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Bridgestone’s new Tour B golf balls were designed with the player in mind

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Bridgestone’s new Tour B Series of golf balls are set to improve on the company’s Tour B330 line, and there are plenty of details to share about the specifics of the four new models: the Tour B X, the Tour B XS, the Tour B RX, and the Tour B RXS. However, it’s just as important to take a step back from this launch and appreciate how Bridgestone, with their emphasis on ball fitting, arrived at this new four-ball offering, because it represents a departure from what we’re used to seeing in the industry.

Bridgestone_Tour_B_2017_feat_2

Eliot Mellow, Bridgestone Golf Marketing Manager, told GolfWRX that instead of starting with the B330 series and figuring out how to improve upon the offering in the lab, the company instead started in a very different place: with the massive amount of data collected from the company’s ball-fitting program. Beginning with the launch-monitor data from the more than 2.5 million unique swings the company has collected, Bridgestone drilled down on the “tour-ball user” player profile.

“We didn’t sit down to make four balls…a master ball…or eight balls.” Mellow said. “The first thing was just analyzing launch monitor data.”

In addition to this, Bridgestone conducted a massive player survey initiative and began organizing the findings. “Eventually, we filled four buckets that became the Tour B golf balls,” he said, indicating the company then cross-referenced its findings with information from Golf Datatech and other third-party sources to make sure it jived with the larger marketplace.

Bridgestone_Tour_B_RX_Yellow_Solo

With the four player profiles identified, the company then tasked the R&D team with developing a quartet of appropriate offerings, leading ultimately to the Tour B X, XS, RX, and RXS models. Fortunately, Mellow said, R&D succeeded. So, let’s dive a little deeper into the four balls and the associated player profiles. A first point of note: The X and XS are built for players who place feel first and foremost. The RX and RXS are for those who place distance ahead of everything else.

TOUR B X and Tour B XS

Designed for low-handicap golfers, the Tour B X is engineered for low-handicap players seeking feel plus accuracy. It replaces the Tour B330 model.

Bridgestone_Tour_B-X

Features include:

  • Firmer urethane cover than XS, reduces driver spin for increased accuracy of the tee
  • Core compression = 85
  • Construction: Three-piece urethane

Bridgestone_Tour_BXs

Tour B XS is designed for the low-handicapper concerned with feel and distance.

  • Slightly softer urethane cover than the X, creates added friction for enhanced feel and control
  • Core compression = 75
  • Construction: Three-piece urethane 

Bridgestone makes some bold claims about how the B X and B XS stack up against the B330 and B330-S. Pretty much better at everything! The company claims: higher initial ball speed, better flight in the wind, more consistent trajectory, and softer feel.

TOUR B RX and Tour B RXS 

Designed for low-to-mid handicap golfers. The Tour B RX is engineered to help low/mid handicappers primarily concerned with distance and accuracy.

Tour_B_RX_White

  • Slightly firmer urethane cover than the RXS reduces spin and increases accuracy off the tee
  • Core compression = 66
  • Construction: Three-piece urethane

Tour_B_RX_Yellow

Tour B RXS is for low/mid handicappers who value distance and feel.

  • Slightly softer urethane cover than the RX creates added friction for superior feel and greenside control
  • Core compression = 64
  • Construction: Three-piece urethane

In addition to a new dimple pattern, the company touts the following features of the Tour B Series: a Gradational Core for optimal energy transfer, and SlipRes cover technology, which increases friction by creating more stability between the ball and club for enhanced control with irons and wedges.

The line will officially be available at retailers nationwide and on bridgestonegolf.com beginning Oct. 2 for $44.99 per dozen. 

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9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. The Dude2

    Aug 24, 2017 at 4:04 pm

    Cool. I look forward to playing this ball in a year or two when I buy it from one of the used golf ball sites.

  2. Steve Cantwell

    Aug 24, 2017 at 10:36 am

    Maybe a good ball, but more likely just a money grab. especially when Costco/Kirkland is trying to offer a similar quality ball for 1/2 the price.

  3. Aaron

    Aug 23, 2017 at 2:32 pm

    Interesting how Bridgestone is competing with its highest profile pro in releasing their balls at the same time

  4. MAGA

    Aug 23, 2017 at 2:00 pm

    He got ballz

  5. Brewdawg

    Aug 23, 2017 at 9:45 am

    Make sure it “jives” with the larger marketplace… 🙂
    I love a ball that listens to me, but hate one that jives with me. Now jibing is a different story.

  6. Tom54

    Aug 23, 2017 at 8:35 am

    Let’s see…another new golf ball that will be better than last model huh? The only good thing about new golf balls coming out yearly is that you can get current ones for about $10 cheaper per dz. once the pro-v came out years ago, has any new ball really improved? All pro line balls play well in my opinion. Since the modern ball supposedly lasts around 5 yrs there are always deals to be had.

