WRX Editor Review by SheriffBooth
On Course and Launch Monitor Testing
Bridgestone J40 445 Driver
Loft tested: 9.5*
Shaft Tested: Project X 6.0 45”
Age:35 Ht: 6’4” Wt: 185
Yrs Playing: 20
I was scratch as recently as 2007, but work, marriage and children are slowly eroding my handicap, as is want to happen. But this is mostly due to chipping and putting, not poor ball striking or driving.
WHAT BRIDGESTONE SAYS:
• 445cc round shape with tour stability
• Improved Face Thickness design for additional stability and higher MOI
• 6-4 titanium construction with thin crown wall section allows discretionary weight to be moved to the perimeter for added forgiveness
• Stainless steel weight at heel and short hosel to optimize CG for mid to high launch with low spin
• Project X™ Driver shaft: 5.0/5.5/6.0/6.5 Flexes
• Golf Pride® Tour Velvet® Grip
• Available Right Hand Only: 9.5°, 10.5°, 12°
Professionals to mid handicap amateurs
Very clean, classic black crown; no alignment aid, no graphics, clean as a whistle. More classic round head shape, but not pear shaped like the 430; reminiscent to me of the FT5 Callaway but without the cup face line, and somewhat similar to the current R11, except in clean gloss black. Test club sets up dead square. Comes with “real” Project X graphite that pairs very well with the head.
Not adjustable. Not very game improvement when compared to other modern drivers like the Ping G20 or Taylor Made Burner Superfast 2.0. This driver is stealth – all the tech is hidden except for a single visible weight in the heel – so if you like a wow factor or bling in your bag this might not be your cup of tea, but Bridgestone is working to raise its profile in the United States. Comes with what I would rate as an unattractive headcover, given the relative simple beauty of the club itself – the mostly black, with yellow and red piping, just didn’t do much for me; your mileage may vary.
ON COURSE TESTING
I’ve played 27 holes with this driver, with the most recent drivers in my bag being a Ping Rapture V2 with a Blueboard 63-s, a Callaway Razr Hawk Tour with a RIP 60-s and a Burner Superfast TP 1.0 with a Matrix HD6-s, all in 9.5. I took to this driver like a duck in water during warmups, the head and shaft seeming to be very well paired, and I needed almost no time to start hitting very solid mid-high launch drives with plenty of carry. The stock shaft is very smooth, not quite Blueboard smooth, but none of the harshness that I’ve experienced with my previous Matrix shafts, and nowhere near as unsorted as the RIP 60 in the Callaway. When hit on the face, the ball comes off very hot – my playing partner commented right away “That driver has a live face!” Sound is again classic – very old school titanium, not ear splitting like some all titanium drivers, and none of the thwock strangeness of composites.
In play, I generally found the driver to be very consistent, but when I tried to overswing it was possible for me to hit hooks, which is my mistake shot. I attribute this to the very square face and even weighting – it was almost impossible for me to hit hooks with my more open faced Rapture, Callaway and Superfast TP drivers. The upside of this fact is that the driver is workable. Not Titleist 983K workable, or even J40 430 workable, but you can move the ball if you’re so inclined. The tech in the driver doesn’t prevent this. But the downside is that you can also sidespin this driver unintentionally.
My best drives surprised me when I got out to them with their length. Easily 10 or 15 yards longer than my Rapture V2, but with what appeared to be very similar launch and carry time. Not to mention, the Bridgestone is a half inch shorter than my Ping. I very much enjoyed the sound, feel and results of my best hit shots, but I was not happy with the 4 sharp hooks over the 27 holes, as I’d gotten used to not having to worry about this.
Conditions were pretty damp for my playtest, and I generally got little to no roll. It was impossible for me to know if this was due to conditions or excess spin.
But, my bottom line with on course testing was very positive. Long high bomb drives, great sound, feel and appearance. Unquestionably superior to my Ping and Superfast TP that preceded it. Just learn to eliminate those mistakes and it’s a keeper.
