While most folks recognize Bettinardi as a powerhouse in the putter industry, lots of those same folks do not associate the Bettinardi name with wedges. Let’s start there. Bettinardi also makes wedges. In fact, the new HLX 3.0 wedge I have to share with you is their third incarnation of wedge. Three wedge releases and yet the fact that they make wedges remains unknown. Why is that?
First of all, there are a whole bunch of wedge makers out there, so small offerings such as previous ones from Bettinardi could be easy to overlook. I don’t believe many shops had Bettinardi wedges in stock to demo, either. That’s not going to help sales when you have so many other options ready for demo.
The 2018 Bettinardi H2 wedge was on the expensive side, with the PGA Superstore still listing them at $165 each. Granted, there are a bunch of other wedges out there at the $150 price point but, once again, because you can actually try those out, you are more likely to end up with one in your bag. If you go with an older model, you can get a good wedge at a way cheaper price.
One thing that could lead golfers to seek out the wedges is performance. If the Bettinardi wedges performed better than other wedges, golfers would buy them. Unfortunately, this was not the case with the H2 wedge as it ranked third from last in 2019 Most Wanted wedge test.
Hard to find, expensive, lacking performance – not elements of sales success. Sure, the Bettinardi fan probably bought a set of these but from what I’ve read, some of those folks ended going back to their other wedges as well.
Obviously, Bettinardi needed to do something different if they are going to have any relevance in the wedge department.
Introducing the Bettinardi HLX 3.0 Wedge
Robert J. Bettinardi has taken his wedge line to a new level of performance with a total redesign of technology and appearance in his all-new HLX 3.0.
You can conclude that the Bettinardi people quickly knew the H2 wedge was not so special. You don’t really toss around the phrase “total redesign” when you have a previous winner on your hands. Bettinardi is throwing the baby out with the bathwater and perhaps even getting rid of the bathtub as well.
The point they are making is that the HLX 3.0 is not the H2. This is critical if they hope to move away from any perceived stigma of their prior wedge offering. So what are these redesigned elements?
Specifications: Bettinardi HLX 3.0 Wedge
- Material: Soft Carbon Steel
- Finish: Traditional Chrome or Black Smoke
- Grip: Bettinardi-branded Lamkin Crosstour Soft
- Shaft Options: KBS High Rev, True Temper S400, or the Nippon Pro Modus 115
- Face: Helix High Cut milled
- C- Grind Loft/bounce: 52/8, 54/10, 56/12, 58/10, & 60/8
- RJ-Grind Loft/Bounce: 56/15, 58/12, & 60/10
- Preorder: January 21, 2020
- Shipping: April 10, 2020
- MSRP: $190
Robert’s preferred C-Grind was re-engineered to promote a higher toe and heel to promote added relief, clean contact, and give the player the most aggressive spin with an all-new face that removed 20% more additional surface metal to allow the ball to move past the center of gravity and produce a more aggressive spin with a more consistent distance control.
Robert’s most forgiving wedge line is his patented RJ-Grind wedge. Engineered for the player who seeks increased forgiveness on tight lies and much-needed bounce on square-face shots, the HLX 3.0 RJ-Grind wedge with our highest measured bounce for players with a steep angle of attack. The RJ-Grind is the perfect wedge for players who are looking for a higher center of gravity and maximum spin when added control is needed alongside the greens.
Right off the bat, we see Bettinardi has added a new grind option and refined their old one. The RJ-grind is a pretty interesting concept, as many players go for lower bounce in their higher-lofted wedges, believing this promotes more versatility around the greens. As someone with a steep angle of attack, this intrigues me but still evokes some fears of big bounce blading balls across the green.
Expanding grind options should open up the market to more potential customers but Bettinardi is still at a huge disadvantage when you compare them to the massive numbers of grind options available from Vokey and others.
Two Finish Options
Offering the wedges in two color schemes is definitely not going to improve performance but making them look more attractive is not a bad plan if you want to sell more wedges.
