20 Second Intro:

Available Models: Bridgestone e6 SOFT, e6 SPEED balls
Colors: White and Optic Yellow
Price: $28.99 per dozen
Available: Nov 1 on BridgestoneGolf.com and in warm weather markets, February 1 everywhere else

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The golf ball market is getting weird.

Okay, maybe not weird. Let’s say interesting. Titleist claims the mantle of the #1 Ball in Golf and has both the Tour usage and the market share to back it up. Callaway is #2 and holding, and its Chrome Soft outsells the Pro V1 at big box and other off-course retail outlets. The rest – Bridgestone, Srixon, Wilson, TaylorMade – keep trying to bite into Titleist’s apple while grabbing share from each other and the scraps of whatever Nike left behind.

In the direct-to-consumer game, Snell is clearly the top dog. Others, such as 3Up and Monsta, have folded (likely due to Titleist’s dimple patent lawsuit), while Vice, OnCore, and a few others carry on.

And now we have the 4-piece, urethane-covered, Costco Kirkland Signature, which is throwing gearheads into a tizzy.

Adding to the excitement, Bridgestone is introducing a major shift in its popular mid-priced ball, the e Series. Can a ball be labeled Game Improvement? Bridgestone seems to think so.

And what’s more, Bridgestone believes, that for most of you reading this, this new ball will outperform the Pro V1.

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Welcome To The E-volution

If you’re a fan of Bridgestone’s e5 or e7 balls, you better stock up. Those models are being phased out, replaced by the new e6 SOFT and e6 SPEED.

“We had great success with the e5, 6 and 7 balls, but we had so much data and so much analysis in this product category that we took a long, hard look at what we needed to do,” says Adam Rehberg, Bridgestone’s Director of Golf Ball Marketing. “So we wiped the slate clean and said ‘let’s take everything off the table and start from scratch.”

“We looked at what’s important to consumers in this ball category. We threw things out that weren’t important, and didn’t try to put things into these golf balls that consumers weren’t even asking for.” – Adam Rehberg, Bridgestone Golf

Bridgestone invented the concept of golf ball fitting ten years ago. Over the past decade, they’ve arguably accumulated more data on golf ball performance and on golf swings than any organization in history. The numbers are impressive: 320,000 launch monitor fittings, over 2 million total ball fittings and more than 2.1 million individual golf swings measured.

The most recommended ball in all of those fittings? The Bridgestone e6.

Not the premium priced B330 or 330s, nor the slightly lower-priced B330 RX or RXS. It’s the sub-$30 per dozen e6.

“We don’t look at price point during a ball fitting, we’re only looking at the data,” says Rehberg. “The reason the e6 works so well is because of its characteristics off the driver. It’s the lowest driver spin ball we make – it was built for straight distance.”

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Spin Ball Wizards

Straight distance is the mantra for e6 SOFT and SPEED. Bridgestone firmly believes, because the data tells them so, that a sizable segment of the golfing world will benefit from the slower spin of – dare we say it – a Game Improvement ball.

Game Improvement clubs help golfers enjoy the game more, so really, why not a Game Improvement ball for the same reason?

“The ultimate goal is to just play better golf,” say Rehberg, adding that Bridgestone often moves players out of Tour-level balls – even if they’re Bridgestones – and into the e6 during ball fittings. “They’ll say the Tour ball is awesome around the green, but that they lose it right on driver or mid-iron shots. So maybe their spin is too high, and they really need to take a broader look at what they need from a ball.”

The e6 has always been the lowest spinning ball in Bridgestone’s catalog, and lower spin means the ball will usually fly straighter. Both new balls remain low spin but are aimed at golfers with different swing speeds.

“The e6 SOFT is really low driver spin and high launch,” says Rehberg. “It’s for lower swing speed players looking for a ball they can compress and get velocity up on the driver. The softer cover also gives them a little more feel around the green.”

The e6 SPEED is for the higher swing speed player who likes a little firmer feel off the clubface, no matter what club he’s using.

