Bridgestone Golf has gained lots of recognition in recent years with the media campaign revolving around its B330 and B330s golf balls and the fitting system they use to match players with the balls. Bridgestone has signed several well known pros to their staff, including Fred Couples, Lee Trevino, Nick Price, Charles Howell III and Brandt Snedeker, among others.
Bridgestone has been making golf balls since 1935, and has been the leading manufacturer in Japan for years, so it’s no surprise that their golf balls are becoming more and more popular in the US, despite a very crowded golf ball market. As far as golf clubs are concerned, they have been in this arena for 38 years. They haven’t been well known for golf clubs in the US market, but I have a feeling that will change very soon.
For 2010, Bridgestone Golf has introduced the J38 and J38 Dual Pocket cavity forged irons to go with their new J38 460 Driver, and if you overlook these when shopping for your next set you are making a mistake. I first saw these irons at the PGA Demo Day during the PGA Merchandise Show in Feb 2010. Just about every major golf manufacturer was there (about 90 in all) around the huge circular range at Orange County National showing off their new clubs, and the J38s were one of the top three irons that I hit that day, so I wanted to give them a more thorough trial.
I was sent a set of the J38 Dual Pocket Cavity irons to try out, and I was able to hit about 300 balls and play a few rounds with them, along with letting a friend play a few rounds with them as well. How did they perform? Read on! (Click on the photos below for a closer look)
The Bridgestone J38 Dual Pocket Cavity irons are a classic looking forged cavity back. There are no fancy graphics or weird technological features added to these sticks. The biggest difference these clubs have to most of the other forged cavity back irons I’ve seen is that these are a midsize head. The heel to toe length is greater than most other clubs, and this is noticeable at address, but isn’t distracting by any means. Having a longer blade profile makes them more forgiving. The rest of the lines are very clean and traditional. They have the thin top line, shallow heel and minimal offset that many lower handicap players prefer.
The J38 Dual Pocket Cavity irons are designed for mid-handicaps down to professionals. Having classic lines and 1020 forged carbon steel heads, they would tend to appeal to lower handicap players anyway. Matched with the high quality Project X Flighted shafts, they would be a good addition to many golfer’s bags. With the midsize heads, these irons were indeed more forgiving than my current set, the Srixon i701 Tour forged cavity backs. Hits towards the toe resulted in greater distance and the iron remains very stable at impact. While the J38 DPC irons are forged, they felt a bit firmer than other forgings, but still provide plenty of useful feedback to the player. The Project X Flighted shafts tended to hit the ball higher for me than my Dynamic Golds, but that is the idea. The “Flighted” shafts move the kick point lower in the long irons for a higher trajectory, and move it up in the short irons for better trajectory control. The 6.0 flex rating in my demo set was softer than my usual X100 shafts, also contributing to a higher ball flight for me. When given to my other play tester Tim, an 8- 10 handicap with slower swing speed, the shaft performed flawlessly. At first he didn’t like the irons, favoring a club with slightly more offset and a darker finish like the Cleveland CG7 Black Pearl, but after a few rounds of golf with the J38s he didn’t want to give them back!
The Dual Pocket Cavity feature is simply two cavities in the back of the club that removes weight from behind the face so they can re-distribute it towards the perimeter to make them more forgiving. The cavities are painted black, which makes them blend in to the design so they aren’t distracting. Bridgestone staff pro Fred Couples put these irons in his bag, and since joining the Champions Tour he’s won just about everything in sight. In his first four events on the senior circuit, he finished 2nd, 1st, 1st and 1st. That’s as good an endorsement as you can get!
When I tried the J38 Dual Pocket Cavity irons at the 2010 PGA Demo Day in Orlando, I remarked that they were one of the top three irons I had hit that day. The other two irons that I was very impressed with were forged blades. The J38 was the best cavity back iron there in my opinion. They are forgiving without making it too hard to work the ball in either direction. The top of the line shaft offering is a plus as well, since the Project X shaft is usually an upgrade for most other companies. For the street price of $799, you get the stock Project X Flighted shaft.
Specs and Options
Bridgestone offers numerous custom shaft options for the J38 irons, including options from companies like Aldila, FST, Grafalloy, Nippon, True Temper and Royal Precision. The Project X Flighted and Project X shafts should be popular, as are the KBS Tour shafts and the old standby – Dynamic Gold and Dynamic Gold SL.
The lofts and lies of these irons can be adjusted by Bridgestone’s custom department in one degree increments, plus or minus 3 degrees. The lofts in this set are pretty strong, as with most modern sets. The PW here is 46 degrees, making a gap wedge likely a good idea. The J38 DPC irons conform to the USGA’s new groove rule, making them OK for play under the new condition of competition on the PGA Tour – not that 99.99% of people that buy these are really concerned with that, but I had to mention it.
These irons can do it all, from high flying shots that stop fast to low, penetrating knockdowns. They perform well from the rough and are just as workable as any other forged cavity back irons on the market. They have a larger head than most other forged cavity back irons, but that doesn’t hinder them in any way. These irons are solid, stable and look good. If you are in the market for high performance forged cavity back irons with premium shafts, these irons will deliver. I think these will be best for a mid handicap player that is working his/her way to single digits and wants a forgiving forged club that will provide enough feel and feedback to help them improve. Take some time to try these out, and you won’t be disappointed!
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