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Bettinardi Kuchar Model 1 Putter: Editor Review

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Pros: Very stable during the stroke, and unbelievably good looking at address. The F.I.T. Face feels soft, and the Pewter PVD finish is both beautiful and durable.

Cons: With arm lock putters, length is flexible. But golfers will need to make sure they custom fit the loft to putt their best.

Bottom Line: Users will gain a lot of confidence knowing that this putter was developed specifically for the arm lock putting style by the PGA Tour’s best arm lock putter, Matt Kuchar. At $375, it’s not cheap. But it’s a “must-have” for golfers who want the highest-quality arm lock putter.

Overview

Bettinardi’s Kuchar Model 1 putter was designed by … you guessed it, Bob Bettinardi and Matt Kuchar. According to Sam Bettinardi, vice president of sales and marketing at Bettinardi Golf, Kuchar started working with prototypes of the putter at the 2012 BMW Championship in September. He experimented with 15 different variations before deciding on what became the Model 1, which is the same model he used in victories at the 2013 WGC-Accenture Match Play Championship and the 2013 Memorial Tournament.

The Kuchar Model 1 is a face-balanced blade putter with a wide body. According to Bettinardi, the wider body adds to the putter’s heel/toe weighting, which makes the putter more stable during the stroke. It also has Bettinardi’s F.I.T. Face (Feel Impact Technology), a milling process that removes 55 percent of the face material for a softer feel at impact.

The entire putter is 100 percent milled from soft carbon steel at Bettinardi’s headquarters in Tinely Park, Ill., and has a Pewter PVD finish. It’s available in two different versions — arm lock and standard.

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Above: The F.I.T. face of the Kuchar Model 1 putter is milled over Bettinardi’s Honeycomb finish to create a soft, solid feel at impact.

The Kuchar-style, or arm lock putter has a 2.5 shaft offset and 7 degrees of loft that Bettinardi says is necessary to “keep the ball from diving into the ground.” It’s sold with a standard length of 42 inches, a lie of 71 degree and a head weight of 400 grams.

The standard model (not reviewed) measures 35 inches, and has a 350-gram head with 3 degrees of loft. Like the arm lock, it has a 71-degree lie angle and costs $375.

That’s legal?

Arm lock putting isn’t for everyone. For a right-handed golfer, an arm lock putter is anchored on the left forearm, so golfers who use their right hand/wrist/arm to dominate their stroke will likely struggle with the putting style. But for golfers who dominate the stroke with their leading side, the arm lock putter makes sense. It’s also a natural for golfers who are reeling from the decision by golf’s ruling bodies to ban putters that are anchored to the chest and midsection in 2016.

The new rule, 14-1b, states that a golfer must not anchor the club, either “directly” or by use of an “anchor point.” Yes, technically the arm lock putting style anchors the putter grip against a golfer’s lead forearm, but the USGA doesn’t view it that way.

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The reason for the loophole has to do with the fact that a golfer’s forearm is not a fixed axis point like a golfer’s midsection or chest. So even though the grip is “anchored” against the forearm, the forearm remains mobile, unlike the belly and long-putting methods that have static anchor points.

Performance

As a long-putter user who is trying to find a way to get a jump on the anchor ban, I was curious to test the Kuchar Model 1 arm lock. I did so against a short putter on a SAM PuttLab, and during several rounds on the course.

On SAM, I noticed that the path of the putter face was much more square-to-square than with my short putter, and it remained square for a longer period of time before and after impact. That resulted in much more directional consistency. On the course, the security of the arm-lock style eased my tension over short putts, and the stroke felt much more stable and repeatable.

IMG_2860

To get the best results from a Kuchar Model 1 arm lock, the sole needs to rest reasonably flat on the ground at address. 

My biggest problem with the Kuchar Model 1 was getting the putter to sit correctly at address. The lie angle was fine, but when I played the ball in the middle of my stance the putter had too little loft. That meant the back flange of the putter was raised too far off the ground. When I played the ball more forward in my stance, which added loft and lowered the back flange, my shoulders opened to the target and I had a tendency to pull my putts.

