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Review: Bettinardi 2014 BB Series Putters

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Pros: 100% milled, with a very soft feel at impact. The Hyper-Honeycomb face finish is stunning, and is a nice modern touch to these classic putters.

Cons: They’re expensive ($299), and only come in one head weight (353 grams for standard-length, 395 grams for counter-balanced).

Bottom Line: Even golfers who don’t know much about putters can appreciate the quality of Bettinardi’s BB Series putters.

Overview

Golfers not familiar with the Bettinardi brand should know that the Tinley, Ill.-based company has its roots in the defense industry, which according to Bettinardi’s Vice President of Sales and Market Sam Bettinardi was the impetus for the high-quality machining process its putters undergo. Each and every Bettinardi putter starts as a solid block of steel, and is 100 percent milled and assembled in Tinley Park. That gives the company extraordinary control over its manufacturing process, which has earned Bettinardi great praise from putter aficionados for its tight tolerances and attention to detail.

The 2014 BB Series technically includes five models: the BB1, BB1F, BB32, BB43 and BB55. This review will not include the high-MOI BB55 putter, however, which got its own review that can be viewed here

Each of the BB Series putters has a head weight of 353 grams, and comes stock with a Pure Grip made custom for Bettinardi in either standard or midsize. Two counter-balanced models are also available: the BB1 CB and BB32 CB. They come stock at 38 inches with a 17-inch Winn grip made custom for Bettinardi that weighs 135 grams. The extra 42 grams that the 3 inches of length add to the total weight of the putter is balanced with an extra 42 grams of head weight, making each putter head 395 grams. The standard-length BB1 is available for righties and lefties, while the rest of the line is right-handed only.

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The weight of each Bettinardi BB Series putter head is written on the sole.

The putters have Bettinardi’s Hyper-Honeycomb face, a milling pattern that debuted on the 2013 BB Series putters and produces larger-diameter honeycomb shapes than the original pattern. The faces and soles have a high-polished silver finish, while the top of the putters have a glare-free matte silver satin finish.

The standard-length putters sell for $299, while the counter-balanced models cost $349. They’re available from select retailers, as well as direct from http://www.bettinardi.com/

Performance

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BB1

The BB1 is an Anser-style putter with a slightly longer-than-normal plumber’s neck. That gives the putter a one-half toe hang, making it more face-balanced than the 2013 BB1 putter (it had a shorter hosel and a three-quarter toe hang). The longer plumber’s neck also extends the angular portion of the neck farther from the top line, making it less noticeable at address.

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According to Bettinardi, putter design trends are moving away from models with a lot of toe hang and more toward face-balanced models, which was the reason its neck was extended. It also provided ample space to showcase the milling process that shaped the 1-piece putter, as Bettinardi left the mill marks on its hosel intact as a subtle clue to the putter’s quality.

BB1F

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The BB1F is an elongated Anser-style putter with a flow neck that delivers a three-quarter toe hang. That’s the most toe hang of any putter in the line, making it a fit for golfers who have a lot of arc in their stroke.

Like the BB1, Bettinardi added style to the putter’s neck. Ridges are milled along its curvature, giving it a “wow” factor, especially for golfers who are not used to handling high-quality putters. More impressive is the way the long, skinny flow neck transitions into the top line of the putter at address. It’s one of the least prominent flow necks on the market, a real feather in Bettinardi’s cap for a golfer who is sensitive to the amount of neck that is visible at address.

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The wider footprint of the BB1F and its wide-set bumpers also gives the putter more stability than golfer’s might expect from a flow-neck Anser-style putter.

BB32

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The BB32 is easily my favorite putter in the BB Series. There’s an alignment story: the “rare flange design,” as Bettinardi calls it, extends the half moon-shaped flange to allow for a longer sight line, which makes the putter easier to aim. The putter’s bumpers also serve to shrink the size of the mallet. They angle inward toward the center of the flange, making the BB32 look smaller than it really is. That visual trick might be the reason the putter was much more stable than I thought it should have been.

With a one-quarter toe hang and a plumber’s neck, the BB32 also has the potential to draw curiosity from both blade-putter users who are looking to try something more robust, as well as mallet users who are looking for something more inspiring at address.

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The BB32 CB, the counter-balanced version of the putter, aims to please the nervy crowd. It and the BB1 CB are a must-try for golfers who want to try a counter-balanced putter, but are not prepared to switch to a more radical-looking, high-MOI design like the BB55. Be aware, however, that compared to TaylorMade’s Daddy Long Legs, Odyssey’s Tank and Bettinardi’s B55 CB, the BB32 CB feels considerably heavier at address. I could speculate as to why, but it’s better to sample the putters yourself and make your own judgement. Maybe you’ll find that you don’t mind the heavier feel.

