An observation about golf balls in general: In recent years even the low-end golf balls have become so good that it is increasingly hard to write reviews that distinguish one from another. When I started writing golf ball reviews fourteen years ago, I thought that there clearly were winners and losers. With balls of recent vintage, however, differences seem more to be a matter of taste and small compensations. Want a ball that has a little higher flight? Try Brand X. Need a little more roll? Brand B. Hit it plenty far, but want some more touch around the green? Brand C.
For my part, the glaring flaw in my driving statistics is too much spin. My ball flight is straight, but high. Unusually for a driver, as soon as the ball reaches its apex, it falls out of the sky and stops on a dime. I get more plugged balls on my drives than I do on my wedges. I am therefore always in search of a ball that helps to correct my swing flaws (as I am similarly looking the driver that will help fix the issue.)
Bridgestone’s literature suggests that their E6 Soft and E6 Speed balls both minimize spin on driver shots for longer, straighter shots. The company also says that testing shows the E6 series is 9 yards longer and 31% straighter than leading competitors. Thus, I was excited to receive some samples for review.
Since 2007, Bridgestone has hung its hat on mountains of data obtained from tens of thousands of tests done on its proprietary Ball Fitting system. From that data, Bridgestone has developed variety of technologies, including the Delta Dimples, which are featured in both the E6 Speed and the E6 Soft. Delta Dimples, Bridgestone says, minimize air resistance to further enhance distance and accuracy.
“We’ve learned through years of conducting fittings that the vast majority of golfers are using a product that is detrimental to their performance,” says Bridgestone’s Adam Rehberg. “Few generate the speed necessary to make the Pro V1 or other Tour balls perform optimally, and the results could be dramatic losses in distance and accuracy. The new e6 series is precisely designed to provide longer and straighter shots.”
Those sentiments are precisely why I have never regularly played a tour ball. I know that I don’t generate the kind of speed necessary to take advantage of tour balls’ features. My usual ball is one with a lower compression, designed for players with slower swing speeds.
In terms of distance, I found that the E6 Speed and E6 Soft both performed well and produced similar results. Off the tee, the E6 Speed may perhaps have been slightly longer (and was in fact responsible for my longest single drive of the last two seasons), but I do not feel as though I was disadvantaged when playing the E6 Soft. Both of the E6 models compare quite favorably in distance to balls currently in my bag: the Wilson Duo and Volvik Vivid.
Ball trajectory off the tee for both models was good. Neither solved my sky-high ball issue, but I thought it was lower and produced a bit more roll. To be fair, I also get that sort of roll when I use a two-piece pure-distance ball, but those always have feel and touch-around-the-green issues. More about “feel” later.
One of Bridgestone’s biggest claims is that the E6 series is 31% straighter than leading competitors. Straight has never been an issue for me, though. I played in an impromptu scramble the other day at the club, and I was asked to tee off first because “we’ve never seen you hit it anywhere but in the fairway” (at which point, I promptly started spraying it all over the place). Given that, I can only say that I hit it just as straight as any other ball.
With the irons, I found the E6 Speed and E6 Soft to both be solid performers. I was playing half- to a full-club longer with both than with my usual orbs. Testing a pile of balls from the 150 mark on my local muni, I found that the E6 balls made it to the back of the green, while other models ran out of gas at the front. Again, I can get that sort of performance from a distance ball, but at the sacrifice of feel.
Around the greens, both balls played well. I will never be the guy that spins it back, but I do take pride in my ability to get the ball on the putting surface with a reasonable chance of getting up and down. For those delicate little swings, I like the softer feel of the E6 Soft.
Feel is where the Bridgestone E6 Soft (and to some degree the E6 Speed) really distinguished themselves. I felt as though the E6 Soft compressed well off the irons, and had a great touch around the greens. While I have found any number of balls that performed similarly for me in terms of distance, the E6 balls had a more attractive feel. The Volvik Vivid, for example; feels to me as though it has a more distinct click; the new Wilson Duo feels a little squishy.
Bridgestone E6 Soft and E6 Speed golf balls have an MSRP of $28.99. On Amazon, the balls go for as low as $20.
I think that the Bridgestone E6 Fast and E6 Soft deserve a try by mid-handicappers. They have a combination of distance, accuracy and feel that I really appreciated. Get a sleeve and give them a try.