The solution for me was adding 2 degrees more loft to the putter. That gave the putter enough loft for me to play the ball in the center of my stance, and allowed me to use the same setup and mechanics as I would with a short putter. But because the arm-lock style stabilized the grip and positioned my hands much farther in front of the ball, my wrists stayed solid and my stroke had a straighter path with less face rotation.

Tips from Kuchar

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According to Kuchar, the arm lock putting style works best when (right-handed) golfers dominate the stroke with their left arms. The best way to practice this, he says, is to take the right hand off the putter and hit putts with the left arm only.

Since Kuchar is 6-foot 4-inches tall, he uses a Model 1 arm lock that is 44.75 inches. That gives him what he considers to be the ideal length, with the grip resting about 2 inches below the crook of his elbow. While length isn’t as critical as loft or lie in the arm-lock style, golfers might want to look at adjusting the putter’s length based on their body type.

Kuchar also recommends a ball position that is in the center of the stance, which I found to be the most natural way to use the putter as well. Don’t be surprised, however, if a centered ball position requires a loft adjustment. Everyone’s arm length and posture are a little different, so the 7 degrees of loft and 71 degree lie angle that works perfectly for Kuchar may or may not work for you.

Looks and Feel

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The strangest part of the Kuchar Model 1 arm lock putter is the 2.5 shaft offset, which Bettinardi says works with the added loft of the putter to launch the ball correctly at impact. While it’s a shock to the system at first, the offset looks a lot more natural once the putter is soled.

Once golfers get used to the offset, they’ll enjoy the putter’s clean, classic shape. They’ll probably also enjoy its Pewter PVD finish, which has hints of blue that blend beautifully with the blue paint fill on the sole and on the face. That theme is carried over on the grey 19-inch belly putter grip with blue letters, and on the head cover as well, which is white and blue.

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Both the sole of the putter and head cover have designs that include Matt Kuchar’s signature. While most golfers will think it’s cool to play a club that receives an endorsement from one of the best golfers in the world, I can’t imagine that tour players or aspiring tour players who may be competing against Kuchar are wild about it.

They might change their tune (or switch head covers and buy lead tape) when they try the putter, however, because it’s one of the best-feeling 100 percent milled putters I’ve ever tested. Unlike other manufacturers, Bettinardi is not claiming that its F.I.T. Face does anything to enhance performance. But it certainly provides the soft, solid feel that the company says it does.

The Takeaway

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Golfers will know pretty quickly if arm lock putters are right for them. All it takes is a few strokes on a practice putting green to find out if they’re on to something or not.

If they’re willing to give arm lock putting a try, they can’t go wrong with Bettinardi’s Kuchar Model 1, which is the most premium arm lock putter on the market. If they want a slightly different look, they can also try Bettinardi’s Kuchar Model 2 arm lock, which has the same specs but has a wider, rounder pear shape with a longer sightline that’s a little easier to aim.

If you buy one, don’t forget to spend the extra time and money to have the putter fit to you. It will enhance the consistency of your setup, alignment, stroke and ball roll. Most importantly, it will give you the confidence and peace of mind to hole more putts. Isn’t that why you decided to try the arm-lock style in the first place?

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Zak is the Editor-in-Chief of GolfWRX.com. He's been a part of the company since 2011, when he was hired to lead GolfWRX's Editorial Department. Zak developed GolfWRX's Featured Writer Program, which supports aspiring writers and golf industry professionals. He played college golf at the University of Richmond (Go Spiders!) and still likes to compete in tournaments. You can follow Zak on Twitter @ZakKoz, where he's happy to discuss his game and all the cool stuff that's part of his job.

19 Comments

19 Comments

  1. Tim Larson

    Jan 16, 2014 at 1:18 pm

    Just had my pro tweak my Scotty kombi belly and so far so good. I love the sight line on head as it is my guide for direction. I love the belly style but need to be legal soon. This armlock will help us who have “wristy” tendencies I also like the upright stance as I’ve had lower back surgery. Just grab it and bend a little at a time and good luck!

