Is it possible that the Bridgestone J40 driver is the best driver no
one’s even heard of? In a way, that must be similar to being the best
professional golfer to never win a major.
Plenty of golfers are familiar with Bridgestone’s golf balls. But how many of them know about this driver? Be honest now – have you ever seen one out on the golf course?
It’s too bad that it’s relatively unknown, because it's an excellent club. I know, because I used one for three of my recent rounds of golf. I also spent some time with it on the driving range. And I came away from the experience feeling the need to spread the word about this excellent driver.
So, here’s my review.
I’ll get a big negative out of the way first: shame on the company for offering it only in right-handed versions. I know there aren’t as many lefties as there are righties, but how does a golf equipment company justify totally excluding left-handers? Okay, enough said.
The Bridgestone J40 driver is available in two head sizes – 430cc or 445cc. I tested a 10.5-degree, 445cc model fitted with the stock 45-inch Project X graphite shaft. The 445cc size also comes in 9.5- and 12-degree versions, while the 430cc head is only available in 8.5- and 9.5-degree lofts. The standard grip is a GolfPride Tour Velvet.
You should already be able to tell that this driver bucks the overwhelming current trend in driver design. By that, I mean that most of the drivers that have come out in the past few years have the maximum-allowable 460cc size head. As a result, the Bridgestone J40 driver has a smaller, more compact head than most other drivers.
According to the company, the 445cc head focuses on providing forgiveness, while the smaller 430cc head promotes workability (the ability to shape shots and hit a draw or fade at will, depending on the type of shot that’s needed). The two versions are intended to be played by different types of golfers. But both versions are designed to provide high launches and produce extremely low spin in order to maximize distance (everyone wants more distance, right?). And both versions have the smaller head that many better golfers prefer. That’s fine, because this driver is targeted at players whose handicaps are lower than 15 or so. High-handicappers should look elsewhere when they’re searching for new drivers.
Naturally, there’s more to this driver than just the smaller head size, high launch angles, reduced spin, and (in the 430cc) workability. Made of 6-4 titanium, the club’s crown wall section is thin but strong, and the weight saved there allowed the designers to position some weight at the perimeters for increased forgiveness. Likewise, the face thickness is designed to promote a higher Moment of Inertia (MOI) and added stability on mishits.
In keeping with the smaller head size, the Bridgestone J40 driver has a classic appearance. The traditional-looking pear-shaped head has an equally traditional-looking black finish. There’s no alignment aid on the crown – from above, the head is clean as a whistle with absolutely no distracting graphics. It’s sleek and it looks like it means business.
So, the looks of the Bridgestone J40 driver are appealing and confidence-inspiring. But how a driver performs is what really counts.
I have to tell you that the Bridgestone J40 driver isn’t for everyone. Like I mentioned earlier, it’s designed for better players – those with handicaps below 15 or so. But my handicap is around a 10, and I think the Bridgestone J40 driver is pretty impressive.
It felt extremely well-balanced and easy to keep on-plane throughout my swings. The ball jumped off the face (which seemed hot), accompanied by helpful feedback and a solid, metallic crack. My well-struck shots rewarded me with a medium-high launch that bored right through the infamous winds we have here in Florida.
As good as that sounds, it’s even better. My shots seemed to fly forever. Compared to my own driver, I was getting five to ten more yards out of my well-hit shots. The accuracy was good too. I didn’t lose a lot of distance on poorly-struck shots, and my heel and toe hits flew fairly straight. All in all, I give the Bridgestone J40 driver (the 445cc version, anyway) high marks for forgiveness.
The Bottom Line: The Bridgestone J40 driver just might be the perfect option for a low- to medium-handicapper. It’s long, it’s straight, and it’s fairly forgiving. It even produces a ball flight that’s capable of handling strong winds. In the right hands, it delivers everything Bridgestone says it will. How many clubs can we honestly say that about? Not many. If you’re a fairly skillful golfer, don’t overlook this one.
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