Bridgestone J36 Hybrid Review
Bridgestone’s new J36 line is aimed at better players from top to bottom.
Their new J36 hybrid is an extension of their previous game improvement Gravity Chamber hybrids with some major design changes to suit better players. These days, hybrids span every shape and form, some look like large irons, others small fairway woods. There are plenty of options out there for golfers to find clubs that fit their eye. However, many players struggle to find hybrids they feel comfortable with, many get so frustrated they simply resort back to the long irons they sought to replace. With the J36 hybrid, Bridgestone does a great job addressing their target market and should be high on the consideration list for any avid golfer.
Some hybrids look like super-sized irons, others come close to matching fairway woods. With the J36, Bridgestone has achieved the fine balance between a hybrid that’s small enough to suit better players yet still provides plenty of confidence from address. The club head is small for a hybrid, just a touch bigger toe to heel than a golf ball. It is covered in black paint that extends all the way around the club head. The hosel blends in perfectly with the top line giving the club an open appearance at address. Full face scoring lines provide a traditional look many golfers will love.
The face is deep and the square toe makes for a very clean setup beind the ball. The feel at impact is what I would call perfect. It has a solid, muted sound at impact that is closer to the feel of an iron rather than a wood. There is no hint of the "tin can" sound other clubs have.
Bridgestone has released two previous hybrid models – the original J33 and the Gravity Chamber. With the J36, Bridgestone sought to combine the best qualities of the two. The fusion has produced a club targeted towards better players with a little forgiveness built in. One of the big changes this year was the internal weighting of the club. The J36 has completely neutral weighting, soemthing better players crave. It’s a club that allows you to dictate the ball flight rather than force you to compensate like other models which feature heavy draw biases.
The sole features a small channel cut into the sole that moves weight to the perimeter of the club for a touch of forgiveness. The sole itself has been redesigned to help produce the best interaction with the turf from a variety of lies. The stock shaft is an 80 gram Alidla VS Proto which is a great match for the high but flat ball flight of the head.
I have had found two hybrids over the years which I have loved. The J36 beats them all handily. The club is fantastic whether hit off the tee or off the deck. It has a very flat trajectory that rises quickly and levels off. Also, thanks to its neutral weighting and face angle, working the ball in either direction is a very easy proposition. Need to hit a high hook? How about a low fade? Either shot is possible with the J36.
With hybrids, it is important to have a descending blow much like an iron. Turf interaction is an important characteristic for a hybrid. In thin, firm conditions, the camber of the sole makes it easy to catch the ball cleanly since a minimal area touches the ground. In very soft conditions, the blunt leading edge and width of the sole and leading edge prevent the club from digging.
The primary goal of a hybrid is forgiveness and the J36 does very well in this respect. It’s not a point and shoot club, nor is it intended to be. The ability to work the ball requires some sacrifices in forgiveness. However, shots struck high and low on the face all seem to get up quickly and don’t lose much distance. In the wind, the flat trajectory makes ballooning very difficult. The ball spins off the club, but it is not excessive, a tremendous benefit for players trying to dial in their distances.
Better players often find themselves in a quandary when it comes to long irons. Many desire the ball flight control of an iron but want more room for error on mishits. The J36 hybrid is one of the few clubs on the market made specifically to suit the needs of better players. Players who have been skeptical in the past might even find themselves ready to replace 4 or 5 irons with the J36. It is a complete club in every way.