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Bob Weeks

TSN Senior Reporter

|Archive

If you’ve never heard of graphene, you’re not alone. It’s a relatively new material that was discovered at the University of Manchester in 2004. It is essentially a form of carbon consisting of an exceptionally thin (nanoparticle, one-atom thin), single layer of atoms that occur in a hexagonal lattice. It also happens to be the strongest material ever tested.

You don’t really need to know all that information but you should know that graphene is now inside a golf ball, specifically the new Callaway Chrome Soft, giving significant benefits.

It’s one of several new features in the company’s flagship golf ball that is said to help minimize driver spin while promoting a high launch for long distance, and also delivering control around the greens.

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"We've innovated at every layer, starting with our ground-breaking new Graphene Dual SoftFast Core," said Dr. Alan Hocknell, Callaway’s senior vice-president of research and development. "The result is an extremely fast and soft-feeling ball that promotes high-launch and low spin off the tee for long distance, and incredible shot-stopping spin around the green."

There’s little doubting that Chrome Soft is the best ball Callaway has developed. The company is putting significant resources into trying to make the ball better in an effort to gain market share in the lucrative ball business that is dominated by Titleist. Using graphene, which is an expensive material, shows the company’s commitment to improvement.

The strength of the material allowed Hocknell’s team to make a firmer outer core by mixing graphene powder into it. That meant a firm layer on the outside with the benefit being a larger, softer inner core. This allows that inner layer to maximize compression energy, which leads to longer drives.

The ball’s submantle and urethane cover help to deliver the control needed around the green as well as a great feel.

Callaway has also come up with a way to create a seamless cover. Most balls are built with two halves being sandwiched together to create the cover. The seam is then buffed off but it still exists. Callaway’s process does away with that.

The Chrome Soft also has a Chrome Soft X model, which is somewhat firmer and has more forgiveness.

The new ball is available in the company’s Truvis design (short for True Vision). While it looks like a soccer ball, there’s a good reason for putting the extra paint on the ball. Callaway says that Truvis is essentially an optical illusion that makes the ball look bigger and thereby instils confidence in the golfer.

It can also be easier to track in the air and for some, a better way to locate the ball after hitting it.

Callaway is also starting to offer custom versions of Truvis with logos replacing the standard pentagon pattern. Reaction to the ball has been positive and grown to the extent that the company has increased its production capabilities with added machinery.

The Chrome Soft and Chrome Soft X balls are available now.