2016 Bettinardi iNOVAi 3.0 Putter Review

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50 Words or Less

The Bettinardi iNOVAi 3.0 is yet another entrant into the “fang” putter market but is a bit of a letdown from one of the usual elite putter makers in the game.

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Introduction

Robert Bettinardi has made a name for himself as one of the most precise millers in the putter game, and, maybe most notably, they’re all made in his own shop outside of Chicago in the good ole U.S. of A.  It’s widely agreed that Bob and his company can mill to the tightest tolerances and make good looking clubs, but that hardly makes Bettinardi impervious to putters that fall short of the established high standards.  While some may find the new iNOVAi 3.0 putter to be a decent mallet similar to others on the market, I found it to be lacking in feel and the overall premium experience I’ve grown to expect out of Bettinardi.

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Looks

Generally, the Bettinardi iNOVAi 3.0 putter looks fine for a typical mallet “fang” putter.  Yes, it clearly nicks elements of its look from the acclaimed Odyssey 7, but so have other putters.  The truth is, I think the iNOVAi 3.0 looks like a cross between the Odyssey 7 and the Scotty Cameron X5R, both of which I prefer to the iNOVAi.  From address, I can’t help but feel like I’m looking down at a bottle opener.

I like the multi-color concept of the putter head as proven by Odyssey’s Versa line, but I felt the execution was poor here for a $300 putter, but most importantly, from a putter maker with such a great reputation for high quality.  The black is “anodized” but feels like a rubbery polymer and easily scratches and shows blemishes (see top line above).  I would like to see this black finish done so it holds up and maintains its look better.

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Sound & Feel

For those familiar with super clicky tones found in Bettinardi putters, they can expect a much different experience in the iNOVAi 3.0 putter.  I’ve only ever used a Bettinardi F.I.T. face on their mallets, so that may have had a lot to do with the different sound and feel, but the general sound was more of “puffy pop.”  (We really do come up with some strange ways to describe tones of clubs in our reviews.)  Again, I believe the black polymer…I mean “anodized” finish contributes to that softer sound with its rubber-ish texture more than it being an aluminum face.

The feel is very similar in the iNOVAi 3.0.  It is like there is a rubber coating over metal that drastically killed the feel at impact.  You can feel where the ball is hitting on the face, but it is dead and muted, even in the sweet spot.  Again, the feel stuck with the theme of expecting much better from the Bettinardi name.

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Performance

Surely for $300, and coming from one of the greatest names in putters, the Bettinardi iNOVAi 3.0 has to have something good going for it, right?  I will admit that I liked the balance of the head, it was very easy to control throughout the putting stroke, and generally found a nice roll on the ball when I hit it in the center.  That said, the lack of feel made distance control purely based on dialed-in mechanics and routine rather than feel.  The point I’m trying to make is that if you are only using the length of your backstroke for distance control, the iNOVAi 3.0 is great, but if you’re a player that relies on feel and response for distance control, this may not be the putter for you.

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Conclusion

If you’ve made it this far, it’s probably clear that I’m not crazy about the Bettinardi iNOVAi 3.0 putter.  It really is a bit of a shame because I think it has potential to be pretty sweet, but that stupid anodized finish just absolutely kills it.  I’d love for a DIY’er to try stripping it off to see if that makes a difference.  Quite frankly, the way Bettinardi executed the use of a two-piece body with a large aluminum piece making up the face and some alignment portion with the stainless steel “wing” feels a lot like a poorly inspired effort to copy Scotty Cameron’s latest aluminum/stainless two-piece bodies that have had quite a bit of success.  If it’s my money, I’ll spend the extra $80 and go the Cameron GOLO route.

Bill Bush
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2 Comments

  1. I love the Bettinardi Inovai 3!
    It sits, looks and feels amazing.
    The “fang” design and additional lines help with alignment, which means greater confidence and sinking more putts! BOOM!

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