Callaway HX Tour Golf Balls Review

Several top golf professionals have used Callaway HX Tour golf balls since their introduction a few years ago, including Phil Mickelson, Michael Campbell and Annika Sorenstam. But, they have also been some of Callaway's best-selling golf balls and are used by many avid amateur golfers. Although the buzz surrounding these golf balls isn't quite as loud as Titleist's Pro V1 and Pro VIx, they certainly deserve to be ranked among the top tier of golf balls.

Callaway HX Tour golf balls come in several varieties, including the new-for-2011 HX Diablo Tour. This three-piece performance ball strives to provide the ideal combination of distance, control and feel by using a soft center which becomes progressively firmer as it approaches the ball's perimeter. Callaway calls this design the "Power Reaction CoreTM."

The point of the HX Diablo Tour's Power Reaction CoreTM is to reduce spin and increase distance when hitting the ball with a driver, but add spin for improved control on approach shots. Theoretically, this increased spin will stop the ball quickly on the greens. And, like other Callaway "HX" balls, the HX Diablo Tour uses Callaway's innovative "HEX Aerodynamics" - a geometric pattern of hexagonal and pentagonal indentations on the ball's cover that replaces conventional round dimples. Callaway claims that these unusually-shaped indentations reduce drag on the ball and promote a penetrating ball flight under a variety of wind conditions. They also make the ball's cover virtually seamless, a characteristic which can provide more consistency in performance no matter how the ball lies (striking a ball on a seam can affect how the ball flies, but this issue can't arise with Callaway HX Tour golf balls).

In addition to the HX Diablo Tour, the other current Callaway HX Tour balls include the Tour i(s) and the Tour i(z). The Tour i(s) is designed to maximize short-game spin despite the new groove rules recently instituted by the USGA. Said to be the softest ball Callaway has ever made, the Tour i(s) is a lower-compression, tour-caliber ball that makes it easier for golfers of any skill level to spin the ball around the greens. The Tour i(z), on the other hand, is a tour-caliber ball that has been designed to maximize ball speed and distance while also providing excellent greenside feel, spin and control.

Over the years, the company has produced several other models of Callaway HX Tour golf balls, and some of them are still available for purchase online and at local golf equipment stores and pro shops. The HX Tour has been compared to the Titleist Pro V1 (their prices are also similar), while the softer HX Tour 56 is a tad shorter but generates more spin around the greens, making it one of the competitors of the Titleist Pro V1x. Both of these particular Callaway HX Tour balls were (and still are) particularly popular. Because they, too, are "HX" balls, they also incorporate Callaway's patented HEX Aerodynamics on the cover.

I've always liked Callaway HX Tour golf balls, so I decided to buy a dozen of the HX Diablo Tour balls and try them out. I paid right around $25. I would have tried the Tour i(z) too, but I didn’t have any at my disposal. If any of you want to send some Tour i(z) balls in my direction, I'll be happy to test them!

The HX Diablo Tour balls worked pretty much as advertised. I appreciated their soft feel and it seemed like I got marginally better distance off the tee than some of the other balls I've played. The only place I felt let down related to the company's claim of increased spin around the greens. I couldn't see any difference in spin between these Callaway HX Tour golf balls and any other ball I've hit recently. Of course, that may be my fault rather than the ball's - normally a player has to have a pretty fast swing to generate a lot of spin, and no one has ever called my 90 mph swing speed "fast." So my failure to see more spin around the greens is probably more my fault than the ball's.

The Bottom Line: Overall, I feel the Callaway HX Diablo Tour balls are well worth $25 per dozen. What I liked best was the ball's consistent distances and the way it behaved in the wind. Living in Florida where playing in a 20 mph wind is not uncommon, using a ball with a lower, penetrating trajectory that stays beneath the wind is always a good strategy.

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