What happens when you take 12 years of golf ball fitting data from one of the leading golf ball manufacturers while adding innovation and design to allow golfers to take distance and accuracy to an entirely different level. The answer… The Bridgestone Golf e12 series of golf balls.
The Covington, Georgia based manufacturer introduced the golfing world to their latest golf ball creations in the non-Tour (distance golf ball) category back in January at the 2019 PGA Merchandise Show. Make no mistake about it though, these are NOT your typical distance golf ball.
In the e12 there are two different golf balls dedicated to golfers of different swing speeds. Firstly, there is the e12 SOFT for those golfers with a slightly slower swing speed (less than 105 mph) or for those that prefer a softer feeling golf ball. Meanwhile, for the faster swingers out there (>105 mph) who struggle with sidespin, the e12 SPEED is a golf ball that’s designed to go straighter and consequently further. Before continuing, please allow me to go a little bit further in describing their specifications.
The Pre-Shot Routine
e12 SOFT – The e12 SOFT is a golf ball that’s best described as being a Distance Performance golf ball. Why? Well, that’s because this golf ball is a 3-piece design. The cover is Surlyn which is not only durable but also reduces sidespin. Not to mention that the e12 SOFT also offers a softer feel. Bridgestone Golf R&D developed a new innovation in golf ball technology. Introducing, their new proprietary “Active Acceleration Mantle”. This new layer is constructed from a “high-performance polymer” which is said to provide “increased thrust and higher initial velocity at impact while allowing Bridgestone to soften the core for greater forgiveness and enhanced feel”. Also of note is the addition of Bridgestone’s “Delta Wing Dimple Pattern” which aids in creating less drag and improved aerodynamics in the cover. The e12 SOFT also comes in a few different color variations. Matte Green, Matte Yellow, and Matte Red are offered for those golfers who prefer help in the optics department (or just want some more color in their lives) and for the more traditional types the e12 SOFT also comes in White.
e12 SPEED – The e12 SPEED is also a Distance Performance golf ball as it also features a 3-piece construction. Also featuring the same durable Surlyn cover and key technological points like the Delta Wing Dimple Pattern and the Active Acceleration Mantle layer for optimized aerodynamics and less drag the e12 SPEED is more firm than its SOFT brethren. The e12 SPEED is only available in White.
I’m going to warn all of my readers right now. This might get a little lengthy as I’m going to be talking about certain characteristics of these golf balls. For the purposes of the testing and consequent review, I looked at a few key areas of concern to golfers like you and I. The categories that I looked at primarily were Feel, Durability, Distance (Driver and Irons) and Spin (Greenside and Approach).
For the most part, the majority of testing occurred in Florida during a trip there in late March. While I was dealing with punched greens it’s also important to point out that the greens were extremely firm at one course while other rounds saw greens that were somewhat receptive. When they were put into play and practice upon golf season arriving here the greens were very soft and extremely receptive. So with all of the background information laid down let’s get down to business.
Feel (I always feel that it’s important to point out that feel is intimate and subjective to the individual)
e12 SOFT – Without wasting any time I just wanted to point out very quickly that I really enjoyed the feel of this golf ball. It was something that I first observed at Demo Day during the 2019 PGA Show. At the time, I used everything from Driver to Wedge that day and I thought that the feel was addictive. Little did I realize how good the feel was until I tried it for the first time putting after arriving home from the show. Using a Lateral Line Putters L2 MAXX MOI on the Big Moss Augusta putting green I soon found out how good this golf ball would feel. It’s soft without feeling “mushy” like other soft models from Bridgestone’s competitors. My putter has a somewhat wonky, firm feel and sound and the e12 SOFT off of this putter felt muted.
When it came to the feel of this golf ball off of the other clubs (including wedges) it was more of the same. I play forged irons (New Level 1031) and the combination of the forged heads and e12 SOFT was like listening to a symphony. Total harmony and everything is in tune. When it came to the driver you can feel the golf ball compress and that’s always a great feeling to have. Compression equates to distance. The e12 is a wonderful feeling golf ball… Tee to green.
e12 SPEED – Where the e12 SOFT won me over from a feel standpoint my initial feeling about the “feels” of the e12 SPEED wasn’t very complimentary. Adjectives like “harsh”, “hard” and “clicky” all came to mind very quickly. To be blunt, I hated it. Was it because of the direct comparison to it’s SOFT sibling? Maybe! But testing is always a process.
As the venue switched from my living room to Florida and consequently spring in Canada my impressions of this golf ball changed like the season. I warmed up to the golf ball enjoying it on the course. While it is more firm than the SOFT it isn’t as hard as my initial impressions were. It isn’t the firmest golf ball I’ve used and that’s a good thing. It felt pretty darn good off of all clubs whether I was putting, chipping, pitching or executing full swings. I was very impressed by how the SPEED jumped off of the face of my driver (more to come on that shortly). The e12 SPEED is more firm but if you have a higher swing speed as recommended it becomes less of a factor.
Seeing that these golf balls have the same cover I don’t feel it necessary to break them down individually.
With that said the Surlyn cover is durable and rugged as you might expect. In fact, I have abused the same golf balls since the testing begun right here in my living room. I’ve put these golf balls through a lot of golf holes, short game practice and I have but one conclusion. They might be able to survive a nuclear holocaust. The balls are blemish-free with no signs of wear whatsoever. Unfortunately, one of my Matte Red e12 SOFT couldn’t survive landing in the middle of the fairway where it was lost due to being plugged about a week ago. An offering for the “Golf Gods” if you will. There is nothing negative that I can elaborate on regarding this subject.
