Bridgestone Golf recently released its 2020 Tour B lineup, and there is a TON of buzz. Their main claim is that they have reinvented the tour ball, which in this day and age, is a tough task.
I'll share some data from my launch monitor testing in this article when I put the Bridgestone lineup up against the current tour-level balls that I play. As always, I encourage all of you to do your own testing to find out the answers for your own game.
Tour Ball Reinvented
Bridgestone is bringing out the big guns with their marketing campaign for the new Tour B ball. Their official tagline is that they have reinvented the tour ball. Tiger Woods was heavily involved in the design, which is another great marketing tool. A lot of golfers get excited when they hear things like this. When I listen to it, I think, "really? like, how specifically?"
At the core of their technology is something called REACTIV, which they define as the following:
REACTIV is a smart Urethane that acts as an 'impact modifier' to deliver a shock-absorbing cover on slow impact shots for more spin and control (wedge) – and high resilience on high impact shots for more power and distance (drive). The cover reacts differently depending on the force of the impact. Until now, you had to choose more distance or more spin. With REACTIV, you can now get more distance and more spin out of the same golf ball.
In theory, this sounds very promising. The only problem is that every other tour-level ball is doing the same thing. I've tested a lot of golf balls at this point, and all of the better ones do a fantastic job of giving low spin and more distance with your driver while still allowing you to spin it enough with your wedges to control distance and trajectory. So my question is, what has Bridgestone done that is different from a Titleist Pro V1 or a TaylorMade TP5? You can make a solid case that when Titleist first invented the Pro V1, they truly had revolutionary technology that changed the golf ball forever. However, these days, there are plenty of brands that have access to manufacturing facilities that can produce premium golf balls that do everything you need them to do.
Bridgestone is offering four choices with their Tour B lineup, which can get a little confusing, but here is what they are recommending:
- Tour B RX: For swing speeds under 105 MPH
- Tour B RXS: For swing speeds under 105 MPH, with extra spin around the greens
- Tour B X: For swing speeds over 105 MPH
- Tour B XS: For swing speeds over 105 MPH, with extra spin around the greens
My main goal with my testing of the new 2020 Bridgestone Tour B balls was to see how they performed with my wedges and driver. These are the two clubs where you get the best sense of how they can work for you on the course. My driver speed is right around 105 MPH, so technically, I'm at the cutoff point between the X or RX models.
On the whole, I'm looking for anything out of the ordinary. How are the Bridgestone balls performing with wedges on spin? Are any of the balls offering more distance with my driver, which they claim to do?
My first test was with my lob wedge on an intermediate distance. All of the shots were landing around 65-70 yards. Here is a summary of the launch conditions I saw:
On the whole, I didn't see too big of a variation between the Snell and Titleist models that I currently play. The only significant outlier was the Tour B RX, which spun about 1000 rpm less. Based on this, I'd remove that ball from my "potential gamer" list.
One thing I should also note is that the RX and RXS balls feel VERY soft with the wedges. It felt like I was back playing a Titleist DT ball from the 90s!
My next test was a full swing with my Sand Wedge, which usually is about a 100-yard shot for me:
With this club, I started to see even more significant differences with the RX models. Both the Tour B RX and Tour B RXS significantly lagged behind in spin rates. I'm starting to narrow in even more, and my choice will be between the Bridgestone Tour B X or Tour B XS.
I've hit thousands of drives on my launch monitor with various golf balls. With premium, multilayer balls, I have not noticed significant differences between brands. A good drive for me usually spins somewhere around 2000 - 2400 RPMs, launches about 14 degrees, and my ball speed is somewhere between 150 - 155 mph. If I see something outside of those numbers, particularly with spin rates, I know that golf ball is not right for me.
Here is a summary of what I found with each Bridgestone Tour B versus my control balls:
- Tour B X: Almost identical to the Snell MTB-X and Titleist Pro V1 on ball speed, launch angle, spin rate, and total distance
- Tour B XS: Similar numbers to the Tour B X, but a few drives registered above 3000 RPM, which is too high for me
- Tour B RX: Almost identical to the Tour B X and Snell/Titleist models
- Tour B RXS: This was the only ball where I noticed a drop in ball speed and distance numbers (about 10-15 yards less)
Overall, I did not see any performance from any of the Bridgestone balls that exceeded the Titleist or Snell ball. So I cannot validate their claim that any of their models add ball speed or distance with the driver. But there were a couple of differences between the Bridgestone models that were noticeable - the Tour B XS and Tour B RXS lagged behind in overall performance for my swing.
I want to be totally transparent about the fact that one golfer's results can't determine how the rest of the market will perform. But at this point, I have tested a lot of premium golf balls, and my determination is that they are all pretty excellent. There are some differences in performance if you want to nitpick, but for the most part, they deliver on the promise of excellent launch conditions for distance with your driver, and plenty of spin and control with your wedges.
Based on the testing, I would say the ball I would play with from the Bridgestone Tour B lineup is the Tour B X. It gave me a similar performance on my wedges and driver that I see with the Titleist Pro V1 and Snell MTB-X. The RX models gave me some issues with my wedges, and the RXS lagged behind on driver performance.
Based on my testing, I would say there are potentially two key takeaways:
- If you want to get the best ball for your game, do some testing. And don't just look at how the ball flies on the golf course, that's not enough, in my opinion. You can see there were some differences in performance between all four Bridgestone balls, and seeing the launch monitor numbers helped give me better information
- Bridgestone has made excellent tour-level golf balls, but I'm not sure they have done anything above and beyond their competition based on what I saw. I'd encourage you to test for yourself, though.
You can purchase any of the 2020 Bridgestone Tour B balls here for $44.99.