Lamkin Grips

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Sometimes some names are known for one thing and one thing only. That thing could be good or bad and breaking out of that stigma or even expanding out of it can be no small task. Take Bridgestone for instance. In the world of golf, most people associate them with golf balls targeted to every skill level and after over 141,000 live golf ball fittings I’d say that’s a fair correlation. Now what happens when a company like Bridgestone steps out of that comfort zone and begins to put the same dedication and quality into golf clubs? THP got a chance to see firsthand when Bridgestone sent their new J40 Cavity Back irons to test out. Did they build upon their golf ball success or is it back to the golf ball drawing board? Check it out.

From the Company
• Premium Forged 1020 carbon steel
• Compact head with higher face progression for tour control and feel
• Relief at trailing edge, leading edge, toe, and heel for improved versatility
• Project X flighted shaft

Click each picture for a larger image

Look
OK raise your hand, have you ever had love at first sight? You’re lying. Especially if you can see the picture above because in some states it’s illegal to look at that kind of sexiness. The J40 Cavity Back irons are some of the most sexy irons I’ve ever seen in print or in person. Believe me, pictures do not do not do these irons any justice whatsoever. Holding these irons in person really makes you respect quality craftsmanship and design. You almost feel guilty in a way because you hate to know that you’re going to get these things dirty at some point. The club head has a combination of a satin chrome finish on the club face and on the cavity back, but just above the cavity back there’s a nice brushed/matte look that compliments and accents the overall look of these irons. The satin chrome finish of the club head stretches from the club face and goes clear round to that cavity back that has never made technology look and feel so cool.

The first thing you’re drawn to is the cavity back itself. It appears to be a part of the club itself as it looks like it was made with the club and not for the club. The cavity back looks modern and yet classic all the while maintaining its sex appeal but never losing sight of its true job to help you get the ball in the air with some sort of forgiveness. A small detail that needs mentioning is that this cavity back is seamless and has no gaps in it between itself and the club head. No need to get its pretty little self dirty right? The laser etched Bridgestone ‘B’ is an elegantly cool touch that completes the overall look of the club.

After you catch your breath from the cavity back, you’ll now find yourself checking out the stock (yes, stock) Project X flighted shaft. Some people may say ‘Hanks, it’s just a shaft!’ Right, and the Mona Lisa is just a painting. The look of the Project X flighted shaft just seems to work with the overall design of the club and makes a nice pairing with the club head.

So let’s do a quick recap, you’ve got a first class club head design and a first class flighted shaft to go along with it. That’s a lot of good looking technology at your disposal isn’t it? Let’s talk about that technology real quick.

Technology
As I alluded to already, there’s a lot of technology in this sexy package that is the J40 Cavity Back irons. It all starts with the club head and only gets better from there. The club head itself is compact, clean looking, and sports a thinner top line that is sure to please even the most discerning eye. That compact head gradually increases in size as you progress up the set. This is designed to allow the lucky golfer who has these clubs in their bag to have greater control in the scoring irons and pitching wedge. This is done seamlessly and unless you’re looking for such a thing, you’ll never even notice it. I think that’s really important to the golfer as well. There’s already enough things going through your head, why add ‘hey, is my 8 iron slightly bigger than my 6 iron?’ The iron set (5-PW) has evenly distributed lofts in 4 degree increments that should make it easy to add wedges to compliment the J40 pitching wedge. Hmmm, perhaps the J40 wedges? 3 and 4 irons are sold separately but obtainable from Bridgestone directly if needed as well.

Now, about that stock Project X flighted shaft. The difference in the regular Project X shaft and the Project X flighted shaft is that there is an exaggerated change in kick point within each of the flighted shafts. What does all of that mean? It means that you have a near customized set of iron shafts that you can pick right off the shelf. The long irons have a lower kick point for a higher ball flight (gets the ball in the air faster), easy launch and greater distance. The short irons have a higher kick point which will give a lower ball flight but with more accuracy and control. The J40 CB irons I tested came with a Project X 6.0 flighted shaft and here are those individual specifications for this great shaft:

Now that you have all the ingredients for this iron set, let’s look at the baking process and see if they come together as a soufflé or as a fruitcake for me.

