WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: In pursuing more distance both off the driver and through the bag, the three-piece ERC Soft ball marries that benefit with a focus on the different way many average golfers approach their short games compared to better players. Rather than relying on spin for short shots (and thus a ball with a urethane cover), this ball’s ionomer cover reacts best for players who want their short shots to stop through higher launch.
Price: $35 a dozen (available at retail on Feb. 25).
THE DEEP DIVE: Without saying as much in its marketing, Callaway’s update to its ERC Soft golf ball is dedicated to a simple two-fold premise: First, most average golfers want more distance, from the driver, yes, but really every club. Second, most average golfers have the same relationship with the low, checking, one hop-and-stop chip shot as they do with space flight. It’s just not something they do. Or can do. Ever.
That recognition means the three-piece ERC Soft, like the 2019 original, eschews the tour-preferred urethane cover for a distance-enhancing ionomer cover. But rather than the traditional cover formulation, the ERC Soft’s cover employs a hybrid collection of ionomers and an impact modifier additive from Dow Chemical known as Paraloid. That improves high-launch, low-spin formula that works so well for distance on full-swing shots, but it adds an element of softer, higher-launching control (with a touch more spin) on short-game shots. Because that’s what helps this class of golfers get around the golf course most efficiently, says Alan Hocknell, Callaway’s senior vice president of research and development.
“This is about matching the characteristics of the ball to the characteristics of the player more correctly,” he said. “This player is still playing a targeting game of golf near the green. This player uses trajectory rather than spin in order to land the ball close to the hole and keep it there. So with that we realize there isn’t as much of a desire for the ball to have particularly high, high spin rates near the green so long as it still has a high launch angle.”
The Paraloid impact modifier improves the composition of ionomers used in the ERC Soft’s cover. Typically, an ionomer cover is a blend of elements designed for durability, faster resilience and soft feel. Those elements sometimes work against each other, particularly if the desire is to make a soft ionomer cover fast off the driver or a soft ionomer cover durable off a short wedge shot.
“This new molecule can get us to a new place by having a soft feel with durability with speed,” Hocknell said.
Hocknell said another way the softer feel benefits the average player is how it’s more forgiving on less than solid center strikes.
“Even when you don’t hit the center of the face you’re still getting a lot of these same speed and spin benefits,” he said.
Like the original, this ERC Soft features the Triple Track alignment markings where a red line is framed by two blue lines to enhance the perception of target alignment.
The ERC Soft is available in white and yellow and will be at retail Feb. 25 ($35 per dozen).