Bridgestone e12 Contact – Key Takeaways

  • New FLEXATIV ionomer cover
  • Firm when hit with driver, soft when hit with wedge
  • Available in white plus Matte Green, Red and Yellow
  • $34.99/dozen, available in March

The new Bridgestone e12 Contact is an interesting release for a handful of reasons. Foremost on that list is that it represents the kind of R&D effort most OEMs don’t usually commit to its ionomer offerings.

Typically, an OEM gives its “premium ionomer” ball some trickle-down technology from its Tour-level balls and calls it “innovation.” Bridgestone, as you’ll see today, tomorrow and Wednesday, puts some thought into this category.

Whether it’s enough to make this ball more attractive to golfers than a direct-to-consumer urethane ball at a similar (or even lower) price is the proverbial open question.

So let’s dissect the new Bridgestone e12 Contact. First off, we need to understand the holy trinity of Contact Science, impact modifiers and FLEXATIV.

Bridgestone e12 Contact

Bridgestone e12 Contact: Contact Science

When Bridgestone introduced the original e12 Contact two years ago, it brought “Contact Science” into golf’s lexicon. Contact Science was the result of five years’ worth of R&D. In basic terms, Contact Science describes what happens when ball and club collide. Bridgestone developed a unique, if not weird-looking, dimple-in-a-dimple pattern called Contact Force. It’s a pattern which, according to Bridgestone, increases club-to-ball contact by 38 percent over traditional dimples.

That means more energy transfer off the tee for longer drives and more friction off a wedge for more spin.

“We find ourselves at a crossroads with both material changes and a structural change with the new e12 Contact,” Bridgestone Golf Ball Marketing Manager Elliot Mellow tells MyGolfSpy. “The main thing is the Contact Force Dimple for better energy transfer to activate the core. But now it has a new cover, our FLEXATIV cover.”

Bridgestone e12 Contact

FLEXATIV is a Surlyn cover with unspecified, and most likely super-secret, impact modifiers added. Those impact modifiers basically give the Bridgestone e12 Contact a split personality. When hit with something relatively flat and at great speed, like a driver, the cover stays firm as if it were a high-compression ball. The relatively low overall compression of the ball, however, means low spin. That means you get the ball speed of a firmer ball with the low spin of a softer ball.

But when hit with a glancing blow, like with a short iron or wedge, it reacts more like a ball with a softer cover. That means more spin.

If you read that as Bridgestone saying it has figured out how to de-couple driver spin and wedge spin, then you are correct.

Bridgestone e12 Contact

FLEXATIV, Son of REACTIV

Bridgestone introduced this hard-when-hit-hard/soft-when-hit-soft cover technology with the 2020 Tour B series. Called REACTIV, it was updated for last year’s Tour B models. FLEXATIV is the Surlyn version and, when combined with the Contact Force Dimples, it increases contact over a regular old golf ball by 46 percent. That’s a 21-percent increase over the original e12 Contact.

“In the past, if we wanted more greenside control, we’d change the softness of the cover,” says Mellow. “But we’d lose some control off the tee. By adding impact modifiers, we can positively improve long, straight distance off the tee but also improve greenside control.”

No one will ever confuse the new Bridgestone e12 Contact, or any ionomer ball for that matter, with a Tour-level ball in terms of spin or compression. Bridgestone lists the new e12 Contact compression at 46 although in our Ball Lab we measured the 2021 model at a firmer but-still-soft 61.

“In an apples-to-apples situation, the e12 contact is lower-spinning than the four Tour Bs,” says Mellow. “The RX would be closest. For all intents and purposes, the e12 Contact is the lowest-spinning ball off the tee we have in the lineup.”

With a 6-iron, you’ll find the e12 Contact spins roughly 1,200 to 1,500 rpm lower than the Tour B RX. On greenside shots, Bridgestone says the new e12 Contact spins a little bit more than the old model but nowhere near the RX.

Real Player Feedback

Bridgestone is duking it out with Srixon for fourth place in golf ball market share. Each company has its punch and counterpunch but Bridgestone considers its ball-fitting history its ace in the hole.

“After a ball fitting, we do surveys with customers,” says Mellow. “One of the questions we ask is, ‘Are you still playing the ball we recommended?’ If they say no, we want to know why.”

That feedback led to the e12 Contact updates.

“We learned that while people appreciated the accuracy and forgiveness of the e12 Contact off the tee, they wanted something that stops better around the green,” says Mellow. “We want to up the greenside control but do it in a way that doesn’t take away from the accuracy off the tee.”

Bridgestone e12 Contact: Final Thoughts, Price and Availability

The original e12 Contact was an understandable $29.99 per dozen when it launched two years ago. The new version will retail at $34.99. We know the world hasn’t stayed static since 2021 but we also know that pricing is always based on a mixture of cost, desired margin, the ability to get that margin and strategy relative to the competition.

Compare the Bridgestone e12 Contact to, say, a urethane-covered Maxfli Tour for basically the same money and you might scratch your head. But you could also scratch your head over golfers who choose a $50-a-dozen ball over a Maxfli. We golfers are an interesting bunch, aren’t we?

Bridgestone e12 Contact

The new Bridgestone e12 Contact will be available in classic white as well in Matte Green, Matte Red and Matte Yellow. For help in choosing the right ball for you, Bridgestone suggests trying its online Golf Ball Selection Guide.

Companies uniformly give a hard at-retail date when announcing a new product. For the e12 Contact, however, Bridgestone is going the soft route. The company says it’ll be available “in March.”

For more information, visit the Bridgestone website.

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