spin, you may want to test a sleeve of each and see which performs better around the greens for you.

Final Thoughts

For 2012, Callaway has introduced two excellent tour-level golf balls.  While I applaud the move to offer a tour-level ball at a sub-$40 price point, I am left curious as to why the players with higher swing speeds are left to pay a premium for a ball that will give them maximum ballspeed.  Regardless, with both the Callaway Hex Chrome and the Callaway Hex Black Tour, Callaway has rolled low driver spin and high wedge spin into one excellent golf ball.

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{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

Brian May 9, 2012 at 8:38 am

Put all of these 4 and 5 piece balls side by side and most single digit handicaps wouldn’t be able to figure much of a difference. I really think you have to be playing nearly everyday to notice the subtle differences between a Penta, Hex Tour, ProV1x etc.

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Mike May 9, 2012 at 12:26 pm

That is what Maxfli is counting on, during their test of golf balls ad.

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Will May 9, 2012 at 9:37 am

Small rant, but that’s because I LOVE MyGolfSpy.

Where are the spy pics? I love the reviews but the last time any pics were released were over a month ago. 90% of the articles are review related. I miss the insider scoop the site specializes in.

Keep up the good work MGS.

Will

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mygolfspy May 9, 2012 at 10:11 am

Will,

Appreciate the feedback. Honestly the lack of spy pics has to do with a combination of a few different things going on of late.

1. We have been trying to enhance and grow our review process. This takes a large portion of our time. Between refining the testing procedures, writing, shooting photos, formatting, graphic creation, etc. it leaves us with few hours in the day to do much else.

2. When this site started it was just myself writing 100% of the content. There were less reviews and more of the spy pics and investigative content. At that time I spent the majority of my time researching and tracking down leads for different stories. I would literally work 16-18 hour days the first 2 years to make this happen. Other magazines have entire staffs, I knew to make this work on a MUCH smaller budget I would have the work the job of 3-4 people.

3. My intention was to always be a more well rounded golf media outlet for consumers…so as the site has grown we have grown along with what you guys have asked for. Which is why you are seeing more reviews of products.

But this doesn’t mean I am abandoning the other content I just have less time at this moment to devote to all the things I covered in the past. It will continue to be a big part of the sites content though.

We are in a tough position at this point though in regards to growth and resources. Where other sites take in hundreds of thousands of dollars for a site our size in large OEM ad dollars…we turn this money down to stay un-bias for the consumer. Not complaining, although it allows them to have a larger staff and resources devoted to investigations and reporting. We have to be much more creative and hard working to make this work and ultimately survive long-term in this industry.

So as we grow, we will continue to do the absolute best job we can with the hours of daylight in the day to cover everything we possibly can. Hope you understand our position as of know and know that you can always depend on us for all the content you have gotten from us in the past.

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Will May 10, 2012 at 11:52 am

Thanks MGS.

Again no lost in faith here, I love the website and the content is still great as there are no other “real” reviewers out there. Everyone is being told **paid** what to say. And I still read every single review :) If I can put a request in…see what Adams has been up to, as it is my favorite company. haha.

I appreciate the response as it shows you care about the golfers, readers and fans.

MyGolfSpy rocks and I’ll always be an avid reader.

Thank You

Will

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GolfSpy T May 9, 2012 at 10:47 am

As Matt mentioned, perceptions can be tricky things as for one reason or another golfers believe equipment performs differently than the numbers suggest. Golf Balls are certainly not immune to the same phenomenon.

Most of the subjective feedback for this (and future ball reviews) came from some of the same guys who test clubs for us. As we’re finding out, while still golf-related, balls are a very different thing to test.

I played several rounds mixing between the chrome and the black, and quite honestly, couldn’t find much perceptible difference between the two. I *think* the black is longer of the tee. The Chrome definitely feels softer around the green, but if there’s much difference in short iron/wedge spin between the two, I’m not personally seeing it.

I personally do like the black a bit better, and one of our new testers who I gave a sleeve to and simply asked him to tell me what he thought, absolutely loves the black (it has replaced his previous gamer).

Our senior tester (whose driver speed maxes out in the low 80s) absolutely swears by the Chrome. He’s taking part in other ball tests for us, but it’s becoming next to impossible to get him to play anything other than the Chrome when money is on the line (and it almost always is). He told me he thinks the Chrome is far and away the better of the two balls, and I suspect his senior-sized swing speed is most of the reason behind that.

One other anecdote to share. I dropped a sleeve of each in the mail to one of our readers (JBones). If I recall, he tried both out, ended up liking the Black a bit better, and then proceeded to break par for the first time ever. Sure…if it was as simple as changing the ball we’d all shoot par, but it’s certainly a piece of the equation.