BB43

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The BB43’s true center-shafted design places more of the putter’s mass directly behind the impact area. In iron design, that’s known to make a iron feel softer and more solid at impact, and the BB43 is no exception: it’s the softest-feeling putter in the line.

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According to Bettinardi, the BB43 has garnered a cult following since the release of the original BB43 in 2001, which likely stems from its quirkiness. When viewing it from face-on, I swear I’m looking at a Bullseye. But in the playing position, the putter morphs into a center-shafted Anser-style putter. It’s also face-balanced, which should help golfers who have putting strokes that are more straight-back and straight-through.

Looks and feel

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Golfers who are willing to spend $300 on a putter demand certain things. If they’re purists, simplicity — the strong point of the BB Series line — is high on their lists. At address, the non-glare silver satin finish on the top of the putter is all business. But the high-polished, Hyper-Honeycomb faces of the putters don’t just add artistic value to the putter — they add performance and durability.

According to Bettinardi, the Hyper-Honeycomb faces ensure a completely flat face surface, a claim that’s hard to dispute when viewing the flatness of the face from the side. The high-polished finish on the face and sole also add durability to those high impact areas. Any golfer who has ever bought a completely matte putter, only to watch the sole and face develop a shine from use over time know exactly what I’m talking about.

The samples we received had no flaws to either their paintfill or shaft band, and we appreciate the red, white and blue colorways that scream Made in the U.S.A. Another nice touch are the American-made Pure Grips, which are highly durable and continue with the Patriotic theme, as well as the red, white and blue leather headcover (check it out in the photo gallery at the bottom of the story).

The lone drawback of the BB Series is the inability to adjust the weight of the putter heads through moveable weights. According to Bettinardi, the company shies away from them because it feels that they can negatively affect sound and feel. It’s hard to argue that assertion, as each of the putters offers a soft, solid feel at impact.

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Above: The BB32 and BB32 CB — which has a 42-gram heavier head — at address. Can you tell them apart?

We also understand the cost ineffectiveness of milling custom-weighted putter heads, although we know that Bettinardi could do it. The BB1 CB and BB32 CB putters are 42 grams heavier than the standard-length models, yet they hardly appear any larger than the lighter heads at address. According to Bettinardi, this is possible because each of the putters is 100 percent milled, which allows weight to be distributed evenly (and almost invisibly) across the entirety of the putter head.

The Takeaway

Bettinardi is making an aggressive play to become the go-to premium putter maker in the U.S., signing online distribution deals with major retailers PGA SuperStore and 2nd Swing. It is also trying to garner more PGA Tour presence, signing Matt Kuchar and Brian Gay as brand ambassadors in 2013, and adding putter reps on the Web.com and Champions Tours. It’s a bold move for the extremely competitive and sometimes fickle putter market, but the quality and beauty of the BB Series line makes it hard to question the decision.

If you’re willing to spend $300 on a putter, congrats, you’re a real GolfWRXer. And no GolfWRXer would look down on you for spending that $300 on a Bettinardi.

[wrx_buy_now oemlink=”http://www.bettinardi.com/bb-series/” oemtext=”Learn more from Bettinardi” amazonlink=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00I5QBKX2/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00I5QBKX2&linkCode=as2&tag=golfwrxcom-20&linkId=WPDFMHOI6VFKBTEL”]

Click here to see what GolfWRX Members are saying about Bettinardi’s BB Series putters in the forums.

Click here to see what GolfWRX Members are saying about Bettinardi’s BB Series putters in the forums.

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7 Comments

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  1. Pingback: Golf Clubs – Our Selection | Romney Warren Golf Club

  2. Kevin M

    Jul 25, 2014 at 10:10 am

    As a “died in the wool” Cameron guy, I pretty much know what I want and like in a putter. That being said, Bettinardi putters are some of the finest and highest quality putters on the market and I WILL give credit where credit is due. Some people balk at the price of some putters and that’s fine, but you do get what you pay for and pay for what you get. I’ve putted with several Bettinardis and have nothing bad to say about any of them.

  3. Jake

    May 29, 2014 at 9:37 am

    The difference in feel between Bettinardi putters and other putters is unreal. Putting is the most important part in the game of golf, and with the BB32, I was able to shave 5-6 strokes off my game because I was so accurate with the flat stick. Keep it up Bettinardi!

  4. tom

    Jan 15, 2014 at 10:23 pm

    They look awesome.
    If the CB version has a 395 gram head with a 38″ shaft and a 135 gram grip, those are the same specs as the 38″ DLL … so how could it feel heavier?

  5. yo!

    Jan 15, 2014 at 9:50 pm

    I guess if it had adjustable weights, you would give it 5 stars.

