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Does the Callaway HX Tour give the Titleist ProV a run for its considerable money?
Callaway HX Tour (black) Golf Balls

I was both thrilled and worried at getting a box of the new Callaway HX Tour balls (widely known as Callaway black) for product testing. 'Thrilled' as I have lost so many new balls over the past few months I had to dip into the children's savings to keep up my supply, and 'worried' in case I loved but lost them all in the first nine holes.

I am a great believer in the Titleist ProV1 and the Pro V1*, they are expensive but in my opinion worth every penny when playing competitive golf. I believe the new Callaway ball to be every bit as good as the ProVs and think it may just shade it over the Titleist when opting for feel with distance.

The technology of the new HX Tour is based on a very thin urethane cover that allows a large but soft insert layer. This means that incredible distances can be achieved but with a soft feel, not unlike the ProV1.

My fist shot in anger was at the Strathmore Golf Course, Alyth. At the first hole - a 500-yard par 5 - I took 3-wood and hit it solid. I consider myself an average to long hitter and I must have hit it 320 yards, although it was downwind in warm, dry conditions [excuse me while I yawn, Ed]. I was left with a 7-iron, which I floated in and stopped it dead [Is that the time? Must head off for some sleep - Ed]. The ball felt great coming off the irons and woods, it seemed to take off at an incredible speed - unfortunately the eagle putt lipped out but nevertheless a favourable start with a new ball.

As the round progressed I started to really gain some confidence with this Callaway black. To me it was flying straighter. I loved the soft feel with chips and putts - it possibly did not spin as much as the ProVs but more often than not the handicap golfer is short of the hole in any case - so who wants the ball to check? I was hitting greens in regulation and felt that the ball could only fly where I wanted it to go.

I found the spin was adequate to gain just enough check with chip shots. Frankly, I don't often need to work shots, I am more concerned with keeping it straight. In saying that, I am sure the scratch players will find there is easily enough spin control to shape their shots with this ball.

Finally after two rounds with the same ball - a rare occurrence these days - the ball is as new, with no scuffing, cuts or marks. Time will tell but at the moment if I have a choice of the ProV or the HX Tour I will be going for the Callaway HX Tour, they are similar in cost but in my opinion go further are easier to control and feel softer.

In short, the bar has just been raised again and the world's best golf ball now has serious competition.

Steve Fenton, 8 handicap

©    1 - JUNE 2004

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