Though number three behind Titleist and Callaway Golf in golf balls sales Bridgestone Golf has a couple of strong positives going including pioneering the idea of selling golf balls to players based on their swing speed. The Tour B330 series, which we first saw in 2007, marketed the B330RX/B330RXS for swing speeds below 105 mph and the B330/B330S for those above 105 mph with the primary difference between them being the B330/B330S had a firmer core.
They also pumped up their image and visibility in January 2017 with the signing of Tiger Woods after his longtime deal with Nike Golf cancelled. Back in August 2016 Nike decided to drop out from the difficult arena of clubs and balls and place all their emphasis in golf on shoes and shirts.
Bridgestone reported 2017 was the most successful year in company history with records in total sales, advertising reach and number of golf balls shipped with particular success in some of the largest off-course retailers. Among the factors contributing they cited their aggressive marketing campaign featuring Woods.
Last October the B330 series was retired with four new models in the new Tour B series being introduced and Bridgestone began to target golfer segments not by driver swing speed but average score. The assumption being score was a better guide to differentiate the ball properties needed…there are lots of players with single digit handicaps and a swing speed less than 105 mph.
The new 3-piece TOUR B X and TOUR B XS are for better players, presumably including those with over 105 mph swing speed, who rely on feel and were playing the B330 or B330S. The 85-compression X and 75-compression XS have a cover made with a softer urethane than the B330 and better aerodynamics from a new lower drag version of Bridgestone’s 330 Dual Dimple. Due to the characteristics of the construction the X works best for those wanting lower driver spin and the XS gives more ball speed and therefore distance.
Also, a 3-piece, the RX and RXS are for mid-to-low handicappers needing more distance. The cover is firmer urethane formulation with a new 338 Dual Dimple design covering more of the ball’s surface for a more penetrating trajectory. In the changes to produce more yardage Bridgestone has made the mantle firmer as well so spin is less with the driver and longer clubs. The 66-compression RX has slightly lower spin while the 64-compression RXS has a softer cover.
Each of the new Tour B balls have Bridgestone’s SlipRes coating on the cover which helps to add spin on short scoring shots plus giving the urethane more abrasion resistance.
Tour B series balls X, XS, RX and RXS sell for $45 dozen.
In Case Anyone Should Ask:
Potter, Jr. Wins A T & T: Ted Potter, Jr. had to beat Dustin Johnson, Jason Day and Phil Mickelson at Pebble Beach for his second win on Tour, but the Florida native was more than up to the task with a final round of 69. His bag is Ping from driver down through the wedges and we particularly like the G400 model driver Potter, Jr. plays. At $400 it is in the mid-price range and in addition to the standard configuration, there is the anti-slice SFT (straight-flying technology) and the LST (low-spin technology) for higher swing speed players.
Ted Potter Jr. Wins AT&T Pebble Beach
Potter, Jr.’s Winning Clubs:
- Driver: Ping G400 9 degrees, Project X HZRDUS T1100 65X shaft
- Fairway Wood: Ping G400 14.5 degrees, Project X HZRDUS T1100 757X shaft
- Hybrids: Ping G400 19 degree set to 17.5 degrees & 22 degree set to 21 degrees, Project X Even Flow Black 100H shafts
- Irons: 4 through 9-iron Ping iBlade, True Temper Dynamic Gold AMT X100 shafts
- Wedges: Ping Glide 2.0 46 degrees SS grind, True Temper Dynamic Gold AMT X100 shaft and Cleveland RTX-3 54 & 60 degrees, True Temper Dynamic Gold S400 shafts
- Putter: Odyssey White Hot No. 2 center-shaft
- Golf Ball: Srixon Z-Star XV
A T & T Counts: Pro V1/Pro V1x from Titleist was the pros’ ball of choice with 112 playing one or the other besting the nearest competitor’s ball which was played by 17 in the professional field of 156. Titleist won the hybrid count (25) and iron set count (45) while their Vokey Design wedges (approach, sand & lob) at 205 took that category. Scotty Cameron putters were the top choice with 58.
According to Jonathan Wall on PGA Tour.com 51 TaylorMade drivers were in play and 47 of them were used a 460cc M3 or M4.
Miura MC-501: The recently announced Miura MC-501 forged irons have an increased length heel-to-toe making them the longest head every made by the company. Targeted for play by those with a preference for a blade but who want more forgiveness weight has been moved towards the sole and the grind is Miura’s Y-grind. In a satin copper nickel finish they will be available February 20 in 3-iron through pitching wedge and carry a price of $260 per club.
Great Year for ELY: Callaway Golf (NYSE: ELY) reported 2017 sales increased from 2016 by 20% to $1,049 million and income rose from $44 million to $79 million. Lead by the success of the Great Big Bertha Epic driver, sales of woods rose almost $92 million to $307.9 million and launching of the Chrome Soft X helped golf ball sales rise 6% to $162.5 million. Irons year to year fell from $278.6 million to $250.6 million. U.S. sales increased by 40% and in Japan by 5% but fell in Europe by 3% and the Rest of Asia by 11%. Sales increases were accompanied by better operating margins: clubs to 11.9% from 2016’s 7.6% and balls to 16.5% from 15.7% in 2016.