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Gear Review: Rife Two-Bar Hybrid putter

Gear Review: Rife Two-Bar Hybrid mallet putter
MSRP: US$199.80
Options: 33-35 inches right handed, 35 inches left handed (43-inch belly offset for extra $30, right-handed only) [photopress:hybrid_blueupdate.jpg,full,alignright]
What They Say: Rifes most compelling endorsement is that week in and week out players on the PGA, Champions and Nationwide tours rely on Rife’s RollGroove technology to earn their paycheque . . . all without being paid. In the past two years Rife putters have accounted for well over $20 million in earnings on the professional tours and each week that number continues to grow.

What We Say:

When it comes to putters, I have to admit Ive always been a bit of a blade snob, disdainfully turning up my nose at all those oddly shaped, dinner plate-sized mallets and opting instead for variations on the more traditional, Ping-inspired heel-toe jobs.

I have, however, been turned around on this point in recent months for two reasons: one, a complete and total (and hopefully temporary) betrayal by my once-trustworthy Tei3, and two, my recent discovery of a mallet-style flat stick that genuinely seems to make it easier to get the ball close to the hole.

Rife Putters LLC, a long-time denizen of the Champions Tour and purveyor of the now-familiar Two-Bar line, has been aggressively pushing what it bills as its most successful putter yet: the Two-Bar Hybrid.

Its a combination of the shape of the popular Barbados model and the two-bar design, popularized in the original Two Bar wielded most successfully for several years now by cigar-chomping Champions Tour denizen Dana Quigley.

The distinctive two-bar design _ a pair of weighted stabilizers that jut out from the back of the putterface to reduce the tendency to twist the putter off line _ has become the companys latest claim to fame. But its the unique sawblade-style teeth on the putterface itself, the so-called RollGroove technology that Rife claims results in a truer roll and less skidding at impact, that makes a Rife putter so distinctive.

The Hybrid has four distinctive selling points: the RollGroove face, the two-bar design, a do-it-yourself lie-adjustment system and a pair of weight ports in the back of the putterhead that allow a player to tweak the putters overall heft.

Together, they prove to be a powerful combination.

Mallets generally are an excellent choice for a player who struggles with speed, partially because they tend to be heavier, but also because theyre simply easier to keep on line through the stroke, allowing the player to focus more on how hard to strike the putt.

Its this that makes the 2BH such an effective training tool for the player whos struggling on the greens. Put a line on your ball and the putters extra-long alignment line gets even longer, inspiring confidence at address. Its a club that makes it easy to feel and develop a true pendulum stroke; soon, striking the ball with a square face suddenly becomes second nature.

Its nearly impossible to decelerate through impact with the Two-Bar Hybrid, but theres always the option to swap in the two heavier weights that come with the putter and store conveniently in a zippered pocket on the head cover.

One quibble: the head cover itself, which fits awkwardly over the neck of the putter and includes a magnetic closure thats fidgety and constantly getting itself stuck on other clubs in the bag.

Once you drain a few, however, and your confidence on the greens starts to come back, youll find that doesnt seem to bother you much any more.

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James McCarten

When James McCarten isn't at the Ottawa offices of The Canadian Press, where he works as parliamentary news editor, he's either on the golf course or putting off his latest freelance golf-writing gig to spend time with wife Lisa and school-age kids Claire and Lucas. With 20 years of experience in Canadian journalism, James also suffers from a financially crippling addiction to all things Scotty Cameron.

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