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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.

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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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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

WRX Spotlight Review: TaylorMade M5 fairway Rocket 3

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Product: TaylorMade M5 fairway Rocket 3

Pitch: The TaylorMade M5 fairway Rocket 3 is a stronger-lofted version of the standard TaylorMade M5 3-wood. The Rocket is 14 degrees. The standard M5 is 15.

Our take on the TaylorMade M5 Rocket 3

“WOW, you really hit that 3-wood like a rocket!”

” Not like a rocket… an actual Rocket!”

The beloved 3-wood. A favorite club of both average golfers and pros alike, a club that many will hold onto well after what some might consider their “best before” date. But with new options and improved technology, these old faithfuls are getting the boot quicker for a lot of reasons including the ability to better dial in a fit and help minimizing misses.

Since making a club faster off the middle is becoming more and more difficult thanks to the limits set forth but the USGA, OEMs are changing the way we think about clubs and putting a greater focus on decreasing dispersion and optimizing misses. TaylorMade is doing this with TwistFace, which was originally introduced in drivers a generation ago, and has now been included in the M5 and M6 fairway woods.

I got to spend some time with the knowledgeable crew at TaylorMade Canada in their new indoor facility just north of Toronto (lets call it Kingdom North) In that time, we went through a driver fitting, and then to the new M5 fairway woods to try and replace one of my oldest faithfuls: a 14-degree SLDR Tour Spoon. To say I have a unique ability to elevate a fairway wood is something that even my fitter was a little surprised by. My numbers with my cranked down to 12 degree (measured) fairway off the deck were good but could be improved. I can hit it both ways (as much as a 6-handicap can actually claim that) but my trusted go-to shot is a slight fade with some heel bias contact because of my swing. I am willing to sacrifice some distance but usually hit it where I want.

What I saw at the end of the fitting was a club that produced longer shots along with a tighter dispersion without having to make or to try and make any changes to my swing. The final fit was a 14-degree “Rocket” M5 fairway set to 12 degrees. It beat out my SLDR by a total of nine yards, which is an increase of just over a total of three percent, including an additional six yards of carry.

To say I was honestly surprised would be an understatement. The SLDR TS is a club that the first time I hit it I went WHOA! Low spin, workable, looks exactly how I want that club to look (small and compact). You can see from the numbers below when it works it works.

Why does TwistFace work?

Let’s explain and get a little deep in the technology weeds for a second. Bulge and roll is not a new concept. In fact, it would be a lie to claim that all OEMs haven’t done something similar to this is the past or played with these two variables to help golfers hit better shots. Fact: Every OEM optimizes the bulge and roll on their clubs to increase speed and maximize performance. Tom Wishon actually had a line of woods at one point that went the other way had VERY limited roll from the top tine to the sole. With this design, more loft on the bottom of the head helped players who miss low or need help elevating the ball off the deck increase launch and spin. It worked. Cobra also has what it calls E9 technology to tweak bulge and roll to help maximize the speed and forgiveness of their woods. It also works.

What makes TaylorMade’s TwistFace different is that it is the most aggressive iteration of this bulge and roll tweaking yet, and by introducing it into the fairway woods and hybrids, it’s proving to be a winner — even for this now-proven wrong skeptic.

At the end of the day, the M5 Ti “Rocket” was a measurable improvement over my previous 3-wood. Now it would be disingenuous to say “if you aren’t using TwistFace in your fairway woods you’re not maximized,” but if you are someone that struggles with fairway wood dispersion and looking to find some extra distance for taking on par-5s, taking a look at the new M5 and M6 fairway woods as part of your next fitting should be very high on your list.

 

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Forum Thread of the Day: “Low handicapper switching to game improvement irons”

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Today’s Forum Thread of the Day comes from jasonTel3 – a low handicap player who plays blades but who has had his head turned by game improvement irons. According to jasonTel3, every ball was hit straight when testing out a set of Ping G400’s at a simulator, and he’s been asking fellow members for advice on whether he should make the move to GI’s.

Here are a few posts from the thread discussing jasonTel3’s conundrum, but make sure to check out the entire discussion and have your say at the link below.

