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Bridgestone And The Japanese Golf Ball As played by the GOAT

There was a big fuss made when Tiger Woods started using Nike golf balls. It was a huge boost for Nike and a huge boost for Japanese manufacturer Bridgestone. Why? Because it was Bridgestone who actually made the balls. Bridgestone has been in the golf ball-making business for 90 years and has over 600 golf ball patents to its name. Tiger still uses them – only with “Bridgestone” written on them now – as does Bryson DeChambeau and other top golfers.

And you can play with the exact same balls as Tiger and other pro golfers. The Bridgestone Tour B XS balls were made to Tiger’s specifications and Bridgestone’s B X balls were made with input from DeChambeau, Jason Day, and Matt Kuchar.

Curiously, for a golfer known as a big hitter, Tiger tests the ball on the putting green first and then expand outwards (putter-wedges-irons-woods-driver), getting the feel of the ball before testing its distance. So, if your game’s as good as Tiger’s, you can use the same ball. If not, then don’t worry; there’s a ball out there for you, and Bridgestone’s General Manager of Ball Planning, Shunsuke Tayama, guided me through the ins and outs of what to look for in golf balls.


With my own golf shortcomings uppermost in my mind, I asked Tayama if Bridgestone had a ball that goes straight. Thankfully, the answer is yes.

Tayama started filling in my lack of golf ball knowledge by explaining the basic structure of a golf ball. Most of the ball consists of a rubber core. Thanks to Bridgestone’s main business of manufacturing vehicle tires, the company has some of the best rubber engineers in the world and this has been a massive help in developing rubber varieties for its golf balls.

Tayama calls the ball’s core the “engine” of the golf ball, while the outside cover material he refers to as the “steering wheel.” There is often also a thin middle layer called the mantle, which can affect the amount of spin a ball develops, with the spin determining the flight of the ball. A soft core reduces spin and keeps the ball straighter.

The other main factor is the ball’s cover. Usually, there are 300-400 dimples on a ball. Tayama refers to these as the ball’s “wings.” Without them, he explains, the ball would be aerodynamically inefficient and wouldn’t travel even half its normal distance. The outer layer can also be made soft, for more control on short iron shots, or hard to send the ball further and straighter.

Bridgestone’s standard balls have round dimples and this helps for smooth ball flight and distance. The tour pros use dual-dimple balls, which have dimples within dimples that help to create greater ball speed. For average golfers, Bridgestone has produced the Contact Force Dimple e12 ball that increases the connection of the ball to the club. This new technology reduces “horizontal movement.” In other words, it goes straighter (and further). That’s my ball!

To choose the right ball, you can go for a ball fitting, which is not unlike a club fitting. This will determine how you hit the ball, impact speed, spin, etc. so that you can get a ball that fits your swing. So, if you’ve been randomly putting balls into your bag until now, it’s time to pay more attention to what you’re hitting. There’s a ball out there waiting for you.

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