With all of the pieces of equipment that golfers can buy to help them shoot the lowest score possible there is only one piece of equipment that you use for each and every shot, the golf ball. With the advent of fittings, new materials, dimple design, and dedicated research and development budgets the golf ball has become more than just a golf ball. It’s become a difference maker for some. Callaway has updated its line of golf balls to now include the HX Diablo and HX Diablo Tour. THP was sent both of these lines to test and to see if there is something about these golf balls that stand out aside from the instantly recognizable HEX dimple pattern. How did they do? Check it out.
From the Company
• HEX tubular lattice network replaces conventional dimples which reduce drag for longer, more efficient ball flight
• 100% surface area coverage with HEX network pattern
• Ionomer cover
• 2 piece (Diablo) and 3 piece (Diablo Tour) construction
Before we get to the actual golf balls I want to give Callaway a nod of appreciation for helping the consumer out. On the outside of the box Callaway has let you know how many pieces make up the ball that you’re buying. This is just plain smart as it helps the consumer narrow down what they’re looking for on the shelf of their favorite golf store. They may know that they want or need a 3 piece ball, for instance, but how can they tell if the box of balls that’s in their hand is a 3 piece ball without reading through all of the marketing on that box? With Callaway the number of pieces that the ball is made of is right there for you to see and understand.
Now, the first thing you notice when you open a box of Callaway golf balls is that the dimples are not round. Instead they are covered in a ‘honey comb’ hex pattern which consists of 332 individual hexes. Once you tee these up though you quickly forget that these are not your traditional looking golf ball. While it may not look very traditional, the performance of these balls is anything but and it has to do with more than just those 332 individual hexes that I mentioned earlier.
Sometimes technology isn’t always seen but we are told it’s there. Not so with Callaway golf balls. Those little hexes staring back at you are more than just a gimmick. They provide 100% surface area coverage as opposed to just 88% from traditional circular dimples. Yeah I didn’t know that either. Still think your golf ball is ‘the best’ for your game? Numbers don’t always tell the story but 12% is a lot of coverage to potentially turn your back on. The hexes still provide low drag at high speeds and increase lift at low speeds so even though they look different than your traditional golf ball they are still doing the same thing. Perhaps they do it a little more efficiently? These hexes provide a nice penetrating ball flight as well so they should perform nicely in all kinds of conditions.
Both the HX Diablo and the HX Diablo Tour have ionomer covers as well. These covers provide a consistent feel to the Diablo line which can help you no matter which ball you decide to use. The difference is the number of layers that make up these balls and what makes each of the balls unique is their composition. The HX Diablo is a 2 piece ball that will benefit golfers with a slower swing speed while giving them the feeling of a premium ball. The HX Diablo Tour is a 3 piece ball which ‘feels’ much different than its Diablo sibling and will provide the user more control and spin around the greens.
While feeling is very subjective, there is some factual testament to what feeling may or may not be. The HX Diablo’s cover is just .044mm thick while the HX Diablo Tour’s cover is .048mm thick. Meaning? While I’m not that savvy of a golfer to detect a difference of .004mm, I think the ‘feeling’ comes from the number of layers in the golf ball and its core and not from the cover itself. This is just my feeling (pun intended) on the matter but when testing these 2 balls side by side this became even more apparent to me. Are some covers harder than others? No question. But I think the big underlying factor to feeling is the number of layers a golf ball is made up of in addition to core size. The core diameter of the HX Diablo is 1.595 and the HX Diablo Tour’s is 1.45. The smaller core of the Tour version allows for another layer to be wrapped around it which enhances the ‘soft feel’ of it. That’s why and where the difference in feeling and possibly performance may come from with these two similarly different golf balls. See? Some technology you can see and some you can’t. The Callaway line of Diablo golf balls certainly has both.
Testing these balls was both fun and frustrating. While both look the same except for the different colored chevrons (red for Diablo and black for Diablo Tour) they both acted very differently for me on the course and on the practice range.
Callaway HX Diablo- “Incredible distance with unbelievably soft feel.”
Callaway HX Diablo Tour- “Optimum combination of distance, feel, and control in a 3 piece performance golf ball.”
Driver (As a reference point, my average driver swing speed is 100 mph and tops out at approximately 105 mph)
HX Diablo- I found the Diablo to be harder off the driver than the Tour. And it felt like I didn’t have a lot of control with it. The ball seemed to jump right off the driver and I wasn’t getting a nice feeling of compressing the golf ball. Ball flight was mid-high to high with a nice penetrating trajectory. Distance? Oh yeah. The larger core of the Diablo really gets the ball moving in a hurry which is helpful to those who have a slower swing speed. Also, there is some considerable roll when it finds the fairway giving you even more distance.