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wdgolf May 9, 2012 at 4:29 pm

Great review. Can’t wait to see the ball comparisons page. From the looks of it, the consistent format you use will make it easy.

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Fleeter May 10, 2012 at 8:18 am

Great review. I, like probably a lot of people stick strictly to one ball (ProV1) and that’s probably more out of tradition and stubbornness than anything else! I am interested in seeing the comparisons page and where all these balls differ the most. I’ve played Titleist from back in the Tour 100 days to the Titleist Professionals then the Pro V1′s but the market has now gotten much larger in the high-end range and there are many more options to choose from. Thx GolfSpy – your constant dedication to providing us all with this great information is FANTASTIC!

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jpball May 10, 2012 at 8:51 am

I have what I think is a modest suggestion that could go a great distance toward adding more value to these reviews; include the metrics associated with the testers. I would benefit by knowing the individual swing speeds, typical launch angle, and average distances with selected clubs.

Thanks!

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Matthew Brewer May 10, 2012 at 8:54 am

As I stated in the Callaway wedge give away, I haven’t played very much in the last few years…back in 94 when playing a lot I plyed Rexstars, and precepts…before them it was tour editions… then last year when I started back, I found the Callaway Tour Is and loved it but couldn’t find any this year as the new HEX black/chrome had replaced them. Have been playing the Black and love it, they hold the line in the wind and are fairly deep with a penetrating ball flight…the only neg thing for me has more to do with my current irons and wedges really abrate the cover after a couple of holes…the ball seems a little fuzzy, but then the non-conforming box grooves in the cm2′s are mean.. Mostly it’s my play club followed by a wedge or short iron. First time out with the Black I had two birdies on the front…should have made three more but I didn’t expect the ball to hold such a good line in the wind, actually aimed slightly OB thinking the wind would move my ball back in play but it didn’t…three holes and got bogey’s after after strating OB…love this ball.

Best things for me, love the way it holds it’s line…penetrating flight…and my putting is on a different level for some reason, I know my stroke is feeling better than I can ever remember…the feel of the Black is exqisitely pure!

I know there are a lot of factors contributing to this current blissful state I’m in aside from equipment changes…Last year I switched to a heavy putter and loved the Tour Is, but the Black to me “feels” so good, so sweet…just money! Didn’t try the chrome, probably won’t as my swing speed is better suited to the Black…did have a few sleeves of B330′s…it’s a very good ball too, and honestly…I wanted to play better with it because for a long time I was a Bridgestone guy, but I seem to have made a connection with the Callaway Hex-Black.

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Foz May 10, 2012 at 8:54 am

Great insight!…..As a slower swinger (87 mpf) I am now intersted in the Chrome….However, I recently purchased 4 dozen of the Diablo Tour and will have to wait…..they will probably come out with two or three more versions before i run out of balls…..LOL

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javier vigil May 10, 2012 at 1:27 pm

Thanks for the info, I love the site and this is the first site that I have ever participated in. Balls and Grips are definately very subjective. You could tell a player that it is the best but if they don’t “see” or feel what they are being told there will be no confidence and the player will hate it, whatever it is. Anyhoo, sorry about the tangent.

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Logan May 10, 2012 at 4:59 pm

Being that i have been an employ or marshall at 2 courses for the last 10 years I have tested every ball made from every distance. No ball has ever beat the top flite gamer v2 esp when i find them for less than $ 15 all the time. And my driver swing speed is 115 mph and a 5 handicap. So how can balls that cost 30-50 dollars always out sell them?????

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Nicky T May 10, 2012 at 9:39 pm

I love this website – I was wondering if you were using TrackMan for the club and ball data? I have seen a lot of the so called ‘measuring technologies’ and they just are shocking how bad they are – except TrackMan

Kind regards,

NT

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Nicky T May 10, 2012 at 9:46 pm

PS – Can I add – There are different philosophes in terms of picking your ball
The best way I believe is get a ball that putts and chips well and ‘ feels’ great around the greens and then any club fitter worth their salt will be able to club fit back from there.
Cheap long balls may go further but 120 in is where a ball is showing it’s value.
Regards,
NT

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dick May 11, 2012 at 6:20 am

Kudos to Callaway for producing a high performance golf ball that one can afford. As a big fan of the B330RX, yes I don’t swing that fast, its nice to see a performance ball at a reasonable price. Recently looked at the Chrome in a golf shop with an eye on buying a dozen. My bad rap with previous Callaway performance balls, is they’re not very durable. I’ve played 18 holes with one Tour IZ and the thing looked like it had been through a war, ironically I never hit a cart path during the round, ok a few trees maybe. Thanks for the reviews, I find them very useful.