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Straight Arrows

“Of course it’s the Indian that shoots the arrow,” says Rehberg. “But in this case, the arrow can have a lot of influence on what it’s doing up in the air.”

The e6 SOFT and e6 SPEED are 3-piece, surlyn covered balls. Rehberg says the middle, or mantle layer, is key in minimizing driver and long iron spin for straight distance while normalizing approach shot spin to hold the green.

“There are balls in the market at this price point, and even higher price points, that don’t have a mantle layer. As a guy with an R&D background, that blows my mind. How do you get a ball to act correctly without a mantle layer in there?” – Adam Rehberg

The mantle helps the ball keep its shape when compressed at impact, so the ball will bounce back and add speed. But Rehberg says there’s also a tangential force that applies when you hit the ball with a driver or a low-lofted iron.

“When you hit the ball, it’s starting to turn the way it wants to turn based on backspin and tilt-axis,” says Rehberg. “The mantle layer is designed to reverse force against that backspin. The way we built this mantle, it’s supposed to counteract backspin off the driver and longer irons, so it’ll go straighter.”

Higher lofted clubs impact the ball differently, with the tangential force hitting down on the ball. “It’s such a different angle,” says Rehberg, “ that you don’t hit into the ball at a normal force compared to the driver. So the mantle layer counteracts that action and really doesn’t reduce spin.

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“We want to make sure the SOFT and SPEED have low spin characteristics on long iron and driver shots, so they fly straight, but we don’t want to sacrifice spin on approach shots so guys can hold greens from 150 to170 yards and closer.”

Once the ball is in the air, Bridgestone says the e6’s new Delta Dimples will make sure it keeps going straight. Aerodynamically speaking, comparing Delta Dimples to dimples on a Tour-level ball is like comparing a race care to a family car.

“The Dual Dimple on the B330 is like a race car,” says Rehberg. “You downshift, change RPM – the driver is very much in control. It’s like the golfer working the ball, flighting shots, controlling it, cutting it, drawing it. The Delta Dimple is like an automatic transmission with cruise control – it drives straight and smooth.”

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 Challenging The King

Bridgestone has a pretty clear target demographic for the new e6’s: the mid- to high-handicapper, especially those playing the Pro V1.

Bridgestone’s product intro kit screams mano-a-mano showdown. It includes sleeves of the e6 SOFT and e6 SPEED, as well as a sleeve each of the Pro V1 and Pro V1x. The idea is for us to compare the balls directly both on-course and on the launch monitor.

Bridgestone has even a scorecard titled “The #1 Ball for WHO?”

That is, pardon the pun, pretty ballsy.

“No one is doubting the performance of the Pro V1. It’s built for high spin all through the bag, but you have to hit it perfectly every time to get it to perform. The e6 balls are designed to perform even if you’re not hitting them perfectly every time. The forgiveness built into these balls is at a high level. It’s not a high spin ball. A lot of consumers don’t need a high spin ball.” – Adam Rehberg

Bridgestone states it simply: if you struggle with a not-so-controlled fade with long irons or driver, a Tour level ball like a Pro V1 usually winds up like a Scott Norwood field goal (wide right), often landing in the woods. The lower spinning e6 SOFT or SPEED might instead find the right side of the fairway or, at worst, the right rough.

And if you do lose it the woods it’s only a $2.50 ball instead of a $4.50 ball.

Bridgestone is boldly challenging the King of golf balls, the Pro V1, with e6 SOFT and e6 SPEED. It believes, based on 10 years of ball fitting data, most recreational players gaming the Pro V1 – or any Tour level ball – probably shouldn’t. For that targeted demographic, Bridgestone is betting a pair of 6’s will beat a King high every time.

Price and Availability

The e6 SOFT and E6 SPEED will retail at $28.99 per dozen in either White or Optic Yellow. They’ll be available on BridgestoneGolf.com and in warm weather markets starting November 1st and will be released nationally February 1st.