February 10, 2023
My annual visit with Elliott Mellow of Bridgestone Golf is usually the first interview I conduct at each PGA Show Demo & Fitting Day. As usual, this year’s version pleasant and informative. We just take up where we left off twelve months earlier.
We chatted briefly about the four Tour B urethane-covered ball models Bridgestone launched last year and how they expanded the company’s market share in the premium ball space. Mellow then discussed the improvements the company made to its less-expensive Surlyn-covered e12 ball, aimed at budget-conscious golfers who nonetheless seek performance results ($34.99 SRP).
This year’s changes include the use of what Mellow called “impact modifiers” to the e12 cover design, called Flexativ. These chemical compounds react differently based on impact speed. Combined with the balls’ Contact Force Dimple design, which increases the amount of ball-to-club contact at impact, the overall effect reduces spin and promotes straighter flights with the driver.
For off-speed higher-lofted shots with wedges, however, the Flexativ materials add a bit of friction that increases spin for better greenside results.
Mellow said the 2023 e12s “decouple the differences between Surlyn and urethane balls.”
He also showed me Bridgestone’s e9 golf ball, an entirely new addition to the company’s line-up ($29.99 SRP).
Mellow said, “We’re excited about it. The e9 is all about distance. The inner core goes through what we call a Vulcanization process. It varies the core material from softest to hardest as it goes out from the center to the mantle. Developing it was a 2-year process. We saw that the market was over-served towards the softer-feeling balls, and we went the other way.”
Using technical assistance from the pros on the long drive circuit, the design aims to produce more carry distance and less dispersion from right to left.
During the last World Long Drive Championship, the e9 produced “40% more balls in the fairway,” he said.
Mellow thinks the e9 will fill a market niche that other balls cannot. “We all know the guy in your foursome or scramble that just wants to bomb it out there. This ball’s for him.”
We next talked about the OTTO ball-fitting device described in last year’s Bridgestone piece.
This second edition of the computerized ball launch monitor bears almost no physical resemblance to the first one. Mellow said, “We designed the first generation to look like a fitting cart. There was some resistance among the club pros because of its size and the fact that the driving range bays where it’s used are not always close to the pro shop.”
The 2023 OTTO is about the size of a PS5 game console with a short pole attached to it. It is much lighter and easier to move about. The battery-operated machine still uses a 110v outlet for re-charging as the first version did.
Bridgestone used the first year’s OTTO experience to tweak the programming that applied actual hitting dat
a to produce ball selection recommendations. “Of course, we also had to add the new e9 ball to the programming,” Mellow said.
As club fitters will tell you, selecting the right golf ball is just as important as finding right mix of club heads, shafts, and grips. The OTTO system can help.
Blue Tees expands product lines for 2023
They hit a sweet spot, selling thousands of devices. That experience convinced the company’s owners to broaden its product lines.
In addition to rangefinders, this year’s collection includes a handheld GPS unit, a golf loudspeaker, a speaker combined with GPS display, and
a mobile app to integrate data with the new systems. Loading the Blue Tees app onto your mobile unit gives you another location to see the GPS information, while also providing access to music.
The Player Plus ($199 SRP) speaker also comes with a large-font GPS display for yardage information. The waterproof Player speaker without GPS retails for $129 SRP.
Golfers not requiring music during their rounds might prefer the small handheld Ringer GPS unit, selling for $199 SRP. It includes access to a 40,000-course yardage database. Battery power for the device should last three 18-hole rounds between charges.
Blue Tees products are available online and at Dick’s Sporting Goods, Golf Galaxy, PGA Superstores, and over 1,000 green grass locations.
First Tee program sign-ups available soon
First Tee – Delaware staff are finalizing dates and times for their 2023 programs and expect the full schedule to be available February 15.
Delaware’s chapter serves thousands of children throughout the state. In the last two years it made significant progress in expanding program access in southern Delaware and the nearby Eastern Shore.
For more information about the programs, including coaching, youth participation, donations, and other opportunities to serve, go to firstteedelaware.org.
Wormann makes ace
Congratulations to Warren Wormann of Milton for making his first-ever hole in one Feb. 6th at The Rookery. He used his 7-wood into a stiff headwind on the 125-yard par 3 17th hole.
The ball went into the hole on the fly, as witnessed by his playing partners Bruce Ronkette and Abe Ellison.