HX Diablo Tour- The Diablo Tour was a much better feeling ball off the driver compared to the Diablo. I really got the feeling that I was compressing the ball and that the ball was sitting on the club face for a split second before jumping off and into the air. Ball flight appeared to be mid-high as well yet there seemed to be more carry associated with the Tour. This didn’t always translate into longer distance since the Diablo would run farther once it hit the ground but the Tour is a long ball for a ‘tour ball.’
HX Diablo- While there was some ‘clicky’ attributes to the Diablo off the club face, the ball performed well off the irons. It appeared to get up in the air with a penetrating ball flight and when it got to the green there was a considerable amount of roll out before coming to a stop. There’s a certain ‘hot’ aspect of the Diablo that you can’t ignore and you need to be aware of it and plan for when using scoring irons.
HX Diablo Tour- Like the feeling off the driver, I felt I was really compressing the ball and maximizing the technology that makes it the Diablo Tour. The ball would go high yet land soft with minimal roll once it found its way to the green. This was consistent with all of the irons in my bag (5i-9i) which was nice to see.
HX Diablo- Once again I felt there was a little ‘clickiness’ to the Diablo but it was very consistent in its performance. While this ball is not designed to be a ‘spinner’ or ‘checker’ it does offer a fair amount of feel when coming off wedges. Roll out was very easy to see and plan for with the Diablo and once I got used to that I was able to plan shots accordingly. I was taking the distance of the shot needed and added 5 yards to it in order to meet the roll requirements of the ball because more often than not I saw myself rolling right past the hole or target. If you’re a fan of running the ball up to the target then you will really like the performance of this ball.
HX Diablo Tour- This is where the Diablo Tour really separated itself from the Diablo. The feeling of the ball coming off the grooves was smooth and clean with a nice crispness that I couldn’t duplicate with the Diablo. The Tour launched high and landed soft with little to no roll. On aggressive pitch shots or full wedge shots the Tour showed some bite and virtually no roll. Hop and stop or hop hop and stop is the game the Diablo Tour likes to play.
HX Diablo- The Diablo felt a little harder coming off the insert of my putter. I would guess, and it’s just that, that if you don’t have an insert on your putter then you might find this ball to be a little hard. I did notice a little skidding of the ball coming off the putter before it settled into its roll but once it did the roll was true and straight with no deviation from the target line.
HX Diablo Tour- The Diablo Tour felt much better than the Diablo did off the putter. Yes you’re not compressing the ball like you would with another club but yet there was a difference in feeling for me. Does core size have to do with feeling off a putter? That’s for another article my friends. The Tour seemed to want to get rolling right away and had the same true roll as the Diablo did.
I really enjoyed testing these 2 lines of balls out from Callaway. It was like I was doing my own independent ball fitting. One thing I would love to see is Callaway to enter the colored ball market. Please? A little yellow could go a long way and I think would really be accepted by consumers including myself. Why not do it in the Diablo line? Callaway, call me if you do OK?
Both of these offerings from Callaway are very good balls and each have their good points and bad points. Neither is a bad ball by any means and are worth a look. Ultimately I found the HX Diablo to not be the right ball for my game. I didn’t like the overall feeling of the ball and I did not always want to account for the additional roll of the ball around the greens. I’m already a fairly long hitter off the tee and with my irons so I’m not looking for distance in my game but would rather have a little more green-side control. For me, the HX Diablo Tour ball seems to have a perfect blend of feel, distance, and control that is rare in a golf ball, let alone one at its price point. But I’ll touch on that later. The HX Diablo Tour felt great off the driver, good off the irons, and great off the wedges. I was pleasantly surprised with how good a performer it was in all aspects of my game, so much so that now I’m going to be doing some further independent testing against my current golf ball to see if a switch needs to be made. For those of you who know me, that’s a pretty weighty statement as I’m not one to change balls in and out of my bag very often. It’s that good. I’m not a big spinner of the ball around the greens but I do like to have some sort of control such as minimal roll out and I also like to have manageable spin off the tee box.
Don’t completely take my word for it, do yourself a favor and click on over to www.callawaygolf.com and do some reading about HEX technology and what it can do for your golf game. It opened my eyes to some things and maybe it will for you as well. Both the HX Diablo and HX Diablo Tour retail for $25.99 which makes them outstanding value performance golf balls. There are not many companies willing to make technology affordable yet here is Callaway doing just that. I think they’ve got something with the revamped Diablo line of golf balls and you may want to check them out. I’m surprised I don’t find many Callaway golf balls on the course (OK, in the woods) but I suspect I may soon enough once word of these start to circulate in the golfing community.