50 Words or Less
The L.A.B. Golf Blad.1 putter hides a new approach to putter design in a traditional looking head. Proprietary grip design and lie angle balancing make it feel unlike anything else on the green.
A lot of putters offer little more than an aesthetic change. Some putters claim to be something new. Very few actually bring new ideas to putting.
L.A.B. Golf is in that last group, and their BLaD.1 putter is one of the most interesting putters I’ve ever tested. Read on to learn what lie angle balancing is all about and why you might want to put it to use for yourself on the greens.
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You might be thinking, “This is what a revolutionary new putting concept looks like?” But the simple design is the point. L.A.B. Golf’s first putter had a radical mallet shape which met predictable resistance. With the BLaD.1, they’ve packed their technology into something conventional looking.
Though the BLaD.1 looks simple at address, a 360 view reveals many interesting details. In the heel and toe, you’ll notice two weight ports. These are used for lie angle balancing. There are also channels cut into the back of the head. This is a highly engineered putting tool.
The BLaD.1 is also available in two different metals. There’s a brass version, an homage to the original Bullseye putters, and the stainless steel that you see here.
Sound & Feel
Striking a premium ball with the BLaD.1 creates a percussive, mid-pitch sound that accompanies a firm feel. There is good feedback through the hands, and the impact sound gets slightly higher pitched on misses.
Per L.A.B., the brass version of the BLaD.1 will feel slightly softer than the stainless steel.
Writing this section of a putter review is typically a stretch. In the case of the BLaD.1, it’s going to be a fight to keep it under 1,000 words. There’s a lot going on here.
Let’s start with the idea of lie angle balance. L.A.B. Golf defines this as the putter’s ability to stay square to path during the putting stroke without any adjustment from your hands. They claim that this leads to less involvement of the small muscles in the hands and the creation of a pendulum-like stroke. You can see this in action in a video on their website HERE.
Lie angle balancing is done on an individual basis. Each putter is balanced specifically for the golfer who orders it. This is why L.A.B. Golf emphasizes seeing one of their custom fitters or sending in a video of your putting stroke. On the BLaD.1, the balancing is done through the use of the four weights ports in the toe and heel.
Now let’s talk about their grips. L.A.B. Golf had to create their own grips, known as Press Grips, to accommodate the angle at which the shaft enters the head. As you can see above, the shaft goes into the grip off-center, allowing the hands to remain centered while the shaft leans forward. This creates a “built-in forward press.” You can use Press Grips on other putters and you can use L.A.B. putters with other grips, but L.A.B. recommends they be used together for best results. There are currently four Press Grips in different shapes and sizes and with different amounts of built-in shaft lean.
Now that you’ve got the basics, I’ll get on to my experience with the BLaD.1 putter. My first trip to the green yielded an interesting mix of results that really piqued my interest. On longer putts, I was deadly. I made a ridiculous amount of 20 and 30 footers, and the putts that missed were kick ins. However, on shorter putts, where I’m typically excellent, I struggled.
After this session, I had a short chat with Sam Hahn, the CEO of L.A.B. Golf. He explained more about the way the putter works and made a few suggestions for fixing the problems with short putts. He also suggested putting with my thumbs off the grip so that I had less ability to manipulate the face unnecessarily.
I went back to the putting green with the BLaD.1 and tried the no thumbs approach. The initial results were magic. Long putts were falling in from everywhere, and my short putting was near my usual standards.
The one issue I found with the taking my thumbs off the grip was that my tempo had to be very smooth. It felt as if I had to let the putter swing like a pendulum, not force it at all. When I wanted to put some extra hit on a putt or when my tempo got quick, the results were not good.
The ultimate question with the BLaD.1 is this: do you want to modify your technique to use this putter? I don’t want to overstate the changes necessary – the putting motion is still the same – but there are some modifications required. Sam Hahn made an interesting analogy, comparing his putter to modern drivers. Players have had to change their swings to optimize modern drivers – teeing it higher, hitting up on the ball – but everyone agrees its worth it to get the benefits of superior technology. Will lie angle balancing prove to be a similar step forward? Only time will tell.
If you’re looking to try something new on the greens, L.A.B. Golf provides an interesting option. The BLaD.1 is a legitimately unique putter that may require a little technique adjustment but could yield major improvements in your results. If you want to get fit or learn more, check out the L.A.B. Golf website HERE.