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Bridgestone Golf (e-Series golf balls, J40 wedges and hybrids) – Upgrading performance throughout the bag
By Jeffrey A. Rendall, Images courtesy of Bridgestone Golf
COVINGTON, GA – If there’s truth in the notion that the good can always be made better, than the new Bridgestone e-Series golf balls amply demonstrate the point. For 2013, the always price-reliable e-Series has improved on performance that was already more than solid.
And though the e-Series is not specifically mentioned in the catchy Bridgestone commercials (with David Feherty saying, “Play what fits your game, not some pro’s”), they certainly embody the message. In fact, each member of the e-Series is specifically tailored to “fit” different categories of players.
Corey Consuegra, Bridgestone Golf’s Golf Ball Marketing Manager, says the latest e-Series offerings are “new and improved,” rather than brand new.
“The original e Series balls were introduced in 2005 and have gone through various improvements in each version that followed. All three e Series models have experienced an aerodynamic upgrade, utilizing Bridgestone’s new 326-seamless dual dimple pattern cover. The new pattern features 6% larger dimples and 2.5% more surface area coverage to help reduce drag and increase lift for unparalleled distance performance.”
Consuegra continues, “Each of the e Series balls are designed for a different type of player, but the overall common theme is that each ball was created to help solve some kind of specific trajectory need.”
In that sense, the company is not forcing its pro-level golf balls on you, though there are four models to choose from in the top-shelf B330 Series should you feel compelled to go a little higher up the chain.
Consuegra outlined the e-Series as follows:
e5 -- The e5 is an advanced 2-piece urethane construction designed for golfers wanting higher ball flight, more distance and greater control. A large gradational core contributes to longer carry distances, while its tour caliber urethane cover delivers tremendous feel into and around the greens.
e6 -- The e6 is the softest multilayer golf ball on the market and in 2013 it is softer than its predecessor. Designed to help players eliminate slices and hooks, it reduces spin for straighter distance. A 3% softer surlyn cover and low compression core improve feel, while an anti-side spin inner layer helps keep the ball in the short grass. Currently the top-selling e Series model worldwide, the new e6 ball is available in white, yellow and orange.
e7 -- The ultimate distance ball is the new, multilayer e7 model - designed purely for faster, longer shots. The larger Dual Dimple and reactive surlyn cover combine to reduce drag and increase lift, while a speed-enhancing core and spin-reducing inner layer deliver explosive velocity and greater distance.
One concern that many folks have in buying golf balls below the premium level is greenside performance – essentially, how the balls will deliver on greater distance but cost you stopping power and control once you reach the green.
No need for worry, Consuegra answers. The e-Series has it covered: “Bridgestone designed the e5 to answer that exact need. The e5 not only provides 2-piece distance off the tee for those seeking a bit more pop, but it does feature a urethane cover for incredible short-game performance.”
“In fact, in independent spin testing, third parties have found the e5 is on par with tour level balls when it comes to greenside spin on half wedge shots and chip shots.”
Judge for yourself. It’s often difficult to see the subtle differences in golf balls. For those who don’t wish to take part in exhaustive personal trials, you might try Bridgestone’s online fitting system, which will help match your game to each ball’s potential benefits.
We’ve found it helpful in the past, particularly with the B330 Series models, which continue to be highly favored by our staff.
We also liked the “new and improved” e-Series balls, particularly the e5, which we thought were similar in feel to the pro-level golf balls. But admittedly, only serious trial and analysis – with perhaps some assistance from the fitting system – will help you find the right ball for you.
We definitely would suggest that you try Bridgestone if you’re thinking about switching golf balls – the quality is evident. Just ask David Feherty.
Bridgestone Golf’s J40 Black Oxide Wedges
Bridgestone Golf’s main focus is on golf balls, but we shouldn’t forget that the company also makes high-end golf equipment. For 2013, we decided to try the Bridgestone J40 Black Oxide wedges, which we selected for their sexy good looks and quality Japanese forging.
Josh Kinchen, Bridgestone’s Golf Clubs & Accessories Marketing Manager, says the wedges’ good looks is just one way that discerning players can differentiate.