As the season moves along I wonder one thing. How will the matte finish of the e12 SOFT hold up? Time will only tell.
***In the interest of full disclosure while at the PGA Show I discovered that my clubhead speed is well below where it was since the Stroke I had in September. I was an average of 107 mph (topping out at 114 mph) as of January it was 94 mph. Being unable to fire through my left side has factored into the decreased speed. That said, Smash Factor is an important variable in hitting the ball long as well.
e12 SOFT – When it came to testing I thought that the e12 SOFT yielded very good results as far as driver distance goes. I also feel a need to point out that I think that the e12 SOFT also has pretty lower driver spin. Yes, the cover is designed to reduce sidespin but the backspin numbers were very good as well. In using the FlightScope mevo I determined that my driver spin was an average of 2,800 RPM. There was never any sign of ballooning with this golf ball and I would suggest that it was a shade longer than my gamer.
e12 SPEED – I have no explanation for the distance results that I saw with the e12 SPEED. Sure the backspin numbers were less than the SOFT (2,500 RPM) but the e12 SPEED was long. Each drive that I struck when I teed up the e12 SPEED was the kind of drive that you admire. The length of this golf ball surprised me. Maybe it shouldn’t have… But it did. The e12 SPEED is one of the longest golf balls that I’ve put into play and was the longest during testing in Florida and up north.
e12 SOFT – Throughout the testing process I found that the e12 SOFT was about the same as my gamer. I have only one explanation for this. It seems like SOFT flies higher because of the slightly elevated spin rates than others tested or played. That said, it’s important to point out that backspin is totally necessary for golfers with slower swing speeds. In saying that, if what I said is in fact how the R&D team designed it they get full marks, It was a thought that I first hand at Demo Day but blamed it on the winds that were blowing around the venue… and in our face at the Bridgestone Golf booth back in January.
e12 SPEED – The e12 SPEED, on the other hand, proved to be a longer, steadier golf ball for me during testing. Honestly, I never saw that coming. But the reality is that the SPEED was longer for me with the irons as well. Longer than my gamer the e12 SPEED is not afraid of giving you (the golfer) a few extra yards on your approach shots. I would suggest that the e12 SPEED was 5 yards longer (half a club) than what I generally play. The trajectory was a bit lower than the SOFT.
e12 SOFT – Alright, so there’s a saying in life. “To get a little you have to give a little) and that really does sum up my feelings about the spin characteristics of the e12 SOFT. When it came to the short game spin what I observed was a golf ball that was somewhere between a distance ball and their TOUR B RXS that I reviewed towards the tail end of 2017 (I think). The cover is Surlyn and not Urethane so you know that it will not offer Tour-level golf ball spin. However, the spin is very admirable around the greens. I had some shots check up beautifully while other shots had some degree of rollout (not a lot). If anything, the short game spin is very promising for the e12 SOFT.
When it came to approach spin on 3/4 to Full swings this golf ball was fantastic. My first hole playing it was into a wind-swept green that could have been confused with the I-75 around Tampa for firmness and that approach landed and stopped 8′ past the pin setting up my first Birdie of 2019 and first since my Stroke (sorry but it was a milestone thing). I missed the putt for Birdie. Over and over again the e12 SOFT has impressed when it came to approach spin. Stop and drop is the theme when it comes to the e12 SOFT.
e12 SPEED – What you gain in a bit of distance with this golf ball you lose a little in stopping power. While you can use this golf ball around the green you need to be prepared for one thing. Rollout. Alright, we know it isn’t a Tour-level golf ball so that means it’s not going to stop but neither is the SOFT but that has some greenside spin. If you choose to play this golf ball it may be worth your while to spend some quality practice time around a practice green chipping and get used to the balls tendencies the SPEED can do the job. Just don’t expect it to stop on a dime. On more than one occasion it cost me an extra few feet when it didn’t stop as planned. Land this ball a little short of what you think you should and it’ll work out well. I know, this wisdom betrays conventional logic.
Approach spin with the e12 SPEED was pretty good. The ball does spin on those full and less than full approach shots. The stopping power is definitely better than what I observed around the greens and while there is some stop and drop control with receptive greens it’s not as stoppable when things are a little more firm. Generally, I take crisp, ball-first divots with my irons and wedges that produce spin but int the firmer greens I did see the ball land and end up further away to the pin than the strike deserved. Get to know what this ball does and you’ll be happy.
There are a lot of things to like about the e12 range of golf balls from Bridgestone Golf. They’ve conducted their research and in doing so they’ve provided two solid golf ball offerings to golfers with two different speed rates. Each golf ball has its pro’s and cons. But what they do have in common are a couple of things.
- Both models retail for $29.99 USD which is pretty fair for a 3-piece offering
- They do perform as advertised.
- These golf balls maintain their line and were not prone to going right or left. The e12 golf balls are straight and accurate.
My point is this. Depending on what kind of player you are Bridgestone Golf just might have an e12 model for you. If you have the chance try a sleeve of each and find the right fit for you. In my case, even though I like the distance of the e12 SPEED I’d rather play the SOFT and take advantage of its slightly better greenside spin, approach spin, and softer feel. I can handle being a little shorter and making a controlled swing with a little more club. Please visit the Bridgestone Golf website for more details by clicking here.
Until The Next Tee!!