A Powerhouse In The Putter Industry Is Re-Born
It was 2004 and at the time I had just been hired to work on a new line of putters. My office resembled that of Russel Crowe’s from “A Beautiful Mind”. I had hundreds of papers with my drawings and inspirations all over the walls and floor. I had what seemed liked a million ideas rolling around my head, and before I knew it, I had just pulled a 24 hour all-day and all-nighter coming up with as many designs as I could to throw their way the next day.
But before I made that conference call I put down my 9th cup of coffee and looked back over my designs one last time. I noticed an alarming similarity amongst a large percentage of my desgins. Somehow a design I had seen just a few days prior from another designer was creeping in to my work. It had not only inspired much of my sketches, it had become all I could see when I shut my eyes.
Rife 2-Bar Mallet – ReBorn
There was no name on the putter, it was just a prototype at the time, but the second I saw one of these I knew this guy was on to something. The following year I was walking the floor at the PGA Show and I was stopped in my tracks, my jaw dropped. There it was, I picked up the putter and observed it from every angle for what seemed like an hour. The putter I was holding was the same one I had just seen a few months back, but now it had a name on it, it was called the RIFE 2-Bar Mallet Putter. (Visit New RIFE Website)
To say this putter was a hit would be a major understatement. This designer, this putter, this brand became a powerhouse in the industry almost overnight. And becoming a true giant in the putter industry without a big brand being attached to your name (Callaway/Odyssey, Titleist/Scotty Cameron, etc. ) is almost unheard of, and next to impossible these days. Yet, RIFE acheived this feat and might be one of the last to do so. Quick Stat: At the time they were only behind Odyssey in sales and were ahead of names like Ping, Titleist and Taylormade. RIFE had quickly become the #2 largest putter company in the world, and they achieved this not by player endorsements, but rather by word of mouth. Pretty impressive.
Fast forward a few years later and RIFE had gone from one of the hottest new brands in golf to one of the worst managed companies in the industry. In just a few short years they went from the 2nd largest putter company to a putter company no longer making putters. The multiple owners couldn’t agree on anything, so the brand and the putter line went up for sale. The fall of the RIFE brand had less to do with the remarkable design work by Guerin Rife and more to do with a case of too many shareholders not being able to make every day business decisions. A true shame.
Can RIFE Catch Lighting In A Bottle Again?
Well…that was then and this is now. And since RIFE was recently purchased by Innovex Golf I have received a lot of questions. One of the most common is “If Guerin Rife is no longer designing their putters could their new designs possibly be as good?” Well…you will be glad to hear that the designing duties of the new RIFE are in good hands, actually in great hands. I would actually say that the comparison between the new designer John Bergquist and ex-RIFE desginer Guerin Rife are quite similar.
While many of you might not be aware of Berquist and some of his design work I’ve actually been a follower of his for years. I ran across some of his early work years ago while researching another project and up until the 2012 PGA Show I wasn’t even aware this was the same person responsible for the new RIFE designs. Berquist replied by saying, “I think you are the only person besides my friends that has ever seen those first putters I designed.” Which might have been the case then, but now other people have taken notice of his talents as well. The new RIFE owner took a look at some of the designs he did for STX Putters at the 2012 PGA Show and quickly snatched him up as RIFE’s new designer.
RIFE’s New Designer – A True Eye For Design
I very rarely see a new putter design that has the ability to combine both beauty and functionality and at the same time create something new and refreshing, yet Berquist continues to surprise me with his work. And while many of his new designs for RIFE will pay homage to their past designs you will also see some of the flare and creativity he possesses. And what you are going to see today is just the start, trust me. Some of the stuff I have seen in the works for the future of RIFE golfers might not be ready for, but in my opinion that is a good thing. This guy has an eye for design. The man has a gift and talent when it comes to dreaming up putters.
From our many conversations and time spent together I would say Berquist and his designs are a breath of fresh air much needed in this industry. He has something so very few possess in the golf club design industry: creativity. He thinks outside the box (way outside the box) yet still maintains functionality. And today with the re-launch of the RIFE putter brand he is only starting to scratch the surface of what he has in store for the RIFE Nation of years past, present and future.
So without further ado I present you with the first batch of releases coming in 2013 from RIFE putters. Enjoy!
RIFE Legend Z
A modified version of the Legend that promotes an optimal sight alignment for the “path putter”. It too, is face balanced.
The Legend is a new mallet that has ties to the root of the company. Its aesthetics and performance driven characteristics are driven by the original 2 Bar. This putter is the only aluminum faced model in the RIFE line-up. Its adjustable 2 Bar weighting system offers premium alignment to suit the individual.
RIFE Phenom Z Putter
Is an exaggerated version of the Phenom that highlights its slim top line. The back of this putter is geared to optically optimize parallel alignment.
RIFE Phenom Putter
This is a Belly putter that was inspired by the tour model, Cayman Brac. We modified the back to bring its overall weight up to 400g. The Blade goose neck makes it an ideal putter for those who arc their swing path.
RIFE Iconic Z Putter
Also a plumbers neck, the Iconic Z compliments hard 90 degree edges with a paralleled top line. The tail of this blade offers a pure sight line for golfers that need to see the perpendicular “T”.
RIFE Iconic Putter
This plumbers neck weighs in at 350g. This is RIFE’s new clean and incessant blade. A true classic!
RIFE El Capitan Z Putter
A pleasant surprise, this might have been the best feeling putter of the bunch so far. The archetype of a Boat Nose. This putter offers a stronger toe hang while staying honest with its Center of Gravity. Its top line is uninterrupted and allows focus to stay where it should be, constant throughout the swing and…on the ball.
RIFE El Capitan Putter
The 30 degree toe hang will be promoted even more by its integrated hosel. The plumbers neck design of the EL Capitan promotes a forward press with RIFE’s 2 degree of loft. A player’s Blade!