I Tested A ‘Long Drive’ Golf Ball… Here’s What Happened
In this Bridgestone e9 Long Drive golf ball review Neil Tappin discovers whether the performance lives up to the promise of extra distance
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A solid all round performer that offers good distance in the long game but also a responsive feel and good spin control in the short game.
We were expecting a bigger distance gain
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Over the years, we have seen plenty of golf balls released to the market with the promise of extra distance. Current models like the Srixon Distance and the Titleist Velocity certainly fall into that category. There is however, a new contender from Bridgestone called the e9 Long Drive that comes with the promise of ‘extreme distance’.
During the design process, Bridgetsone worked with the World Long Drive Association to deliver a ball for ‘maximum power on every shot’. The key technology comes in the shape of a seamless 330-dimple cover for better aerodynamics and a ‘gradational core’ that’s harder on the outside and progressively softer towards the centre. This feature should provide fast ball speeds and a consistent flight.
We wanted to see whether the Bridgestone e9 is one of the best distance golf balls in 2023 so I tested it, both on the golf course and on a launch monitor. For an extra frame of reference I also hit the Titleist Velocity to compare the performance.
Let’s start with the performance off the tee. There is no doubt Bridgestone’s e9 performs well in this department. For a ball that comes in at around $20 less than the premium, tour-played models, the distance (and consistency of distance) was genuinely impressive. However, it was striking to me how similar the performance off the tee was between the e9 and the Titleist Velocity. The average ball speeds, backspin and total carry yardages were all very close. Given the long drive involvement and promise of extreme distance, I was perhaps hoping for a little more from the Bridgestone e9.
That said, I was pleased to see how this golf ball performed elsewhere. During both my mid-iron testing and when I hit a series of half pitch shots, the e9 clearly offered good spin control. From 50-yards, the e9 spun at 5185 rpm which was a fraction more than the Velocity (at 5048 rpm). In truth, given the distance that both golf balls offer, there is still some short game spin control to be had.
The last area of performance to talk about is the feel. Through contact, it was a little softer than I was expecting. Whilst it didn’t feel as soft as models like the Wilson Triad, I was impressed by the feel on offer. This was something I really noticed when I tested it on the golf course in Florida. If you regularly play a firm, fast course but are still in search of good distance in the long game, this model is well worth testing for yourself.
The truth is, the Bridgestone e9 is a very good all-round golf ball. In my testing, the distance off the tee was good, albeit without the transformative gain we were hoping for. Where it did exceed our expectations was in its playability on and around the greens. Offering good spin control and a responsive feel, this is an impressive option at the $30-per-dozen price-point.
In his current role, Neil is responsible for testing drivers and golf balls. Having been a part of the Golf Monthly team for over 15 years and playing off a handicap of 3, he has the experience to compare performance between models, brands and generations. For 2022 he thinks the main trend in drivers is: "In a word, consistency. Whilst all the brands are talking about ball speed (and the new drivers are certainly long), my biggest finding has been how much more consistent the ball flights are. Mishits don't seem to be causing the same level of drop-off or increase in the spin numbers. This means that more shots seem to be flying the way you want them to!" As far as golf balls are concerned the biggest development is in the, "three piece, non-Tour, urethane-covered section. For regular golfers, these models offer superb performance at both ends of the bag without denting your wallet quite as much as the premium Tour-played options."
Originally working with the best coaches in the UK to produce instruction content, he is now the brand's Digital Editor and covers everything from Tour player interviews to gear reviews. In his time at Golf Monthly, he has covered equipment launches that date back well over a decade. He clearly remembers the launch of the Callaway and Nike square drivers as well as the white TaylorMade driver families, such as the RocketBallz! If you take a look at the Golf Monthly YouTube channel, you'll see his equipment videos dating back over a decade! He has also conducted 'What's In The Bag' interviews with many of the game's best players like Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and Jon Rahm. Over the years, Neil has tested a vast array of products in each category and at drastically different price-points.
Neil is currently playing: Driver: TaylorMade Stealth Plus Fairway Wood: Titleist TSR2 Hybrid: Titleist TS3 Irons (4-9): Mizuno JPX 919 Forged Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM7 46˚, 50˚, 54˚, 60˚ Putter: Odyssey Triple Track Ten Ball: Titleist Pro V1X
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