Like no other club in the bag, the putter captures the imagination of artisan designers who turn the simple act of rolling the ball into a thing of beauty. Whereas the driver is a tuba and the iron a trumpet, the putter is more like a violin, an instrument that begs for artistic interpretation as well as precise craftsmanship.
With recent advances in design technology and online distribution, combined with a growing number of golfers who seek a competitive or aesthetic edge in their putting game, the market for boutique putters is more robust than ever before. We are, indeed, entering a new era in artisan putter design.
Among the newcomers is the Sizemore Collection, led by veteran designer Bruce Sizemore, Jr. The Sizemore Collection’s putters certainly aren’t cheap, but they promise superior quality and artistry. Does the Sizemore Collection deliver on its promise?
Following is PutterZone.com’s review of the Sizemore Collection XB-1 blade putter ($349).
As a young man, Bruce Sizemore, Jr. learned course management at his local club in Michigan. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Sizemore became a PGA professional, specializing in golf instruction. His work with students ignited his passion for custom-designed golf equipment, leading to a two-year project with Copper Stix Putters, where he developed a specialized computer-driven milling process. Sizemore’s putters gained considerable traction on the PGA Tour and ultimately captured prize earnings exceeding $6 million dollars.
After two more years of design, as well research and development work, the Sizemore Collection was formally launched in 2006. The XB-1 putter was released earlier this year as one of two blade putters in Sizemore’s XB series, which complement the two mallet putters in his XM series.
The carbon steel XB-1 putter head features a framed-in alignment pocket with sloping flanges that, according to the company, “create a superior optical focus.” The carbon steel head is complemented with a 110 annealed (99.9% pure) copper insert.
According to the Sizemore Collection: “To produce the highest level of performance, the pure copper insert is crossed-milled in the company’s computer in 27 different directions. It is then finished in a geometric pattern with exceptionally fine spacing. This patented and state-of-the-art IND-X process produces the flattest, most accurate face finish possible. This astonishingly flat surface guarantees optimal reliability with a uniquely true response on all points of the putter face. Even outside of the normal “sweet spot”, the cross milled face finish ensures a true roll and does not deflect a ball off-line as with other milled surfaces.”
Says Bruce Sizemore, Jr.: “The XB-1 putter represents a new generation of modern equipment. It integrates progressive technology with sophisticated materials yet distinctively looks like a conventional blade. This dynamic design combination will appeal to the golfer who likes a classic blade but needs more accuracy and consistent feedback.”
Sizemore’s arrangement of a carbon steel head with a copper insert “guarantees that the XB-1 Putter will generate a distinctive feel with an outstanding low resonance sound.” According to Sizemore, although accuracy is an important component of a putter, golfers respond to feel and auditory sounds for the perfect putt.
I queried the Sizemore Collection about the depth of this copper insert, and was told that it is a quarter-inch thick. In other words, it’s a serious chunk of copper. Yet up close, the copper literally looks painted onto the putter face, without the slightest hint of a seam or gap. This certainly adds credibility to Sizemore’s boast that “the IND-X process produces the flattest, most accurate face finish possible.”
From an aesthetic standpoint, the XB-1 is both exotic and elegant, a finely crafted instrument that manages to stand out from the crowd while maintaining artistic dignity and poise. As with most works of art, photographs don’t really do it justice. Let’s just say that Bruce Sizemore Jr. is as much a jeweler as he is a designer.
The feedback of the XB-1 is extremely vivid. Any variation in your point of contact is uniquely communicated, meaning that a perfect strike sounds and feels different than a slightly imperfect strike, and the same for miss-hits in varying degrees. Such could be said for most putters, but with the XB-1, these slight variations in contact are quite pronounced in terms of feedback. When struck well, the sound and feel are crisp but soothing, and ultimately quite appealing.
Personally, I love the XB-1’s feedback attributes, as they force me to be acutely aware of consistency and repeatability in my stroke. A big, squishy meat hammer-type putter might go gentle on your psyche, but it’s not always the best way to raise your game. The XB-1 is the type of putter that becomes a relationship, with all of the complexities, nuances and rewards that the term implies.
Also, there is a difference between feedback and forgiveness, and I find the XB-1 to be quite forgiving. The head is on the larger side for a blade, and miss-hits, despite being clearly communicated, are treated with sufficient tenderness. The result is reliable accuracy.
My only quibble is that the XB-1 is rather optically active at address. The upper sole features black alignment line along the center, as well as two surrounding grooves that visually hug the golf ball, which is a nice touch. However, there are several additional dips, notches and bevels along the upper sole, both along and perpendicular to the target line. I personally find these flourishes to be a bit distracting, but others might, in fact, find them to be geometrically appealing.
The color scheme of the XB-1 is uniquely striking, combining copper flourishes with silver and black. The slip-on cover is well made and looks sharp in the bag.
The Bottom Line
The XB-1 putter by the Sizemore Collection is a work of art as well as a precision instrument. It lives up to its price tag by offering top-to-bottom excellence, from craftsmanship to materials, performance to aesthetics. With the holidays approaching, bringing extra license to splurge, the XB-1 is a treasure that most serious golfers would be delighted to find under their tree.