By Jeffrey A. Rendall, Images Courtesy of Bridgestone Golf
COVINGTON, GA – There’s a scene from the movie ‘Bruce Almighty’ where the lead character starts hearing so many people talking at once that he can’t decipher individual voices – and hence, can’t even tell what any one person is saying.
That’s a little what it’s like listening to golf ball manufacturers these days, as all of them claim to be making balls that fly longer, straighter and better than anyone else – all but promising that theirs is the one that will go right to the hole and fall in.
It’s the type of ‘spin’ that you get from political pundits… how can you separate the meat from the fat?
Thankfully, at Bridgestone Golf, they’re putting some substance behind the rhetoric with ball fitting – and also by explaining why different balls perform better – or in some cases, worse.
It’s mostly about different layers in the golf ball, sure, but it’s also because of the way each of those layers affects the spin of the ball. Players don’t see how a ball spins – yet it could possibly be the most important element of your performance in the game.
So we were happy to have Bridgestone’s Corey Consuegra (Marketing Manager, Golf Balls) explain what’s new in the Bridgestone line – and also how each ball is different from the others:
GolfTheUnitedStates.com: How does the Bridgestone line-up of 2012 golf balls differ from last season’s?
Consuegra: The changes come in the TOUR B330 family of balls.
All four balls (TOUR B330, TOUR B330-S, TOUR B330-RX and TOUR B330-RXS) feature Bridgestone’s proprietary Dual Dimple Technology cover. This new dimple design provides added velocity at launch and keeps the ball in the air longer during descent, creating an aerodynamic advantage over other balls on the market. In addition, each of the balls has undergone specific enhancements.
Both the B330-RX and B330-RXS have a newly formulated mantle layer material. The reformulated blend of mantle material is designed to further reduce sidespin and backspin on longer golf shots. After fitting over 160 thousand golfers, we’ve seen how most amateurs struggle with excess sidespin and both of these balls address that and help players hit it straighter and longer.
The new B330 and B330-S contain larger cores than before. Like a car’s engine, the core is the powerhouse of the golf ball. By gaining size in the core, the ball’s velocity is increased and its distance performance maximized. In addition, both balls offer newly enhanced spin performance through their softer Urethane covers. Compared to the previous models, the Urethane covers of the B330 and B330-S are 6% and 13% softer, respectively.
The resulting softness produces maximized spin and control on and around the green and enhanced durability throughout the round.
GolfTheUnitedStates.com: Spin and feel are obviously important elements in a golf ball. Tell us a little bit about how you “fit” players with a golf ball.
Consuegra: We already have our very successful B-FIT online system, but we’re also introducing B-FIT Video Chat, a free, live face-to-face, point-of-sale video-chat golf ball consultation service.
It will allow players to get instant live feedback regarding questions they might have about which ball is right for them.
(Note: The system is now in beta test form at the PGA TOUR Superstore in Roswell, Georgia, since mid-July. Since its launch, customers have raved about its convenience, ease of use and the unique ability it affords to have one-on-one, face-to-face conversations with Bridgestone’s ball-fitting experts.)
GolfTheUnitedStates.com: That will be very useful, as the terminology is sometimes hard to understand, and it’s difficult to compare golf balls when not on a launch monitor. From a design standpoint, how do the ‘low swing’ golf balls differ from the ‘high swing’ golf balls?
Consuegra: Golfers with slower swing speeds (non Tour level) need a golf ball that is optimized for their launch conditions.
This is primarily achieved through Bridgestone’s patented soft core technology, which allows the player with more moderate swing speeds to compress the core in the same manner that high swing speed players compress the firmer typical tour level balls’ cores.
Since most amateurs struggle with excess side spin, the ability to compress the ball more helps reduce that spin and allows them to hit it straighter.
GolftheUnitedStates.com: Solve a mystery for us: what do the different layers in golf balls do (in terms of distance, spin, etc…)?
Consuegra: How the components of a golf ball work depends greatly on the type of shot being played. A golf ball has a very large amount of deformation on driver shots, while it has a small amount on shorter shots.
This relates to the components of a golf ball where the core has the biggest impact on performance for longer shots and the cover has the biggest impact on shorter shots. As I said, the cover of the golf ball has the greatest impact on shorter shots around the green and greatly determines the amount of spin a ball can create. The softer the cover, the more friction there is between the ball and club face, thus creating more spin and also producing a lower launch angle.
The B330-S has a slightly softer cover than the B330, thus it has more spin around the greens for players who require added control.
GolfTheUnitedStates.com: Interesting. What about the “guts” of the ball?
Consuegra: There’s the outer mantle layer.
The high spin a cover of the ball can generate is preferred on short chip shots around the green, but it can be a negative to distance and accuracy on longer full shots. In an effort to counteract the increased spin off all other full shots as a result of a soft cover, the mantle layers mainly work to reduce spin.
The outer layer primarily impacts spin performance on mid to short iron full shots where the ball is not severely deformed at impact. It helps reduce spin and produces a higher launch for greater distance.
