I’ve owned and used exactly two putters in the past twenty-four years of playing the game. I’ll have to admit that pushing to review putters has not been at the top of my list. However, watching what Matt Kutcher has been doing over the past number of seasons, and knowing he’s a fantastic putter – I was curious to research his flat stick manufacturer, Rife. I’ve putted with my Scotty Cameron mallet-style putter for the past eight years, or so – so I requested a test of Rife’s Center-Shafted Barbados – from their Tropical line. Turns out this is the model Kuch uses (although he uses the belly putter version).
My first impression upon pulling it out of the box was the very lightweight overall feel. I was initially concerned about how solid the putts would feel coming off the face. A quick session at the practice green provided a fast answer – the strike on the ball is 100% solid. The tropical head feels very well constructed, supplying me with confidence in consistency putt after putt.
As with all Rife putters, the face employs the distinct RollGroove technology. That is the name Rife has given for the parallel grooves that run across the face of the putter – from top to bottom. As with any putter, the desire is for the ball to start rolling as soon as possible, and avoid any skidding that could otherwise throw the ball offline. In my rounds putting with the Barbados, I definitely noticed a positive impact in the roll of my ball.
In doing some research ahead of receiving the putter, I found a video demoing what Rife calls their “dew board”. It’s a simple, brilliant demonstration that consists of a long, flat – slightly wet – board with a simulated putting surface that allows you clearly see a dew line, as you would in an early morning round on the greens. In demos, you can clearly see the ball start rolling immediately after contact – whereas conventional putters with flat faces actually cause the ball to skip before ultimately rolling out to the target.
While I did not use the Rife Dew Board in the course of my review, it did prompt me to head to the putting green early one morning at my local club to give it a test. The results were as expected – immediate rollout of the ball upon contact.
The putter also has Rife’s LieAline lines on the top of the putter, helping to ensure proper alignment at address of the putt. My normal pre-shot routine for a putt is to study the line from directly behind the ball, and pick out a mark typically 5 – 7 feet along my intended line. While I don’t rely on alignment lines on putters (which my current putter also has) the LieAline lines on the Barbados did provide the option to quickly verify alignment at address.
Several options exist for length of putter – and I had mine delivered with the 34” shaft coupled with the standard Winn putter grip. I have big hands, and have recently switched to the Winn Jumbo grip on my current putter. While I’ve not yet updated the grip on the Rife, I’ll be doing so shortly.
There’s a lot to like about this putter. The solid feel when striking the ball – and the RollGroove putter face are at the top of the list. If you’re looking for a new putter, or already evaluating options, I’d recommend testing from Rife’s lineup. I think you’ll like what you see – and feel.
Wanna see more pics? Check out the Rife Barbados photo album we’ve posted over on Facebook.