2016 Bettinardi BB8 Review: Modern Look, Classic Performance
You’re in the market for a putter, but you’re tired of seeing new models introduced every other season with patented alignment aids that are more gimmick than helpful, or new inserts that supposedly make every one of your jittery strokes roll the same distance. You want something unique, something that will last a while. You don’t want that Titleist everyone has, and you understandably don’t want to pay top dollar to a dime-a-dozen, unproven, boutique putter house — plenty of those putters make their money on flashy finishes rather than quality craftsmanship anyway.
If this is the case, then the company you’re looking for is Bettinardi, and if you’re into classic looks, then look no further than the 2016 Bettinardi BB8 putter. The slightly more squared, Anser-style Bettinardi BB8 is a timeless design with just enough of a modern touch paired with premium craftsmanship. In a hard-to-explain feeling of nostalgic unfamiliarity, it’s a perfect mix of new and old.
Let’s dive into the Bettinardi BB8 we have on hand.
Bettinardi’s prior offerings in the BB series were classic and reserved in every way. Shape, design . . . they went about their duty in an efficient but restrained fashion. The 2016 lineup received a modest dose of flash, and that was evident as soon as we opened the box and saw the new Bettinardi BB8.
Green, and a lot of it. That’s the first thing of notice.
The grip is a Lamkin Deep-Etched in lime green. It’s a paddle shape, standard size, and very firm to provide the most feedback to the hands through contact.
The lime green continues to the blade. On the sole, the Bettinardi name, along with the “B” logo, is filled with green paint matching the grip, and another “B” is stamped on the face at the heel, also in green. Seeing a pattern here? But it’s not too much as it’s offset by the “Midnight Black” finish that has the faintest hint of a purple iridescence. It’s not too much, just a hint, so don’t worry about anybody giving you grief over your pretty putter. If they do, it’s because they’re jealous any way.
Probably our favorite piece of aesthetics on the Bettinardi BB8 is the shaft. Yes, that’s right, the shaft. It’s not something that often garners attention, but with with a high contrast grip at one end and a black blade at the other, Bettinardi connected them perfectly with a Brushed Nickel Shaft. Those are the kinds of subtle touches we appreciate.
Subtle is not the word we would use to describe the headcover, however. You know those glow sticks the guys on the ground at the airport wave? Give them a pair of these headcovers and nobody would know the difference. If you need to change a tire in the middle of the night on the side of the road, drop this headcover behind your car. Approaching traffic will see you. It’s bright, and it’s reflective, which made taking photos difficult, but we like it.
Weight: 350 grams
Material: Mild Carbon Steel
Finish: Midnight Black
Face Milling: HoneyComb
The Bettinardi BB8 weighs in at a somewhat standard these days 350 grams, which is 3 grams lighter than the prior generation of the BB series. It has a 1/2 (45 degrees) toe hang meaning that a golfer who putts in an arc motion is going to adapt to it more easily than a golfer who putts straight back straight through (SBST). If you’re changing your putter because you want to adhere to the new anchor ban rules, this shouldn’t be your first choice, but Bettinardi does have plenty of counterbalance options.
We said that the weight of the 2016 Bettinardi BB8 is the standard 350 grams, but it felt heavier than that in the stroke. We couldn’t entirely explain it. Perhaps the slight toe hang contributed, maybe Bettinardi is feeling self-conscious and fibbing about their weight (doubt that), or maybe a great looking putter makes for a great feeling putter. Whatever the case, the Bettinardi BB8 provides a very confident stroke.
As a premiere milling house, Bettinardi might be best known for their identifiable HoneyComb milling pattern. The milling pattern does affect the feel of the putter, and the HoneyComb pattern makes for Bettinardi’s hardest feeling face. It’s not jarring, it’s not disconcerting, but it is most definitely not forgiving — but then again, you don’t buy a milled putter for forgiveness. A milled putter is for players with a consistent, repeatable putting stroke who look for the most feedback they can get in a putter, not for players who want the reassurance given by inserts. The nice thing about that is you will know when you’ve hit it off-center.
The hardness of the HoneyComb face is offset nicely by the soft Mild Carbon Steel on which it’s milled.
Again, the HoneyComb face is Bettinardi’s hardest feeling face. A term frequently used to describe putters is “muted”, but that’s not a fitting description of the Bettinardi BB8. There is a nice, crisp “click” when you stroke the ball square, but if you hit the ball anywhere else on the face, there is a noticeable change in the sound, and that’s a good thing. That’s the type of feedback you look for in a quality milled putter like the Bettinardi BB8. Hit it on the toe . . . “crack”. Hit it on the heel . . . “clunk”. Hit it wrong, and the BB8 will make you pay for it, but you will learn quickly to be very considerate about your stroke and the accuracy of your strike.
The only thing that needs to be said about the 2016 Bettinardi BB8 review is that this putter is as consistent as you can be, and it will show you exactly what your stroke is doing. The firmness of the HoneyComb face provides unparalleled feedback and is great for golfers who make green speed the top priority in their reads. If you’re coming out of a putter with an insert, do so with caution and with knowledge of your stroke and how a different milling type creates a different feeling. Getting fit for a putter is just as important as it is for irons, and Bettinardi does custom fittings at their headquarters in Tinley Park, Illinois just outside of Chicago.
Final Verdict on the 2016 Bettinardi BB8 Review
You will spend a little more for a Bettinardi ($299) compared to a mass-produced insert putter, but you’re getting better feel, longer lasting quality from superior craftsmanship with fewer moving parts, and you’re getting outstanding customer service from Bettinardi.
For 2016, the Bettinardi BB8 does its job in maintaining the standard set by the company when it started over two decades ago. Get it if you demand the most in performance and response from your putter. Don’t get it if your stroke looks like you putt the ball while wearing oven mitts, but you want to look cool . . . but it is a very cool putter.
See the full 2016 lineup of Bettinardi putters available in retailers January 16.