  2. Brad B

    Dec 15, 2013 at 2:05 pm

    How does one go about adjusting the loft / lie?

  3. Blaise

    Jul 7, 2013 at 10:47 pm

    Just picked this putter up in the Arm Lock model. Big betti fan since I live about 10 minutes from his shop. With the added weight to the head and the way this style locks your wrists really helps stabilize the stroke. I now have a hard time missing from 10 feet and in. I don’t think this method will ever be illegal because although it is balanced against your forearm, the butt of the putter doesn’t have a set pivot point like the belly or long style putters.

  4. Steve

    Jun 7, 2013 at 10:17 am

    This putter is a rip off of the Yes! Donna that Kutchar used in 2012 and at the 2012 Ryder Cup….

    • KCCO

      Jun 9, 2013 at 9:29 am

      Just my opinion, but Ill take a Betti over a Yes! Any day of the week, just my opinion…..and i wasnt around to see evolution of blade putter, but i believe everyone stole Karstens work when looking at most blade style putters these days…if I’m wrong correct me, really just a guess….

      good artists copy, great artists steal-Picasso

    • Brad B

      Dec 21, 2013 at 8:25 pm

      No, it’s not.

      First, the Donna was not an arm lock.

      Second, the offset with the Kuchar is much more significant.

      Third, the Donna is not an arm lock putter.

      Fourth, the Donna is hardly “original.”

  5. Richard Kennedy

    Jun 5, 2013 at 1:31 pm

    Does anyone know how to measure for these putters?

    • John

      Jun 5, 2013 at 5:26 pm

      According to the article, Kuchar’s comes two inches below his elbow. If you simply take a twelve inch ruler and slide it between your top hand and the putter with the ruler against your forearm, you can measure how long you would have to extend your current putter. I would go with a shaft extension and new (long) grip first to experiment with it before spending big. The head weight of Kuchar’s model is 400g. If you want to beef yours up to this weight, just add some lead tape to the back.

      • Justin

        Jun 6, 2013 at 1:54 pm

        50g of lead tape?

        • John

          Jun 6, 2013 at 4:31 pm

          Yes, depending on the type of tape you buy. It’s not going to look pretty but it’s an inexpensive experiment to see how it feels.

  6. anthony

    Jun 5, 2013 at 12:32 pm

    I found this great “How-To” video for the ‘Kuchar Grip & Stroke’ on a golf site.

    It’s demonstrated by Ernie Rose, Director of Instruction at Windsong Farm Golf Club.

    Does anyone else out there have any good demo videos for the Kuchar grip?

  7. Brent

    Jun 5, 2013 at 7:32 am

    When will these arm lock putters be available for lefties?

  8. Brian

    Jun 5, 2013 at 2:17 am

    I think the USGA’s goal is to ban the anchoring of the “butt-end” of the putter, not the shaft. This style will still be legal.

    This is obviously working well for Kuchar but I would think most golfers would have a tendency to cut across the putt using this style. Seems like it would be difficult to consistently stroke it down the line. Just my 2-cents.

    • Curt

      Jun 5, 2013 at 10:03 am

      Your right arm would have more of a tendency to cut across than your left arm given the connection points to the body.

  9. Alan

    Jun 4, 2013 at 10:02 pm

    Very cool article. I wish there was some sort of 5 minute video that showed Bob and Kuch when they started out with this idea and how it evolved over time. Obviously the Arm Lock works, 2 tour wins in 2013 is nothing to joke about.

  10. shawn

    Jun 4, 2013 at 9:12 pm

    These will be illegal by 2017… It is still anchoring!

    • CoryKorea

      Jun 4, 2013 at 9:54 pm

      USGA/R&A specifically sited that arm-locking will not be illegal. I think every major company will have an arm-lock putter out by next season.