Testing
Testing set up: 5-PW bent 1 degree up with stock Project X 6.0 flighted shafts and stock Golf Pride Tour Velvet grips.

Hitting these irons during the testing period gave me a little bit of everything. I had good moments, bad moments, and more importantly I learned a bit about the progression of my golf game. I’m going to explain the testing process as if I was lining up to take a shot and hit on the thoughts I had as well as the subsequent results.

First, when you set up to the ball with the J40 CB’s you immediately notice the thin top-line and almost line it and the club head up to the target line without even thinking about it. You have some fleeting thoughts of ‘how are these skinny irons going to hit the ball with any sort of power?’ Then you remember you have the cavity back working for you so you don’t feel as worrisome as you did a second ago. I quickly remember the shape of the cavity back being an inverted triangle which actually helped me think of an aiming point and where the club should ideally meet the ball at impact.

As you draw the club back during your takeaway you remember the shape of the cavity back and this helps you take (or try to take) the club straight back from your target line. This may or not be the intention of Bridgestone in the design of these irons but I found this to be very helpful at times when my swing would begin to falter. Executing the swing after remembering all of these details is entirely up to you but I think these are all indirect ways to help you hit these irons better, if not well. Swinging these irons are not difficult at all. The weighting is great, although at times I thought you could feel the weight of the shaft more so than the club head. Every now and then it felt like the club head was lagging behind the shaft a bit but nothing too severe. I think that if the club head had slightly more weight to it that this would be the perfect balance of weighting.

Hitting the ball with these irons is a very precise process. Don’t worry I’m going to explain that a little more. Although these are a ‘cavity back’ iron I don’t think they act like your typical cavity back. At least not the ones I’ve hit in my golfing life. When you hit the ball flush the feeling, or lack thereof, is second to none. This is true of many clubs, yes, but where the difference lies to me is the forgiveness on the heel and toe of the club. Other cavity backs irons I’ve hit seem to carry the forgiveness out to the heel and toe on their clubs but the J40 Cavity Backs don’t seem to have as much in these areas as you may believe. The focus of the cavity back seems to be dead center and reached about half a ball width to the heel and toe. If you have any issues with not hitting the club face dead center or slightly missing it to either side of center then you may experience some forgiveness issues that may be covered by other cavity back designs. This gives the Bridgestone J40 Cavity Back irons somewhat of a players feel that matches well with the players look they have.

Performance? Oh yeah these have them but not what you may be thinking. Are these irons long hitting? For me and where my game is right now, no. In today’s age where stronger lofted irons are all the rage, these irons are sort of a ‘throw back’ to when lofts weren’t so strong. What does this mean? Results may vary for the individual but this tester found that the ‘higher lofts’ translated into less distance. How much? Maybe a full club up to a club and a half shorter compared to a stronger lofted iron set I’m currently playing. Where these irons make up for their lack of distance is found in their accuracy. While not point and shoot accurate, these were sure close. I became very mindful of my alignment because these irons will go where you aim and if your aim is off they will let you know it. In particular, I found the PW to be right on the money from 105-110 yards, the 9 iron to be rock solid from 115-120 yards, and the 8 iron spot on from 125-130. It’s a great feeling to know that you can have this sort of accuracy from your scoring irons and these sure provide that. Ball flight I found to be higher than I’d like and that could be a result of anything from the loft of the clubs, the flighted shaft, flighted shaft/loft combo, ball position, or angle of attack. No matter where I seemed to position the ball it wanted to get up and up in a hurry. I found this to be nice for the scoring irons which would help land the ball soft on the greens but found it a little troublesome with the longer irons.

However, you will see some considerable distance loss if you’re not hitting center/near-center with these clubs. Any exaggerated misses on the heel and toe with the J40 CB’s and you’ll know it right away by seeing your shot not go far in addition to the feeling you’ll have in your hands. While not a harsh feeling, it’s still a feeling that will tell you that you missed the sweet spot. Towards the end of my testing period I discovered that these irons responded best to ¾ shots vs full shots. This was something I discovered by accident yet out of necessity. I was having issues making solid contact and getting a good ball flight going with my normal full shot so I had to cut my swing down a little and once I did I noticed more consistent performance with these sexy clubs.

