It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year
I know that song is referencing the winter holiday season, but for me, the holidays really only add a modicum of excitement to my December days. Sure it’s nice to see friends and family, and to hear daily what my kids want from Santa. Who doesn’t look forward to that? But if the visions of sugarplums don’t stoke my December fire, then what does?
New putters, of course!
While fruit-themed hallucinations are cool, what gets me through the longest nights of the year is knowing that next season's new putters are just around the bend. Sure we get lots of new other golf clubs too, but new flatsticks are always at the top of my interest list. New lines, new models, new alignment aids, new materials, and even new grips all fire up my anticipation for the coming golf year. My putter-philia knows no bounds.
While many companies try to hide their putters until as close to the January PGA show as possible, one of my favorite putter makers, Bettinardi Golf, regularly treats the putter lover to a new model feast every December. We get to see the BB’s, the SS’s, the Queen B’s, and the Sig’s that we will acquire, or pine for in the coming year.
I don’t know about you, but I would much rather look at the pictures of Bettinardi putters than a Christmas cards showing photos of random cousins whom I’ve never met in person. Sorry cousin Zeke.
New Putters & New Plan
This year, Bettinardi has done something a bit different. They have introduced new models to an existing line. We will see those new BB’s in a bit, but they have also changed their release cycle. When you get the chance to look at the whole 2014 Bettinardi catalog, you will see that while the BB line has been revamped, the Studio Stock and Queen B lines have not.
Bettinardi has decided to move to a two-year cycle on their putter lines. That means that the 2013 Studio Stocks and Queen B models are around for another go in 2014. The only difference in those lines is the change of the grips to orange or white Pure Grips, respectively.
While this move will surely totally bum out people waiting for new Studio Stocks and Queen B putters, ultimately I think that the golf consumer community as a whole will welcome the change, as many have expressed dismay at the frequency of golf equipment releases.
Now we know what to expect, and when. Who knows, maybe this will give the designers at Bettinardi an extra year of R&D for each line and the new models that release will be that much better.
You may still be annoyed that there are fewer Bettinardi putters to drool over under the new system. Don’t worry; there are lots of new metal marvels to covet. In addition to these five BB models, in 2014 Bettinardi will also release counterbalanced versions of the BB1, BB32, and BB55, plus two amazing new Signature Series putters. Check back in January for the full story on the counterbalanced models and we will explore the Sigs soon after that.
Why these BB’s?
Those of us who follow Bettinardi annual releases know that while the BB1 is pretty much a lock to be there, the other heads rotate in and out. Curious about this, I asked Bettinardi's VP of Sales/Marketing, Sam Bettinardi, to provide some insight on the model selection process.
How do you choose which models to include in a given line each year?
The process in which we choose our new models is an extensive one, coupled with input from PGA Tour players and also being able to offer our customers a wide variety of models. Our PGA Tour rep attends every event throughout the year and is able to work with these guys to find out what styles and head models are popular to them. In 2013 we found that a lot of players were looking for putters with a slightly lower profile, making the golf ball appear to float above the topline slightly.
We made the adjustments into our line and can be seen with the Studio Stock 14. This year we noticed a considerable amount of players counterbalancing their putters in an effort to try alternative putting styles. So for 2014 we are adding 3 of our popular BB Series putters to the line in the BB1, BB32, and BB55 all available at 395 grams, a 17 inch grip, and a standard 38 inches in length.When we focus on the Bettinardi consumer, we want to be able to provide as much variety as possible throughout our different lines of putters.
Our BB Series contains 5 different and unique models that offer something to everyone with our Satin Silver finish and Hyper-Honeycomb face. The Studio Stock Series is a richer putter featuring our patented Hextagonal F.I.T. (Feel Impact Technology) Face and Corona Black PVD. The Queen B Models are an elegant pair of putters for those looking for a little heavier head weight at 360grams, the Micro-Honeycomb face, and the plush Cashmere Bronze finish that accompanies it.
Finally the Kuchar Models, which were released in May after Bettinardi Golf signed a multi-year deal with Matt Kuchar, can provide the consumer a putter that contains direct input from one of the top ten golfers in the world. We teamed up with Kuchar to release his arm lock style putter in two head styles and also in standard length.
So I guess it’s not just a random number generator picking the models. Who knew? OK, enough rambling, lets check out the new 2014 BB’s!
Specifications 2014 Bettinardi BB Line
Material: Mild Carbon Steel / 6061 Aircraft Grade Aluminum (BB55)
Finish: Silver Satin / Champagne Bronze Anodized (BB55)
Head Weight: 353g / 358g (BB55)
Grip: Blue Pure Grip Standard or Midsized
Headcover: BB Series Red/White/Blue
Left Handed Models: BB1 & BB55
When I first looked at the photos of the 2014 BB1 I got a little excited. OK maybe a lot excited. You see, I am a sucker for long neck, face-balanced blades. Then I looked at the BB1 a little closer, and realized that the neck was a little shorter, and a little closer to the heel than it would be if it was face balanced. Sure enough, 1/2 toe hang. For most of you, this BB1 will be right in your heel-toe weighted blade wheel house. Remember these are carbon steel as well. Super soft feel. Seriously, the carbon steel feels amazing. The 2014 BB1 does feel different from the 2013 version, and I think it is an improvement. The perennial BB model delivers again.
Toe Hang: 1/2 (4:30)
Stroke Fit: Slight Arc
Are flow necks good for the average golfer? It seems like I remember a flow neck putter winning our 2013 Most Wanted Blade competition. The Bettinardi Sig 5, also with a flow neck, scored very well in that competition as well. If you wanted a Bettinardi flow neck blade, but couldn't come up with the coin for the Sig 5, this BB1F is the answer. The mill lines on the neck look very sweet in person as well.
