New star is born at Equipment Test Center – Bridgestone’s OTTO is ball-fitting genius

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A unique celebrity sighting took place in the Equipment Test Center at the PGA Show Wednesday and Thursday. OTTO, Bridgestone Golf’s autonomous, portable ball-fitting machine with a FlightScope heart (launch monitor) is sizing up golfers of all skill levels, measuring their clubhead speed, launch angle, ball speed and shot shape to help them select the Bridgestone ball that suits their swing.

With 44 hitting bays and practice targets, the Equipment Test Center is a large indoor range designed to hit everything from drivers and fairway woods to irons and wedges. After slamming balls on the ETC range, the 3,750-square-foot ETC putting green adjacent to the range is the ideal place to test the latest putters from participating exhibitors.

IMG_3126-scaled.jpg (1920×2560)Sponsors of the 2024 Equipment Test Center at the PGA Show are Reel Feel Golf Mats and Synthetic Turf International (official hitting mats); Synthetic Turf International (official putting green sponsor); Korechi Innovations Inc. (official range picker sponsor) and Back Nine Greens (official target sponsor).

While OTTO hasn’t necessarily stolen the Show, he is one of the stars of the 2024 PGA Show, with attendees lining up at the Equipment Test Center to have OTTO analyze their golf swing and recommend a golf ball.

“OTTO was extremely busy at the PGA Show Demo Day (Tuesday), and has been very busy at the Equipment Test Center the past two days,” noted Bridgestone R&D Test Director Brady Warey. “People have been lining up all day throughout the past three days for a session with OTTO. We did about 1,000 ball fittings with OTTO at the Demo Day and we’re well on our way to matching that in the Equipment Test Center.”

How does OTTO work? The portable ball-fitting kiosk has a touch pad and asks golfers a few simple questions. Then the golfer hits three or four balls on the indoor ETC range and OTTO measures everything – clubhead speed, launch angle, ball speed, shot shape etc. Then, based on answers to questions such as whether you are looking for increased distance or spin in a golf ball, OTTO (with the aid of Warey or another Bridgestone tech) recommends particular model of golf ball that matches up with your swing characteristics.

“OTTO really simplifies the ball-fitting process, and it’s fun to see what your clubhead speed and shot shape is at the same time,” said Paul Price, PGA Director of Golf at Sycamore Golf Club in Sycamore, Illinois. “We weren’t able to make it to Demo Day this year (on Tuesday), so the Equipment Test Center is giving us a chance to test all the latest drivers to see which ones feel the best to determine what to buy for customers in 2024. OTTO gives us the chance to hit drivers and get a precise ball fitting at the same time, which is genius. I signed up with Bridgestone to have OTTO visit our facility later in the year so our members and customers can hit balls and be fit for the right golf ball just as we did today.”

Almost as popular as OTTO at the Equipment Test Center on the PGA Show floor is Bridgestone’s MindSet graphics on Tour B golf balls based on former PGA Champion and World No. 1 Jason Day’s mental approach to putting. The MindSet balls have a red circle to help golfers identify their target when lining up a putt, then a yellow circle slightly inside the red circle to help visualize the shot oath of the shot. Last, a solid green dot inside the other circles provides a solid focus point.

“The MindSet ball helps you free your mind to improve your golf swing and putting stroke,” said Bridgestone’s Warey. “It’s a breakthrough approach that enables you to separate analytical thoughts from athletic performance. It has been a game-changer for Jason Day, and at the Demo Day and ETC, it has been extremely popular. People are lining up to try it – right along with their appointment with OTTO.”

“It’s a very interesting concept,” said Jeff Harrington, PGA of America Head Professional at Meadowbrook Golf Course in Rutherfordton, North Carolina. “OTTO is great and I can’t wait to try the MindSet ball while playing a round of golf. I definitely think it will help you focus on playing the shot instead of thinking about the 1,001 other things we think about before hitting a golf ball.

“The Equipment Test Center is a great place to unwind and loosen up after we had some appointments on the PGA Show floor, and we discovered OTTO and MindSet. “That’s what I love about the PGA Show – you never know what you’re going to find until you walk the aisles.”