With more than 250,000 golfers having taken its Ball Fitting Challenge over the last six years, Bridgestone Golf is the No.1 brand in custom-fitting golf balls. When it comes to ball fitting, well over half of club players have heard about custom-fit sessions, but have yet to try them.
Yet these fittings have discovered that the vast majority of golfers are playing the wrong ball for their personal game enhancement or enjoyment. As many as three out of four golfers involved in these live custom-fitting sessions have a confirmed swing speed of less than 105mph – but more than half of them had selected a ball that was designed expressly for the faster swing speeds of the elite Tour players.
Bridgestone quickly reached the conclusion that many golfers play with a ball more because of the brand recognition or the price they paid, rather than it being an informed choice about the ball best suited to their game.
To determine which ball will match their swing speed and playing characteristics, Bridgestone offers an increasing number of live custom-fit sessions, conducted by a dedicated technician, which are just like the Tour players’ experience.
One technician in the UK is Joe Di Stefano, who told us: “Many high handicappers think that the golf ball can’t make any difference to their distance and that it’s all about the driver they play. But, changing the cheapest part of their equipment can really make a big difference. In nine out of 10 cases, we improve ball speed and reduce back and side spin, giving them more distance.
“A lot of golfers also think that a harder ball will go further, when the opposite is true. This thinking dates back to the days of the solid core distance balls and balata balls with centres made of elastic bands. I often ask them: ‘would you rather hit a snooker ball or a tennis ball with your driver?’ It’s obvious that the tennis ball will be more responsive, and the same is true of a softer golf ball.
“Today, a modern golf ball designed for the majority of players is made entirely from solid rubber and has a low compression, which means it will give good distance, even for the player with the slowest of swing speeds.”
At these fittings, golfers can drive any ball they choose and have the shots measured in terms of velocity, launch angle, back and side spin rate, dispersal and total distance.
Having taken these factors into account, the Bridgestone technician then recommends a ball that best fits their swing speed and game. The results from a similar number of drives with the new ball are then compared with those with the original ball based on empirical scientific data. The correct diagnosis can add more than 10 yards to the golfer’s driving distance and also deliver far more accurate shots on a consistent basis.
Your golf ball habits
You carry nine golf balls in your bag - but use just one until you lose it!
42% of golfers claim to use just one ball throughout a round – and almost one in four see it as a great achievement!
83% of golfers with handicaps between 21-28 say they only use one or two golf balls per round.
At least one in three golfers confess that they usually play the same ball until they lose it, while pros can change their ball up to five times in a round to improve their scoring.
On the whole, UK golfers are pretty optimistic when it comes to the number of balls they expect to play each round, averaging 1.73 balls.
Yet, despite this surprisingly bright outlook, these same golfers carry an average of nine balls in their bag each round! They’re also inclined to pick up balls that they find out on the course, but carry on playing with their current ball.
Almost half of all club golfers (47%) would consider changing their ball after nine holes, though high handicap players are least likely to consider changing (39%).
Of those players unwilling to change the ball after nine, more than half felt it wouldn’t help improve their game, almost one in six (16%) felt it too expensive and the remaining third believed the ball was unlikely to be marked or scuffed after nine holes.