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June 1, 2017

Bridgestone Releases Ball Fitting Mobile App

This pioneering tech could have major implications on clubfitting in the future

BY: TONY L. STARKS

Bridgestone has long been a leader in the ball fitting category. This year, they’re attempting to pioneer a new technology that could have a significant impact for fitters down the road.

The company’s new ball fitting app for mobile devices, BFIT, offers a pretty quick diagnostic and recommends the Bridgestone golf ball that best fits the player being analyzed.

At first glance the app’s interface seems complex, but once you use it a couple of times it becomes much easier. They key is a stationary item of any length that the app uses as a point of reference. For example, you can use a ruler, a yardstick or an alignment rod and place it on the ground adjacent to the golfer.

How does it work?

Using the phone’s video camera, the app takes frame-by-frame video of the golfer hitting a ball with a driver. The app tracks the movement of the club and the ball, using an algorithm to determine the speed of both moving objects. The app determines the distance traveled by the club and ball by using the exact length of the stationary item (your ruler, yardstick or alignment rod) as a reference point. Based on the data collected, the app then recommends the appropriate Bridgestone golf ball for that player.

Essentially, it’s transforming your iPhone into a launch monitor. This is still a young technology, so there are plenty of kinks to work out and limitations. For example, you can’t save swing videos or previous fitting sessions. In addition, the process isn’t as turnkey as one would like. And since Bridgestone is behind it, the app is limited to only recommending golf balls from that company.

With all that said, in comparing numbers from the app to a launch monitor, the projections of clubhead and ball speeds were pretty accurate. While there were small variances in the data, getting numbers that compared to a device that cost thousands of dollars from a free phone app was pretty cool.

That’s perhaps the most intriguing quality that this app brings to the table. Imagine in 10, 15 or 20 years the possibility of having a launch monitor right in your pocket? Present-day launch monitor technology is impressive, highly accurate and has become a requirement for anyone who wants to have success as a clubfitter. But it can also be extremely pricey.

What if you could turn your phone into a launch monitor and still get accurate data? The prospects for this technology are exciting.

However, for now, it still works really well as a ball fitting application. “We’ve worked on developing this app for several years now,” says Bridgestone’s Adam Rehberg. “We’re excited to roll it out, and we’re updating it frequently based on feedback we receive from our users and media. Behind the scenes, we’re definitely aware of how this technology could evolve over the years and what it could mean to golf. As the leader in the ball fitting space, we’re focused on making sure the app’s performance in that category is refined and precise.”

The company has released several updates that have improved functionality and the user-friendliness of the app. There are plans to continue enhancing it as the company gathers more feedback in the beta stage.

It’s currently available in the App Store and works with the iPhone 6 or newer, as it requires a 240fps high-speed camera. It’s coming soon to Android users.