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If the ball fits: Bridgestone Golf gives Am Tour players a lift

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PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Most golfers know about the importance of proper clubfitting, but at this week's Golf Channel Am Tour Championships, they're also getting the opportunity to see if they might benefit from some ballfitting as well.

One of the tournaments sponsors, Bridgestone Golf, has been here at the Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa since last week putting players through the paces, comparing their regular balls to the various offerings from Bridgestone. Last week some 120 senior players went through the fitting process. And although some of them were playing the ball best suited for their game, Bridgestone's Sam Fu recommended to many players that they try a new ball. As a result, he received several positive reports after players put a new ball in play.

One player, he said, wound up recording an ace last week after he switched to a Bridgestone RX ball. Another moved up from 56th after the first round to third place after Round 3 switching to a Bridgestone E-6.

'He said he wound up hitting 13 fairways in that third round,' said Fu, who works in marketing and tour support for Bridgestone.

He didn't get a report from the second player's last round, but his greater accuracy could have come as a result of reducing sidespin. Sidespin, however, is just one factor that's taken into consideration during a ball-fitting.

Using a proprietary laser-photo system called 'Science Eye,' Fu is able to measure clubhead speed, ball speed, launch angle, sidespin, backspin and face angle at impact. Ideally, with a driver for example, most players would benefit from a higher launch and less spin for longer drives. By comparing swings with different balls (as long as the clubs remain constant) Fu can help players determine the best ball for them.

Sean Hazen, who came all the way from Winnipeg, Canada, was playing a Titleist Pro V1X. He went through the fitting, which recommended a softer core Bridgestone FXS ball to get the spin rates right off the driver.

Hazen, a 4-handicap competing in the Palmer Flight, agreed to make the switch for Tuesday's second round.

'The main thing I'm concerned about,' he said, 'is how it feels around the green. I'll give it a chance and report back to you tomorrow.'