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.
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.
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/
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.