Overall
Bridgestone has done a good job with following up on its success with its ball fittings, its current line of golf balls with the introduction of the J40 line of clubs. If you have a consistent swing, are a good ball striker, and place a premium on accuracy then these irons are definitely worth a swing. The Bridgestone J40 Cavity Back irons retail for $699 and are available on www.Bridgestonegolf.com Click on over there and you’ll see a vast array of custom options for the J40 irons ranging from different shaft options as well as different grips. While you’re on their site check out to see if there may be a demo day near you and if so, hit these irons. There’s a little bit of something in these irons for everyone so see for yourself the kind of technology that Bridgestone has put in these irons. You’ll be glad you did, I know I was.

T. Hanks

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Comments (29)

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  1. dubbledxu says:

    great review, very in depth and fair. i love the idea of the irons being easy to aim at address. I don’t think they will fit my inconsistent game, but they sound great for a better ball striker than me.

  2. Michael Cook says:

    Great review Todd! I enjoyed reading it and appreciate the candid feedback. I really dig the looks, just very sharp looking. I also like the lofts as that is what I am playing now and the stock PX shafts are a great asset to these. These would be right up my alley by the sounds of it; well done man!

  3. Ryan H. says:

    Definitely a great looking set of irons. I like the explanation of the progressive head size, Todd. I’ll be looking forward to giving these some swings as soon as I can. The price was a surprise to me. For some reason, I thought they may be more than that.

  4. royalwulff says:

    Great review! I agree with you that these are some really beautiful irons. I am a huge fan of the simple, elegant, clean look of these irons.

  5. Puttin4Bird says:

    Nice work on the review T. These definitely are great looking irons and I think because of the players iron setup to them they’re definitely geared toward low to scratch handicappers. It’s nice to hear that you had some success with them and I definitely think that a lot of people would really like these when they hit them. Great info as always, thanks!

  6. 9-Iron Man says:

    Very thorough review Todd! That’s a lot of serious forged goodness for only $700! That’s a great price point for such a top-end iron set. Well done Bridgestone, sounds like you’ve got a winner here.

  7. ddec says:

    Nice review Hanks. I was wondering about the forgiveness of these and you answered it clearly. They sure are pretty. Bridgestone has a winner on their hands with the entire j40 lineup

  8. d_in_la says:

    Great writeup, especially explaining the shaft make-up. Very eye opening.

  9. Blocka says:

    Great write up Hanks. I am only new to this site but have been incredibly impressed not only with the rich content but also the fine writing of the authors. Keep up the.good work!

  10. Buckjob says:

    great review hanks… still some sexy irons.

  11. ghsace says:

    Excellent and honest write up. I love the looks of these beauties and appreciate all of the great stock options. Can’t wait to give these a shot.

  12. Dr. Teeth says:

    I cannot wait to hit these irons! I love the looks of both these and the Dual Pocket Cavities! Bridgestone has a couple of winners with the J40 irons. In fact, by the looks of it they have winners from the top of the bag all the way down in the J40 series! Great stuff from Bridgestone Golf!

  13. Dirtydawg67 says:

    Great review Hanks. I love the looks of these and can’t wait to hit them at demo day. The price is phenomenal when compared to other irons in this category. Well done BSG.

  14. Griff says:

    That’s a great review right there.

  15. Wade Pushie says:

    Where have you been THP???…Bridgestone has been putting out some real high end/quality equipment for a few years… Their stuff is made for better players to mid handicappers… I live in Canada and have a hard time finding their clubs here but I’ve managed to accumalate the J33 combo,J36,J38,line of irons and each one is a masterpeice on its own + the new J40 line has me Drooling non stop (the whole line of woods,irons,wedges (sexy)…. Bridgestone really puts in the work and for the $$$ you can’t get better quality or better stock options… Bridgestone irons will outshine the major oem’s any day & every day (IMHO)… If you appreciate quality & performance…bridgestone’s will never let you down…. I would marry my irons if I could (lol)… Thanks for the write up but I think you should’ve incorporated both J40 irons (j40cb + j40dpc) .. Just so the people reading this don’t get discouraged from using the J40’s because the J40 dual pocket cavity’s are very forgiving and compact at the same time (brilliant also)… Bridgestone has a real CULT following out there for anyone thats really truly tried their stuff & I predict that the Bridgestone Wave is coming FAST… Each new line has been a Home Run (FACT..look it up)… Thanks THP & thanks bridgestone… I can’t wait for my j40 wedges with dg spinner shafts (hubba,hubba)…take care & god bless to all..

