It has been several years since L.A.B. (Lie Angle Balance) putters first made their appearance on the golf course, and while you may not have heard about them back then you can’t ignore them now. These putters are popping up everywhere from your local muni to the PGA tour.
So, what makes these putters so different? The secret is in the lie-angle-balance they’re designed to optimize, and I’ll give you more details on what that means later in this review.
I first came across L.A.B. while playing Milwaukee Country Club last year. Their Head Pro and Director of Golf, Skip Simonds, was using a Directed Force model and really liked it. While it was hard not to notice the odd shape of his putter, any doubts about its functionality disappeared when he started rolling putts in one after another.
Some quick background
L.A.B. Founder Bill Presse is a former mini-tour player who had the idea to create a putter that would allow him to drastically simplify his stroke. He wanted to be able to count on a square putter face every time, which led him to invent Lie Angle Balance.
Bill also wanted to create a putter head that would give him as much forgiveness as possible, so he developed the radical shape of the DF (Directed Force) 2.1 as a way to maximize consistency on off-center hits.L.A.B Website
What Is Lie Angle Balance?
You may be wondering what exactly is lie angle balance? Many of us have heard of face balance or toe hang when it comes to putters, but lie angle balance is something you may have never considered. The idea that all putters have torque when you are swinging regardless of the face type is the problem that L.A.B. is trying to solve for. The best way to understand the benefits of lie angle balance is by watching the video below:
Getting Started With L.A.B
If watching that video had you convinced to give L.A.B. a shot then read on! L.A.B. Golf has one of the best virtual fitting processes I have seen. If you have never had a virtual or in-person putter fitting you may be using the entirely wrong length, lie or face balance to optimize your putting stroke. The virtual fitting from LAB will require you to take a video putting with your current setup in order for one of their fitters to analyze.
After submitting the video you will hear back from them with recommendations on length and lie angle that you should order. I was very impressed with the feedback I got back and the recommendations lined up with the data I have gotten from my previous in-person fittings.
Watch the video below for a great overview of just how the fitting process works. Or visit the L.A.B. site for more information:
Current Models / Company
As L.A.B. continues to grow there is still that feeling of a small, passionate group of people building the brand. I joined the L.A.B. Facebook group to see what chatter people had about their clubs and was surprised by how much dialog happens in that forum between customers and employees. I had a great experience with customer service, as well, during my testing and trust in L.A.B. standing behind their product.
There are four models currently available for purchase through the L.A.B site:
Customize, customize, customize
Customization options available from L.A.B. allow you to make a truly unique putter to call your own. I have typically been a traditionalist when it comes to the color scheme, grip style and alignment mark of a putter, but I had a lot of fun looking at all the options. For example:
I ended up picking a cappuccino color with basic alignment marks to suit my eye.
You will also need to select a grip as part of the process. This is where I think most people may find the biggest difference in the putter. The L.A.B. grip models are all designed to integrate forward press and there are four variations to choose from. More information on their grip selections can be found in this section of the L.A.B. site.
The forward press shown in this picture again highlights the unique setup of L.A.B’s putters and grips. I personally had a hard time adjusting to this grip as I am someone who doesn’t press my hands forward naturally (more on that later)
To bring the putter to life you will next need to select your shaft. I have noticed over the past several years more and more attention has been placed on putter shaft “technology.”
Gone are the days of metal shafts and one-type-fits-all detailing. Custom putter shafts are now just as common as custom driver shafts. The shaft section of the L.A.B. site has great details on the different types of shafts available and how to choose the right one for your game. I ended up building my putter with a BGT stability tour polar which I will review in an upcoming article. As a sneak preview, I will say there was definitely a difference and improvement in my putting when I used the same putter with and without this upgraded shaft.
The final touch to your custom build involves selecting a headcover. This is really the cherry on top, and I love that L.A.B. lets you do this as part of your build.
Time to make some putts
After getting my build in the mail I couldn’t wait to try it out. Playing a mallet before the Mezz 1 Max made for a smooth transition as there was a very similar flow and feel. I liked the heavy weight of this putter and the milled face had a nice response when putting. You may notice there are a lot of screws on the bottom of the putter – these are not interchangeable weights but rather the technique used to balance the putter.
As any new putter does, the first few rounds took some getting used to. Finding the most comfortable position and a feel for lag putts came after the first 18 holes. I found myself really struggling with short putts, however. The integrated forward press really was throwing off my hand positioning, and I think that affected my stroke mentally.
I decided after a few more rounds that I would try the Link 1, instead. The more traditional look and hand setup of the Link 1 appealed to me right away. I had no issues switching to a blade type head from a mallet as the weighting on the Link 1 is still on the heavier side.
I am currently five rounds in on the Link 1 and have been loving it. The feel of this putter is nice and smooth and the balance makes each stroke feel effortless. I am still figuring out the optimal position in my stance as I have been pushing putts a little more while dialing it in. The milled face on the Link 1 gives just enough feedback while still having a soft feeling. If you are used to a milled face, this will feel very familiar. If you are switching from an insert like an Odyssey White Hot then you will notice a bit more of a difference.
I chose again to go with an upgraded shaft as I can certainly tell the difference now between standard steel and an upgrade. The detailing on the putter itself is great and the laser etching of the logo certainly makes the putter turn heads on the practice green.
I certainly understand the concept of Lie Angle Balance and now, after using several L.A.B. Golf putters, I can feel the difference. Putting will always be such a personal aspect of the sport as there are people who swear by their thrift store trusty for the last 20 years or people (like me) who switch putters depending on their feeling that day.
I do think if you are in the market for a new putter that L.A.B. should certainly be on your list. Many major golf stores are now carrying L.A.B. putters so you can even go and test them out before committing.
I will probably be keeping the Link 1 in my bag for the foreseeable future and can only hope the birdies keep rolling in.
If you are ready to buy or build your own L.A.B. putter or just want to read more about them, visit their website by clicking here.
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