Bridgestone's Tour B range replaced the company's popular B330 range. We put all four models through their paces to find out what's changed and which model suits what players best.
TESTED BY: Jimmy Emanuel, Golf Australia Writer (GA Handicap 9.4).
COST: $69.99 (dozen).
MODEL PLAYED: Tour B X, XS, RX and RXS.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS: The new Tour B logo looks great compared to the old Bridgestone script and gives the balls a unique look. The side stamp is also nice and simple although a little short for those who use it to line up putts.
From my first strike on the chipping green each model impressed with its spin and varied, but soft, feel. The same can be said from the tee where all four balls produced good distance and strong flights with slight differences in feel.
HOW IT PERFORMED: Bridgestone is no longer suggesting models from its premium ball range based on swing speed as it did with the B330 range, instead using typical score and performance preferences.
Using both the old and new method of selecting a model, I knew the Tour B X was likely to be the best model for my game. But I put all four models through their paces on the putting and chipping greens, during practice rounds, hitting each ball with the same club, and during the course of a normal round. Rotating through each model after a few holes.
As I suspected, the X performed best for me in almost every facet of the game, with the XS slightly behind followed by the RX then RXS.
Putting offered few differences, as one would hope, with only a slightly noticeable change in feel from the softest RXS to the firmest X. A pleasant change from previous models where I often found the RXS to feel far too soft and the X too hard and clicky.
Around the greens the X and XS were the standout performers with XS the best overall. Both the ‘better player’ models really bit hard even on short chips and seemed to fizz off the clubface when pitching, whereas the RX and RXS comfortably stopped quickly, with a slight release at times, but without the same noticeable grab.
When hitting short shots, the other impressive feature of the firmer compression models was the flight, which stayed low in contrast to the two softer models which seemed to launch high and almost float through the air, and almost jumped off the face of wedges.
When starting to get into full wedges and short-irons all four again performed well with no discernible difference in distance. Again the RX and RXS flew higher and perhaps even stayed in the air a little longer, while the X and XS produced a flight I am more accustomed to.
Spin was definitely increased in both S models versus their X counterparts when hitting fuller shots, moving more with the wind and spinning back on more occasions.
Once into the mid- to long-irons the X and XS started to travel substantially further for me as was the case with the longest clubs in the bag. This could be put down to the two firmer models suitability to my swing speed and could very likely go the other way for someone with a little slower speed.
The driver is where the X and XS really stood out for me. While I was very impressed with the RX, which downwind seemed to really fly, the RXS seemed to fall out of the sky a little for me, particularly on slight mis-hits where I lost a significant amount of distance to playing partners I would normally be well passed.
The XS was an improvement on the previous B330-S, with the driver carrying noticeably further and offering the best feel of the bunch off the face. While the X is still a little firm, it is far improved on the old B330 which always felt too hard for me, but its performance was outstanding. The lowest spinning model of the lot with the driver suited my game perfectly and the results were even better than expected.
A penetrating flight was great in the wind and seemed almost unaffected both directionally and distance wise leading to multiple drives in places I have never seen before on the courses I played.
The two low handicap models were also more easily controlled off the clubface, comfortably being knocked down and moved both left and right, whereas the two softer versions took a lot of swing and clubface manipulation to get a different flight. Something that while not ideal for a player who likes to work the ball is perfect for those who want to see a relatively straight shot every time.
Durability was good with all four models with the colour of the balls never changing, however, multiple wedge shots did make scuff marks a little quicker than with some other balls, but that is to be expected with a soft cover and the benefits it offers.
As I expected going into my testing the Tour B X was the best performing ball for me. It is a little firmer in feel than some would like but I would have no problem using it as my regular choice due to its outstanding distance, ball-flight control and short game performance.
Next was the XS, which was very close to being the best of the lot thanks to its terrific greenside spin and control as well as improved driver performance on previous models. But losing a few metres to the X proved crucial for me, and the added spin also meant my misses right and left from the tee tended to be exaggerated.
The RX was my pick of the low-mid handicap options for similar reasons. The driver performance was extremely good and the high and straight flight throughout the bag was impressive.
The RXS rounded out the models for me but still performed exactly as Bridgestone suggests it would and is definitely worth a try. The combination of spin and feel, which was the best of the four and improves on the old version, was very good and is a perfect mix for slower swinging players.
Not many golfers will test all four models like I did, but if given the chance to compare even the X and XS or RX and RXS it is a very worthwhile exercise to find out which model is best suited to you. With all four bettering the extremely good B330 equivalents, which is no mean feat.
FACTS & FIGURES
BRIDGESTONE SAYS: As with all Bridgestone models, the company utilized data from more than 3 million in-person and online ball fittings in the research and development process to determine how specific characteristics would benefit different players.
TOUR B X and XS are designed for low handicap golfers looking for exceptional feel. The X is for those players looking for more accuracy off the tee while the XS provides extra length.
The RX and RXS are for mid-to-low handicappers, delivering explosive distance and optimized trajectory thanks to high repulsion construction and new 338 modified Dual Dimple design. The RX will help players hit more fairways while those looking for unmatched feel will gravitate toward the RXS.
Contact Bridgestone Golf Australia for more information about the range and your nearest stockists at www.bridgestonegolf.com.au