Written By: Tony Covey

Earlier this week, Bridgestone Golf’s J715 460 Driver became a reality in the USA. As you may recall, we covered most of the 2015 lineup when details emerged on Bridgestone Golf’s Japanese website several months ago.

Before we get to the meat of why you might want to give the J715 a look, I’ll spare you any suspense and confirm that the J715 will be included in MyGolfSpy’s 2015 Most Wanted Driver test. Testing, by the way, begins next Monday (1/12/2015).

As much as we like to praise Bridgestone for its controlled release cycles (it’s been 4 years since the J40), like anyone else, the company still relies on some clever marketing to describe its technologies.

Bridgestone J15 Driver-5

In this case, Bridgestone says there are 4 Key Technologies, and what I find most interesting about at least 3 of them is they’re designed to promote additional distance within the confines of the USGA’s COR limitations.

I know…some of you believe a singular restriction based on a static measurement of what in the real world is a dynamic force (the USGA’s pendulum test) amounts to a hard cap on distance. It doesn’t. In reality, the USGA’s measurement is at best a limitation on center or near center face ball speed. It gives no consideration to aerodynamics, nor does it account for evolutions in driver designs that create higher launch with less spin (more distance at the same speed).

So at least keep that in mind as we consider whether or not Bridgestone’s latest innovations can actually boost performance compared to the previous model.

F.A.S.T. Crown

Bridgestone J15 Driver-2

Bridgestone describes a crown design that is thinner near the face and progressively thickens as you move towards the rear. The idea is that the crown itself flexes at impact, which Bridgestone says produces higher launch and “increased repulsion”.

It’s reasonable to assume that Bridgestone chose that particular phrase because the USGA frowns upon any marketing that directly suggest a spring-like or rebound effect. Language can be fun…right?

Power Milled Face

Bridgestone J15 Driver-1-2

The most visually intriguing of Bridgestone’s new technologies is the Power Milled Face. Aesthetically is resembles the micro grooves found on some of today’s wedges, and the idea is that the milling helps the ball adhere to the driver face, which ultimately leads to better compression and reduced spin (Bridgestone’s robot tests say 200-300RPM compared to non-power milled faces).

Basically, we’re talking about reducing spin without reducing loft. For the overwhelming majority of golfers, this a good thing.

Don’t Grooves add Spin?

Some of the more analytical among you many find yourselves wondering why milling would reduce spin on a driver when we all know it adds spin in wedges.

Good question (that you may or may not have actually asked). It’s probably not worth digging into the ab solute details from a physics perspective, but it has to do with loft and the way the ball responds to it.

The short of it is that at lower lofts, face textures reduce spin. As loft increases the impact of texture slowly decreases and then, at a certain point, grooves, texture, etc. begin to add rather than reduce spin.

Really short version; it’s related to loft, and I promise you we’ll be seeing more of this face texture stuff from other companies in the very near future.

Back to those Key Technologies…

Spin Flight Control Technology

Bridgestone J15 Driver-1

Bridgestone’s take on moveable weight technology. Basically, the J715 460 is CG adjustable. The default system consists of 2 weights (10 grams and 4 grams) that can be swapped between a front/center and rear/heel positions.

Bridgestone isn’t giving any specific number, but basic math tells us that we’re dealing with 6 grams of actual weight movement. We can’t yet give you exact numbers, but we do know that with the heavier weight in the front, CG will lower and more forward. This is your higher ball speed, low launch, low spin setting.

Moving the weight to the rear will increase launch and spin, while raising MOI. It’s your forgiveness and consistency setting. Based on the location of the weight port, it’s possible it could also introduce a very slight draw bias as well.

Variable Adjust System

Bridgestone J15 Driver-8

Everyone, let’s welcome Bridgestone to the adjustable hosel club. The J715 is Bridgestone’s first adjustable hosel driver. Like TaylorMade, Cobra, and a few others, Bridgestone’s implementation is a single cog design that allows for a 1° change in face angle (either open or closed). Settings also allow for the club to be set either upright or flat.

Final Thoughts

Given how well the J40 performed for us, we’re obviously excited to see how the J715 will perform in our 2015 Most Wanted Driver Test. We know some of you are always on the lookout for high-performance alternatives to the bigger manufacturers.

We’re as curious as you are to find out if the J715 is just that.

Specs, Pricing, and Availability

Bridgestone J15 Driver-7

The J715 Driver is available in lofts of 8.5°, 9.5°, 10.5°, and 12°. The most popular lofts (9.5° and 10.5°) will be available in left-handed as well (Finally! Am I right, lefties?).

*Left-handed models won’t be available until April 1.

The stock shaft is the Mitsubishi Fubuki ZT. The stock grip is a custom yellow Golf Pride Tour Velvet.

The Bridgestone J715 Driver will be available at retail starting February 1st, 2015. Street price is $399.

What, No Pro Model?

Bridgestone J15 Driver-9

For now, Bridgestone is only releasing one (the 460cc model) J15 Driver. For those who really want something in a smaller footprint, it very well could be worth waiting a few months to see if an alternative emerges.