comscore The right fit can add distance | Honolulu Star-Advertiser

The right fit can add distance

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Bridgestone Golf is taking its national sales meeting from Firestone Country Club to Hawaii for the first time next month, giving tourism a bump. The company is also bringing its golf ball technicians, which could give Hawaii golfers something nearer and dearer to their hearts – a few extra yards.


Hawaii Schedule
July 18
Pearl Country Club (487-3802), 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Leilehua (655-4653), 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

July 20
Kapolei (674-2227), 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Barbers Point (682-1911), 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

July 21
Waikele (676-9000), 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Hawaii Prince (952-4791), 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

July 22
Ala Wai (738-4653), 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Kaneohe Klipper (254-1745), 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Military-Pass/ID required
July 23
Navy-Marine (471-0142), 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Turtle Bay (293-8574), 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

July 24
Olomana Golf Links (259-7926), 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
Newtown Driving Range (487-1553), 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

Golfers required to make appointment at the site

Online fitting:

The Bridgestone Challenge has been active on the mainland for a few years. It is the golf company’s attempt to fit a ball – ideally one of the nine made by Bridgestone – to each person’s unique swing. The goal is to maximize performance, much like custom club-fitting.

A golfer gets a free ball-fitting, which takes 10 to 15 minutes. The "Science Eye" computer system analyzes swings hit with a driver, using the golfer’s preferred ball. Based on flight characteristics – ball speed, launch angle, back- and side-spin rates – the technician can confirm if a golfer is using the optimum golf ball, or suggest another ball.

If it is a Bridgestone ball – and it often is – the golfer gets a free sleeve of two balls. After hitting the different balls with driver and a few irons, the golfer is also given a statistical comparison of the way the different balls react.

Bridgestone and Del-Marc Fujita, one of the state’s better amateurs and owner of the Hawaii distributorship, brought the ball-fitting here for the first time last year. There was a fitting a day for 14 days and more than 600 people showed up.

"Some days were just crazy. We did like 60-something people, just going nonstop," Fujita recalled. "The guys (technicians) were knocked out."

This year, there will be 12 ball-fittings over the six days the national meeting is at Turtle Bay Resort. The technicians are familiar with the quirks of pretty much every golf ball and by the end of the fitting give the golfer their somewhat slanted view of what ball is best for their swing. Taking that into account, golfers still get a good idea of what they should be looking for.

"There have been situations where they tell the golfer that the golf ball they are using is good," Fujita said. "What they always do at the end is tell them an area where they could improve, and which ball of Bridgestone’s can accomplish that. … If your spin rate is too high or your launch is too high then this ball will help you with that."

He says the fastest way to gain 10 or 20 yards is to change balls, not clubs. The company came up with the idea of the Challenge when it found the market was driven by what golfers see on TV, which if almost always not the best ball for them. The ball needs to match swing speed. If it doesn’t, Fujita said, "you are robbing yourself of distance."

The pros swing at about 110 to 120 mph and hit the sweet spot almost every time. Fujita’s swing is closer to 100 mph and he hits the sweet spot more than most, but not nearly as often as the pros. The ball compression needs to be different. It needs to be drastically different for some. Most golfers will never get their swing speed into triple figures.

His technicians can figure the "smash factor," which translates swing speed and where the club hits the ball into a golf ball speed. That tells them what ball is best.

The Challenge led the company to create the popular B330-RX a few years ago. It is marketed as the "first tour performance series designed for amateur swing speeds." Its success is probably why the sales reps are in Hawaii this year and not Akron, Ohio.

"It really changed the dynamics of the golf ball for the good player," Fujita said. "It gives better players many more options. From the company’s standpoint, the greatest success of ball fitting is that it allowed us to develop a great product."


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