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Putter Reviews

Review: Bettinardi BB55 Putter

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Pros: The BB55 feels very stable and smooth during the stroke. The three sight lines and bulbous side panels nicely frame the ball at address. Counter-balanced model available.

Cons: For an aluminum putter it actually feels pretty good, but it’s still aluminum. No custom weight options.

The Bottom Line: The BB55 is cleaner-looking than a lot of high-MOI putters, with a feel that’s at the top of its class for its aluminum construction.

Overview

Bettinardi’s BB55 putter is milled from a solid block of 6061 aircraft-grade aluminum, but unlike most of the company’s putters it incorporates a multi-material design to boost tits moment of inertia to new heights. The “smooth rolling side panels,” as Bettinardi calls them, house weight plugs that drive the putter’s center of gravity (CG) rearward in the head. That can help smooth out a golfer’s stroke, and adds stability to the putter head on off-center strikes, creating more consistent ball speeds across the face.

The BB55 is available in two versions: a standard-length model and a counter-balanced (CB) model, both of which are face-balanced. The standard-length putter ($299) has a head weight of 358 grams, 5 grams heavier than the company’s other BB Series putters. It comes stock with a Pure Grip made custom for Bettinardi in either standard or midsize.

Bettinardi B55 Putter Review

The BB55 CB ($349) comes stock at 38 inches with a 17-inch Winn grip made custom for Bettinardi that weighs 135 grams. Its head weight is 395 grams.

Each of the putters has Bettinardi’s F.I.T. (Feel Impact Technology) face, a face-milling pattern that removes about 45 percent of the face material from the impact area on the putter face to soften the feel at impact.

The BB55 putters have what Bettinardi calls a Champagne Bronze Anodized finish, and come stock with a specially fitted red, white and blue leather head cover. They’re available in right- and left-handed models from select retailers, as well as direct from http://www.bettinardi.com/

Performance

Team Bettinardi says that the B55 is the company’s highest MOI putter to date, and my experience with the putter makes it hard to dispute that. With the BB55, there’s a feeling of very little effort during the stroke. Once I got the putter started back, the BB55 wanted to do the rest, gliding back and through toward the target. That could be nightmarish for a feel putter with a lot of arc in his or her stroke, but let’s face it: if you’re looking at high-MOI putters like the BB55, you’re probably looking for a putter that simplifies things.

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The counter-balanced model, the BB55 CB, was particularly enjoyable to use. The head felt lighter than Bettinardi’s other counter-balanced putters, the BB1 CB and BB32 CB, and swung with an ease with that minimized my concern about the release. The two 39.5-gram weight plugs added to the rear corners of the putter seemed to help me accelerate the putter on the forward swing and square up its face at impact.

Looks and Feel

The most important part of the BB55’s design from its sales perspective will likely be its F.I.T. face, which is made up of grooves that are milled on the impact area that help soften the sound and feel at impact. There have been some awful sounding high-MOI putters made in the past, and thankfully the BB55 is not one of them. It still has a “tink” rather than a “thwack” at impact, but the F.I.T. face gives the BB55 one of the most subdued sounds I’ve encountered from an aluminum putter.

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Visually, the BB55 scored points with me because of its lack of sharp edges, which is impressive because of its shape. It’s basically a square that is milled not to look like one, starting with the parenthesis-shaped transition between its top line and body. The sides of the putters are also rounded, as are the cutaways in the middle of the putter and on the back of the flange, which pinches the rear of the putter head inward toward the face. That “pinch” creates a feeling that the putter wants to keep moving forward — never a bad thing over a short putt.

As for sight lines, there are two of them placed about the width of a golf ball away from each other on the top line of the putter. Those and the longer, single sight line on the body of the putter create what Bettinardi calls “Triple Vertical” sight lines, which are effective at helping a golfer center the ball on the putter face and square the face to the target.

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Golfers won’t see it at address, but Bettinardi added a milled, red-and-blue anodized insert to the cavity of the putter that creates a nice “pop” between it and the BB55’s champagne bronze anodized finish when viewed from behind.

The Bottom Line

The BB55 is yet another attractive option from Bettinardi to help golfers find the quickest way to get the ball in the hole. If it’s too large or too goofy looking for you, remember that the company also makes two Kuchar-style “Arm Lock” putters used by none other than Matt Kuchar (click here to read our full review), as well as two additional counter-balanced putters that have more classic shapes (click here to read about them).

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The BB55 will face plenty of stiff competition in the high-MOI putter category in 2014, but it’s high-quality construction, subdued sound and handsome matte finish will allow the B55 to more than hold its own.

[wrx_buy_now oemlink=”http://www.bettinardi.com/product/bb55/” oemtext=”Learn more from Bettinardi” amazonlink=”http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00JG5SNQI/ref=as_li_qf_sp_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B00JG5SNQI&linkCode=as2&tag=golfwrxcom-20&linkId=HE46TLKA3X3VNAIL”]

Click here to see what GolfWRX Members are saying about the BB55 putter in the forums.

 

Click here to see what GolfWRX Members are saying about the BB55 putter in the forums.

 

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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.

Z8Putter4

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

back optic z8

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.

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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?

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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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