Hey everyone, we’ve got another review for you today, and this one is of the much anticipated counter balance putters from Bettinardi. This new design is built specifically in response to the USGA’s recent ban on belly putters. This new design, is supposed to have the same feel as a belly putter, without the anchoring. Enjoy the review below!
Pros: Bettinardi construction quality, ease of alignment, roll, weight
Cons: Price (list at $349.99), volume of the head can be distracting, a learning curve to adapt your stroke to this equipment
Tech Specs: For the model I tested, heel shaft, 395g, standard loft and lie, 38” length, grip is a Winn 17” B series red. A BB55 head cover in red, white and blue. The essential tech features are 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. Despite this, the sound at impact is solid. The B55 is Bettinardi’s highest MOI (moment of inertia) putter to date. A higher MOI means that more force is required to push the putter off-line once it is in motion – this is good. Likely the high MOI comes from the 39.5 g plugs in the rear corners of the putter head.
What you need to know: The Bettinardi website explains the theory behind the counterbalance putter as follows – The Bettinardi counterbalance models are offered as another alternative to the anchored putting stroke. The purpose of our counterbalanced putters is to move the overall balance point of the club closer to the hands of the player. The weight is added by extending the shaft and grip by 3 inches which adds 37 additional grams. We then increase the putter head by the same amount, 37 grams to 395 grams, in essence countering the weight on each end of the putter. This weighting technique boosts the club’s overall moment of inertia (MOI), so that it swings and feels more stable than ever (http://bettinardi.com/product/bb55-counterbalance/).
The head is milled out of a block of 6061 Aircraft Grade aluminum and the finish is Champagne Bronze anodized. There are very few golfers who would understand what this means and can debate the merits of various grades of aluminum in the manufacturing of a putter head. Suffice to say that despite being built with air-craft materials the last thing you want to do is send this putter flying into a nearby pond.
My testing (and that of my non-professional assistants) of this putter (at the ASU Karsten practice green in Tempe, AZ) showed me that figuring out how to grip and swing this putter is not intuitive. The shaft ranges from 36-40 inches long and depending on your height you might use an arm-lock grip or more traditional grip. If you arm-lock however, you are creating a forward press and de-lofting the face. The BB55 (CB) is not designed as an arm-lock, if that is what you want, check out the Bettinardi Kuchar model with a 42” length and 7 degrees of loft. Despite the initial difficulties, everyone quickly realized that a pendulum straight back and through stroke produced remarkable results. The triple sight lines on the putter surface make alignment simple and once in motion this putter almost eliminates the twitchy, handsy muscle movements that can push the ball off-line. It wasn’t love at first sight with this putter but a repeatable stroke that kept dropping the ball in the hole won me over. If you are erratic with a traditional style putter or are sadly saying good-bye to your belly anchor, this design may be the ticket.
Golfers, especially your friends, can be judgmental and bringing a flat stick with a non-traditional look is going to be fodder for some ribbing. The large head and longer heavier grip seem like overkill to tap a 1.62 oz. ball a few feet but don’t let your friends stop you from putting well. Clearly the best players in the world are not shy about using whatever they can get their hands on if it putts the ball in the hole. If you are prepared to drop about $350.00 on a putter make sure you try various lengths and grips, don’t just grab one off the rack. Sure you can adjust your stroke to any piece of equipment but get fitted, find out what your natural stroke is and get a putter that matches it or in my case, helps correct it.
The very characteristics that make this putter stay on-line make it a bit harder to carry over 18 holes, this is not an excuse to take a cart but the design is not carry friendly. As I noted in an earlier Bettinardi BB1F putter review, one hopes that golf club theft is a rare phenomenon but the distinctive, large, head cover leaves no doubt that you have an expensive piece of equipment in the bag.
Conclusion: The list price ($349.99) is high but you have to put this in perspective with how much your putter determines your success in a round of golf and your enjoyment of the 4.5 hours you just spent. I didn’t expect to like this putter but I can’t argue with how it works. Spend some time on a practice green with a demo and decide for yourself.