LAUNCH MONITOR TESTING
First, much thanks to Jeff Yi and Golf Galaxy, Cary, NC for the assistance with the launch monitor analysis. I compensated them, of course, but Jeff was still very attentive and willing to let me compare a number of heads and shafts for a comprehensive test of the 445. We were on a Zelocity Pure Launch monitor. Balls used were Titleist ProV1x’s.
I’ll let the numbers speak for themselves, and I’ll work with the averages for each club tested. If and when I can get the printouts scanned, I’ll ask HipCheck to help me get them posted here. Hopefully your favorite or something close is on here.
Again, these are averages, generally over at least 6 swings, and throwing out the strikes that I could tell by feel were bad.
(CS=club speed, BS=ball speed, LA=launch angle, S=Spin, D=Avg yards deviation from center)
B’Stone J40 445 PX 6.0
CS=104.4 BS=152.6 LA=12.6 S=2573 D=8.3
Rapture V2 9* Blueboard 63
CS=104.7 BS=151.6 LA=13.1 S=2636 D=7.6
Titleist 910D2 9.5* PX-7C3 6.0
CS=101.8 BS=151.5 LA=14.5 S=2299 D=7.7
Titleist 910D2 9.5* RIP alpha 60-s
CS=101.13 BS=151.7 LA=14.8 S=2212 D=6.7
Titleist 910D2 9.5* made for Ahina 72 stiff
CS=103.6 BS=153.3 LA=13.5 S=2435 D=9.1
TM R11 10.5* Blur TP 65x
CS=106.2 BS=151.4 LA=14.6 S=2586 D=7.2
TM R11 9* Blur TP 65x
CS=106.2 BS=151.7 LA=10.7 S=2929 D=7.9
Razr Hawk Tour 9.5* Stock RIP 60-s
CS=104 BS=152.1 LA=13.9 S=2470 D=7.0
Ping G20 9.5* TFC 169D Tour stiff
CS=104.6 BS=150.4 LA=14.6 S=2515 D=7.8
Nike VR Pro Limited made for Ahina stiff
CS=105.08 BS=153.0 LA=13.0 S=2574 D=8.9
Basically, the Bridgestone is competitive with any of the current major OEM drivers on the market. For me, on looks and feel I would choose it over the Nike, Callaway, Ping and TaylorMade drivers. I will say that I was very impressed with the Ping stock TFC shaft – great feeling combo with the G20 head. But to me the G20 sat a degree closed at address and just appeared very big…I’ll look forward to the I20. I was also struck by the outrageous spin numbers on the 9* R11 head – lowest launch of the drivers tested but nearly 500rpm more spin.
Launch monitor champ was the Titleist 910D2 with either the PX-7C3 or the RIP-60. Just awesome launch and crazy low spin when compared with all the other clubs. A stark enough difference that I will have to get my hands on one for on-course tryouts.
Why was my swingspeed nearly 4mph lower with the Titlests? Swingweight. On the Maltby scale the Bridgestone clocked in at D1 (with a midsize grip), while the Titleist with the PX-7C3 came in at D-6.5 (standard size grip). The Titleist was noticeably heavier than all other drivers tested. Yet the Titleists still brought similar velocity, higher launch and lower spin.
As you can see, though, the Bridgestone is a very well sorted head on a good shaft. I would think that for most players with a similar profile to mine, it will come down to feel and appearance, and you might be able to eek some slightly better numbers with a shaft swap.
The Bridgestone J40 445 is in my bag, unseating its predecessors with a combination of classy looks, great sound and feel, and competitive results. It will, however, be facing a showdown with a 910D2 in its near future. But, it will not be facing a showdown with TaylorMade, Ping or Callaway, which says a lot for this somewhat ‘under the radar’ driver and company. If you just want a plain, clean, black titanium driver, that also happens to smash the ball, this should definitely be on your list.
Feel free to ask questions and I will try to answer them as I check in with this thread. I am a terrible golf club photographer, but I hope these photos give you an idea of the J40 445. The other clubs in the photos are a Ping Rapture V2 and a Callaway FT-Tour.