Callaway ERC Soft Golf Ball (2023)


  • Callaway has announced the 2023 version of its three-piece ERC Soft golf ball.
  • Increased speed is provided by a new HyperElastic SoftFast Core.
  • A GRIP Urethane coating over the ionomer cover provides more spin.
  • Retail price is $39.99.

a photo of the 2023 Callaway ERC Soft golf ball

It is the stated goal of Callaway Golf’s ball division to make the best-performing product in each segment and at each price point.

Overlooking for the moment that the company doesn’t offer a true Titleist Pro V1 competitor (and my personal feeling that there are market segments and price points at which no golf ball should exist), the launch of the new ERC Soft is both unexpectedly and unusually compelling.

That’s right. Much to my own surprise, I find myself intrigued by an ionomer-covered ball.

What makes this Callaway ERC Soft better (and more interesting) than the last boils down to two key technologies.

HyperElastic SoftFast Core

the Core of the 2023 Callaway ERC Soft golf ball

As noted in my story on the new Callaway Supersoft, HyperElastic SoftFast Core is a bit of technology that has trickled down from the Chrome Soft franchise.

As with Supersoft, ERC’s take on HESFC (I’m not typing all of that again) is about boosting speed from the core of the golf ball without increasing compression.

Golfers like ERC Soft because, even if it’s not super-soft, it’s still kinda soft (preliminary tests suggest compression in the mid-70s), so Callaway is still not particularly interested in trading soft feel for extra speed.

The objective is to generate more speed without jacking compression.

a slide showing the various ingredients found in Callaway golf balls

Digging into the technical aspects of how that works, Callaway found that inside the ERC Soft Core were some unreacted non-resilient materials. Given that more than 100 materials go into making a golf ball, it stands to reason that some bits would do more than others.

You can think of those less useful materials as filler that, in addition to not doing anything to make the ball faster, can impede the elasticity of the core.

To make the core faster, Callaway developed technology (chemistry is probably the more accurate word) that reacts with the previously useless material groups. The end result is increased cross-link density which ultimately leads to more elastic energy at deformation (which is what happens at impact).

(Frankly, you don’t need to know any of this because the simple takeaway is that the new ERC Soft produces more speed at the same compression.)

That said, I thought sharing just a bit of the more complex technical details might make you think a bit more deeply (and more critically) the next time some direct-to-consumer brand tells you that a couple of dudes sitting on a couch somewhere managed to engineer a golf ball that outperforms the industry leaders.

GRIP Urethane Coating

A cutaway of the core and GRIP Urethane cover of the Callaway ERC Soft golf ball

The other bit of compelling technology in the new Callaway ERC Soft is what the company is calling a GRIP urethane coating.

I know what you’re thinking: “I thought you said ERC Soft was an ionomer-covered ball?”

I did, and it is, which is admittedly confusing, but stay with me.

For the new ERC Soft golf ball, Callaway is taking a high-elongation urethane formulation and applying it on top of ERC Soft’s ionomer cover.

In simple terms, “high elongation” means the material is really stretchy and, because of that, it prolongs the contact time between the face and ball at the type of low-speed shots you play around the green.

the core and cover of the Callaway ERC Soft golf ball after aggressive removal

While Callaway tells me the GRIP urethane application process is proprietary, I think it’s safe to assume that it’s sprayed on the ball as opposed to formed in a mold.

The performance result is lower launch with more spin which is pretty much what all of us want around the green.

For the sake of clarification, the GRIP urethane coating only increases spin around the green. Through the rest of the bag, the ERC Soft retains its low-spin properties.

a closeup of the Triple Track pattern on the Callaway ERC Soft golf ball

ERC Soft – How much more spin?

To put a number on it, Callaway says upwards of 400 rpm more spin than the previous model. And, sure, the ERC Soft franchise isn’t exactly known for its greenside spin properties but I don’t care: a 400-rpm increase is significant.

For what it’s worth, on a cursory level, the story checks out. Every “Tour” ball on the market features urethane over ionomer construction.

Of course, that’s invariably a full urethane cover over an ionomer mantle but the same rules (soft layers over hard layers create spin) should apply here.

I’m not sure it’s necessary but it’s definitely interesting.

a closeup of the Callaway logo on a 2023 ERC Soft golf ball

Coming to terms with the Callaway ERC Soft golf ball

That said, I am divided as far as the GRIP urethane coating is concerned. On one hand, it seems kinda silly. If you’re going to put urethane over a cover, why not just put a real urethane cover on it and be done? I feel we’re jumping through unnecessary hoops here.

On the other hand, Callaway probably doesn’t want ERC Soft stepping into Chrome Soft territory and the probability is that GRIP urethane will trickle down to the really cheap stuff eventually.

If you insist on making cheap two-piece balls for the frugal “soft” crowd, I suppose there’s something to be said for trying to make them better.

A sub-$25 ball that actually spins, or at least spins significantly more, isn’t without its appeal. Not to me. But it must to somebody.

And, not for nothing, Callaway loves its points of differentiation and spraying urethane over an ionomer cover is something nobody else is doing. So there’s that.

the packaging of the 2023 Callaway ERC Soft golf ball

Options, Pricing and Availability

The Callaway ERC Soft is available in Triple Track White and Triple Track Yellow.

Retail price is $39.99 per dozen. Availability begins Jan. 27.

For more information, visit CallawayGolf.com.

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