  7. Rich Douglas

    Aug 22, 2017 at 9:19 pm

    S
    O
    S

  8. Peter S

    Aug 22, 2017 at 9:00 am

    Somehow I feel they designed the ball….with profits in mind!

  9. The Dude

    Aug 22, 2017 at 8:05 am

    Love when golf ball companies create a ball with the players in mind…..”for those seeking feel and distance”……oh reeeeaaally…..

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Equipment

The Artisan Golf putter fitting experience

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There is a certain mystique surrounding Artisan Golf.  In clubhouses and on courses around Texas, the name Artisan is spoken almost as if it’s a local legend. Something unattainable that only the best players in the world get access to.

Did you see so and so is playing artisan wedges? He ordered a putter from them too. He must know somebody who knows somebody. Those Artisan guys are the old Nike club-makers who worked with Tiger and Rory and Reed.

For nearly the first two years of the company’s existence, Artisan didn’t have a website and orders for custom putters and wedges needed to be done via phone or social media. It wasn’t until January of this year that they launched a website in order to better sell their equipment. And now if you want a custom Artisan club, you can get one. But simply getting online and ordering a wedge or putter isn’t the way they want things done.

“Every single person that has bought a putter, I have talked to them one on one,” said John Hatfield, Artisan’s Head Putter Maker.  “It’s important because I want to make sure that we are getting them the best possible build that we can get them. We are never going to be a volume business. We never want to be a volume business. We want to make what we make and have that good relationship with the consumer.”

John Hatfield

When Nike closed its doors for good on the club making business, Artisan opened the following Monday in the very same space. And things ran pretty smoothly on just word of mouth and prior relationships. Hatfield focuses on putters and Mike Taylor is the wedge maker. But in 2018, Patrick Reed won the masters with a pair of Artisan wedges in his bag and people took notice. The company went from 300 Instagram followers to over ten thousand, essentially overnight. Hatfield doesn’t mess with all that, though. He is old-school and just wants to give golfers the best possible equipment to fit their game.

“We wanted to continue doing what we had been doing,” Hatfield said. “We wanted to offer the consumer what the tour player could get when he or she came in to see us. We had seen people on GolfWRX saying “oh man that is cool but we are never going to get it!” and we said you know what, if you’ll pay for it and if you want it, come and get it.”

And make no mistake. These Artisan guys have worked with the best players in the world. And they still do. When you walk into the Artisan facility, one of the first things you see is a big wall full of signatures from some of the greatest players to ever play the game. Tiger Woods, Ben Crenshaw, Rory McIlroy, and a ton more are all on the wall. Even George Strait has been in for a club fitting.

I went to Artisan headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas to start my relationship with Hatfield and Artisan. To this day, the company is still housed in the old Nike building, nicknamed “the Oven,” which comes complete with a practice green, driving range space and a wedge fitting area. I was there for a personal putter fitting. Having worked for Ben Hogan Golf and Nike, Hatfield has been in the club making business for over 30 years. The man is passionate about putters. But when it came to this fitting, I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

The fitting took place outside on Artisan’s practice green. And that is by design.

“We like to fit in the dirt. I don’t understand being indoors on a flat putt,” Hatfield said.  “That’s not natural. When you get outside with undulations and trees. This is real. This is how you play golf. I want to see what you are doing on real greens.”

And when Hatfield says he wants to speak with every person that he makes a putter for, he means it. My fitting took two and a half hours on the practice green, hitting putt after putt with different models and weights. Throughout the process, we made some adjustments on my stroke and the ball’s position in my stance but only minor tweaks. It felt like a putting lesson without completely getting away from what I was comfortable with. Hatfield wasn’t there to change the way I putt. He was there to get to know me so he could build the perfect putter for the way I putt. To Hatfield,  that all starts with look and sound.

“The number one thing is that it has to look good,” he said. “It needs to give you confidence. If you set something down and you don’t like to look at it, how long are you going to play it? Then after that it needs to sound good. That audible sound has to give you good feedback or you aren’t going to play it. The different mill depths can give you the different sounds that you need.”

And throughout the entire process, he didn’t write down a single word. It was all in his head and in his hands. Hatfield would adjust the weights on a putter and hand it to me. While I used it, he would observe the stroke, ask me questions, adjust a different putter and then hand that one to me. Then Repeat. Different lengths of putts, different lines and reads and speeds. For over two hours. We were narrowing down our options and Hatfield was building my putter in his mind. And at the same time, he was giving me tips on how to better put the ball in the hole.

I came to realize that there was probably no one who understood putting better than Hatfield. Sure, there are his equals. But this guy has spent the last 30 years building putters and fitting them for players. He knows what he is doing. And he wants to use his experience to make you a better golfer. He can talk to you and explain things in a way anyone can understand.

