Rife Putters agrees to be sold to Innovex

Rife's Two Bar Hybrid putter

Rife's Two Bar Hybrid putter

Golfweek has learned that Rife Putters, largely inactive for the past year, has reached an agreement to be sold to Innovex Golf.

Ben Zylstra, president of Innovex, based in Medina, Wash., confirmed that a purchase agreement has been signed. Zylstra said he expects the deal to close by Friday, Nov. 18. Terms were not disclosed.

Rife, widely known for its Two Bar putter models, became one of the most popular putters on the Champions Tour before curtailing operations in 2011 because of economic pressures.

“We have never been out of business or never filed for bankruptcy or anything like that,” said Jim Barfield, Rife’s former chief executive officer. “We have no outstanding debt. This sale really positions Rife to become one of the cornerstones of an exciting new golf company.”

Barfield, a former non-exempt player on the Champions Tour, will stay with Innovex as head of tour operations.

Innovex, known primarily as a manufacturer of golf balls, was founded in 2004. Zylstra became president earlier this year.

“We are very excited about this,” Zylstra said. “Rife is a very classy brand and is highly regarded in the industry and in the marketplace. Innovex has been selling golf clubs as well as golf balls, and we will be working on the redesign and rebranding of all these clubs. Right now, though, we will focus on our golf balls plus the Rife putters.

“We will be at the 2012 PGA Merchandise Show in a very prominent way. We will do a full launch of our golf balls, which have never really had an official launch.”

The Innovex lineup of golf balls includes the three-piece E-Motion ball with a Surlyn cover and the three-piece V-Motion Tour ball with a cast urethane cover. The E-Motion sells for $19.95 per dozen, and the V-Motion Tour sells for $29.95.

Innovex is developing a four-piece ball.

Barfield said Rife putters for 2012 will include approximately nine models “that have stood the test of time.” Some of the models will include long and belly versions.

“And we’re paying special attention to the left-handed player,” Barfield said. “We’re even thinking of calling one of our putters The Lefty.”

Rife Putters was started in 2004 after Barfield tried some of the prototype putters from designer Guerin Rife. The Rife hallmark is RollGroove technology, using grooves in the putter face to produce a consistent roll. The company rode a wave of popularity, steadily expanding until the current economic slowdown.

Among the touring pros who have won with Rife putters are Matt Kuchar, Fred Funk, Justin Rose, Andy Bean, Denis Watson and Bernhard Langer.

Zylstra said Innovex will maintain dual offices -- in the Seattle suburb of Medina and in the Rife headquarters in Sanford, Fla.

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