You may (or may not) have heard of the Never Compromise X-Ray putter
lineup. After being almost dormant and not producing any putters for a
year or two, Never Compromise came roaring back with several new X-Ray
putters. And because they represent a “comeback” of sorts for the
company and their suggested retail price is a reasonable $149, I decided
to take a look.
I was also intrigued by the Never Compromise X-Ray putter “family” because I’ve always liked the putters Never Compromise puts out. And so have several PGA Tour players, Vijay Singh among them. In 2008 alone, tour professionals won $34 million in prize money while playing their Never Compromise putters. Not too shabby, when you consider they were up against better-known brands like Scotty Cameron, Odyssey, PING and so forth.
So, here’s a little information about the lineup. There are four models altogether, called Alpha, Beta, Sigma and Tau. The Alpha is a full-sized, face-balanced mallet with a double-bend hosel; Beta is a mid-mallet; Sigma is a single-sightline “geometry” mallet; and Tau is the blade version of the putter. However, “Alpha” is just a nickname for the full-sized mallet - its “official” name is simply the NCX-RAY putter. So, you might need to look using both names if you go shopping for that particular model (they’re just different ways of referring to the same putter).
Every model in the Never Compromise X-Ray putter family features a red “Suspended Face Technology” (SFT) face insert. In fact, the putters take their “X-Ray” name from the fact that the face insert is a translucent red. It’s a unique design and it’s shared by all the NCX-RAY putters, so I’ll describe it in a fair amount of detail.
The SFT face insert is an innovative dual-density design that uses horizontal, raised metal ribs embedded in a lightweight, softer composite material. The composite portion of the insert dampens vibrations and provides a cushioned feel, but it also promotes soft but responsive feedback. In addition, the weight saved by using the lightweight composite allowed the designers to relocate a quarter of the head’s overall weight down and out to the perimeters, thereby lowering and deepening the putter’s center of gravity and increasing its Moment of Inertia (MOI). The increased MOI is intended to create additional head stability throughout the putting stroke.
The SFT insert’s raised metal ribs promote consistency and distance control by reducing the surface area that actually contacts the ball. In an independent test of 13 mallets conducted by Hot Stix Golf, the Alpha Never Compromise X-Ray putter lost the least distance on off-center hits (compared to center-face hits), whether the ball was struck on the heel or the toe portion of the face.
The translucent red of the SFT face insert gives every Never Compromise X-Ray putter an ethereal, almost other-worldly appearance. It’s an entirely different look from any putter I’ve ever seen. It’s futuristic and fairly controversial; a lot of golfers (traditionalists, mostly) think it’s somehow unseemly, while others applaud it for being so different. One thing’s for sure, though: because the SFT face insert is so distinctive, a Never Compromise X-Ray putter won’t blend in or be mistaken for someone else’s putter. Personally, I like the bold look – it seems assertive and confident, and we all need some of that on the greens.
I tested a 35-inch Alpha version of the Never Compromise X-Ray putter (a/k/a the NCX-RAY putter). The mallet head is fairly heavy, but the putter is nicely balanced so the head seems lighter than it is in reality. The alignment aid of the NCX-RAY is remarkably effective: two parallel, deep red sightlines contrast with the dark color of the head and frame the ball perfectly. The strong sense of direction the sightlines provide makes it easy to address the ball consistently on the putting line you select.
Speaking of addressing the ball, the Alpha Never Compromise X-Ray putter gave me a feeling of confidence whenever I got ready to putt. Apparently, my confidence was justified because the putter’s stability and distance control were impressive. So, aligning the putter was simple, the head was steady and stable throughout the stroke, the roll was smooth without any skidding or hopping, the accuracy was good on off-center hits as well as pure strikes, and the distance was predictable. What else can a golfer ask from his or her putter? The only other key ingredient of good putting is a good read, and no putter can do that for you. You, the golfer, need to provide that.
The Bottom Line: The Alpha model in the Never Compromise X-Ray putter lineup excels at alignment and has a sophisticated (if unusual) face insert. I think the NCX-RAY putter’s solid performance more than justifies its $149 price tag.