By Kiel Christianson,
Would you pay $350 for a fine piece of sculpture? How about sculpture you can putt with? Bruce Sizemore, Jr.'s putters may be on the expensive side, but they are certainly appealing to both traditional and modern golfing tastes. WorldGolf.com reviews the Sizemore XB-1.
At the 2007 Valero Texas Open, Jesper Parnevik rode a hot putter to an eventual second-place finish. What is striking about the Swede's performance, though, is his comment about the putter, which he had just put into his bag before the tournament:
"Never seen the putter before. I have no idea where it's coming from... As soon as I set it, placed it on the ground, I said: 'This is it, this feels great.'"
Lying barely concealed beneath this quote is the intimation of a revelation for weekend warriors everywhere: PGA Tour pros evaluate putters the same way we do - by the way they look at the very first set-up, and the way they feel at the very first stroke.
For some golfers, one criterion might outweigh the other.
Those big, ugly, branding-iron-esque flatsticks that are so popular with some? Well, they tend to be adopted by players in the "feel over looks" camp.
Classical flanged blades spit-polished by big-name putter-designers - who are perhaps the true artists of the golf equipment industry - tend to appeal to the "looks over feel" camp.
The six putter models comprising the new collection of Sizemore Putters, designed by Bruce Sizemore, Jr., succeed in offering something for all tastes. And the classically beautiful Sizemore XB-1 ($350) might just have the qualities to bring the feel and looks camps together.
Despite having been introduced just last year in 2006, Sizemore putters have experienced notable success in competitive golf, especially on the Champions Tour. The XB line look at lot like classic flanged blades at set-up, whereas the XM mallet line putters look more imposing. All Sizemore flatsticks, though, look like pieces of artwork - fine sculpture to be precise.
All Sizemore putters, though, including the XB-1 tested here, feature 99.9% pure copper face inserts, AIM alignment system, and precision IND-X milling on the face. More impressively, though, Sizemore putters are all hand-made, and the personalized craftsmanship is immediately apparent. I received number 41 of the 250-club first-run of the XB-1, and the moment I pulled it from the box, I swear I heard harp music drifting through the air.
Sizemore's putters don't neglect the gearheads out their, either. The heel-balanced XB-1 has a slightly off-set hosel, 4 degrees of loft, and heel-toe weighting that does a fine job of stabilizing the clubhead on the back- and through-swing.
Nevertheless, the XB-1 is not a mallet, and if you're used to high-MOI mallets, Sizemore's XM series might be the better choice. I found center-struck putts with the XB-1 to be sweeter and softer than warm molasses, and off-center contact was almost as pure. However, I did notice that compared to contemporary mallets, off-center contact also resulted in some twisting of the clubhead, and a few off-line putts.
In all honesty, the XB-1 is one of the more beautiful putters I've ever seen. Even the proprietary milling pattern on the face is sexy. If you can stomach the price tag, and if you want a fine piece of sculpture that feels, looks, and performs like you imagine Tour pros' putters do, well this is the putter for you.
But is it worth that price?
Perhaps this anecdote will lend some insight:
When I went out to test the XB-1, I was paired up with a regional manager of a Fortune 500 company who was playing hooky from work. He watched me run in a few snakes throughout our round, and three-putt only one green—several fewer than he did.
Finally, on the last hole, he asked to try the XB-1. With no practice swings, he stepped up to his ball, some 35-feet from the cup, and proceeded to drain the delicate double-breaker.
He turned to me and said, "I'll give you $450 for it."
And I…well, I just couldn't bring myself to take the offer.
For more information: http://www.sizemoregolf.com/index.php
November 16, 2007
Any opinions expressed above are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the management.