Interview with James Sackel, Jr. of Bridgestone’s B-Fit System0

I recently had the pleasure of doing Bridgestone’s B-Fit online fitting system as well as talking with one James Sackel, Jr. one of Bridgestone’s BFit Fitters.  Below is an brief interview with him.

AGG:  What makes Bridgestone stand out from other Ball makers on the market?

JS:  A few things, I’d say. One would be the “seamless cover technology.” The seamless cover is made through an “injection molding” process, via pins. Since the cover is one, continuous piece, this helps to produce a more uniform flight, and also allows the player not to have to “line the ball up”, to maximize distance via any seam. Also, the addition of the dual dimple technology, is a winner in terms of ball flight. I think the quality control is hard to beat, too. This would be a better topic for a senior manager to address, in-depth. But let’s just say that the quality control within the golf ball production process is excellent, and that should give the player/end-user, some real confidence.

AGG:  Does Bridgestone make a ball that would fit any level of game from scratch to beginner?

JS:  Because of the Bridgestone Challenge ball-fitting system – which both allows customers to be fit in live session, plus give us feedback regarding the types of balls the population might benefit from – I’d say yes. In the e-series, each ball targets a specific flight. Within that grouping, I’d say the e5 has become popular on its own merit, by simply being a good-spinning, urethane-covered ball at a great price point. Similarly, even though the e6 stands apart due to its sidespin reduction feature, it’s also become popular simply because it is a great, soft-feeling golf ball

AGG:  If one of our readers were to be customize fitted in person, what would they experience?

JS:  In a ball-fitting session, a player would interact with our team for about 15 minutes. During that time he or she would take a number of shots – beginning with their own driver – to see how various golf balls fly, based on how they strike them. The educational piece is excellent: During the fitting, the player can see how certain balls react. Often, the best fit is a Bridgestone ball.

AGG:  I recently went through the B-Fit system, and my thoughts on it are below but can you explain in your own terms the benefit of the B-Fit system?

JS:  Right now, there are three of us, and I think we do a good job engaging the player in conversations about their game. As an extension of the ball-fitting program, I think our team operates well, in a few ways. Two of them, are these:  1. The ability to engage with a player “after” a ball-fitting, to confirm or tweak what ball was selected in the ball-fitting session.  2. To make suggestions on balls and equipment for a player’s game, while he/she is “on the run”. Because of laptops, phones, and other mobile devices, we can help players make decisions, and quickly. To me, one of the very cool aspects of our job, is when someone chats us up from a retail location – for instance, if they are on vacation and about to go play with the guys. Since we understand that golf balls are part of your investment in your golf game, I personally like when we can help with point of purchase decisions.

AGG:  What is your favorite feature on any of the lines of Bridgestone Golf Balls?

JS:  I really like that we have four different, urethane-covered, tour golf balls. Not just to fit all types of consumers, but consider how similar I am to a lot of the golfers out there. I’m about an 11-12 handicapper, and I get to play 2-3 per month. During the course of a summer, I might play all four of those balls at different times, based on the course, and based on how well I am striking the ball! Here’s a great video on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RDzOgbGEzck  It illustrates why, for instance, Matt Kuchar and his dad would play different tour balls.

AGG:  Bridgestone also makes clubs, how do they match up against other big name clubs on the market?

JS:  I don’t know if I’ve shared this with our EVP of marketing, but I’ve meant to: I’d say Bridgestone golf is a premium iron maker, whose focus happens to be golf balls. In other words, the forging, the soft steel… it’s all excellent. For a golfer who wants to play a forged iron, they are very good. I think the company is finally starting to appropriate player response…. And that’s why our B-FIT team sees that questions about the irons, are growing. It’s cool to see that we now have a shopping site – http://shop.bridgestonegolf.com/c/all-clubs. And also that (from what I hear), more retailers are starting to keep demo sets on hand, for customers.

AGG:  The new Bridgestone commercials with Feherty, Freddie, Kuch, Trevino and Brent are hilarious; what other PGA players represent Bridgestone?

JS:  The full list of PGA Tour players is available on http://www.bridgestonegolf.com, under the “Tour” tab. Very cool to see Freddie get inducted into the Hall of Fame, recently. Also, as I’m writing this, Kuchar and Matt Every, both top-fived this past weekend (Cool for a smaller staff!). Sneds has been with us for several years, and won the FedEx Cup with the B330. On the ladies’ side, Paula Creamer is quite visible. Also, Karrie Webb with 7 LPGA majors and 38 victories overall, is a very nice addition.

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