  16. Wade Pushie says:

    For people that don’t know….I forgot to add that in Japan Bridgestone is HUGE… Over there, Bridgestone is also known as Tourstage and they sponsor more pro’s on the asian tour than any brand… Tourstage equipment + balls sells like candy in Japan…. Plus Bridgestone makes the BEST balls out there and I can prove it….. (I will continue this at a later point as I don’t want my ideas to get stolen)…thanks THP… Please do a write up on the whole J40 line (if possible)

  17. Wade Pushie says:

    I also forgot to add that Bridgestone J40 Dual Pocket Cavity’s are slightly stronger lofted than the J40 cavity backs… The Dual Pocket Cavity are more forgiving and slightly longer (distance) than the J40 CB… I would guess the Dual Pockets may be slightly heavier…. It all depends on where your game is at & what you prefer… Either one is a winner

  18. Kmac™ says:

    Really good write up Hanks

  19. TC says:

    Stellar write up Hanks! Perhaps your best write up for me. I really got a sense of what these irons are about, and what their intentions are. Good job.

  20. Sharkwrestler says:

    Great review Hanks! Love the look of the J40’s

  21. MaryC says:

    Great review Todd! I saw you hit the J40s a few weeks ago and when you hit them flush, the ball flew off the face and like you said, if you aren’t hitting consistent you are going to get a not as good shot but the feel is there to tell you that. Thanks to Bridgestone, for giving these to THP to get real user feedback.

  22. Yoccos says:

    Hanks what a solid and information filled review. Thank for going in detail what the forgiveness is like. I was really curious how forgiving these would be for players irons and you covered it! Thanks again!

  23. Art says:

    I think the tester had shafts that were to stiff for his distances he was hitting them. I have J38 DPC and I’m 30 yards longer per iron. I use a 6.0 project x.

  24. brent says:

    Iv been monitering all the feedback the last few mths and was seriously torn between ordering the cb’s or dpc’s. i pulled the trigger on the cb’s and could not be happier,i was concerned after all the input from this site about the lack of distance with these irons . after a few rounds i can promise u these irons are way more forgiving than advertized and for me no loss of distance at all!! my former set was ping i15’s and these j40 cb’s totally out perform the ping’s in every catagory! i have 3-pw with project x 6.0’s.. pw-130-135yd’s 7-165-170yd’s 5-185-190yd’s .. the best surprise is the 3iron and with the flighted project x6.0 shafts is unbelievable consistantly 215-220yd’s .. anyone considering these , Pull the trigger!!!!!

  25. brent says:

    I forgot to mention i live in mexico oceanside where the avg temp is 85-90 and is consistanly windy.. So i went with the cb’s for a more penetrating ball flight!

  26. andrea says:

    Incredible, easy, powerfull, simply feelling….a new reference for competitors

  27. Stevegypsy says:

    I have a set of j40, love um lost a bit of distince but won my first trophy playing with them. Very accurate 4-5 irons seem a littel less distince.. Playing better with them bottom line,

  28. MarcB1 says:

    Great review. I bought these in Jan. this year. Did a lot of research and it came down to Mizzy 59’s and these. Bridgestone J-40’s are forged by Endo in Japan which also forge the Tourstage brand. High end forging at a much more reasonable price. Add the selection of custom shaft options that are offered and it really is no brainer. Just make sure you have a proper fitting. It’s too bad that Bidgestone doesn’t spend the time and money in marketing their clubs. After gaming these for the past 10 months, my decision was correct as my handicap is 3 from 6. I also have the 3+4 hybrid + wedges and am now considering Driver & 3 Wood making my bag complete!

  29. Roy Kim says:

    What’s coming after J40 for bridgestone?

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