While the exposure to the J15 wedge lineup by Bridgestone golf may have been a bit limited, it boasted an excellent product that included a compact profile, unique grind system, and highly resilient matte black finish. For this particular reviewer, it represented one of the most effective products available in the wedge market, and was a staple in suggestions for golfers looking for a great all-around compact wedge profile that was not overly heavy. Lofty expectations naturally follow such an experience, along with excitement for a new profile in Bridgestone’s newest wedge offering, the Tour B XW-1.
From Zack Kupperbusch in Bridgestone Golf Club Marketing: “For anyone who thinks of Bridgestone as just a great golf ball company, the XW-1 wedges are a prime example of the insanely high quality of our clubs. In a time where many OEM’s continue to cut corners by producing cast heads, Bridgestone Golf emphasizes feel through unmatched forgings and true innovations.”
One of the most obvious design elements of the Tour B XW-1 Forged wedge is the mass that is centralized on the sole. This is unlike the last few iterations of Bridgestone wedges, which have a fairly neutral weight profile on the back of the wedge. As with any bladed profile, the most advantageous strike location for a club with the central mass will be in the center, producing unrivaled feedback as compared to a neutral mass head. For players who are quite consistent in their shot quality, this will likely lead to better feedback and confidence with wedges. Those who are more inclined to play the ball around the face, especially near the green for spin reduction on the toe side, will notice a slight reduction in contact quality, but not enough to negatively impact the overall experience.
Moving to the consistent grind across all wedges, Bridgestone has implemented a new tour grind sole that rolls the trailing and leading edge to provide a maximum amount of versatility around the greens, including bunker play. Much like the J15, the consistency across all lofts introduces a very regulated experience regardless of which wedge the player uses. In terms of availability, the Tour B XW-1 wedge will come in 50, 52, 54, 56, 58, and 60 degree lofts in both black oxide and satin chrome finishes (RH only at launch).
Continuing on the finish, the XW-1 wedge provided for review came in the black oxide finish which held up perfectly over the course of 10-15 rounds of limited play. In previous experiences with the J15 lineup, aside from extended bunker play, the black oxide finish lasted brilliantly over time with appropriate post-shot care, and the finish seems much the same with the Tour B XW-1. Golfers who wipe their club down after each shot can expect wear to last longer than a full season assuming it holds up similarly to previous finishes.
A new feature in the Tour B XW-1 wedge is the parallel milling pattern, which includes a micro milling pattern in between each groove. This is designed with the intentions of promoting additional spin regardless of the lie, which is one thing that may have been slightly lacking in previous Bridgestone wedge offerings. Over the course of our on-course testing, there was plenty of action produced with this wedge. Regardless of surface (bent or Bermuda), the ball grabs very well, and in some cases spins actively.
Additional elements not yet noted include the continuation of the DG Spinner shaft by True Temper, which was a solid pairing carry-over from the J15 wedge experience, D3 swing weight in the lower lofted wedges, with the highest lofted wedges profiling at D4. Lastly, a premium grip in the black on black Golf Pride New Decade Multicompound.
The most notable change to the Tour B from their previous offerings is the higher tear drop profile. While the former model promoted a rather compact profile, the Tour B XW-1 offers a higher tear drop shaping that makes the head look much larger at address. In many ways, this can bring confidence in an otherwise unforgiving blade profile (like any wedge), along with having extended high toe grooves for opening the face and seeing more face contact. While this is a slightly new look for Bridgestone (closer to the J40 shape), it is very much a classic wedge look overall.
Bridgestone has produced a wedge that compliments their Tour B lineup of irons with a classic take on the wedge, while continuing that manufactured badge profile that is centralized on the forged head. Golfers can expect a high end experience between the excellent finish resilience, micro grinds in the face, and tour driven grind that promotes versatility. The Tour B XW-1 will be available to golfers online and at select retailers on January 3, 2018.