A Look at Bettinardi's Kuchar Model 1 Putter
In May of 2013, golf’s governing bodies controversially banned the use of an anchored putting stroke for all golfers. Their knee-jerk action was a response to the growing popularity of belly and long putters on professional golf circuits. Keegan Bradley's 2011 PGA Championship win using a belly putter started a streak of four of six major championships won by players anchoring, culminating in Adam Scott's win of the 2013 Masters using his broomstick method. One month later, the anchored putting days were put to rest when the USGA and R&A ruled to impose the ban on January 1st, 2016.
The decision to impose an anchor ban is a golf topic that fascinates me. As a player who once struggled with putting, I used a belly putter for a couple years. I credit its use for curing my traditional stroke and making me an above-average putter with or without. I never felt that the belly putter gave me an advantage over other players and sympathize with the players that were forced to switch.
Matt Kuchar chose to ignore the old adage on tour, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." Following a breakout year in 2012 that included a Players Championship win and reaching a career high world ranking of five, Kuchar was looking for a way to make even more putts. Putting guru, Dave Stockton, suggested choking down on the putter and resting the butt of it on his left wrist as a training drill.
With Stockton's drill in mind, Kuchar came to craft putter manufacturer, Bettinardi, with the idea of building a putter that extended all the way up his forearm. After a few iterations, Bettinardi was able to come up with something that fit what Kooch was looking for, and he's been using it ever since.
For those unfamiliar with Bettinardi, it's a family owned business in Chicago’s southwest suburbs. The founder, Bob Bettinardi, started the company in 1991 knowing he could make a better putter using his advanced manufacturing equipment also used to make steel parts for the Department of Defense. Bettinardi believed that cutting the entire putter head out of one single steel block and avoiding welding pieces together would create a better putter.
Since 1991, the brand has skyrocketed to an industry leader with a tour roster that includes the likes of Kuchar, J.B. Holmes, Steven Bowditch, Darren Clarke, Brian Gay and Jim Herman.
I was able to get my hands on a Bettinardi Kuchar Series Model 1 and was very anxious to try out the putting method after hearing rave reviews from Tour players such as Kuchar, Pat Perez and Ollie Schneiderjans. I use a forward press with my traditional putter, so I thought the arm lock could be a good alternative.
The two things that jump out when you pick up The Kuchar Series are the weight and the craftsmanship. This Bettinardi model is an extremely heavy putter, weighing in at 400 grams. Players don’t have to worry about not feeling the putterhead through the stroke. As seen in the pictures above, the putter is absolutely beautiful. Notice Bettinardi's lack of welding at the hosel, an indication of the singular block of steel design.
Bettinardi's Kuchar Series is manufactured with 7° of loft. They do so to ensure that when the putter is locked against your forearm, the loft and alignment are correct. The forward press created by the arm lock will help players keep their hands ahead of the putter head through the stroke, maintaining the correct loft at impact and allowing the ball to roll smoothly off the face.
So how’d it go?
When I first tried out the arm lock putter, it was a struggle. Putting in the hallway of my 600-square-foot apartment and trying to keep a putter grip lodged against your forearm for the first time is a little uncomfortable. Putts were sailing left and right of my target, and my speed was a disaster. I was using a conventional putting grip and began to wonder if the putter was too long or short. Even though the results weren't there, I liked how the arm lock made me really depend on my left hand to control the stroke. I often struggle putting when my right hand becomes dominant in the stroke.
A few days later, I was hitting more putts, and it began to feel less and less awkward. All of a sudden, putt after putt was on line and my speed control was getting better and better. With a trip to Florida around the corner, I couldn’t wait to try out the Kuchar Series on a real golf course.
When I got the putter out of my miniscule apartment and onto the golf course I started to really believe that I might want to put the arm lock in my bag permanently. I used the putter extensively on the practice green and began to notice how important ball position played. With a traditional flatstick, I play the ball towards the front of my stance. With the arm lock, I needed to play the ball in the middle of my stance. I liked the arm lock best on putts from 5-15' where I felt as if it was a matter of picking the right line to make the putt.
I decided to take the Bettinardi Kuchar Series out for a spin when I headed to play at Medalist Golf Club, the home course for golf icons Tiger Woods and Rickie Fowler. Medalist features extremely fast, undulated greens that turn any poor stroke into a tough comeback putt. I went through the round putting extremely well, recording zero three-putts and dropping in a 40-foot birdie attempt on one hole. While I had a few misreads, I didn't feel like I missed my line on any stroke.
Even after having one of my best putting years last year utilizing a traditional putter and stroke, I am seriously considering a switch after using the arm lock putter,. I have never felt more confident on a golf course about getting the ball on line and in the hole. A demonstration of how I use the Bettinardi Kuchar Series putter is below.
Here is a look at some of Matt Kuchar's putting stats before and after the switch to the Bettinardi arm lock putter. Kuchar was already one of the best putters on tour before switching putting styles, and it looks like he may have even improved. He made the switch to the arm lock in 2013 and saw about the same results on the green as he had in 2012. In 2014, he experienced a remarkable year using the arm lock style.
PGA Tour End of Season Rankings
The Bettinardi Kuchar Series Putters retail at $375, a price that represents the best putter manufacturer in the world. You can take a closer look at their different styles and purchase one by clicking here.