For some reason, I was never drawn to Rife’s Two Bar putters, despite their uniquely appealing look. But after getting cozy with Rife’s Two Bar mallet putter ($179), I have made a quick transition from disengaged to smitten. This is the story of our first date. Is it too early to shop for a ring? I think I’m in love.
Rife’s Two Bar putters feature multiple technologies, including Adustable Speed Weighting, RollGroove faces and LieAline fitting. My personal take on these technologies is detailed below. As for the science behind these technologies, and in the interest of keeping this review from turning into War and Peace, I encourage you to visit www.RifePutters.com for the company’s own comprehensive explanations. Rife’s site sets the standard in terms of explaining the features and benefits of their signature technologies.
In fact, Rife’s problem may be that the company is simply too good at selling its products. They don’t just throw out some buzzwords and ask you to fork over $179. They work it. They pack their putters with special features. They explain everything in great detail on their web site. They air infomercials. They include an instructional DVD with your putter. They might even wash your car.
So is that really a problem? In retrospect, and upon further review, it’s not. After all, I’m often griping about putter companies that don’t offer enough for my dollar, that don’t adequately explain the features and benefits of their products, or that generally treat me like a cheap date.
If you’re wondering why innovative upstarts like Heavy Putter and Rife can quickly gobble up market share from some of the bigger boys, here’s your answer: They are producing Tour-quality putters while taking great care to honor the hard-earned dollar of the average golfer.
The View from PutterZone.com
For starters, I must rave about this putter’s magnificent feedback properties. Connecting with the sweet spot on the Rife Two Bar mallet is like biting into a perfectly ripe
The color of the putter head is a soothing ice blue-gray. You can choose between a straight or double bend shaft (I sampled the double bend version). The two signature silver bars protrude from the back of the face above the shallow sole, terminating at the back edge of the sole. Three pairs of included weights comprise the Adjustable Speed Weighting system. The weights easily screw into the otherwise hollow bars. I prefer the medium weights. In my hands, the putter just feels more balanced with the medium weights. The idea behind the adjustable weighting is that you can change the weights, from light to medium to heavy, to fit your playing conditions on any given day or course. But I’d rather stick with what feels most balanced to me and make simple stroke adjustments to accommodate the conditions.
At address, the respective centers of the two bars visually hug the golf ball. A white sightline splits the two bars along the length of the sole. The visual impression is striking, because these aiming cues are three-dimensional, which to my eyes makes them more assertive and ultimately more effective. In my limited exposure to the Two Bar blade model, I found the bars to be a bit distracting as they jutted well beyond the back edge of the sole. But on the mallet, the opposite is true: the sightline impression is utterly seamless and complete.
As for the RollGroove technology, which consists of extruded horizontal grooves on the putter face that are supposed to grip and lift the ball for a truer roll, it’s hard for me to say it truly works without conducting scientific tests (as if I could). I will say that it seems to work, that my ball does seem to roll more smoothly, but that may simply be the power of suggestion. I can say that it certainly doesn’t hurt.
The LieAline system is sound as well. The white sightline between the two bars lines up with notch on the back of the face. At setup, you check to see if the sightline “docks” into the notch. If the sightline visually clips either edge of the notch, then you can use the included plastic LieAline tool to gently bend the shaft in the appropriate direction to achieve the ideal lie for your setup. Once you’ve set your ideal lie, you can use the notch as a constant feedback device to ensure a consistent setup.
The Rife Two Bar mallet also comes with an instructional DVD and a nice pleather putter cover with velcro closures. The 13-minute DVD, which is hosted by Ian Baker-Finch and Jim McLean, is beautifully produced and features some nice putting tips and drills. The DVD also briefly demonstrates how to adjust the putter’s lie and weighting, but quickly, and smartly, focuses on ways to improve your putting game instead of trying to further sell you something you’ve already purchased.
The Bottom Line
To sum it up in one word: Wow. The Rife Two Bar mallet is packed with special features that can make a difference in your game, yet all of these features merge gracefully into a unified design. Best of all, this putter offers excellent touch and feel for optimal confidence on the green.