At the end of the fitting, we went back inside and filled out the Artisan putter order form with my specs. We picked out a grip that felt good in my hands but also weighed the appropriate weight for my stroke. I ended up going with the 0217 midslant because it fit my eye the best of the four putter models. The “bluebonnet finish” with a sight circle top line also looks phenomenal in person. I was hooked when I saw it. The full custom fitting and build ended up with a $975.00 price tag.

Each artisan putter comes with a serial number that is assigned to that particular customer. That way, Hatfield will always be able to look back and see exactly what was built for you. And if you want to change your grip or head-weights, that’s fine with him but he wants you to call him and let him know so he can update your file. If your putting turns south, Hatfield wants to know why and he wants to fix it. It really is all about the relationships and making you a better golfer.

The putters aren’t cheap but you are getting personal attention and a relationship with the guy who is making your putter when you spend the money. That is worth a ton, in my opinion.

The headcovers are custom as well. When you end up making your putter purchase, an online headcover creating form is sent to the customer so they can customize the color and stitching. The customer’s input is included in every aspect of the putter purchase.

And if you aren’t able to make it to Fort Worth, Texas for a personal fitting with Hatfield, that is perfectly fine. He still wants to spend a considerable amount of time with you on the phone, talking about your game. He even loves it when you send him videos of your putting stroke and the specs on your current putter. If you go somewhere local for a fitting, he wants to know about that too. The more information, the better. Hatfield wants to get to know you. It’s all about the relationships. He gets to know the player in order to build him the perfect putter.

And that is the thing that impressed me most about Artisan Golf. They care about your score. They want you to improve and if you shop with them, they are going above and beyond to put you in the right equipment to improve your game. If that means spending close to three hours on a putting green with you, Hatfield will do it. If that means giving you his cell phone number so you can call him to tell him you want to change the grip on your putter, Hatfield will do it. If that means taking time to watch videos of your putting stroke and then talking to you on the phone to make sure you get exactly the putter you want, Hatfield will do it.

Artisan cares about lowering your score. Plain and simple.

“We are focused on making products and improving your game,” Hatfield said. “We aren’t focused on all that other pizzazz.”

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WRX Spotlight: Quick-Up driving range

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Product: Quick-Up driving range

Pitch: Via Quick-Up: “Using our UT-TEC TM rapid hub deployment system and hanging net impact absorption technology, we created the most unique and functional Golf practice net ever…It’s fast easy set-up and convenient storage and mobility make it an ideal anytime/anywhere practice range. In seconds you can easily have your personal driving range. It’s a powerful, functional and sturdy golfer’s practice tool. Practice all Woods, Hybrids, and Irons with a real ball…”

Our take on the Quick-Up driving range

Avid golfers are seemingly always looking for an easy, convenient place to practice. Of course, a full range is ideal, but we don’t always have the time. The Quick-Up Golf Driving Range tries to provide an affordable solution for us junkies out there to get in our daily dose of practice.

The Quick-Up Driving Range definitely fills a need in the marketplace. Its strength is its portability and doing what its name implies: It sets up in moments and can be taken down in nearly as quickly. It comes with some nice extras such as short game targets and a “shank guard.”

Still, if you are looking for a foolproof option – meaning near-zero chance of a ball missing the net and destroying something that shouldn’t be, you should look elsewhere in the marketplace. Even the fairly pricey Quick-Up Deluxe in not very wide at 10 feet. Set it up in your house and you may eventually have some drywall repairs to do.

While its light weight keeps it portable, it doesn’t’ feel as sturdy and durable as we’d like it to be. Outside, stiff winds can blow it around and the manufacturer recommends using the stakes included for safety. And while initial folding is quick, getting it back in the carry bag may be another story.

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Forum Thread of the Day: “Most forgiving driving iron?”

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Today’s Forum Thread of the Day comes from aceo36 who asks fellow members for their choice of most forgiving driving iron. Plenty of different driving irons receive a mention, with Srixon’s U65 proving to be one of the most popular choices.

Here are a few posts from the thread, but make sure to check out the entire discussion and have your say at the link below.

  • Jwin323: “I just got a Ping G410 Crossover 2, and it’s pretty forgiving. Very easy to hit off the deck because of its sole camber.”
  • thekiwii: “The bigger, the more forgiving. The ping crossover series is probably the biggest. Adams DHy is very under the radar and underrated. You can hunt one down for cheap. Titleist TMB is small, but it has tungsten weighting to increase the forgiveness.”
  • arobbins3: “I play the Srixon U65, and it’s the most forgiving one I’ve played (T-MB, Taylormade, etc.).”
  • ScottJN: “I picked up the u85 on a whim, got the stock recoil shaft and it flies higher than I’d like on a typical shot.  However, the club is so easy to hit and an automatic 250 off the tee (2iron).”

Entire Thread: “Most forgiving driving iron?”

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