I think what Bettinardi has done on the back of the wedge is actually more important than color when we explore the HLX 3.0 aesthetics. A honeycomb of hexes and a large Hex B now adorn the back of the wedge, vastly improving the Bettinardi branding of these wedges. In the current wedge market, wedge looks is a thing. Just look at the amazing things that Anthony Taranto has done with wedges at Callaway if you don’t believe me.
Making the wedges look better and more Bettinardi-like will get more potential customers to pay attention to them.
New Face Milling
Using our patented High Helix Cut machining process, Robert was able to engineer and craft his softest forged wedge face with precision-milling techniques and optimizing process of removing material to generate just the right groove depth and spacing to push USGA limits, making the HLX 3.0 the most versatile wedge for players needing any kind of shot when it comes to their short game.
Returning to the performance side of the redesign, Bettinardi has changed their groove design. Though the quote above doesn’t really address it, one would hope that the new groves address some of the H2’s spin issues that our testing data indicated. Full-swing spin numbers were average for the H2 wedge but it fell almost to the bottom of the spin cohort on 40-yard shots. This is definitely an area where improvements were needed.
Switch From Stainless to Soft Carbon Steel
The metal story has changed quite a bit. With the H2, Bettinardi was advertising the durability of stainless steel as an advantage and now with the soft carbon steel HLX 3.0, the story is about the softness of carbon steel.
When it comes to the stainless vs. carbon steel debate, I filter my thoughts through my putter-guy lens. My take is that stainless is harder and it should be better able to stand up to repeated smashing into the sand and turf. No, that last part was not with regards to putters.
The move to soft carbon steel aligns the Bettinardi HLX 3.0 wedge with those from other carbon steel wedge makers, such as Titleist. Obviously the real question will be if this manufacturing move, and the others, are enough to make Bettinardi truly competitive in the wedge marketplace.
New Limited Run Queen B 6 SBS
In addition to announcing new wedges, Bettinardi also slid in a little new putter tidbit about a new limited-run Queen B 6. Obviously, I can’t let a new putter slip by unmentioned.
The SBS stands for “slotback slant,” that being the design elements that set this putter apart from the stock Queen B 6. The one-piece milled slant neck really changes the toe hang of the putter, making it suitable for a much deeper arcing stroke.
When I first read “slot”, I thought that they had milled in a sound slot and I got a bit excited. Unfortunately for me, that’s not the slot that Bettinardi has added. Instead, you will see that a notch of material has been removed from the rear flange of the putter. This really accomplishes two things. First, by removing some of the weight in the middle of the head, you shift the weight distribution toward the edges, boosting MOI. Additionally, that notch can draw your eyes toward the center of the putter head at address, possibly improving your eye position and targeting.
Model: Queen B 6 SBS (Slot Back Slant)
- Dexterity: Right-Handed
- Neck: Slant Neck
- Weight: 362 grams
- Material: Soft Carbon Steel
- Finish: Black PVD
- Face Milling: Micro-honeycomb
- Loft: 3°
- Lie: 70°
- Offset: 3/4
- Preorder: January 21, 2020
- Shipping: March 15, 2020
- MSRP: $400
Pre-Orders Start Today
You can pre-order both the wedges and the limited-run QB6 SBS today, with their arrival dates being April 10 and March 15 respectively. The new putter should impact the putter market like any new limited-run putter. Some will buy it because it is the exact design to suit their game, others will buy it because they are Bettinardi collectors, and still others will complain below in the comments that it is too expensive and that such putters are violations of the natural order of things.
The wedge story is much more difficult to predict. Did the redesign produce a wedge that is truly superior to the previous model? Even if the wedge is better, can a small company like Bettinardi (for wedges), penetrate the already crowded wedge marketplace? Bettinardi loyalists will take long looks at these new wedges but will the who-is-Bettinardi consumer?
Find out more at Bettinardi.com.