L.A.B. Golf's new Blad.1 putter continues the same unique approach to putter design that it debuted with the Directed Force oversized mallet introduced in early 2016, but it's added one crucial element: A shape that's as simple as the Directed Force is complex.
But that doesn't mean the Blad.1, which is kind of a modern take on the familiar Bullseye blade style of a generations past, takes a simpler approach to the technology. The more accessible shape of the blade-style Blad.1 required the same complex engineering to achieve the precise weighting of L.A.B. Golf's approach called "lie angle balancing." Of course, the whole idea behind L.A.B. Golf's complexity is simplicity.
"With the typical blade putter, the player takes on the challenge of controlling the face," said Sam Hahn, CEO of L.A.B. Golf. "The beauty of ours is you kind of don't have to. And when players realize they don't have to do that as much, the grip pressure gets lighter, speed control improves, direction on short putts improves.
"We think it leads to a stroke where the face is more square to the arc rather than screwing it open against the arc and closed through impact."
The Blad.1, which is available in both a milled stainless steel or milled brass head, uses four weight ports that are custom weighted and installed to match the balance point to each player's setup and lie angle. The feeling should be almost ergonomic, Hahn said.
"We feel we've removed a massive variable that has made the stroke un-natural," he said. "Putting is supposed to be the most natural motion, but it's not because we add this one variable of having to keep the face square. What we're trying to do is make putting like all of those different stroke sports, more like shooting a free throw and throwing a dart and rolling a ball. Not this complex combination of trying to be smooth and artistic and rhythmic, but controlling this face that is fighting you throughout the stroke.
"The idea is to make the putter an extension of the hand."
Another feature that might make the Blad.1 more accessible to more golfers is the heel and toe relief. That allows the putter to fit a wider range of setup positions than the Directed Force 2.1 mallet. Like the mallet, the Blad.1 also features the elliptical PressGrip, which features an off-axis orientation that sets the hands in a natural forward position.
"One of the goals with the Blad.1 was to make it a little bit easier to walk in to a store and buy one," Hahn said. "The idea behind this putter was simplicity and elegance. Looking down on it, it would appear as though it's just a block of steel on the end of a stick, but if you took an X-ray through, it looks like the inside of a supercomputer. It's a highly complex process."
The Blad.1 is available immediately in both brass and stainless steel through the company's website and at selected fitters ($400).