NGF TOP 100 BUSINESSES IN GOLF
Angel Ilagan, CEO
Corey Consuegra – Senior Director of Marketing
Bridgestone Golf is a leading manufacturer of premium golf balls, clubs, and accessories under the Bridgestone and Precept brand names. Supported globally by 900 engineers with cutting edge expertise in polymer science – thanks to the company’s roots as the world’s largest tire manufacturer — Bridgestone Golf is a leader in both product innovation and manufacturing.
Bridgestone Golf’s knowledge of consumer needs through a commitment to fitting allows them to engineer precisely fit products for everyday golfers and top-tier PGA TOUR professionals. The company has been a pioneer of ball fitting since 2007, conducting more than 3 million in-person and online fittings.
Bridgestone’s manufacturing of urethane golf balls uses an injection molding process rather than a traditional casting process, producing a seamless golf ball that is unique to the industry.
Bridgestone Golf, Inc. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Bridgestone Sports Co. Ltd., headquartered in Tokyo. Bridgestone first started producing golf balls in 1935, as company founder Shojiro Ishibashi converted his golf passion into commercial success. Technical developments in tire technology led to Bridgestone’s breakthroughs in ball technology.
“Innovation is part of everything we do, not only creating the best product, but how we market it to help customers realize the benefits inherent to our golf balls,” says Angel Ilagan, President and CEO of Bridgestone Golf. “While we’ve read many reports about golf’s decline, Bridgestone has proven that by focusing on innovation and the needs of consumers we are able to thrive and grow.”
Bridgestone produced its first clubs in 1972, becoming a full-line golf equipment brand.
Following news of 14-time major champion Tiger Woods signing as a brand ambassador in late 2016, Bridgestone posted the most successful two quarters in company history. Through the first half of 2017, Bridgestone saw a significant sales increase at several of the nation’s largest retailers.
The company, which also counts Matt Kuchar, Brandt Snedeker, Stacy Lewis and Fred Couples among its endorsers, furthered its impressive array of golf ball offerings by launching two flagship lines in 2017, the e6 – including SOFT and SPEED models – and the TOUR B. Both reflect the company’s commitment to developing balls that benefit a wide variety of golfers, not just PGA Tour players. Using data from more than 3 million in-person and online ball fittings, Bridgestone identified the needs of specific player types and drew on more than 800 golf ball patents to determine which of its proprietary technologies would most benefit each.
Bridgestone attributes the rapid ascension in part to its aggressive marketing campaign, encouraging golfers to break away from the herd mentality.
Bridgestone made its first real splash in the U.S. market when Couples used the original B330 at golf’s 2004 Skins Game, where he beat Woods in a playoff.
The company definitely wasn’t new to the sport, however, and in the 1990’s was behind technological advances such as the game’s first four-piece golf ball and first three-piece urethane covered ball (both Precept) as well as the introduction of Seamless Cover Technology in 2001 to help with a more consistent ball flight. That same year, the very soft compression Precept MC Lady made waves with the performance characteristics it offered for not only women, but many recreational golfers. The Laddie, e6 and RX lines, geared for amateur swing speeds, have also been a growth engine for the company.
Other factors that have bolstered Bridgestone’s growth include a hyper-targeted digital marketing campaign to raise brand awareness, and launch of the BFIT golf ball fitting launch monitor app, which is available free for iOS users. B-FIT allows golfers to quickly find the right ball tailored to their game. This has certainly been one of the most important of Bridgestone’s initiatives, enabling recreational players to evaluate and understand which golf ball is tailored to their specific needs.