NGF TOP 100 BUSINESSES IN GOLF
Dan Murphy – President and CEO
Elliott Mellow – Golf Ball Marketing Manager
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.
“We have a depth that probably not too many people in the golf business have, and that is we’re a part of Bridgestone Tire & Rubber,” said Bridgestone Golf President Dan Murphy. “It’s a huge, huge company that provides us with resources from both a financial perspective as well as a product development and R&D perspective.”
The company has more than 800 golf ball patents and a roster of endorsers that include Tiger Woods, Bryson DeChambeau, Matt Kuchar, Fred Couples and Brandt Snedeker and Lexi Thompson.
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 2006, conducting more than 3 million in-person and online fittings.
Woods joined Bridgestone as a brand ambassador in 2016 and offers design input in addition to playing and promoting the company’s golf balls. The company posted its most successful two quarters in company history immediately after signing the 14-time major champion and continues to see sales increases at several of the nation’s largest retailers.
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, including becoming the No. 1 ball in the Japanese golf market.
Bridgestone produced its first clubs in 1972, becoming a full-line golf equipment brand.
But it’s the golf ball side of the business that has helped delineate the Covington, Georgia-based manufacturer. Using data from more than 3 million in-person and online ball fittings, Bridgestone identifies the needs of specific player types to determine which of its proprietary technologies would most benefit each. The consumer data gathered also continues to inspire innovative ball designs created for a wide range of players.
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 e6 and RX lines, geared for amateur swing speeds, have also been a growth engine for the company.
Beyond the visibility of Woods, 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 allows golfers to find (quickly and for free) the right ball tailored to their game.