50 Words or Less
The Bettinardi Inovai 7.0 putter is highly unusual looking and highly effective.
Bettinardi is an innovator and an industry leader in precision milled, American made putters. I’ve experienced the company’s quality design and craftsmanship first-hand in the past. But the Inovai 7.0 is a mallet with a highly unusual shape. Does it stand up to the company’s high standards or is it more of a novelty? Read on and find out.
It’s a good thing that it’s our habit to address looks right away because the shape of the Inovai 7.0 simply can’t be ignored. The first unique element are the “cutouts” on either side of the the putter. Second, you’ll notice that the middle of the mallet portion is hollow, similar to a typical 2-ball style putter. Finally, the solid piece at the back of the putter curves gently upward. While it’s difficult to notice this at address, it’s very clear from a side profile view.
Other visual elements that make an impact include the simple perpendicular alignment aids and the two-tone color scheme, with the face being silver and the rest of the putter being blue. The Cobalt Blue color is beautiful and, for me, encourages a calm feeling over the ball.
Sound & Feel
The sound of impact is a soft, mid-range ‘tick.’ A well-struck putt sounds somewhere between a low-register ‘tock’ and a high-register ‘click’. Pure strikes sound extremely satisfying, and you have to travel well off-center to make it sound more hollow and thin.
The sweet spot feels quite large and forgiving. Bettinardi’s F.I.T. (Feel Impact Technology) Face is among the best I’ve felt from a milled putter face. It’s soft and responsive at the same time, though someone looking for a lot of feedback through the hands may be left wanting more.
The face is 303 stainless steel and the rest of the putter is 6061 aluminum. I think the weight distribution contributes a huge amount to the excellent feel of this putter.
To make sure that there’s an Inovai for every golfer, Bettinardi offers three versions of the Inovai 7.0. There’s a Spud Neck (also available in lefty) for those with a more square to square stroke, a Slant Neck for those with a slightly arcing stroke, and a Center Shaft version for those who prefer that look at address. The Center Shaft is face balanced like the Spud Neck.
I’ve found slant neck mallets are the best fit for my stroke, and this was the case with the Inovai 7.0. Right out of the box on my PuttOut mat at home, I was impressed. This putter just feels like it wants to be swung in a nice, smooth arc. I think this is partially due to the weighting in the slanted piece at the back of the putter head. Bettinardi’s all-new Tour-grade putter shaft may have something to do with it, too.
On the course, the good vibes continued. I regularly lagged long putts to stone dead and sunk mid- and short-range putts with easy, confident strokes. Truthfully, this is a putter I may not have taken a serious look at if I had not been assigned this review. The shape is unusual. But it worked for me and it’s going to be tough to dislodge from my bag.
Fun fact: I’m not the only one the Inovai 7.0 has worked for. Jim Furyk used a putter with the exact same shape en route to his win at the 2003 U.S. Open. Whether I’m putting on a Furyk-esque ball-striking clinic or not, I feel confident from anywhere on the green with the Inovai 7.0 in my hands.
This uniquely-shaped mallet didn’t catch on with the golfing public in 2003. If it fails to catch on in 2020, it will have absolutely nothing to do with quality or performance. Just because a club isn’t in the pros’ bags doesn’t necessarily mean it shouldn’t be in yours. Even though I had a great impression of Bettinardi before I tested this putter, it exceeded my expectations and reminded me not to judge a putter by its cover.