Today at The Putter Place we bring you our review of the Bettinardi BB35.
When one looks at the different lines of Bettinardi putters that are available in 2012, it possible that a golfer not familiar with the Bettinardi name could see the BB line as a “cheaper, entry-level” line of putters solely based upon the BB’s having the lowest price point. The BB series putters are less expensive than the Studio Stock lines and the Signature lines, but it is a foolish consumer who believes that the lower cost somehow reflects something less than Bob Bettinardi’s commitment to producing the highest quality putters. Having gamed a Bettinardi BB27 for the majority of last summer, I know first hand how nice the 2011 BB putters are to play on the course. My love of the 2011 BB Series definitely made me excited to review the 2012 Bettinardi BB35.
Here is the info on the BB35 from the Bettinardi website:The BB35 is another design by Robert based on tour inspiration. A semi mallet that resembles a “boxcar.” It has a great setup with a center shaft and face balanced! The BB35 has our patented Honeycomb™ face to ensure the flattest surface possible! Weight: 340G/355G Material: Soft Carbon Steel Finish: Silver Mercury Grip: Dark Red Winn Headcover: Bettinardi Dark Red Dexterity: Right-Handed/Left-Handed
What golfer in their right mind would buy a putter based upon how it looks? Perhaps the same golfer who would put together a whole website based upon the beauty of putters? I’ll admit it, when it comes to trying out a putter I am a bit shallow. Even if a putter matches my putting specs, I probably won’t bag it if I don’t like looking at it. In the spirit of full disclosure, I was not really a fan of the look of the 2010 BB line. That was the series with the matte black finish with a small engraved hex on the sole showing the model. Not ugly by any stretch, but just not eye grabbing and visually sort of average. In 2011 the Bettinardi Studio Stock line had an amazing finish. I picked up a SS7 almost based entirely on that finish. Compared to the Studio Stocks, the 2011 BB’s looked a bit bland at first glance, but closer investigation revealed bold, colorful paintfill and subtle oranges and other hues in the finish. I loved the look and as a result, the 2011 BB27 found its way from the pro shop to my bag.
In 2012, I think that it is easy for one to see that the BB series again has made a step forward in the aesthetics department. The Silver Mercury finish is very rich. The finish looks black, but again, closer investigation reveals a whole bunch of subtle tones buried inside. The finish on the 2012 BB’s satisfies my good-looking putter requirement with charm to spare.
Finish aside; what really caught my eye with the BB35 was the head shape. As a dedicated drooler in the Bettinardi section on PutterTalk, I had previously leered at the boxcar and slotcar (boxcar with a sound slot) head shapes. However, those were limited run tour putters with prices a bit beyond my budget. Enter the announcement of the 2012 BB series. With the introduction of the BB35, the boxcar shape was now available to the general consumer.
There are some things to consider when looking at the BB35. First, it is center-shafted. This can be a little different for someone who is used to the optics of the shaft entering the head toward the heel. Second, there is minimal offset. If you are used to a full-offset plumbers neck in your putter, the BB35 could look a bit unusual.
The specs from the Bettinardi website list the grip and headcover color for this model as dark red. Your eyes are OK, this BB35 has the alternate white cover and grip. I definitely think that the 2012 headcover is improved over last year’s BB headcover, and I really liked that headcover! This one is just a little different in shape and feels a little sturdier in construction. I was able to check out the red versions of the grip and headcover in a local shop and while I prefer the white, the red looks good as well.
Some of you may get uncomfortable and maybe even a bit confused as soon as you read “center-shafted, face-balanced mallet”. This putter definitely fits a more straight-back and straight-through stroke. It seems to resist the arc even a bit more than the previously reviewed SS9. The lack of offset and center shaft did take me a few putting green sessions to get accustomed to the alignment and stroke. I found that just a little bit of forward press and a focus on smooth motion was necessary to get in tune with the BB35. Once I had the stroke, the BB35 truly became a lethal SBST machine.
I was interested in seeing how the boxcar head of the BB35 compared to the half-moon mallet SS7 that I bag here and there. Obviously the neck position is different and aiming at address feels a bit different. The SS7 does seem to resist twisting a bit more than the BB35, but I expected this a bit due to the extra weight at the back of the SS7. As I kept practicing and playing with the BB35 I realized that the head was twisting more when I got a little handsy with the swing and when I pulled my path inside after impact. When I kept to a correct path, the putter remained nice and square and accurate. This twisting was irritating at first, but then actually became a nice bit of feedback while using the BB35. I take a few practice strokes to be sure that I am not twisting the head and then I feel confident that the stroke through the ball will be a good one.
I would definitely describe the overall feel at impact as soft, as one would expect from a carbon steel head. It does provide an impact feedback “thud” if you hit off the toe or the heel. However, even off the toe or heel the ball holds the line pretty well. Distance control for various lengths of putts was very good, excluding my tendency to hammer short putts a bit. The grip is soft yet firm with a nice bit of tackiness. The white grip actually stays clean through play, much more so than my white Iomics…
To wrap this somewhat lengthy review up, I would strongly suggest that mallet players on the lookout for something different check out the BB35. If you already play a center-shafted mallet, you should have ordered one of these before you even finished reading this review. The BB35 is an amazing, high-quality putter that is still in my bag, even though my self-scheduled review period has ended. Perhaps instead of Boxcar Badass the “BB” stands for Bag Bouncer as this putter has the potential to kick all other putters out of that coveted spot in the bag.
Well-played Mr. Bettinardi, well-played.