I was given a new box of Callaway HX Tour 56′s (the ball Phil Mickelson plays) to try a few weeks ago by Guy, a good friend and the pro at my home course. My buddy told me these were hands down the best golf ball he’d ever played. Of course he’s biased toward Callaway but I processed what he said and promised him I’d play these “new and improved” HX Tour 56 golf balls.
The core of the HX Tour 56 is made out of a proprietary “fast and soft” rubber called Polybutadiene. The core is “large” in comparison to other golf ball cores due to the ball having a thin cover.
There’s a “boundary layer” between the core and outer layer which is a little more firm. This layer helps your drives stay straighter yet helping the ball have less spin.
The outer layer is made of a soft urethane material. The soft urethane provides low driver spin for straighter shots but still provides spin for controlling approach and short game shots.
The HX in the name stands for HEX which is the shape of some of the dimples on the ball. I say some because some dimples are six sided and some are eight sided (hexagons and pentagons). There are also “sub hex” dimples which are deeper. The hexagon and pentagon shaped dimples are what make the HX series of golf balls fly with less drag, more consistency and supposedly better flight in the wind.
On the course
I’ve been a fan of the HX series going clear back to before the HX Tour. Remember the old HX Red and HX Blues? I loved the HX Red back in the day.
The first thing I need in a golf ball is for it to be soft enough that it doesn’t flare up my golfer’s elbow. If I play hard golf balls, that condition can reappear after only a couple of shots. I like the soft feel of the new and improved HX Tour 56 and fortunately it does not flare up my golfer’s elbow.
Off the driver the ball flight of the HX Tour 56 is very different for me than other balls I’ve tried. I get much more carry and less roll with the 56. The ball flies out low and about 2/3 of the way it seems to climb up. I wouldn’t quite call it ballooning but that’s the only other word I can think of to describe the flight. The golf ball goes out, climbs up and then drops down with little roll. I find the distance to be great and equal to just about any other premium ball I’ve played but I expect it to be shorter since it’s all carry and little roll.
Approach and short game
For me it seems there’s a little less spin on wedge shots than the older 56, which is just fine. I find that when I hit short irons to the green I can get major spin back if I really clip one and the greens are soft. I don’t usually want that much spin though and the usual spin for the 56 is more of a hit and stop type. I find that my wedges and short irons are within 2-3 feet of the ball mark. When you figure that out you just start pin hunting because you know the ball will be close to where it hit.
When hitting shots around the green I find there’s a little less spin than a Titleist ProV1 so I get a little less check and a little more roll. This is not necessarily bad. I just need to make sure I remember that when executing the shot.
Putting with the 56 is nice. The ball has a very nice feel when stroking it. I find I can judge distance and putt speed very well with it. The speed is consistent as well, which doesn’t happen with some other balls I’ve tried.
The biggest difference I’ve noticed in the “improved” version of the HX Tour 56 is the durability. The older HX Tour balls (the black or the 56′s) were not very durable at all. Three or four 100 yard wedge shots and I’d have a ball missing 1/3 of it’s cover material. Those hex dimples couldn’t do their magic if they weren’t there! The newer 56 seems to have solved much of that issue so I can get more play out of the ball before having to replace it. The image here is of an HX Tour 56 after I played 36 holes with it.
The Callaway HX Tour 56 is definitely “improved” and is one of the best premium golf balls out there. My ball flight is higher with the 56 than other premium balls which can be an advantage when trying to hit shots which need more carry. The spin amount and control you have in the short game is more than adequate. Best of all, the durability now makes it sensible to pay the bucks they want for these balls. I had a hard time legitimating that expense before.
You can pick up the Callaway HX Tour 56 golf balls at Edwin Watts Golf.