Pros: Bold alignment features. Aluminum F.I.T. Face creates a soft feel at impact. Great size and shape.
Cons: No adjustable weights.
Who it’s for: Anyone can use an Inovai 3.0. It will be preferred by golfers who like mallet putters, even more so by golfers in search of greater stroke stability.
- Weight: 358 grams
- Material: 6061 Aluminum/303 Stainless Steel
- Finish: Black Anodized/Hand Polished Stainless
- Face Milling: F.I.T. (Feel Impact Technology) Face
- Stock Lie/Loft: 71 degrees, 2 degrees
- Stock Length Options: 33, 34, 35 inches
- Stock Grip: Lamkin Deep-Etched Paddle, Lamkin Deep Etched Jumbo, SuperStroke options
The Inovai 3.0 is also available in center-shafted and counter-balanced ($349) models.
Like most readers of GolfWRX, I change putters frequently. In fact, quite frequently. In my defense, however, I spent a great deal of time fiddling around with different shapes to determine if I am a “blade” or “mallet” guy.
Deep down, I’ve always wanted to be a blade guy – and why not? Blade putters look cool and next to flushing a forged 7-iron, there is no better feeling than holing a snaking 30-footer with a pure blade. Unfortunately for me, launch monitors, video playback, instructors and ultimately results have all steered me into mallet putters. Now that I know who I am, I can assure you that I have invested a great deal of time searching for the perfect mallet.
From Guerin Rife 2-Bar putters to TaylorMade Spiders to Scotty Cameron Futuras to recently an Odyssey #7, I am a purveyor of high-MOI putters because of their great stability and consistency. Throw in a soft feel at impact, and I am really hooked.
Based on these personal putter preferences, you can understand why my interest was especially piqued when I first saw Bettinardi’s new Inovai 3.0 (pronounced in-o-vai).
If Looks Could Kill
Without even as much as holding the putter, it appeared to check all of the required boxes to make it in my bag. The first thing that sucked me in was the Inovai 3.0 stainless steel “wings,” which act as a mechanism to help move weight more rearward to create what the company calls the “perfect head weight.” For me, I just like the wings because it frames the ball and helps with alignment. But I’m not going to argue with “perfect” head weight, either.
Next, the body of the Inovai 3.0 is not too busy (like some high-MOI putters), nor is it too small, which in my mind defeats the purpose of a high performance mallet. In the words of the fictional character Goldilocks, the size of the Inovai 3.0 is “just right.”
If the shape of the Inovai 3.0 doesn’t draw you in, perhaps you will fall for the black anodized finish or the hand-polished 303 stainless steel weight bolted to the aluminum chassis. The concept of affixing a stainless steel section to a specific portion of the body is not a new concept for Bettinardi. The original Inovai also employs a hefty piece of steel to assist with weight and stability. This stainless steel back weight creates added density giving the user a solid, proportionately weighted weapon for the greens.
As seen on TOUR
Bettinardi refers to the Inovai 3.0’s shape shape as the “newest tour-proven shape.” If you don’t believe them, tune into Golf Channel and you will see many equipment companies with their interpretation of this shape. Everything about this shape just seems to work. Maybe the secret is out and this shape will soon overtake the unforgiving (yet beautiful) blade putters?
What about the face? The Inovai 3.0 has a sleek, all-black face. Upon further inspection, the construction is Bettinardi’s proprietary F.I.T (Feel-Impact-Technology) face. According to the company, 55 percent of material is removed directly from the putter face during the milling process, creating the softest feel of any Bettinardi face finish. Typically, a soft, responsive feel is a mandate for those playing at the highest level. To no one’s surprise, the F.I.T. face is engineered for the golfers who have an “aggressive” putting style, and used by all of Bettinardi’s PGA Tour players.
Alignment, Alignment, Alignment
Perhaps one of the reasons that this shape continues to attract Tour players is because of its inherent alignment benefits. The stainless steel “wings” provide critical mass to stabilize the putter, but also double as an effective way to frame the ball at address. Look closely and you will also notice two subtle black lines on each wing. Throw in a half-inch, solid white line that stretches to the leading edge of the putter and you have an excellent chance of starting a putt on the desired line.
On the Green
Before I even struck a ball with the Inovai 3.0, I wanted to like it. I wanted to impart a smooth strike to the center of the ball and watch it roll end-over-end into the hole with precision and ease. After all, this is the shape I like to see at address. I dropped three balls on the green and alternated between 3-footers, 6-footers and 10-footers. As expected, the short putts dropped with ease as I was able to rely on the intuitive alignment features for added confidence. When employing a longer stroke, the ball rolled beautifully and reliably to the hole. Even on off-center strikes, the roll was consistent.
Not to be forgotten is the choice in grip. For the Inovai 3.0 putters, Bettinardi offers a traditional Lamkin paddle grip – a perfect choice to manage the weight of the head. For those seeking a thicker grip, a jumbo paddle grip is offered.
The Inovai 3.0 isn’t just flash or gimmick. The mix of milled aluminum and stainless steel gives, while providing the necessary size and mass to deliver a solid and reliable strike. The soft F.I.T. face provides incredible feedback and is a no-brainer for those who like a soft feel, as well as those who prefer completely milled putters
Overall, the iNOVAi 3.0 is worth a look if you are a purveyor of mallet putters or simply a frustrated blade guy. Personally speaking, the Inovai 3.0 has everything I am want and for that reason, is in the bag for the 2016 season.
Editor’s Note: Several GolfWRX Staff Members contributed to this review.
- Behind the scenes at Bettinardi HQ
- Bettinardi launches new BB Series, unveils Inovai 3.0
- Bettinardi releases 10 new putters for 2015
- 10 awesome photos from Bettinardi’s 2015 Summer Social
WRX Spotlight: Toulon Design San Diego Stroke Lab putter
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.
- More photos of the Toulon Design San Diego Stroke Lab putter (and other Toulon Stroke Lab putters) in the forums.
WRX Spotlight Review: Miura MGP-NM1 Putter
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.
Review: Optic Z Putters
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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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?
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.
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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