Custom Fitting is More Than Just Clubs
The well-bred, and well-read, golfer has known for years about the benefits of custom cub fitting. But getting fitted for a golf ball? Well, that’s quite anther story all together.
Most of us, even better players, simply stride up to the pro shop counter, lay down a few buck for a sleeve of our favorite brand and then head to the first tee to unleash the first drive with a club that we just had fitted for us the previous day. Hold on a minute. The golf ball is the only piece of equipment golfers use on every stroke. So doesn’t it make sense to pay attention to how different balls may benefit your swing more than others?
Multi-layer golf ball technology and the increased use of launch monitors helped bring on golf’s new catch phrase, “high launch, low spin.” They have also allowed players of all skill levels to better “dial in” the ball/club equation that best fits their game.
“I’m looking for a ball that goes 150 yards when I put a 150-yard swing on it. That’s where you save shots,” said PGA Tour player Matt Kuchar, who plays the Bridgestone Tour B330.
To that end, launch monitors have become a staple of life on the PGA Tour and in many retail and green- grass shops. A launch monitor measures such variables as clubhead speed and ball speed to help players “dial in” their ball specifications just as they use them to dial in their club specs.
Until recently, these were uncharted waters, at least at the amateur level. Now, with Bridgestone Golf’s Ball-Fitting program, “The Bridgestone Challenge,” everyday golfers are receiving the same type of analysis PGA Tour pros get when working with equipment companies to decide on which ball is best for their games.
The Bridgestone Challenge is a program in which 16 teams of ball-fitting experts travel the country and offer complimentary fitting services at golf clubs, daily fee courses and golf specialty stores on a daily basis. Since the spring of 2007, Bridgestone has fitted thousands of golfers throughout the U.S. The results, quite simply, have been astonishing, says the company.
Through a full swing analysis that takes into account important measurables, such as ball speed, swing speed, sidespin, backspin, carry distance and total distance, Bridgestone says it has been able to improve tee shot distance for nearly seven out of ten golfers tested, with an average distance gain of 13 yards.
Bridgestone Golf has incorporated short-iron testing into its Ball-Fitting System as a way to illustrate to consumers that they can pick up added distance off the tee without sacrificing spin performance and feel on approach shots.
“In less than two years of doing these ball fittings we’ve learned a ton about what golfers are looking for in golf ball performance,” said Dan Murphy, senior director of marketing-Bridgestone Golf, Inc. “Furthermore, we feel that we’ve changed golfers’ minds about why they should purchase a certain type of golf ball, encouraging decisions based on logic and performance rather than what is just most popular. In fact we’ve documented time and again that the most popular ball in the industry is actually a pretty poor fit for the majority of players.”
Several other top golf ball manufacturers are dedicating more energy to helping players find the right golf ball for their particular swing and playing needs. According to George Sine, vice president of marketing for Titleist’s parent Acushnet Company, golf ball fitting should be conducted from green to tee, rather than solely on a launch monitor with a driver. After researching more than 5,000 golfers on Titleist.com, Sine said more than 70 percent of those surveyed identified “short game performance” as the primary area that they believed would help them achieve lower scores.
“As a result, most golfers would be best fit by choosing a golf ball primarily based on its performance into and around the green, rather than based on driver distance,” Sine said.
Dean Snell, senior director of research and development at TaylorMade-adidas Golf, suggests going to the course with a 52- and 56-degree wedge and a bucket of multi-layer balls, two-piece balls and premium urethane balls.
“Go on the course, to 100 yards or so in,” Snell said, “and hit chip shots, wedge shots, sand shots. Hit different balls with different shots to see which ball feels better, which comes off the face lower, which spins more and which putts better. When you find the ball you like, then go back and hit the driver.”
Bridgestone Golf also believes in a tee-to-green fitting approach for golf balls, so they provide sample two-ball sleeves of golf balls that are recommended for consumers to try in a real life on-course testing. To those in the industry who say it is more important to fit using the short game rather than a driver, Bridgestone Golf officials respond, “Would a player rather be hitting a five-iron from the rough or a seven-iron from the fairway?”
Readers who are interested in learning more about ball fitting and the Bridgestone Golf Challenge can visit www.bridgestonegolf.com for information on the process, the importance of ball-fitting, and a calendar that will let them know when the Bridgestone Golf Challenge will be in their area this summer.