October 12, 2017
By Jonathan Wall, PGATOUR.COM
- Bridgestone has built a vast database of knowledge with the numbers it has gathered from the more than 3 million players that have gone through the company's fitting process. (Bridgestone Golf)
Before a new golf ball ever makes its way to TOUR or the shelves at a retail store, there's a unique R&D process that each product must undergo before it ever receives the green light.
Bridgestone is no different. On paper, it's easy to look at the company's new Tour B line (click here for a full product writeup), which consists of four different models, and assume feedback from professionals and high-level amateurs played the biggest role during the design process.
Having access to feedback from staffers like Matt Kuchar, Bryson DeChambeau and Brandt Snedeker is an invaluable resource, but in recent years, Bridgestone has embraced "big data," using it to get a clearer picture of what players of all skill levels are looking for when it comes to a particular ball.
In the same way that a player uses a launch monitor during a fitting process to determine the best possible driver and shaft setup for their game, Bridgestone has conducted ball fittings on launch monitors for years to verify the current ball a player is using is best suited for their swing and abilities.
Bridgestone has built a vast database of knowledge with the numbers it has gathered from the more than 3 million players that have gone through the company's fitting process. In the past, most of that data was compiled through on-site fittings.
But with the help of Bridgestone's new BFIT golf ball fitting app that was released earlier this year, the company has been able to gather even more data in real-time. Similar to the on-site fitting process, the app records a video of the swing on a smartphone and analyzes it to provide swing speed, ball speed, launch angle, carry distance and total distance.
That information is then combined with the user's current ball of choice, ball flight and shot shape, along with distance, accuracy and spin, and put into Bridgestone's ball-fitting algorithm to determine the best model.
While the app is beneficial for the player, Bridgestone has used the data to tailor recent offering in the Tour B line to specific player profiles.
"Having that kind of data and in-depth knowledge at your fingertips is an invaluable resource," said Elliott Mellow, Bridgestone golf ball marketing manager. "It gives us a deeper understanding of how players at different skill levels benefit from a particular ball, and what they're looking for in terms of performance.
"It also allows us to get very specific during the creation process and put golfers in different groups to ensure they are playing the best ball possible. Because what we've learned through all of this is that not every player gets the same benefits from, say, a Tour-level ball."
In addition to the vast amount of data that was utilized, Bridgestone took things a step further, seeking out third-party industry sources who helped refine their knowledge of different player groups, in an effort to determine which of their 1,000 ball patents would most benefit certain players.
The data and feedback gathered played an integral role in the creation of the Tour B X and Tour B RX balls, which branch out into two models. The Tour B X (85-compression) is designed for the golfer who's seeking distance and accuracy, while the XS has a softer urethane cover and lower compression (75) that puts a premium on enhanced feel and control.
The Tour B X features a 330-dimple pattern, but through a new manufacturing process, the ball now has the company's dual dimple in all 330 dimples. The small, inner dual dimple increases initial velocity at launch for more carry distance, while the larger, outer dimple promotes a shallow angle of descent for increased roll.
On the other side of the Tour B line, RX and RXS are a blend of distance and feel in a lower compression package for the golfer who has a slightly slower swing speed. The RX (66-compression) and RXS (64-compression) have a firm cover and new chemical formulation in the mantle layer that produces less spin for more distance on shots with the longer clubs in the bag.
Bridgestone also made a noticeable change to the dimple pattern on RX and RXS, going from 330 dimples to a new 338-dimple pattern. The new pattern is designed for the player who needs extra forgiveness and adds more surface coverage of dimples to help slow rotation and increase consistency.
"We believe there's a ball for every golfer in our lineup," Mellow said. "Thanks to our R&D team and ball-fitting data, we're able to help you narrow the search so you can make the best ball selection for your game."
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