- Bridgestone has launched the e12 Contact golf ball.
- A Contact Force Dimple offers more speed, and more spin around the green.
- The e12 Contact replaces both the e12 Soft and e12 Speed.
- Retail price is $29.99 a dozen.
A golf ball with the grip of a tire. It’s not a perfect analogy but it might help us understand the role of contact science in the design of the new Bridgestone e12 Contact golf ball.
On the tire side of the Bridgestone business, contact science is where the rubber literally meets the road. On the golf ball side, contact science is where the cover of the golf ball meets the clubface—also in the literal sense.
Bridgestone e12 Contact and Contact Science
The Bridgestone e12 Contact golf ball—more specifically, its cover—is the result of nearly five years of work in contact science. Before I jump too far ahead, I should probably mention that, in really basic terms, contact science applies to understanding and optimizing what happens when two things, like a tire and a road or a golf ball and a golf club, meet.
We wrote about Round 1 of Bridgestone’s foray into contact science about this time last year with the REACTIV cover on the Tour B Series. At the time, Bridgestone described REACTIV as an “Impact Modifier.” That means its properties vary based on the speed of impact. Firm for speed off the driver but soft for more spin when struck with a wedge. The lingo seems to have taken root industry-wide as Callaway used the same phrase to describe the PARALOID Hybrid cover on the new ERC Soft while Bridgestone is doubling down on “Impact Modifier” to describe the dimples on its new e12 Contact ball.
Bridgestone e12 Contact Force Dimples
This particular manifestation of contact science is an appreciable structural change to the dimples on the new Bridgestone e12 Contact golf ball. It’s got a bit of “chainlink” look to it. Twitter user Bengolfstoomuch isn’t too far off in describing it as “pimple in the dimple.”
If all you see of the Contact Force Dimple is this short video, you might say it looks like a hubcap. That might be the influence from the automotive side of the business. Whatever description you like, it’s a hyper-aggressive (insomuch as dimples can be aggressive) version of “dimple in dimple” design.
Beyond performance, Bridgestone’s Contact Force Dimples provides the visible tech golfers love. In fact, one of Bridgestone’s taglines for the e12 Contact is “straight distance you can see.” Because the ball flies straight, which is something that is observable. And because of the unique dimples, which are also observable.
Double-meaning, folks. Bridgestone put some thought into this one.
In case you haven’t picked up on it yet, contact, specifically more of it, is kind of the thing with this story.
The unique geometry of the new dimples allows more of the golf ball’s surface to contact the clubhead.
Bridgestone puts the number at 38-percent more surface contact. I imagine that’s probably nothing you’ve considered before but Bridgestone says all of that extra contact has as two benefits.
Contact Force Dimples – More Speed, More Spin
The first is that the larger contact area allows more energy to pass through the cover and mantle and into the core. That gets you more speed. Who doesn’t love a good “ball go far” story?
Your second benefit is that the additional surface contact also creates more friction which means more spin at the kind of slower speeds most of us generate with our wedges.
Having said that, it’s important to note that the e12 Contact golf ball retains the low spin properties of the prior-gen e12 Soft. Bridgestone says driver spin is actually down about 100 rpm over the previous version.
In addition to a bit more distance, the lower spin properties of the ball work in conjunction with new dimples to reduce sidespin. Technically, the spin axis tilts less but let’s keep it simple: Bottom line, the ball curves less.
It’s why Bridgestone describes the e12 Contact as more forgiving. You can expect longer and straighter drives.
Again, straight distance you can see.
A 1-for-2 Special
With the e12 Contact, Bridgestone is replacing two balls with one.
Because of the contact-force dimple design, Bridgestone says the e12 Contact has the speed properties of the prior-gen e12 Speed but the softer feel and low spin properties off the driver and irons of the e12 Soft.
There’s no need for two models when the e12 Contact offers the best of both.
Compression should be the same as the previous e12 Soft (69 on our gauges).
The Requisite Player Testing
With the standard disclaimers that the home team always wins and newer is invariably better …
In Bridgestone’s player testing, the e12 Contact was shown to be faster and longer than its previous-generation e12 balls. The charts shown during Bridgestone’s presentation also suggest the e12 Contact compares favorably to the Titleist Tour Soft.
In addition to being longer off the driver and irons relative to the previous version, the e12 Contact can be expected to produce about 600 rpm more spin off the wedges.
While that’s not to suggest urethane-level performance, it brings the more affordable Bridgestone e12 Contact’s spin performance closer to balls in the $35-$40 premium ionomer category.
Pricing and Availability
The Bridgestone e12 Contact is available in white (and maybe yellow). Retail price is $29.99. Availability begins 2/26/2021.
For more information, visit BridgestoneGolf.com.