Numbers do not lie.
What Jon Rahm and the team at Callaway have accomplished since his signing at the opening of 2021 is nothing short of miraculous. Yes, it was a full-bag switch, but in my opinion, it’s been the key move into the Chrome Soft X golf ball that has been the key to this whole thing.
Lets begin with the facts:
These are 2021 Stats since switching to Callaway and CSX
Wins: 1 (US Open)
Top 10’s: #1 (13)
Top 20’s: #1 (14)
Strokes Gained Tee to Green: #1
Strokes Gained: Off the Tee: #2
Total Driving: #1
*-50 in Fed Ex Playoffs #1 (Tied with Cantlay)
*-24 in Majors #1 (5 ahead of Morikawa)
How it began…
With a player of Jon Rahm’s caliber, it was always going to be the golf ball that would make or break whether this new Callaway endeavor was going actually going to happen. Looking back on a conversation I had with Callaway Tour manager Jacob Davidson, Jon noticed a few key shots that REALLY caught his eye and ultimately sealed the deal.
“Jon has very high expectations for his golf ball, and in testing, he picked up ball speed with the driver but most importantly to him, his short iron and wedge trajectory went down, all while adding VERY important RPMs of spin. For a player like Rahm, who loves to keep short shots down, it really opened his eyes to the new opportunities he would have with CSX. He can now hit stock wedge shots with a low flight, where, in previous years, he would have to manipulate a few things to make it happen.”
“The other key factors were full speed and off-speed spin; when he wants to crank on one, CSX doesn’t overspin, and when he wants to hit an off-speed shot, CSX maintains that spin integrity downrange, allowing him to be a bit more aggressive. Add all that with speed off the tee, feel around the greens, and superior wind stability; it was a slam dunk.”
Jon’s initial testing was a 2-day marathon at ECPC; he started around the greens hitting shot after shot. High, low, soft, skippy, etc. He was listening, looking, and gathering data. CSX not only showed well in the first meeting; it actually showed Rahm something he hadn’t seen…a low spinny 40-50 yard pitch with a ton of spin. Like the short iron shots, the low ripper was one JR had to manufacture to fit his eye. CSX did it on its own.
Next, he went on to the long stuff, which from what I have heard from the testing session, was the easiest part; CSX checked off new boxes in speed, downrange dispersion, and spin integrity (in the wind). If anyone is curious as to how to test a golf ball? The green working back to the tee, always.
The story of what happened in his first go-around at his home track (SilverLeaf) in Arizona has been well documented. Jon torched the course with his new Callaway sticks finishing with a 59 that got the interweb buzzing but from where I sat; I knew The Sentry Tournament of Champions and the insane island winds of Kapalua would be the first real test.
According to Rahm, he was unsure of what the ball would do under those conditions, it’s a unique ballpark, and the wind hits the ball in ways you really don’t see anywhere else until the Open Championship.
The first “under the gun” trial run was a success; Rahm was pleasantly surprised at how tight the ball flew into crosswinds, all while maintaining the spin to hold the greens. Keep in mind this was all while picking up even more ball-speed on high-speed shots.
This was evident multiple times this year wherein live-action Rahm constantly hit low to mid 180’s MPH Ball-speed with the driver. Those are numbers he barely sniffed previously. Of course, that’s a combo of ball and driver head, but he was on a speed uptick across the bag.
Jon Rahm WITB Video on my first day!! Click and Enjoy:) *FYI JR explains how he tests golf balls:)
There was one key shot I saw this year that really had me shaking my head on how well (and harmonious) this switch into Chrome Soft X really was.
Final Round of the U.S Open
16th Hole Par 3 233 Yards
The 4-iron he hit into the back left flag was nothing short of Master class. He needed to hit something hard and slightly right to left against the win all while ensuring the ball maintains its spin and doesn’t carry too far back into the green. It’s one of those shots that will make or break the greatness of a player and golf ball. Not only did Rahm absolutely melt his 4-iron at 151MPH ball speed, but the ball carried right into the middle of the green, landed softly, and ensured an uphill putt. The flip side would be the ball losing spin, flying thru the wind, carrying too far, leaving Rahm an impossible up and down from behind the green.
The main improvements by the numbers…
Strokes Gained Approach:
Strokes Gained Tee to Green:
Total Strokes Gained:
Approach Proximity Gains:
These numbers are NUTS, and keep in mind that are there are still parts of Rahm’s game that have plenty of room for improvement. That’s a bizarre thing to write.
So what does this mean for me Wunder?
The golf ball is king.
There I said it. I don’t care how dialed in the rest of your bag is, if the ball aint right you are leaving pounds of meat on the table. Period.
I’ve learned it myself, seen it first hand. Switching into the CSX took my bag to the next level in every conceivable way. Oddly enough, my main improvements were similar to JR’s. Spin was what I needed but the right spin at the right time.
Now, it must be said that I am not Jon Rahm, but after having tested all three Chrome Soft golf balls, I was able to see what having the right ball looks like truly. Chrome Soft (Red Box) had good speed off the driver and irons, but for me, it was just too forgiving (is that a thing?). LS was close to being the right ball, but I was just a bit shy in the spin department to really give that ball a platform to perform at its peak. For example, I am a drawer of the golf ball and if the ball doesn’t spin the right amount, it tends to fall outta the air. Something I battled hard for the past few years and something you must identify, it’ll cost you yards if you aren’t paying attention.
The CSX was right in the pocket on all fronts. Speed, Spin, Wind, Around the Greens, and especially off-speed shots from 150 and in. That’s where I make my birdies, and I have ridiculous control over my ball these days. There isn’t a shot that I’m unsure of. That draw I mentioned earlier? With CSX it stays in the air, holds its line, and lands where I’m looking. Thank You.
Jon Rahm is the best player in the world, and this whole story over the course of this year is a testament to what the right golf ball can do for any player. My advice…again for the 100th time? Get to know your golf ball inside and out, and if these gains that #rahmbo has seen in the past 9 months don’t make you curious about what’s going on in Chicopee, I have nothing else for you. The numbers don’t lie y’all. You rarely get to see comparative data like this, but when you do, and it’s this compelling, the facts are tough to ignore. Do you know the saying “facts over feelings”? This is like that except “facts over loyalty.”
I drank the CSX Kool-Aid, and it’s delicious. Try all three flavors and see what one tastes best to you. LOL…I couldn’t help myself.