It's been a good 15 years or so since Callaway put the initials of their founder Ely Reeves on a product, but now they are back with the Callaway ERC Soft golf ball.
The ERC name was usually associated with their longest drivers and irons and the reason it is back is because Callaway claim that it is their longest ball with soft feel.
Like the Callaway Chrome Soft 2018, the 3-piece ERC Soft features a core that is infused with Graphene.
This is one of the strongest, yet flexible, materials known to man and enables the Dual Fast Core to be soft for feel, but rigid enough to retain the energy to deliver the ball speed with a higher launch and lower spin.
The cover is made from polybutadiene, which Callaway claim is a hybrid of the performance you get from ionomer and urethane covers.
Manufacturers usually use urethane in their premium balls to deliver the best control. However, it is expensive so ionomer covers tend to be found on cheaper balls. The ERC Soft comes in at a mid price point in the market, so this is probably why we have a hybrid cover of the two to try and get the best of both worlds.
That's not to say that the performance of the cover is compromised as the durability is just as good. The spin control was not bad for this type of ball, but maybe not as sharp as a premium urethane ball like the Chrome Soft.
What you will also see on the cover is three lines, with a thick red line in the centre supported by two thinner blue lines either side. Callaway has called it 'Triple Track Technology', as they have to get a three word tech in there.
The Triple Track pattern is based on Vernier Visual Acuity, which basically means that it is proven to be the best visual alignment pattern. This design is used on the landing strips of aircraft carriers and the juxtaposition of the three lines helps your brain align the ball better than a single line.
If you are not a line fan, which I am not, then you can rotate the ball to the blank side as the lines only go halfway around the ball.
Obviously you can only do this on the tee or on the green, so you could end up with the lines pointing the wrong way on the fairway. If you are ADHD on ball alignment this may prove too much for you.
The Triple Track lines only really work with putts as your eyes will be over the ball. You could try and use it from the tee with your driver, but as your eyes are inside the ball the lines don't really do their job as well.
You could of course tilt the ball towards you so that lines look like they point towards the target, but that takes a bit of practice to get them in the position where they will be useful.
Just to get the visuals on the 322 Hex dimples going even more, the ERC Soft is available in white and yellow cover options.
However there is more to the ERC Soft ball than colours and lines as I found out when I took them on GC2 against the graphene infused 2018 Callaway Chrome Soft ball.
With the 7-iron the ERC Soft was giving the results I would expect from a soft ball. The ball speed was down a little because of the lower compression and the spin was lower by around 500 rpm. However with a similar launch angle, the carry distance was about the same thanks to the lower spin.
The descent angle was the same, but with the lower spin the ERC Soft is unlikely to stop as quickly as the Chrome Soft. This is down to the construction and the advantages of the urethane cover on the Chrome Soft.
Around the greens the Chrome Soft gave a little more check and better sound feedback on chips and putts. Therefore, you will probably have better control and more feel from the firmer ball, even though it has soft in the name.
With the driver the results were the same, with the ERC Soft giving a very competitive back spin number and, with the higher launch, a little extra distance too. However at my 100mph driver swing speed, you can see that the ball speed is down as the softer ball compresses too much.
At mid to high level of swing speeds, this is your trade off between soft feel and ball speed. If you read my review of the Callaway Chrome Soft ball, you will see that the firmer Chrome Soft X ball was the better option for me as it span less than the standard Chrome Soft and, combined with the higher ball speed, went further.
At mid to low speeds this is less of an issue and you might find you get the same or better performance from the ERC Soft ball than the Chrome Soft.
Callaway ERC Soft Golf Ball Verdict
Callaway has done a good job with the ERC Soft ball because it does deliver the soft feel with higher launch that it claims too, and the ball speed is not bad for a soft ball.
Aside from the lower level of spin on approaches and around the greens, there is not much to separate it distance wise from the Chrome Soft. The ERC Soft is a few pounds per dozen cheaper, although I would have expected a bigger price difference between the two given the competition in the soft ball sector.
Therefore it would probably be an option for those who generate too much spin, or those at the other end of the scale who don't generate enough for even a urethane ball like the Chrome Soft.
The Triple Track lines are a nice idea if you draw alignment lines on your ball, as three definitely seems better than one.
I am not a fan of using lines on balls for putting, so I would be turning the ball around to the blank side. However, seeing the lines in motion as the ball rolls give good feedback on how well you are rolling the ball.
I wouldn't bother using the lines for tee shots and some might find them a little annoying when lying at the wrong angle for approaches and chips when you can't lift and place your ball, but maybe that's just my anti-line prejudices.
It really then comes down to feel and whether you prefer that softer type of ball. If you are a mid to low swing speed player then the ERC Soft could be an option, so check it out around the greens and see if it works for you.
If not, then for around the same price, you can gain a bit more control without sacrificing too much feel by trying one of the Chrome Soft options.