For the past several years, Robert Bettinardi designed and crafted an impressive line of putters in partnership with Mizuno Golf, culminating in the Black Carbon series putters, which ranked among the finest flatsticks in the broad retail market.
Then, in a shocking development last summer, Mizuno and Bettinardi announced a decision to part ways. According to both parties, the decision was mutual and amicable.
By the time the split was announced, Bettinardi had already teed up his first post-Mizuno line of retail putters—the BB Series, which is really an expansion and reinvention of an earlier Bettinardi line.
Does the BB Series live up to Bettinardi’s lofty reputation as one of the world’s elite putter designers? Following is PutterZone.com’s Bettinardi BB putter review, specifically the BB26 model ($265).
In an exclusive interview with PutterZone.com the day after the split was announced, Bettinardi said, “I have nothing but respect and admiration for the people at Mizuno. For me, it was a matter of wanting to take my company to the next level, to have more independence in terms of design as well as sales and marketing.”
Bettinardi summed it up as “a total restart.” Yet in some ways, he was just going back to his roots. Indeed, throughout his relationship with Mizuno, Bettinardi had never left his putter manufacturing facility near Chicago, and he had never stopped making his own limited-edition putters.
The new Bettinardi BB Series features five classically styled putter models milled from carbon steel and plated with a durable black nickel finish. The BB putters come in variable head weights of 332 grams and 348 grams for lengths of 35 and 34 inches, respectively. Each features Bettinardi’s signature milled honeycomb pattern across the face.
The BB26 is a center-shafted, heel-toe weighted design with zero offset. A spud-style neck provides a smooth transition from the shaft to the head. The loft is three degrees, and the lie angle is 71 degrees. The toe hangs at approximately 4 o’clock.
The View from PutterZone.com
The first thing that struck me out of the box with the BB26 was the utterly impeccable quality of the head, from the luxurious finish to the masterful cornering to the tiniest nooks of the paintfill. The result is a visually delicious putter that just oozes attention to detail.
On the business end of the head, the BB26 smartly keeps the markings to a minimum, with a single white sightline along the upper sole. The topline is the same width as the shaft, further enhancing the putter’s confident symmetry. If you are so inclined, you can visually align the shaft with the rear topline at address to foster a consistent setup (a sort of blue-collar riff on the SeeMore RifleScope alignment system).
The feel of the BB26 is plump and gracious with an underlying firmness and crisp audio feedback. This is definitely not the Black Carbon Series 2.0—whereas the intricate “F.I.T.” face on the Mizuno Bettinardi Black Carbon putters promoted a lusciously soft feel, the BB26 is more true to the native purity of the metal itself.
On that note, the BB26 isn’t going to coddle you. If you miss the sweet spot, it will tell you. It’s forgiving enough in terms of where it sends the ball, but the nuanced feel will keep you honest.
I love the zero-offset design of the BB26. I lead a bit of a schizophrenic life when it comes to putters, as I am always testing a wide variety of shapes and styles. I’m naturally drawn to the classic offset plumber’s neck, as I was raised on an old PING Anser. But I’m coming to accept the fact that my alignment tends to be better without offset. The BB26 is therefore the best of both worlds for me—a zero-offset putter that still echoes the heel-toe weighted look and balance of the classic Anser-style head.
At 332 grams (on the 35-inch model), the head of the BB26 is relatively light by today’s increasingly heavy standards, but the putter nevertheless feels sufficiently substantial in the hands. With putter weights trending upwards, it’s nice to have more traditional options. Not everyone wants—or needs—a heavy stick.
Bettinardi is, in fact, one of the few putter producers who account for the phenomenon of swingweight, offering variable head weights to match different shaft lengths—a commendable example of going the extra mile.
The included slip-on head cover is actually a patented Bettinardi design that aims to eliminate the frustrations associated with velcro. On that front, it does the trick. It hugs the head and is never in danger of slipping off as your clubs jangle around in the back of the cart. The look of the head cover is sharp, too, although I would have preferred a more substantial outer material to match the quality of the putter itself.
To my eye, the BB Series ultimately exudes total self assuredness. After the split with Mizuno, Bettinardi could have tried to make a splash with edgy designs, brash ornamentation or fancy technological features. Instead, he delivered straight-up milled masterworks with class and classicism. Well played, Mr. Bettinardi.
The Final Word
The Bettinardi BB26 is the picture of visual perfection, revealing an exquisite attention to detail that is evident in the performance as well. This putter is a true gamer, the kind of stick that makes you look forward to putting, and that is likely to stay in the bag for years to come. With the BB Series, Robert Bettinardi advances his reputation for striking designs and meticulous quality.