After a few years of restructuring and reloading, Rife Golf is once again gaining traction on the professional circuits and staging a comeback with a new lineup of putters for 2013.
The Rife Legend putters ($199) offer a fresh take on Rife’s original 2-Bar mallets, centered around the distinctive 2-Bar alignment feature that first put Rife on the map. Has a legendary putter truly been reborn?
Following is PutterZone’s Rife Legend putter review, specifically the Legend Z model in matte black.
The new Rife Legend putters hearken back to Rife’s original glory days, when the first 2-Bar putters set the company on a wildly successful trajectory starting in 2005. Rife later fell on hard times, and was ultimately sold to Innovex Golf. The new 2013 models appear to be igniting a rebirth for Rife putters.
The Legend mallets belong to Rife’s new Vault 001 series of putters. According to Rife Golf: “The Legend and Legend Z are new mallets that have ties to the roots of the company. The aesthetics and performance-driven characteristics are inspired by the original 2-Bar putter. The adjustable 2-Bar weighting system offers premium alignment to suit the individual. The lines and shape are geared towards a tour-size mallet with variable weights to individualize the feel.”
The differences between the Legend and Legend Z are subtle. Legend has a white contrasting sightline that runs along the flange in between the two bars, while the Legend Z’s sightline is unpainted. The Legend’s finish is smooth all around, while the Legend Z features dimpled patterns along the topline and flange.
The dual bars on both models act as an alignment aid and stabilizing force, and feature removable weights allowing for swingweight alteration.
The Legend and Legend Z also feature Rife’s patented horizontal RollGroove face technology, which aims to establish immediate topspin upon contact.
The Legend Z’s head is made from 6061 aluminum and weighs in at a relatively heavy 360 grams with the included seven-gram weights (which can be removed to lighten the head by a total of 14 grams). Optional 14-gram weights can be purchased, allowing you to bring the overall headweight up to 374 grams. The lie angle is 71 degrees, and the loft is two degrees. The putter is face balanced, which will appeal to more of a straight-back-and-through stroke (check out our fitting guide to find your best putter fitting specs)
The View from PutterZone
At setup, the Legend Z just looks marvelous. The size and shaping are finely rendered. The thickness of the topline, the length of the bars, the way the flange curves around the back, concluding with a subtle pointedness…Everything is visually in sync. Aesthetically, I’m more of a blade guy, but this is one mallet I really enjoy looking at.
The Legend Z is more compact than the original 2-Bar mallets, and seems to borrow a bit from Rife’s earlier 2-Bar Hybrid and Barbados models in overall shaping. The result is a sleek 2-Bar putter that manages to feel both familiar and fresh.
This putter doesn’t just look beautiful, however—it looks purposeful. The contrasting silver bars provide a three-dimensional directional alignment aid. The bars visually pop from the black head, floating over the flange and framing the ball at setup.
On the original 2-Bar putters, the removable rounded weights protruded from the rear of the bars. On the Legend Z, the weights are flush, giving the bars a squared-off look. It’s a nice evolution. The bars now present a symmetrical look that enhances their alignment function.
I’ve never found aluminum heads to offer superior feel, but the 2-Bar Legend Z putter acquits itself nicely in the feel department—lively and responsive, with a bit of a click upon contact.
I like the stock weight of 360 grams, and have no urge to remove the installed weights to make it lighter, nor to add the optional heavier weights. The swingweight and overall weight distribution seem balanced as is, promoting a smooth, low stroke through the ball.
The putter head’s smooth matte black finish exhibits a luxurious quality. The head is judiciously scored and dimpled along the topline, sides and flange, enhancing the overall modern look of the design. I’m not a fan of the pointed pattern that is scored around the center sightline. It is unnecessary, but also subtle and unobtrusive, so it doesn’t bother the eyes at setup. Otherwise, all of the other decorative choices are spot-on, in my estimation. The small blue Rife icon on the face and the white workmark in the back cavity add just enough color and verve without overdoing it on the branding front.
The Winn AVS grip is nothing special, but the blue color capped in gray is stylish. The white head cover comes with a zippered pocket, inside of which is an allen wrench for installing and removing the weights. I wish the head cover had a magnetic closure, and that the putter came with the optional additional weights. But at this point I’m just quibbling, because the Legend Z may be the mallet of the year.
The Bottom Line
Rife’s 2-Bar alignment feature is still badass after all these years. With the Legend Z putter, Rife Golf has done a masterful job of taking its original 2-Bar designs to the next level. The result is a standout mallet with a sleek, purposeful look and impressive performance.