50 Words or Less
The Rife Switchback 2 putter has a classic shape with excellent performance and a new ability to change weights with replaceable bumpers.
Previous articles on this website will tell you that I have been a Rife supporter for quite sometime. Even though the brand has taken some pretty big steps in its recent incarnation, I still feel like the early blades had some of the best feel and roll I have ever seen in any putter. The new Rife Switchback series introduced a new concept where the weight could be adjusted by changing out the bumpers of the putter. Though the Switchback introduces a new technology to Rife putters, those classic attributes I loved in the older Rifes seem to be making a comeback.
The Rife Switchback 2 has a simple matte stainless steel finish with a mid-slant neck, a sight line on the flange for alignment, the signature Rife notch in the topline, and horizontal face milling. The slant neck actually makes this Switchback 2 face balanced whereas the standard Switchback is not. Generally, this putter is a simple Anser 2 style head, but I would say it has a little wider foot print than standard Anser 2 shapes, which may be to accommodate the replaceable weights.
As mentioned, the bumpers of the Switchback putters are actually completely replaceable. The putter itself comes with a set of 5 gram blue weights and a set of 20 gram silver weights. Obviously the appearance changes quite a bit with the blue weights where you get an interesting pop of color. Rest assured, the blue is not distracting. When the silver weights are installed, you’d never even guess the weights are attached by screws. The weights and the flange line appear to flow seamlessly.
Sound & Feel
My favorite aspects of my old Rife blades are how soft they sound and feel. The sound at impact is very muted and the feel is very responsive. When I reviewed the newer Iconic, I found it to have more click in both sound and in feel so I expected this to be part of the Rife evolution. The new Rife Switchback 2 has a very familiar sound and feel to me. The sound is a nice muted thud that is very quiet and the feel is velvety soft. The overall feel of this putter is very reminiscent of the original Rife Antigua putters.
Going back to the adjustable weights on this putter, you’d expect they would have a significant impact on the feel…and they do. The heavier silver weights bring the putter up to 380 grams and the blue weights bring the putter to 350 grams. I’ll discuss the direct effect in the next section, but just note, the feel does change with the weights.
The biggest appeal to me in Rife putters over the years has been their ability to perform above all else. For my money, Rife putters are the giant killers of the putter industry. Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that I now hold Rife putters to a very high standard. Though solid putters, I felt like the newer Rifes did not hold up as well compared to the old Rife putters. Much to my delight, the new Switchback 2 seems to have put Rife back on course. In addition to having that classic sound and feel, the new Switchback 2 gets the ball on a nice tight roll quickly and is very reliable.
There is quite a bit of impact from the weight changes. As always with adjustable clubs, the adjustability is great because of the old adage “different strokes for different folks.” If you’re more of a feel player, you’re going to like having the lighter blue weights installed on the putter because you get way more feel on the ball. The stability of the putter is slightly decreased, but there is certainly an increase in the feel and response. With the silver weights installed the putter becomes extremely easy to put a smooth stroke on, but there is a little loss in feel. Though the loss is not massive, it’s notable. Rife offers two other weights (red: 10g, charcoal: 15g) for purchase, but I would like to see one more set included with the putter to cover the gap between 350 grams and 380 grams. I believe there are a lot of golfers out there that would find that in-between setting to be optimal.
Frankly, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the Rife Switchback 2. When I first saw pictures of the Switchback putters, my thought was “this is either where a company has done something really cool, or they’ve jumped the shark.” As it turns out, I think Rife made a cool little putter while at the same time restoring some of the classic attributes that made them so good in the past.