      • Ryan

        Dec 4, 2013 at 5:59 pm

        I agree every company will be releasing putters this style ASAP

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Equipment

Bargain Challenge 2: Putting together a $500 set of clubs for a mid-handicapper

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Last week, I posted about what clubs you can get with $500. I built a set that I would use myself to show that even golfers with particular specs can find what they want for a decent price. Overall the feedback on the post was good, but I did want to follow up since one of the commenters put me up to a challenge. See below.

Well alright James, challenge accepted.

Challenge: A set of mid-handicap clubs with stiff shafts for less than $500.

Driver

Since I was going to be building a set of a mid-handicapper, my goal was to find a driver that got solid distance, but was also forgiving. I found this R9 460 in 10.5 degrees for $65. While the paint has seen better days, this should perform exactly how we want it to. Plus it is adjustable.

Wood

The 3-wood search stumped me for a bit. I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to go with. I knew I didn’t want a strong three wood and I knew I needed something with forgiveness. After some searching I found a Ping K15 16 degree with a stiff shaft. While the loft is higher, I have found that many higher handicap amateurs can find good use out of a higher lofted 3-wood. On top of that, the K15 is an incredibly easy to hit and forgiving head.

Hybrid

I knew what most mid-handicappers would have a hard time hitting a 2 or 3-iron, so my mind immediately went to a 3-iron hybrid. After some searching, I stumbled on this Ping Rapture V2 with a stiff shaft. Historically, the Raptures have been really easy to hit which makes this a great addition to the bag.

Irons

I had the hardest time in this entire process finding irons. There were just too many to choose from. You had great player irons like the Ping S57 and you also had the super game improvement Adams irons. To find something slightly more in the middle, but still easy to hit, I went with the 2012 TaylorMade CBs. A great year for TaylorMade irons and easy to hit with the irons only going down to the 4. This is where someone can have some fun with their choices if they want.

Wedges

Wedge shopping was still hard this time around. Since the PW in the iron set was strong, I knew I needed a stronger gap wedge. I found a Callaway X-Jaws 50-degree for $24. Really, the entire point of the 50 is to have another iron and bridge the gap to the sand wedge. Speaking of the sand wedge, I went with the 56-degree Ping Gorge SS wedge. It has good grooves and will get the job done around the greens. For the lob wedge, I went with the Cleveland RTX 2.0 60 degree: A really solid wedge with good groves to give you the zip you need around the greens.

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And finally, I went with another great blade putter for $55. Honestly, there were a lot of different options in the range from mallets to blades, so don’t be afraid to search around.

Total

In summary, anyone and any skill level and swing speed can find something in the used market. In fact, it was even easier to find clubs in stiff than X-stiff because most X-stiff clubs are custom and are in less demand making, them more rare and expensive than stiff clubs. Take a look, you never know what you may find.

Related: Bargain Challenge: Putting together a set of clubs for $500

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Forum Thread of the Day: “What’s the best budget wedge?”

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Today’s Forum Thread of the Day comes from bamagator, who asks fellow GolfWRX members what wedges they feel offer the best bang for your buck. As always, our members display their diverse taste, however, Maltby wedges prove to be a particularly popular choice.

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  • BIG STU: “Depending on the fine line of how you really want to do it and the budget Maltby is a good bet. Their stuff is as good of quality as any. If you are able to build your own clubs, you can do the shafts, and grips like you want them. You can also mix bounces and even style of heads within the set.”
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  • kiw1982: “Wilson PMP. You are welcome.”

Entire Thread: “Best Budget Wedge”

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Equipment

In-hand photos of prototype Ping “Blueprint” irons

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Our Johnny Wunder paid a visit to Ping HQ in Phoenix, and in addition to getting to step inside to company’s legendary gold putter vault, The Gear Dive host got an exclusive in-hand look at Ping’s new prototype Blueprint irons.

While we can’t provide any additional details at present, we do have these photos of a 6-iron for your viewing pleasure.

See what GolfWRX Members are saying about the irons in the forums. 

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