Similarly, the inner mantle also impacts spin performance, especially on driver and long iron shots where the golf ball is greatly deformed at impact. It also works to reduce spin providing a higher launch angle and longer carry distance.
GolfTheUnitedStates.com: So what’s responsible for how far the ball goes?
Consuegra: The short answer is, the core.
The core of the golf ball is the main engine for distance on full shots, while it also has a large impact on the way a ball feels to the player. For example, the B330 has a firmer core, meaning it feels firmer than the softer-core found in the B330-S. The core of the B330 produces a higher initial velocity generating greater ball speed.
GolfTheUnitedStates.com: What will happen if a lower swing-speed player uses the golf balls designated for higher swing speeds, and vice versa?
Consuegra: More often than not, if a player with a more moderate swing speed tries to play a firmer ball designed for players with higher swing speeds, he/she will not compress the core of the ball, thus leaving distance performance on the table.
In addition, if that player cannot compress the core of the ball, they will also sacrifice accuracy, since failure to fully compress a golf ball’s core leads to increased sidespin on mishits. That being said, if a very high swing speed player tries to play a ball designed for slower swingers, he may over compress the ball, which can also result in diminished performance.
GolfTheUnitedStates.com: You talked about spin rates around the green. How do they impact better players vs. recreational golfers who don’t necessarily know how to play a wide variety of shots in the short game?
Consuegra: No matter how you look at it, short game performance is extremely important in a golfer’s overall game -- but just how important really depends upon the level of golfer.
If you’re talking TOUR level players, then short game is very critical in choosing a golf ball. For recreational players who have a hard time keeping it in the fairway or in play, spin around the greens is less of a concern and could actually hurt their game.
A high spin ball around the greens is also a higher spinning ball on all other shots. So mishits with the driver and other clubs will spin off line even more. That player can improve more from helping to get his tee shots in the fairway and his approach shots on the green.
GolfTheUnitedStates.com: Too true. On another matter, we heard Bridgestone was expanding golf ball production in Georgia, and that new jobs will be created. Tell us about the expansion and provide some numbers on what it means in terms of extra production.
Consuegra: Bridgestone is increasing its overall U.S. production by 40%. This summer, we began manufacturing our popular TOUR B330-RX and TOUR B330-RXS golf balls right here in Georgia. Since we began manufacturing in Georgia, we have produced over 600 million golf balls there.
GolfTheUnitedStates.com: What percentage of Bridgestone golf balls sold in the U.S. are made in the U.S. as opposed to other countries?
Consuegra: Of the 14 premium golf balls in our line-up, (TOUR B330 family, e-Series, xFIXx and Precept Lady iQ) 11 of the models are manufactured in Covington, GA.
GolfTheUnitedStates.com: Based on advertising, other companies are starting to re-introduce colored golf balls (yellow, orange) and market them. Is there some advantage to yellow golf balls… other than personal preference?
Consuegra: We have a great deal of anecdotal evidence that both orange and yellow balls (depending upon course conditions and the individual) can be much easier to find and track in mid-flight.
In addition, many times playing a colored ball means you have an easier time identifying your ball from your playing partners during the round.
GolfTheUnitedStates.com: No doubt. Speaking of the old days, was the Precept brand the first to introduce multi-layer solid-core golf balls?
Consuegra: Yes, Bridgestone produced the first multi-layer, solid core urethane covered golf ball in 2000.
Bridgestone was the pioneer in polyurethane cover injection technology, which has since changed the standard of golf balls in the industry.
GolfTheUnitedStates.com: It sure has. The evolution of the golf ball has been dramatic. What is Bridgestone's stance on non-conforming golf balls?
Consuegra: Bridgestone has a long proud heritage of working in unison with the ruling bodies of the game. As such, all of our golf ball models are both USGA/R&A conforming.
Consuegra certainly helped us “hear” the individual voices on golf balls. While all of the manufacturers make high quality products, it’s not always easy to see how a different golf ball can help you in the scoring category.
For our part, the Bridgestone line-up performed exceptionally well. The ball flies extremely well, and we consistently got good distance off of all of them. What was perhaps most notable was how straight they seem to fly.
Members of our team remarked that they had a “hard time losing them” because their misses weren’t nearly as severe. And hearing Consuegra talk about how side-spin affects performance finally became real. These golf balls really made an impression.
We do not endorse products, but we also think you owe it to yourself to give Bridgestone’s fitting systems a try. There are a lot of products on the market, and you do have a choice – and it’s easy to see how these golf balls may be able to help you.
For us, our favorite was the B330-RXS, which seemed to have the perfect combination of distance and accuracy. But it was informative to try them all – and so should you.
At that point, it’ll be more than just “spin” that will help make up your mind.
Bridgestone Golf, Inc.
15320 Industrial Park Blvd, NE
Covington, GA 30014
Free Expert Fitting Assistance:
Toll-Free: 877.411.BFIT (2348)
Web-Based Chat: Chat Live with a Fitting Expert
Text-Based Chat: Text BFIT to 55678
Bridgestone also makes golf clubs and accessories.
For more information on the company and its products, consult Bridgestone’s website: http://www.bridgestonegolf.com/
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