PS: Golfspy, check those wedge grooves!

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revkev May 12, 2012 at 9:46 am

First comment on mygolf spy – love this website – found it through Rookie Blue. I’m with Nick T here – get a ball that works inside of 100 and let your fitter worry about the other stuff.

However, I’m wondering if there might be more fitting in regards to balls on the horizon. I didn’t like Bridgestone’s fitting process because it only looked at distance. Now there are lots more options and I suspect there will be even more options going forward.

Keep up the great work.

Rev

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daves81 May 21, 2012 at 5:45 pm

I found a few of the black and a few chrome balls and I love them,The chrome worked great for me .I think itll be my new ball displacing the trispeed

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daves81 May 21, 2012 at 5:45 pm

I found a few of the black and a few chrome balls and I love them,The chrome worked great for me .I think itll be my new ball displacing the trispeed ,great review guys

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Don May 28, 2012 at 8:37 am

Just a suggestion for future head to heads: black out the ball name/model on the balls and just assign them in a predetermined/blind way to testers. In fact don’t even give them ball A and B. Give them A, B, and C (even tho there’s only 2 balls)

It’d be interesting to see how testers react.

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David May 29, 2012 at 4:44 am

I totally agree with the fact that you would get more objective unbiased data if you blacked out the names and models on all balls that you tested. In this case, the savvy golfer would recognize the hex patterns and figure out that the balls were Callaway balls, but they probably wouldn’t know for sure. In future tests, black out all brand and model names from the testers and see what kind of results you get then. I’ll bet you get some surprising results from people who say that they’re only Titleist guys or only Callaway guys or Bridgestone guys. You would definitely open a lot of eyes.

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revkev May 29, 2012 at 7:34 am

Since budget is a concern for me I’m always looking for the discontinued proline ball to buy four dozen of for Christmas. Over the past five years I’ve used Taylor Made Reds, Bridgestone B330S and Nike One Tour D’s – There are small and subtle differences between each of those balls but they’ve all worked fine in that they’ve delivered consistant distance and ball flight along with enough spin around the green.

I’ve very excited to see that there are now new offerings in the mid-30 dollar price range. I’ve tried the Penta 3 (that’s an oxymoron isn’t it – penta means 5 but it’s a 3 pieced ball) any rate I’m very impressed by it – much better than earlier offerings in this category.

My question is why the difference in price? What makes the Penta 3 or the Hex Chrome cheaper than the Penta 5 or the Hex Black?

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Stickman September 2, 2012 at 10:11 pm

“My question is why the difference in price? What makes the Penta 3 or the Hex Chrome cheaper than the Penta 5 or the Hex Black?”

I imagine a 5 piece ball is more costly to produce compared to a 3 piece ball, thus the extra you pay at the store

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Fred Cronkhite July 11, 2012 at 1:26 pm

I think this is all promotional stuff. I used the Cronkhite “Click/Clunk” test for any found or new balls. I drop the ball on concrete, if it clicks, I toss it away, if it clunks I put it in my bag. Amazing how many click and how few clunk. All this technical stuff is for the pros, who are interested in performance at the margin, not amateurs, at least not for 99.5% of the amateurs, who are lucky to hit the ball in the middle of the club.

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jpball July 11, 2012 at 2:08 pm

You forgot to tell everyone to get off your lawn! ;-)

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birdiexris July 18, 2012 at 2:18 pm

I tried the chrome and black balls when they came out. I started with the black because i’ve always had a high swing speed (110). Thing is, i love the chrome and haven’t noticed ANY difference in the two balls other than the feel when they’re hit (the chrome feels a lot softer). Distance loss of less than 5 yards, if there’s even loss (i seem to hit the chrome farther off most clubs) and no spin loss at all – in fact the chrome spins more for me. I tend to be a high spin player anyway. 3 handicap, and i think i’m going to go with the chrome rather than the black. Looks like it’s gonna help me break par and give me a few more bucks to play a few more rounds while i’m at it.

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DougK July 21, 2012 at 5:25 am

I have been playing Callawayngolf balls for about 3-4 years now. They have a great flight and get better every year in my opinion. I us the Chrome do to 90+ swing speed. Very straight, even on miss hits. Same driver(TM Tour Burner), added at least 10 yards on drive. Greenside wedges bite on all grasses, wet and dry.
Can’t beat the cost either! $35 for a tour ball!

