Bettinardi BB32 Counterbalance Putter Review
Tell me about your new driver and I’ll ooh and aah about the new paint color and the claims of another 15 yards off the tee. However, what amazes me more is how many people still have the same beat-up putter from high school or bargain basement deal found in the discount bin. Since getting the ball in the hole is where the scoring takes place, it seems like spending a bit of money on a high-quality tool is a pretty darn good idea. In the case of Bettinardi putters, they are the definition of a high-quality instrument!
Bettinardi putters are designed by Robert J. Bettinardi at his state-of-the-art facility in Chicago, IL. Putters are conceived by Bettinardi, computer designed and tested, and finally milled into shape on $350,000 metal lathes from blocks of steel. While that description may lead you the think the Bettinardi putters are generically rolling off the conveyer belt by the bushel-full, the reality is the the process is very exacting and many potential putters don’t make the grade. In fact, by the time they are finished, many putters will go through machining in 6 different lathes before they’re ready for the logo carving and the hand-painting. For my first experience with Bettinardi I was tasked to review the Bettinardi BB32 counterbalance putter which is the latest craze to sweep the putter market.
What is a Counterbalance Putter?
Counterbalance putters aren’t a brand-new idea but with the impending ban on long putters, many guys who make their living rolling the rock are looking for an alternative way to quiet the hands and guarantee a smooth, consistent stroke. As you have probably seen or experienced, belly putters connect the shaft to your core and long putters connect the shaft to your sternum to guarantee a more pendulum-like action. Fundamentally, a counterbalance putter adds weight above and below your hands on the shaft of the club to help stabilize the putter throughout the swing of the putter head. The idea of a counterbalance putter is to give the player all of the advantage of a belly or long putter and to make the transition much easier. In other words, it’s much harder to make a yippy stroke with a counter balance putter. Said another way, the goal is to make the same stroke every time when putting – to square up the putter face to the target line, to get the ball rolling quickly, smoothly and with the right speed. Counterbalance putters are by their size, weight, and center of gravity going to help that happen more easily and with less room for operator error.
The Bettinardi counter balance putter works by adding extra shaft length and a longer grip to add weight above your hand position. To offset the longer shaft, extra weight is added in the head of the putter. This moves the balance point of the putter more towards the middle of the shaft rather than closer to the putter head like conventional putters. The result is a putter that is extremely balanced and solid feeling throughout the swing. The putter I have been using is the mallet-style BB32 counterbalance putter with 38” shaft and 17” Winn grip. Since I normally putt with 33” or 34” putters, this gave me about 5” of shaft and grip above my normal hand position on the grip. The head weight of the BB32 counterbalance is 395 grams which is heavier than most conventional putters. NOTE when ordering I measured from the ground up to my stomach in my normal putting stance to make sure that the 38” shaft wouldn’t contact my body. The shafts go up to 40” so you can get the proper length.
At first glance, the putter is very eye-catching. It’s bold colors make it clear that this is an American product, and everything from the red, white and blue stitching on the white premium-leather head cover to the bold Bettinardi lettering on the red grip and in the carving on the bottom of the putter itself let you know that you have got your hands on a Bettinardi gem. It’s easy to see the care and precision in this putter right through to the hand-painted “B” on their beautiful honeycombed putter face.
I hadn’t seen a Bettinardi putter in person until this review, but was very aware that they are a tour-proven commodity. In fact, PGA Tour star Matt Kuchar even has his own line of Bettinardi putters. Additionally, Freddy Couples, JB Holmes, Bo Van Pelt, Brian Gay and Edoardo Molinari also carry a Bettinardi putter. Knowing that these guys make a living with a putter, I figure there must be something to the Bettinardi name. Kuchar uses a line of putters designed for his arm-clasp method where he holds a longer shaft against his left forearm. Brian Gay uses a traditional blade-style putter and puts with a traditional stroke. Since I putt with the Ballard method which is very core focused, I chose the counterbalance putter that closely resembles the belly putter, without actually touching your body. The counterbalance putter comes in the BB32 mallet design, the BB1 blade or the extremely high MOI BB55 design.
Since this was my first experience with a longer putter I was curious to see how I would be able to adapt to the added length. When I got to the course I instantly knew I was holding a thoroughbred. The 17” slightly-oversized Winn grip felt very comfortable in my hands and because of where the balance of the putter is, I didn’t feel the added weight of the head in a negative way. It simply felt more solid and true all the way through the swing of the stroke. As I used it through my rounds and tried the putter as a ‘Texas wedge’ from off the green, I found that by moving my hands a bit higher on the grip, it was no problem to dial in a bit more distance on my putts.
I was pretty sure the added weight of the putter would be excellent on faster greens but I was concerned that it could be more difficult to use on slower greens. In practice, I actually found that the putter is probably the best I’ve ever used on different green speeds. By slightly varying my hand position to be an inch higher on the grip and making a longer stroke, slow greens were not a problem. Precisely because of the added stability, a longer stroke was more fluid and the putter behaved beautifully.
The mallet-head in the BB32 counterbalance putter is larger than the Odyssey mallet that I have used for years, but it has a very classic look and I was instantly comfortable with its shape and feel through the ball. I have also been using a putter with an insert for years, and was curious as to how the sound would strike me with the ball coming off the metal honeycomb face. Although I first noticed a “clicky-ness,” particularly with cheaper balls, it was minimal with higher quality balls. Plus when the feel is so solid through the strike it soon was a non-issue for me.
We get to review a good number of putters at Three Guys Golf, and there are some great designs that we’ve tested. For me, it’s easy to see why this counterbalance Bettinardi is getting serious looks on Tour, and it should get serious looks from amateurs as well. After several weeks of testing, this putter is in my bag to stay, and I couldn’t be happier.
If you would like to get a Bettinardi putter, you can truly get the putter you want. Their website at Bettinardi.com is well designed and functional, and will take you through the variety of options you can get for the putter that will fit you like a glove. They had our putter out to us to test in a flash, and all the comments I’ve read that say that the folks at Bettinardi have given them excellent customer service and the same attention to detail found in the putters they make. The BB32 counterbalance putter will run you around $350, and there are signature models that can run you up to $500. I heard Bob Bettinardi say that they are expensive because that’s how they are made. They are made by skilled craftsman on top-of-the-line equipment, to the most exacting standards, in the heartland of the USA. This is a putter you can keep for life, and be proud to have in your bag. So, next time you’re trying to decide if that new $400 driver will get you that extra 5 yards over last years model, you may want to take a look at a $350 Bettinardi putter that may do you one better than that, and actually lower your score.
Check out all the Bettinardi putters on the Bettinardi website