Return of the Bridgestone Driver

The J715 sees the company’s long-awaited reentry into the club market

Somewhere in the back of my garage are some Bridgestone irons and a driver with which I played some of the better golf of my life. That was 20 years and, I’m ashamed to say, nearly 20 strokes per round, ago.

Last week’s news that Bridgestone would be returning to the driver market after four silent years bought back memories of that old set which certainly helped me bridge the gap a little between myself and the better pros.

Bridgestone Golf is best known for its golf balls, of course. It is Japan’s leading golf ball manufacturer and is doing a good, if not remarkable, job of earning market share in the US, where it is nearing its first decade of selling golf balls branded with the company’s own name (its Precept range was introduced in the US in 1990). 

Bridgestone clubs share little of the buzz its golf balls enjoy, but that is most definitely a result of their infrequent releases rather than a lack of quality.

While other companies have been introducing two, three, four and, in one case, eight drivers, each year, Bridgestone has not debuted a driver since 2011, when the J40 received consistently positive reviews. That club came in 430cc and 445cc models, which still compose the company’s driver offerings and grace its web site.

That will change following the upcoming PGA Merchandise Show, however, where Bridgestone will lift the veil on the J715, a 460cc club, which, Bridgestone says, possesses “four key technologies”– one for each year the company has been absent from the driver Oscars. 

F.A.S.T Crown

The Flex Action Speed Technology (F.A.S.T.) crown is extremely thin near the clubface and progressively thickens towards the club head rear to enable the crown to slightly flex at impact creating higher launch and increased repulsion. 

Power-Milled Face

Patented face-milling pattern works to reduce the common ball-slippage-at-impact problem that drivers today encounter. Maintaining the ball’s position of impact results in reduced spin (200-300 RPMs based on robot testing) for straighter and longer drives.

Spin Flight Control Technology

Movable weights on multiple axes in the heel and center of the clubhead allow users to customize the center of gravity for desired spin and trajectory. 

Variable Adjust System

The J715 is completely Face and Lie angle adjustable, offering face angle adjustments of up to 1° (closed and opened) and lie angle settings of standard, 1° upright and 2° upright. 

“We are different from most OEMs who release drivers on a set schedule or to hit a sales goal,” says Bridgestone’s Golf Club and Accessories Marketing Manager, Josh Kinchen. “We only release equipment when we have something truly innovative. And we believe the face-milling pattern lowers driver spin significantly, increases what we call ‘quality compression time,’ and offers something genuinely innovative.”
The J715 will be available in 8.5, 9.5, 10.5 and 12-degrees of loft and be the first Bridgestone driver in the US available in both left- and right-hand versions (left hand available starting April 1 and in 9.5 and 10.5-degree lofts only). The stock shaft will be the Mitsubishi Fubuki ZT, the grips yellow Golf Pride Tour Velvet.

The J715 will be available from February 1, and have an MSRP of $399.

No worries if you can’t get to a pro shop, range, or retail store to hit the new club as Bridgestone Golf Test Drive, which allows consumers to hit clubs before buying them, will be re-launching on February 17. Simply log on to testdrive.bridgestonegolf.com, register to test available clubs and Bridgestone will ship demo sets directly to your home.

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