Bridgestone brought ball-fitting to the front of golfers’ minds in 2006 when it began a campaign of in-person, launch-monitor-driven events to help golfers rethink their process for choosing a golf ball. Now, 13 years later, it is recommitting to the hands-on approach it had de-emphasized in recent years, and expanding it to include more than just driver shots under the microscope.
The new ball-fitting program is the next generation of a program that for a over a decade saw more than 300,000 golfers test their ball against Bridgestone alternatives with tee shots on a launch monitor. Then dubbed the Bridgestone Challenge, the company said its findings showed 70 percent of the golfers who went through the experienced saw increased distance through a ball switch based on understanding the benefits of the proper ball speed, launch angle and spin rate of one golf ball vs. another off the driver. The ball-fitting initiative later included online fitting tools, as well as the BFit app, which allowed golfers to use their phones almost like launch monitors.
The company is hoping for the same sort of dramatic results in 2019 with an updated experience that will add 8-iron numbers to the launch monitor portion of the test, followed by free samples for on-course testing.
“In 2006, we launched a program that change the conversation golfers were have ing from which players were playing withch balls on Tour, to which ball should I play that best fits my game” said Bridgestone’s Adam Rehberg, golf ball fitting manager. “Now we will be able to confidently fit golfers the same way they play the game, from tee to green.”
Typically in the experience, which debuted last week during the Super Bowl Experience in Atlanta, players are asked several questions about what their performance expectations and desires are for a golf ball both off the tee and into and around the greens (whether for instance a player places a high value on spin for his or her short-game shots). Then the player is asked to hit several drives with their current ball and a Bridgestone alternative with a Foresight Sports GCQuad launch monitor capturing the data. Those alternatives most likely will include sample balls from the company’s Tour B line (X, XS, RX and RXS) or the new mid-priced e12 balls (e12 Soft, e12 Speed). The test is repeated with 8-iron shots, with that data often confirming that the alternative ball is providing the desired launch, spin and distance characteristics.
Rehberg said the final piece of on-course or short-game area comparison is an important extra component.
“Feel is so subjective when it comes to player preferences on chips and pitches,” Rehberg said. “We are confident that with the evolution of our ball-fitting methodology golfers will have a clearer picture than ever before about how a golf ball’s construction impacts every facet of their games.”
Bridgestone’s new ball-fitting program will start in sun belt markets this spring and move nationwide throughout the summer and fall.