“We think the two most important aspects in choosing a wedge are overall appearance to the user, and bounce. The player should choose a wedge that they like looking at, which will inspire confidence at address and lead to comfort in its usage.”
“Once a player has a wedge, or wedges, that they enjoying looking at, they should then hit those wedges to determine if the bounce works for their particular style of play,” Kinchen added.
In the “looks” category, we chose the J40 Black Oxide wedges, with a beautiful dark finish that reduces glare over the company’s other wedge product, the J40 Satin Chrome Wedges. The Black Oxide wedges will also wear and rust over time, though they haven’t quite reached that point yet.
In addition to good looks, there are two more reasons to choose Bridgestone wedges over the competition, according to Kinchen.
“All our wedges offer Variable Bounce Technology, which means the bounce becomes progressively lower as you get towards the heel and toe portions of the wedge. This element adds versatility for a variety of shots, as players open and close the wedge face on typical shots hit during a round.” “Bridgestone also offers Dynamic Gold Spinner Shafts in all of our wedges. These shafts allow for lower launch and increased spin over their competition, to reduce the ‘balloon’ effect and increase that greenside spin that we all desire,” Kinchen explained.
We enjoyed the wedges, having selected a 52 degree gap-wedge and a 58 degree wedge for our greenside club of choice. True to Kinchen’s word, the 58 degree wedge performed well from a variety of lies and situations around the green, including from the sand.
The 52 degree wedge took a little bit more adjustment, as the bounce of the club caused a few thin shots from fairway lies – until we moved the ball a little bit farther back in the stance. Once that was done, it became a reliable “gap” club from about a hundred yards.
With sand wedges becoming so versatile, they’ve evolved into a must-have for every player. Kinchen agrees. “Depending on who you ask, the short game comprises approximately 70% of all shots hit. With that being said, we feel that wedges are of great importance in scoring. Unless you hit every green in regulation, then you are going to need a tool to help you score around the green – the sand wedge is that tool.”
It’s somewhat strange that sand wedges do not come standard in most iron sets, but perhaps that’s because they’ve become so specialized. Like a putter, your sand wedge is simply a matter of personal preference – choose one that looks good and works for you.
Bridgestone’s J40 Hybrids
Yet another product that’s becoming more and more specialized is hybrid clubs, which typically replace long irons in the bag – and we’ve even seen some sets with hybrid-style short irons.
Are hybrids merely trendy, or here to stay? Again, Kinchen weighs-in. “Hybrid clubs have higher MOI (moment of inertia), less resistance to twisting and more perimeter weighting, a combination that equals being easier to hit. There’s also more forgiveness on off-center strikes than long irons.”
He continues, “Hybrids also offer a lower center of gravity, which will promote a higher trajectory to increase landing angle, making them easier to stop on the green when going for those par 5’s in two, and playing those long par 3’s.”
Hybrids have always seemed similar to fairway woods, but Kinchen says hybrids actually have somewhat smaller heads than fairways, which adds more options in both workability and ease in playing shots from the rough, bunkers, etc.
Distance should also be about the same as their corresponding long irons, though hybrids will tend to carry longer with less run-out. You might want to consider switching to hybrids if you’re having trouble stopping the ball on greens from 190-plus yards (but will certainly vary from player to player).
For our test, we found that a 4-hybrid was about 5-10 yards longer than a typical 4-iron, and certainly did fly higher and stop quicker. Our 3-hybrid was about the same as a 3-iron both in distance and ball-flight. But that’s just us.
So why choose Bridgestone J40 hybrids? Kinchen says there are two advantages:
“We offer stainless steel construction with a thin crown profile, which moves discretionary weight to the perimeter for added forgiveness and less resistance to twisting.” “Also, our square face design provides confidence at address, while a tungsten weight in the heel provides slight draw bias and lowers CG for higher launch and softer landings.”
Ah, the technical stuff. We’ll leave that to the engineers.
Four our part, we’re sold on the Bridgestone J40 hybrids. True to Kinchen’s word, they’re easy to hit and offer more than adequate distance on shots. We also found them to be fairly versatile in application, particularly friendly even from scraggly rough lies.
If you’re in the market for hybrids, give them a try.