It seems a bit odd that in a ball with soft in the name, you introduce a material that is the strongest known to man, stronger than diamonds and 200 times stronger than steel, but that is what Callaway has done with the 2018 Chrome Soft ball.
The material is called Graphene which was invented in 2004 and will be everywhere pretty soon as it is not only stronger but it can be stretched too.
It has already found its way into some shafts and in the Chrome Soft 2018 ball it provides the outer layer of the core to give it more strength.
This enables them to make the inner core softer and larger as this is the engine of the ball, so the bigger the engine the more speed you can have.
The outer core is still made with polybutadeine rubber that is infused with graphene and it is this combination that provides the tour level of spin around the green that single core soft balls have less of.
The softer urethane cover also has something firmer to react against for creating spin on wedge shots and Callaway claim is the advantage of the Chrome Soft over other softer low compression balls.
On a cosmetic note the logo and the number are also bigger on the 2018 versions.
You can also get the Chrome Soft 2018 in a whole range of TruVis colours and patterns, which are proving so popular that Callaway can't make enough of them.
Why should you have soft ball? Well if you miss hit it, then it will still compress enough to not lose as much speed as a firmer ball, so in some ways you could call it more forgiving.
The trade off has always been that higher swing speed players would compress a soft ball too much and lose ball speed, which is what Callaway has been trying to address with the Chrome soft.
There are two versions, with the Chrome Soft X being the slightly firmer one with a more clicky sound off wedges and putter. This is all relative of course as the both sound and feel softer than your usual premium tour ball.
Chrome Soft Ball 2018 Review
The standard Chrome Soft is really quite soft and would be best for those who prefer that type of feel.
For putting it sounded softer than the previous 2016 Chrome Soft ball but on chips around the green the 2018 version sounded softer.
This could be the different cover/core construction coming into play as the club head speed increases so try for yourself and see if you notice a difference as it is quite subtle and on longer pitches there was not much in it.
It is softer than the 2017 version but as you can see from GC2 there is really very little difference with a 7-iron between the current and previous Chrome Soft.
When it comes to the driver, the lower spin of the Chrome Soft 2018 gives it a few extra yards carry, so that is probably the firmer outer cover doing its job.
Chrome Soft X 2018 Ball Review
The previous version was the first ‘X’ version of the Chrome Soft family and was intended to be a firmer alternative version of the Chrome Soft that the Tour players could use.
The 2018 Chrome Soft X uses the graphene to give that short game control and sound that better players will like, but this is softer feeling and closer to the standard 2017 Chrome Soft in the respect.
It plays more like a better player ball though tee to green, and the sound was about the same as the 2017 Chrome soft X and pretty similar to the Pro V1x, but of course it feels softer.
On GC2 with the 7-iron it was noticeable how much less the Chrome Soft X 2018 spun compared to all the other three balls.
It not only around 1200rpm less spin, but also launching higher so that combination saw an extra 4 yards carry, which is quite a lot for this loft of iron.
With the driver there was really very little in it between the two X versions with the 2018 version flying slightly lower.
Going deeper into the numbers I would say that the 2018 version produced slightly more consistent results when it came to distance and dispersion, even though the averages are similar.
From the numbers you could say that there is more of a difference in performance between the 2018 Chrome Soft and Chrome Soft X than there was before and I know that this is what Callaway were trying to do. The new Chrome Soft looks pretty similar to the 2017 Chrome Soft X and the 2018 X spins less and goes a little further as a result.
For mid to high handicappers you can have your softer ball and get better control and distance at a mid-market price and for this reason the Chrome Soft X is probably the best version of the ball to go for.
To be honest I am still not convinced about the benefits of soft balls for better players as for me the sound and feel is just not there compared to traditional premium balls, especially if you use an insert putter. This is the conundrum that Callaway are trying to break with the Chrome Soft X and to be fair, what they have done so far is impressive.
Better players will be interested to know that the numbers for the Chrome Soft X were very similar to those for the Pro V1x 2017, so then your decision comes down to personal preference for price and feel as the Chrome Soft X is softer on both points.