  6. Andy

    Jan 15, 2014 at 4:49 pm

    Thanks for covering Bettinardi. This is a beautiful line of products, and the boys in Tinley Park continue to get it right year after year. Lovin’ the 32

  7. Dave

    Jan 15, 2014 at 4:03 pm

    That BB1F is lookin sweet

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Equipment

WRX Spotlight: Toulon Design San Diego Stroke Lab putter

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Product: Toulon Design San Diego Stroke Lab putter

Pitch: From Odyssey/Toulon: “The Odyssey Toulon San Diego Stroke Lab Putter is our take on on another classic putter. It’s an expertly crafted, premium milled blade, with our multi-material Stroke Lab Shaft, deep diamond milled cross hatch grooves, and a new Charcoal Smoke finish.”

Our take on the Toulon Design San Diego Stroke Lab putter

Toulon is the line of all milled putters from Odyssey, originally started by club designer Sean Toulon and his sons. Toulon putters have always featured their Deep Diamond Mill face, adjustable sole weight, and brazed (instead of welded) necks. That combination has created a great putter line that has become popular on tour as well as us amateur players. For 2019, there are some new head shapes, Charcoal Smoke Finish, Deep Diamond Milling across the whole face, and the Stroke Lab putter shaft.

I got my hands on the Toulon San Diego, a more squared-off blade shape, for this review. The shape, milling, and finish on the San Diego are great and really show off what a high quality piece it is. The biggest change visually is the full Deep Diamond Mill face, making the view from address more uniform. The face used to have the milling only in the center of the face and to some that was a distracting look while others liked the way it framed the ball. The new finish also looks great. I always have liked darker finishes and this looks high end while still reducing glare in the brightest conditions.

The Stroke Lab shaft goes well with the finish on the San Diego and the head cover is a plush synthetic leather that feels like it will hold up for years of use.

On the green the San Diego SL has a crisp sound and feel. If you like a little more click to your putter, then the San Diego SL will be right what you are looking for. And don’t take that as a negative thing, that crisp feel gives great feedback on face contact. You know exactly where the putter face and ball met by the sound and feel. The Deep Diamond Mill gets the ball rolling quickly on line with very minimal hop and skid, providing very consistent and repeatable distance control.

This is blade, so shots off the toe to tend to stray from your intended line a bit, the face does seem like it wants to rotate open a bit. Heel strikes defiantly stay online better, but tend to lose more steam and net get the roll out you might expect. The simple alignment line on the flange of the putter is easy to align, even for a guy who has been using mallets for years.

Like I have said before, I think there is something to the Stroke Lab tech, the lighter shaft and weight in the butt of the shaft do affect tempo for me; I noticed a slight calming of my backstroke and stroke through the ball.

Overall, the San Diego is a great putter for those who like a little firmer feel and more audible click on their putter. It is very responsive and putts a great roll on the ball. This isn’t a cheap putter ($450) and the fit and finish let you know that you are getting what you paid for.

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Putter Reviews

WRX Spotlight Review: Miura MGP-NM1 Putter

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Product: Miura MGP-NM1 putter

Pitch: Limited to 300 pieces, the Miura MGP-NM1 is Miura’s first 303 stainless steel putter. Its appearance is in keeping with the bolder designs of the Miura Giken family.

Our take on the Miura MGP-NM1 putter

Miura Giken has become the brand where Miura can push some limits and try out designs and technology not really fit for the standard Miura line. And if doing something new and different is what Miura Giken is about, then the MGP-NM1 fits like a glove. When most people think of Miura, they think forged carbon steel and traditional, old school shapes. The MGP-NM1 is a long ways from that, being milled from 303 stainless steel, having adjustable weights and milled stepped pockets in the sole.

If you love mill marks, then the MBG-NM1 will fulfill all our needs because the head is covered with them. I really liked the top line where the mill marks go front to back but then get much finer around the alignment line. If you look close the milling is still there, but just much finer. It works great along with the alignment lines on the “fangs.” The MGP-NM1 is a great size: large enough to give you confidence that a mishit will stay online, but not too big to be distracting. Like most putters with this (Odyssey No. 7)  shape, it frames the ball really well and looks great to my eye. The way the shaft goes into the head is for sure unique, it is straight from address but does drop down into the head.

I will get my one con on this putter out of the way early: the way the shaft goes into the head from address. I love the shape of the head, but the way the shaft enters the head makes it harder for me to line up. At address you can see the the top line of the putter on both sides of the shaft and for some that might be helpful, but it took me a long time to get comfortable with my alignment. Also, the head cover isn’t up to standard for a putter in this price range.

But the good of this putter really outweighs that bad. The putter  feels and sounds great, much like the Miura KM-009 reviewed previously. Feel is very solid with, to me, the perfect amount of click on impact. There might be just a slight bit of vibration on contact, but very minimal and will probably vary with the ball you play. Contact on the toe and heel really stay on target well; you can tell this mallet has a fairly high MOI. Like any responsive putter should do, this really provides good feedback on mishits. Toe and heel shots are not punished as much as you would think, the ball still rolls out well with minimal distance loss. That solid, soft Miura feel really does come through with this putter.