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TerryR July 30, 2012 at 1:00 am

Throughout the winter months (That’s up until the end of July this year in the UK) I have been using the Srixon Trispeed and and Bridgestone E6 but with the greens now firming up I needed a ball with more spin.

Decided to try out the Callaway Hex Chrome as a replacement and I have got to say “love them”. Just as straight as the E6, lovely soft feel off the irons and putter, slightly longer of the tee for me than either the srixon or bridgestone and stops dead on full wedges into the greens.

Have yet to try them in anything more than a 10 mph wind but I would imagine that these will perform as well as anything in the wind.

Thanks for the review as that’s what brought them to my attention.

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Rev Kev August 1, 2012 at 2:22 pm

Tried the Hex chrome for the first time the other day. I have to say that if I had to play with this ball I’d quit the game. However to be fair to Callawy this is very consistent for me – I have a moderate swing speed and a swing that doesn’t produce a lot of spin but a very low handicap – Another words I’m a very unusual player who doesn’t match up to the ball that you would think I would – ever.

For example I have the same reaction to the Bridgestone RX series – It seems like I could hit a Pelz ball farther than one of those but give me a Bridgestone B300 S and I’m a happy camper – it performs as well as the ball I usually use – the Nike One Tour D.

Bottom line I’m guessing I’d probably do better with the Black but I already love the Taylor Made Penta 3 and it’s 10 dollars cheaper so I’m passing on even giving the black a trial.

As always thanks for the review – just thought I’d ad my two cents on this one. Two thumbs down for me.

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Eric Knutsen August 21, 2012 at 5:03 am

I had played the Callaway I-series balls for a few yrs prior to the Hex series being released. Despite Callaway saying these balls had increased durability, I actually managed to cut the cover of a Hex Black tour. And no, I didn’t blade it with a 58 degree wedge. Very surprised- and also disappointed.

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Bill July 7, 2013 at 10:00 pm

Really great opinions concerning Cally’s and TM’s Penta. Have played all three Cally’s recently (Hex Black, Chrome and Chrome +) There aren’t huge differences between the three. But in order I like the black, the + and then the standard chrome. The black is solid all the way around. Great distance off the tee, decent short game spin and putts well..Played my best golf of the year with it. The Chrome + is very similar with a little less spin on approach shots.
Not a huge fan of the TM line. The TP5 didn’t hold great lines in the wind and spun off the tee a bit much for me. The Lethal appears to be an improvement but still prefer the feel of the Cally off the tee and putting. The Cally Black is seriously long. Mated with my Razr Fit Extreme I was touching distances I haven’t hit in years.

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Golfn' Dude September 5, 2013 at 9:58 am

I found the Chrome + to be a great ball in the wind…definitely compared to the TM Penta’s and Lethals. I would agree that the Lethal has improved, however, doesn’t hold a stick to Callaway for wind performance.

Not going to lie though…never liked the Hex Black. Different strokes for different folks, I suppose. And prior to the Chrome + I was using the ProV1x or Penta. One round with the Chrome + was an easy decision for me.

Regardless…Callaway is the top of golf balls. And with the Chrome + being at the price point it is of $30 per dozen – AND Phil Mickelson using it to win the Open Championship and Gary Woodland using it for Renoe (using it since BayHill actually) I think I like my chances with it.

As for the Razr Fit Extreme and your distance…ABSOLUTELY TRUE!!! I have the Razr Fit with a Matrix Ozik HD6 shaft. The distance I have picked up is awesome. Just wrote a review on it. The combo is lethal. The Razr Fit had the hottest face at time of my testing. I’m guessing the Extreme may have a little more jump.

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Justin July 13, 2013 at 9:42 pm

Love the tour is but it is gone. What replaces it?

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Cole July 16, 2013 at 10:06 pm

Really like the hex black. Separates itself from the other top tier balls by allowing golfers of all skill levels play the ball. More forgiving than the E6 but as soft off the wedges as anything on the market. High price but worth it if it is all on the line.

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Golfn' Dude September 5, 2013 at 9:51 am

I realize that this review was for the Hex and Chrome from Callaway. I’ve tried both, but I must say that my favorite is the Chrome +. What a great great golf ball. Likely depends on swing speed and desire feel, but I take that ball anyway.

Hex Black is just too hard. And the Chrome is a little too soft for me. Reminds me of the playability of the Titleist Pro V. When I use the ProV’s, I only use the ProV1x. And at the price of Chrome + – I picked up 4 dozen for $30 a dozen you can’t beat the price compared to the $50 a dozen of the ProV’s.

Chrome + is a great ball. Best that Callaway has come out with in awhile.

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