I recently tested the Bettinardi Studio Stock 15 putter. Now I am going to write a review. How’s that for an intro? Thanks.
In a nutshell, Bettinardi is a premier putter brand that has been around the Tour since 1999, earning its first major championship merits when Jim Furyk used one in winning the 2003 U.S. Open. Matt Kuchar is currently their featured Tour player, which supports my initial feeling that Bettinardi is a bit further down the road than a “boutique” putter shop. The good folks at Bettinardi might cringe when I say this, but my brain thinks of them as a smaller, slightly younger version of the Scotty Cameron thing. High-end putters, increasingly in attendance at big-box golf stores, legitimate track record.
Bettinardi currently offers 6 different series of putters – BB Series, Counterbalance Series, Queen B Series (women’s), Studio Stock Series, and Signature Series (high high-end). It’s tough for me to get a full grasp on Bettinardi’s offerings, as their website plays things pretty close to the vest. It’s a good, crisp, corporate website, I just can’t find any ‘big picture’ explanation of what each series of putters is about (is it the color that constitutes a “series”, different theories, different weights, yadda yadda). Perhaps this is by design and Bettinardi would rather their putters and their Kuchars do the talking. But still, if I was shopping online, I would have very little material to base a trigger-pull on.
I tested the Studio Stock 15, a face-balanced mallet with a simple half-oval shape. Truth be told, this is my first ‘premium’ putter ever, being a man that longed for Scotty Camerons back in the day but never had the chutzpah to drop 300 to 400 clams on a flatstick. And so it goes I’ve spent the last 15 years or so using standard putter offerings that ring up at the $120.00 mark and being perfectly happy. That’s not to say that I’ve always been happy with my putting game, but being from the old school I always had it in my mind that the putter was the one club that required very little pampering. I mean, guys were draining putts with the old two-sided Bullseye putters back when I was significantly shorter, and Nicklaus won the ’86 Masters with that piece of furniture on a stick . . . it’s clearly all about the stroke and not the club, right?
Well, like anything in golf, yes and no. I think we can all agree that putting has a lot of headgame in it, and if you can feel confident and/or excited over the ball, the stroke is going to go a lot better. And like anything in life, if you’ve got a top notch piece of equipment in your hands, you’re jacked.
At the risk of sounding more like a scientist than a blogger, since I put the Bettinardi Studio Stock 15 in my bag two months ago, I have been in a state of total jackedness. Here’s why:
Looks – This thing looks awesome, and you’re a fool if you don’t agree. I’ve always been a fan of black putters, and all of the Studio Stock models come in Corona Black (like a really dark gray). What I didn’t see coming, however, was the subtle rainbowy finish that looks like oil in a puddle of water, creating a gentle semicircle of flare on the flange. Good lord I hope that makes sense. I don’t think it does, actually, but the pictures should do it justice.
Oh, and don’t forget the whole orange theme, which, Rickie Fowler fan or not, adds a little pop to the overall vibe of the putter. One thing I must note – what you first notice about this putter’s looks is the cool design on the sole of the club (I say this with confidence, btw, because every person that picks up this club comments on the sole before anything else). But after wielding it for a few months, I must admit that this is the last thing on my mind when I think about this putter. I still think it looks cool, I just don’t care.
This is a consistent theme with me and clubs – I see other people getting all lathered up about certain aesthetic aspects of clubs and I briefly get on board with the concept, but once I start hitting them, the whole “looks” thing goes out the window. Maybe this happens to everybody but all our hot air about a club’s looks has already been released into the atmosphere. Which brings us to . . .
Performance – Put your barf bags away, I’m not about to tell you that I drain every putt I look at with this club. Your man Adam will attest to the fact that I’ve been struggling with my game-time putting for a while now, and my stroke is anything but consistent. So yes, I still miss putts with the Bettinardi. What’s different, though, is how consistently excited I am to stroke putts with this thing in hand.
The feel of the ball coming off the face of this putter is absolutely addictive. It’s like a soft version of what a milled putter usually feels like, but not wimpy soft and not like an insert at all. It’s hard to describe (obviously, given that last train wreck of a sentence), but my addiction has me logging more time on a practice green in the past two months than in my whole life prior. I’ve gone from range rat to putting green spazz, and my token collection has the Bettinardi to thank. Stream of consciousness regarding the feel – I’d say it’s definitely not a click but a smooth crunch. Gross. But awesome.
Bettinardi calls the Studio Stock 15 “one of our most forgiving models yet, with just the right amount of weight displacement towards the perimeter”. I would agree with the forgiving part, because mis-hits do tend to work out just fine, more so than with my last few putters. Sadly, when putting I miss the sweetspot at an alarming rate for a decent golfer, and with the Bettinardi I’ve been able to fool the outside world a bit more with putts that still have a legitimate roll. You can feel the negative feedback when you mis-hit a putt, and while it is not punishing, it makes you nuts that you didn’t get the sweet feeling that pure contact gives you with this sucker. Again, it’s honestly addictive. I find myself staying on the putting green for 10 minutes longer than I should (to my kids this is called “working late”) because I’m just jonesing for more of that solid contact feel. That sounds ridiculous, but what can I say – it’s true.
‘Feel’ blubbering aside, one thing I do expect from a $400 putter is that all the scientific requirements – weight, angles, twist-reduction stuff – have been met. I figure that kind of cash should at least buy you the peace of mind to know that any missed putts are the result of user error only. I do believe that Bettinardi has satisfied this requirement – the weighting of the putter allows me to feel the ‘release’ of the putter through the ball, something I struggle with at times. And quite frankly, if I were ever to shell out $400 and not feel like the technicals are up to snuff, that putter would be smashing through the front window of Headquarters in no time.
Wrapping Up – I don’t have much more to say about performance, which I fear will be frustrating to you, the reader . . . again, that’s you. It’s a well-made, 400 dollar-costing putter. It putts great. Know what I mean?
If I tried to get any more detailed than I already have, I’d be doing you a disservice. At some point it becomes about the whole package, and I believe that this putter delivers one hell of a package.*
I would assume that all of the Bettinardi lines offer the same level of quality and badassery, but again, I can’t really glean anything from their website. But judging by the Studio Stock 15 and the fact that all the other Bettinardi putters are in a similar price range, I’d guess it’s tough to go wrong. Bettinardi seems poised to fill that new gap between the Scotty Cameron space, which one could argue to be played-out, and the many boutique putter manufacturers that aren’t quite as battle tested. Feel original without the risk of owning anything less than the best. . . one way to look at it.
You can check out all the Bettinardi putters on the Bettinardi website.
* This package includes a great putter cover and a damn good grip. In fact, this grip makes me wonder if the Super Stroke thing might just be a fad – plasticky rubber in a round shape doesn’t stand a chance against an old-school solid grip like this. Why hasn’t Super Stroke stepped up the quality of materials anyway? Just askin’.