Overall, I think the Miura Giken MGP-NM1 is a really great way for a mallet user to put a Miura putter into the bag.

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Putter Reviews

Review: Optic Z Putters

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Pros: Point-and-shoot putting. Optic Z putters use a Z-neck design that can lead to a more consistent setup with your hands and eyes on every putt.

Cons: It could take a little while to get used to the design.

Who It’s For: Players looking to develop a consistent setup and stroke.

The Review

  • Model: Optic Z8
  • Head Weight: 365 grams
  • Material: Proprietary “Power 51” Alloy
  • Finish: Black “High-Tech Molecular” application
  • Face Milling: Deep Double Mill
  • Stock Lie: 70.5 degrees (rolled sole allows angles from 67 to 75)
  • Loft: 2.25 degrees
  • Stock Length Options: 35 inches (All lengths available custom order)
  • Stock Grip: Lamkin E.B.L “Optic” grip (Custom grips available)
  • Stock Shaft: True Temper Steel (Aerotech, Loomis, and UST available)
  • Price: $325 Base (Up to $500 with custom options)

Over the past decade, it seems like there have been as many new putter companies as there have been drivers released in the past year (I think another one just released since I typed that sentence). While many of them have come up with ways to re-create or re-design the classic favorites of the past 40-plus years, there are a few companies that are pushing the boundaries of what a putter can be and how it can help make putting easier. And a company called Optic Z Putters has done just that.

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I reviewed the company’s Optic Z8 putter, which has a distinct batwing shape. It’s one of three putters the company offers — its Z3 is more blade-like in shape, while its Z7 is more mallet-like — and each putter sells for $325.

According to the company, Z Optic putters take the two main parts of putting and making them easy to reproduce. And with every putt, Optic Z putters are said to help golfers set their hands and eyes in the same exact position for every putt. “This has been done!” you say? Well, let’s find out if my experience with the Z8 was different.

The Look

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When I first saw the Z8 putter with its Z-shaped hosel, I began to wonder, “What exactly is going on here?” It has a unique Z-neck that creates a “3D” effect when looking down over the ball at address. But when looking at the putter in any other view, it does look odd. It will take a little bit of time to get used to it, but like many putters that come out these days, after a while you simply get used to it and forget about it.

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The putter is 100 percent milled, U.S.A. made, and has a deep “double” milled face pattern that is familiar to most people. It offers an incredibly soft feel that is part from the milling, but also from the Proprietary Power 51 alloy metal that is used. The sole of the Z8 has 8 degrees of roll to it. This means that it can effectively play with a lie angle anywhere from 67 to 75 degrees. The new Z-neck hosel also makes the putter face balanced as if it was a center-shafted putter. And finally, there are several thick alignment lines, both horizontal and vertical, to help aim.

The Z Revolution?

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Once you set the putter down and see how everything lines up in a “3D” type of alignment, you get the point of the Z-neck. Instead of just giving one point of reference similar to other putters, the Z8 gives you three points of alignment.

You align the Z-neck bend with the toe of the putter, the heel and shaft together, and then make sure both are lined up together. Once you have this set, your hands and eyes will be in the correct position.

Z8Putter6

In addition to adding more reference points, the key difference with the Z8 is that it actually requires you to have forward press with your hands. The stated loft of 2.25 degrees is the loft with your hands in that forward-press position. The Z-neck is also supposed to eliminate the visual moment of impact of when the ball comes off the face of the putter. The theory is that it helps you relax more through the stroke by not seeing the point of impact, a similar theory to looking at the hole instead of the ball when putting.

Does it work?

Z8Putter5

I was skeptical of the putter when I first started using it, and it took me a little bit to get used to the 3D effect. After spending a good amount of time with it, I can say that it does what it is supposed to do. It really becomes a “point-and-shoot” kind of putting, and it makes the set up of putting incredibly easy. The ball rolls really well off the face, too, and the feel is incredibly soft. The alignment aids do a good job helping at address, and I’m someone who has moved away from alignment aids because I tend to aim them incorrectly.

The Optic Z8 putter performed the best for me on putts inside 10 feet. I struggled on longer putts, but it was more due to the weight of the putter. At 365 grams, it is much heavier compared to what I’ve been using, but I’ve always struggled with long-distance putting with heavier putters. Overall, I was pleasantly surprised with the performance. And the more I used it, the more comfortable I became and the more putts I made.

The Takeaway

Z8putter

If you struggle with consistency, especially at set up, this is one to try. It may take some time to get used to Optic Z putters, but most golfers should be able to adjust. These putters are well made, feel great and can truly help golfers in two areas that we know are important to putting.

To learn more about Optic Golf’s putters, visit the company’s website

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