Toe Hang: 3/4 (5:00-5:30)
Stroke Fit: Strong Arc
"Traditional looking plumber's neck mallet." Love that sentence. How many plumber's neck mallets do you see in your shop's putter area. Not many. The BB32 does have the classic round mallet head, but that neck, as opposed to a double bend shaft, provides the 2014 BB32 with a bit of toe hang not usually found in the head. I think that there will be a market for this one. Players who like the mallet look, but need the arc stroke to be accurate should gravitate to the BB32.
Toe Hang: 1/4 (4:00)
Stroke Fit: Slight Arc
This is one of the best things about the annual announcements from Bettinardi. We get to see which models will be taken from the vault. Bettinardi is usually good for one center-shaft somewhere in the line-up. Often times though, those offerings are mallets. The BB43 hits once for nostalgia, and then again because it is a center-shafted blade. This putter also shows some of Bettinardi's flair for aesthetics. The back bumper has some cool mill lines that add a bit of texture to the head.
Toe Hang: Face Balanced (3:00)
Stroke Fit: Straight
I'm willing to bet that you didn't even notice the other four putters in the 2014 BB line. How could you not immediately look at the BB55 and go "what is that"? Many of you looked at the BB55 and immediately dismissed it because of its looks. If there is anything that you should have learned from our putter tests its that aesthetics don't make putts. Don't let yourself rush to judgement. There have been other recent milled aluminum putters that people harshly judged before rolling them. Bruce Sizemore's SuperStroke Fatso? Awesome putter. Cameron Futura X? Awesome Putter. Ping Nome? Awesome putter. All three of those are aluminum.
The BB55 doesn't look like anything else out there today, and that's fantastic. It may not win beauty contests, but this putter rolls the ball. Seriously rolls the ball. The aluminum feels soft and supple. Once again, stealthy weighting removes any lightness that one may expect from an aluminum head. I think that my play preference leans slightly toward the BB1, but the BB55 is right there. It sets up square (really? square you say?), and then it just floats back and through. This putter is serious business. Oh, if you are wondering about the 395g weight shown in the photo above, that is for the counterbalanced version of the BB55. Standard length weight will be 358g.
Toe Hang: Face Balanced (3:00)
Stroke Fit: Straight
Milled in the USA and now available in the UK!
In addition to showing off these new models, I have a bit of news that will make some readers very happy. Bettinardi Golf is expanding into the UK! Gone are the days where our European friends must sit idly by and wish that they could buy these Made in the USA beauties. Starting December 20th, you can check out the UK version of Bettinardi’s website at www.bettinardi.co.uk. Now you can see all of the available putters and other Bettinardi gear that will be sold in the UK as well as the USA. You can get Bettinardi golf bags (want one), divot tools and ball markers (got one, need more), and milled belt buckles (I can’t express how much I want a Union Jack buckle). If that’s not enough love for the new UK market, Bettinardi is launching the BB line on December 20th in the UK, a few weeks before the USA launch on January 15th. Not sure if this will be the plan in years to come, but for the initial launch, I think it is a nice nod to the new customers.
Anyway, seriously cool Bettinardi stuff has just jumped the Atlantic. But why expand into the UK? Let’s again ask Sam Bettinardi for some answers.
Why is this the right time for Bettinardi to expand into the UK market?
Now is the perfect time to expand into the UK because we feel that this market is ready for Bettinardi. Over the past year we have experienced tremendous demand for our putters from the UK and they haven’t had any place to buy from. By catering direct to these golfers, we can fill a need for people looking to putt with the best, and still have that boutique, customer service oriented experience.
Who are your largest competitors in the UK market?
Right now we are not concerned with any competitors in the UK market. We are solely focused on delivering Bettinardi putters to the people who always demanded them, but couldn’t buy local or didn’t want to pay the high shipping cost of having it sent from America.
What kind of production/shipping obstacles do you need to take into account when opening a market in another country?
The main production and shipping obstacles was being able to deliver our putters and milled belt buckles to golfers in the UK with the same shipping expectations as if they were buying from a UK golf company.
Will this move ultimately lead to more European Tour players playing Bettinardi putters?
Eventually we would like to have a presence on the European Tour, but right now we are focused on the consumer overseas, while also building our brand and garnering victories on the PGA Tour.
Classic, Interesting, and Wait What’s That?
The 2014 Bettinardi BB line is a line that will fit the needs of a wide range of golfers. Golfers can pick from a face-balanced blade, a large face-balanced mallet, a slight-hang mallet, a medium-hang blade, or a deep-hanging blade. The Silver Satin finish is beautiful and the master craftsmanship is exactly what we have come to expect from Bettinardi. We see classics, tweaks on classics, and then, of course, the BB55.
I am sure that you are still trying to wrap your brain around the BB55. Aesthetics aside, the one question that you should be asking is how does it perform? Well that answer will be coming in the next few months, as the BB55 is one of the putters competing in the 2014 MyGolfSpy’s Most Wanted Mallet competition. We will be revealing the other competitors soon, like Tony has done with the competing drivers. Like you, I am very interested to see how the BB55 does vs. the rest of the 2014 field.
Regardless, we putter lovers now have a solid line of putters to look forward to in 2014 and also an avenue for folk in the UK to grab up some Bettinardi putters and gear. The versatility of design, combined with Bettinardi’s reputation of precision, should bring joy to golfers, both here and across the pond.