The Disc Golf Reviewer World Series of Putters continues today with the 5-12 match in the Alpaca region between the 5-seed Innova KC Pro Aviar and the 12-seed Divergent Narwhal. The 5-12 is a classic upset spot during NCAA March Madness, so let’s see if that trend carries over to the first round of the World Series of Putters!
Innova KC Pro Aviar
The KC Pro Aviar is one of several versions of Innova’s Aviar putter mold. The “KC” stands for 13x World Champion Ken Climo, as this version of the Aviar was originally specifically molded for “The Champ.” For a long time, it has been a go to putter for professional and casual players alike.
The KC version is nearly identical to the original Aviar mold except that it features a moderately sized bead on the rim. The KC Pro Aviar should fly straight with a touch of overstability coming in at the end of the flight. The KC Aviar is only available in “KC Pro” plastic as well, which is a stiff, tacky plastic blend similar to Infinite Discs‘ “P-Blend” plastic.
Divergent Discs is one of a few new disc golf brands to pop up in the last few years. Their discs are made in China, and Divergent prides itself in focusing their discs on the more casual, everyday player rather than the professional disc golfer. Because of this focus, almost all of their discs are on the understable side, and they aim to keep a pretty competitive price point for all of their discs.
The Narwhal is a small rimmed putter with a shape that reminds me of the Innova Dart or Innova Skeeter. It is straight to understable, and the plastic blend we will be featuring in today’s match is Divergent’s “Max Grip” plastic blend.
Specifications and Flight Numbers
Let’s take a look at some of the specs courtesy of the PDGA and break down the major differences between these two putter molds.
KC Pro Aviar
|Flight Numbers: 2/3/0/2
Flight Numbers: 3/3/-2/0.5
Max Weight: 176.0gr
Rim Depth: 1.5cm
Rim Thickness: 0.9cm
Inside Rim Diameter: 19.4cm
Rim Depth / Diameter Ratio: 7.1%
Rim Configuration: 55.75
Max Weight: 174.3gr
Rim Depth: 1.2cm
Rim Thickness: 1.2cm
Inside Rim Diameter: 18.5cm
Rim Depth / Diameter Ratio: 5.7%
Rim Configuration: 53.25
These two molds are quite different from one other. The first difference you are bound to notice is in the shape and feel of the rims. While the KC Pro Aviar has a more traditional round shaped and beaded rim, the Narwhal’s small, narrow, and beadless rim shape makes it look at first like a higher speed disc (The first time I held one I thought it was a midrange, not a putter). But the tall, rounded flight plate forces the grip to feel more like a traditional putter in the hand. I at first thought I’d have a hard time adjusting to the shape of the Narwhal in my hand, but the added height made it an easy adjustment for me.
The other big difference is in the feel and look of the plastic blends. Again, the KC Pro Aviar looks and feels more like what you’d expect from a putter plastic. The Max Grip Narwhal at first looks like more of what we usually call “premium” plastic blend due to its shiny, glossy look. But also premium seems like the wrong word because the plastic does feel a bit on the cheap side. This feels a bit harsh, but in a way, it reminded me of the plastic you might find in a promotional disc tossed out for free at a parade. Of course, Divergent’s Max Grip is much thicker, and seems of a higher quality than that, but perhaps not by as much as other disc golf plastics. However, to my surprise, I did find the “Max Grip” to be an accurate name for the plastic, as its tackiness and grip was unexpected for how the plastic looks. In that way, it reminded me some of the look and feel of Prodigy’s 400G Plastic blend
, but a touch more grippy. My grip on the Narwhal was never a concern during the head-to-head match.
In the flight numbers we also see a big difference in stability. I noticed this a bit on the putting green as the Narwhal seemed more willing to hold a straighter line for longer than the KC Aviar from longer distances. But at this length, I never felt like the Narwhal was going to turn over on me. I also during my warmup found the Narwhal’s tall, rounded flight plate gave it a bit more glide and some of my putts floated on me a bit. I tried to make an adjustment to account for this during the match.
I conducted this match in the morning at a local disc golf course on a permanent Innova Discatcher basket. It had just rained, so between throws I frequently had to wipe off each disc to make sure my grip wouldn’t be a problem for either disc’s results. After warming up, I flipped a coin to see which putter would be thrown first for the first round, and it was the Innova KC Pro Aviar. Here is how it all played out:
(5) KC Pro Aviar Scorecard
(12) Narwhal Scorecard
|20ft: N N Y N Y Y Y Y Y Y (7/10 putts made)=21 points
20ft: Y N N Y Y Y Y N Y Y (7/10)=21 points
|30ft: N N N Y N Y N N N N (2/10)=8 points
30ft: Y Y N Y Y Y Y Y N N (7/10)=28 points
|40ft: N N N N Y N N N N N (1/10)=5 points
40ft: N N N N Y Y N N N Y (3/10)=15 points
|Total: 34 points
Upset Alert! And this wasn’t just an upset, the 12 seed Divergent Narwhal left no doubt by nearly doubling up the 5 seed Innova KC Pro Aviar with a score of 64 to 34.
Notes from the Match
Well, I said to expect upsets, but even I didn’t see this one coming. I try not to pay attention to the score as it’s happening so as not to have it subconsciously affect the results, but I couldn’t ignore the shock I felt as I kept missing with the KC Aviar and as I kept draining putts with the Narwhal.
I also try not to pick a favorite between the two discs before I start, but the KC Pro Aviar is objectively everything I’ve ever liked in a putter–tall, stiff, and beaded. This one was a head scratcher, but also it has put to bed my concerns that my personal preferences will overshadow the results of this contest.
When I try to narrow down why I putted so much better with the Narwhal than the KC Pro Aviar, the one thing I come back to is the reliably straight, floaty flight of the Narwhal. I tried to release every Narwhal putt on a very flat, straight line toward the basket, and the disc seemed to just take care of the rest every time. I mentioned in the last post that the Maiden’s
bead seemed to cause me problems with my release, but I really didn’t notice the KC Pro Aviar’s bead causing me any grief. I really can’t pinpoint anything the KC Pro Aviar “did” wrong, I just wasn’t able to get a consistent groove going with the disc as I was missing the basket left, right, and all over.
These are both solid options for your putting putter. It is hard to argue with such a dominant performance from the Narwhal, but I’m personally still not totally sold on the disc. I’m glad I get another round with it to see if this was just a flash in a pan or if the Narwhal is the real deal. For now, I’ll just say if you are looking to try out something new and a bit different, the Narwhal is a solid option for a straight to understable flying putter.
And I also wouldn’t let this result scare you off the KC Pro Aviar either. It is a solid putter that has a long history of positive reviews and results. Though I’d apparently need quite a bit more practice with it, I would feel totally fine using a KC Pro Aviar in a competitive setting.
But for now, it is the Narwhal moving on to round 2 in the Alpaca region of the Disc Golf Reviewer World Series of Putters. The Narwhal awaits the winner of tomorrow’s matchup between the 4 seed Discmania Rainmaker and the 13 seed Yikun Gui. Could there be another upset brewing in the Alpaca region? Come back tomorrow to find out!