  • balls_deep: “My first thought is to say don’t do it.. but then if you’ve hit them, liked them, and the numbers were right, it could be a good option. A friend I play with uses G400 and they have too much offset for my liking. I also don’t like that you can see the cavity on the 4 and 5 iron. Top line is actually very nice for a SGI iron. I just read the Ping Blueprint article on Golf Digest where they were talking about how some players hit small heads better. I definitely fall into that category. That said, I just ordered a set of i210 to try as I had really good luck with the i200 and should never have sold them. Have you tried the newer I series? IMO it’s GI help in a players look with an acceptable sole width. Long story short though – if you felt comfortable and the fit was right, why not try them? If you don’t work the ball a ton, I don’t see any issue with it. High and straight is a good way to go!”
  • hammergolf: “I’ve been playing Ping G25’s for 6 years. Still can’t find anything I like better. I can hit any shot I need to whether it’s my stock draw, fade, high, or low. And when I hit it a little thin, or on the toe, it still lands on the green. My thought is why play golf with a club that will punish you for mishit when you can play one that will help you.”
  • azone: “Everyone has an opinion, and here is mine. If you are/have been a good ball striker with a sound mental game, your mind will keep writing checks your body may not be able to cash as you get older or don’t practice enough. Those “ugly” forgiving irons look beautiful when a miss ends up on the green, and you are putting– not in rough or deep in a short side bunker. Those irons won’t be AS ACCURATE as, say, a blade, BUT if you aren’t as dependable as in the past, your results will be better. I used to keep two sets of blueprinted irons; blades for practice and CB for play. I play with guys that have cashed checks playing…and they don’t care how ugly the iron is.”
  • Jut: “As a decent player (and ball striker) and a sweeper/picker (I could hit off of a green and not take any landscape with me), I’ve found much success with the F9s (which, with the wide sole, are very similar to the G410 irons). In the past 4 years I’ve gone from Mizuno MP-68 to Callaway Apex CF16 to Ping i500 (a brief and bad experience) to the Cobra F9’s. For what it’s worth, the Cobras have been the best of the bunch by far.”

Entire Thread: “Low handicap going to game improvement irons”

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WRX Spotlight: Stitch headcovers

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Product: Stitch headcovers

Pitch: From Stitch: “Your game should match your style. At Stitch, we aim to merchandise our line of products so you can easily put together items that not only match your bag and what is it in it, but also match your style and personality. We want to make it easy for you to have a unique and color-coordinated golf bag. We have designed unique products that have defined color schemes so that choosing which items to put in your bag becomes easier. We aim to provide you with various looks, mixing and matching our head covers to give you confidence that the purchase you make for your bag will take you to the course in style. Let us help you dress your game.”

Our Take On Stitch Headcovers

Stitch is a relatively new company – founded in 2012. The company initially only created premium headcovers but has grown into so much more, with all sorts of golfing accessories now on offer on their site StitchGolf.com. Their bags, in particular, are now some of the most popular amongst golfers, with the quality and uniqueness provided leading multiple Tour players to sport them in tournament play.

That sign of quality in the bags bodes well for what the company was founded on – their headcovers. Stitch provides both leather and knit headcovers in a variety of designs that do as good a job as any in covering the needs of all golfers.

Stitch describes the companies Monte Carlo headcover as being their “classic, timeless design”, and for those looking for that vintage style to add to their set up then they can’t go wrong with this headcover. A mainstay in the likes of multiple tour winner Paul Casey’s bag, the Monte Carlo headcover, as with all of the companies leather covers, is hand-crafted from 100% leather and is both water and stain resistant. The cover comes in four color codes: Black, White, Navy and Red, and at $68 is the most affordable of all their leather headcovers.

Other options in the leather department range from their intricately designed Camo cover which comes in a multiple color design, as well as Stitch’s tribute to “The King”, through their Arnold Palmer headcover.

The AP cover comes in a minimalist black with white stripes for a classic feel, but it also comes in a white color code decorated with red, white and yellow stripes which, for myself at least, looks even more alluring. Part of an exclusive collection, the only issue with the AP cover is that only those located in the U.S. are currently eligible to get their hands on one. But for those in the states, the company is now offering a set of three AP leather covers for $128 instead of $298 should you use the code APLEATHERS on their site.

From their Tour Racer, USA, Shamrock and Bonesman editions, Stitch provides a great choice when it comes to their leather covers, and as previously mentioned, all are hand-crafted from 100% leather, water and stain resistant and will assure an excellent fit on your clubs.

Stitch also provides knit headcovers which contain not only excellent designs but also the same quality which has gone into their leather covers. All of the companies knit covers are made from Techno Wool, which is 100% acrylic and designed in order for your clubs to stay entirely dry. Another feature of the knit covers from Stitch is their smart fit design which ensures all of the covers retain their shape over a long period, as well as providing for a cover that will reliably stay on your club.

The knit covers from Stitch cost $68 ($72 for the limited AP cover), and there are currently seven different designs available to choose from over at StitchGolf.com. The leather covers are, unsurprisingly, a little pricier, but still very affordable, ranging from $68-$98. The covers deliver in both style and performance, and for a relatively new company, it speaks volumes that the likes of Jim Furyk, Paul Casey, Bryson DeChambeau and many more tour pros are now sporting the company’s creations.

 

 

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