What If L.A.B. Golf is Right? 
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What If L.A.B. Golf is Right? 

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What If L.A.B. Golf is Right? 

If you’re even the least bit familiar with L.A.B. Golf and its putters, there are a couple of things you probably know. 

The shapes are unconventional. (I’m being diplomatic). 

The fitting methodology as explained by the company’s signature “Revealer” apparatus is different from the golf industry’s standard operating procedure. 

And, if I’ve pieced things together correctly, the former to no small degree necessitates the latter. 

I guess you could say L.A.B. putters are weird because weird is what makes them work. 

It’s an interesting concept but does any of this suggest L.A.B.Golf has figured out something its competitors haven’t? 

Is L.A.B. Golf right? 

LAB Golf Putters

Is Anybody Right

“Right”, in the world of golf equipment anyway, is not always an absolute. There are definitively wrong answers but irrefutable rights are fewer and farther between.  

Some of the smartest R&D guys I know have never given me a straight answer on anything. That said, and with allowances for the fact there are multiple ways to skin a cat (have you ever considered how gruesome that expression is?), some ways of doing things are inarguably better than others. 

Even among a collection of right answers, some will work better than others. More to the point, some will work better for some golfers than others. 

With that in mind, L.A.B.’s “lie angle balancing” approach can be right without anybody else being wrong. And while I’ve been resistant to the notion, I’m starting to wonder if L.A.B. might be right for me. 

The L.A.B. difference may eventually pique your curiosity as well. 

If it takes a while, that’s fine. We’re not so different.  

The L.A.B. Golf Evolution 

This is a story I feel like I’m uniquely positioned to tell. I’ve been here since before there was L.A.B. Golf, or at least before anyone was talking about it.  

I’ve kept my distance. You might even say I’ve avoided L.A.B. and its putters as it has transformed from Directed Force, a small brand that seemingly nobody other than the guys who blew up our inboxes any time their putters weren’t included in Most Wanted testing, to a legit up-and-comer winning the hearts and minds of everyday golfers and a few PGA Tour trophies along the way as well. 

With that growth, L.A.B.’s cult following has expanded (they’re still noisy AF, as are L.A.B.’s detractors) and, for whatever its worth, L.A.B. has become the most-played putter brand among MyGolfSpy staff members.  

L.A.B. isn’t Odyssey or Scotty Cameron but it’s getting harder to ignore. 

My L.A.B. Introduction 

A lab golf DF 2.1 putter

My recollection is that our former staff member, Harry Nodwell (now at Wilson Golf where I assume his L.A.B. putter has fallen victim to a 14-club contract), was the first of us to put a L.A.B. putter in the bag. 

Harry is a hell of a golfer—the best we’ve ever had on staff. He’s a legitimate plus handicap who drives the ball well over 300 yards but, by his own admission, Harry couldn’t putt for shit. 

Among insanely good golfers, he’s likely the second-worst putter I’ve ever seen. I won’t out the first, except to say he’s also British. 

L.A.B., Harry said, made him a better putter. 

My first hands-on experience with a L.A.B. putter was rolling a few balls with Harry’s before a round at The Country Club at Brookline (humble brag). I remember thinking that the pictures I’d seen didn’t do it justice.  

I should clarify. I mean the putter, not the golf course. The Country Club is beautiful, the putter … not so much. 

The DF2.1 is massive. Even if you hated putting with it, I’m sure you could repurpose it as an over-the-air HD antenna. And because … physics, maybe, all L.A.B. putters are center-shafted and center-shafted putters will never not be weird to me.  

Strike that. Never say never, but they’re traditionally not my thing.  

The grip, which I’ve come to learn is L.A.B.’s Press model, put my hands in such an unusual position that I couldn’t rule out the possibility that it had been installed backwards. 

I’m not opposed to weird ideas and weird putter shapes (I played a PXG Blackbird for two years) but absolutely everything about Harry’s L.A.B. putter was different than what I play. 

I’m not opposed to unconventional shapes. I played one of these for 2 seasons.

Was I curious? Only to the extent of wondering how bad a putter you’d need to be to end up here. 

That was at least three years ago. Time passed and more L.A.B. putters found their way into the bags of our staff members. Phillip, Connor, Chris, even Dave from time to time. 

When you’re around them every day, it seems they catch on. 

Not me, though. Still avoiding them. 

Was I curious yet?  

Go home. You’re all drunk–and I putt better than the lot of you. 

(Admittedly, I was starting to feel like a contrarian) 

What Makes L.A.B. Different 

Like many of you, I’d wager, I had watched the videos of L.A.B. CEO Sam Hahn explaining the technology with his Revealer apparatus but I was skeptical. Honestly, all I saw was an excited guy with a questionable haircut doing something seemingly silly with a putter.  

I was barely listening. 

I’ve been at this golf writing thing for more than a decade and while it’s not lost on me that there are a handful of seemingly contradictory fitting methods that produce successful results, this L.A.B. stuff all seemed a little hokey. 

As I mentioned, there are a variety of tried-and-true putter fitting methods that other brands use. By most accounts, they work. That is to say, they’re not wrong.  

The most conventional and most popular among them is the idea of fitting putters based on your stroke type. 

It’s an approach that looks at the putting stroke to determine if the golfer has a straight-back/straight-through stroke or swings the putter on an arc, the classification of which falls somewhere between slight and strong. 

To this day, many golfers believe they have a straight-back/straight-through stroke (that’s who faced-balanced putters are for), when very few actually do. 

I digress. 

Fitting for stroke type works by finding the right pairing of head and hosel to alter where the face points when the putter is balanced (aka, the toe hang) and ultimately how it rotates through the putting stroke.  

The moment of inertia (MOI) can move up or down depending on the head but, at the most basic level, we’re talking about tweaking the torque profile of the putter to make it work for the golfer. 

When the components match your stroke type, the face will still rotate open and closed during the stroke but it takes less effort to deliver the face squarely at impact. You don’t feel like you’re fighting the putter. 

When stroke type and putter design align, you putt better. 

The L.A.B. fitting approach is different. It’s based on lie angle balancing (it’s where the L.A.B. name comes from).  

I’d heard about lie angle balancing for years but it’s only recently that I stepped back long enough to realize that while the name is intuitive enough, I hadn’t really thought about what the hell it actually means (because I had been dismissive of those Revealer videos). 

“Our putters are balanced in a way that has them sitting on the shaft where their biased position is towards the target and it stays throughout the stroke,” said Hahn said in a recent episode of our podcast No Putts Given. “If you’re not manipulating and twisting the shaft and twisting the putter head on your own, gravity actually wants this putter to return to square.” 

While face-balanced and toe-hang putters want to flip around during the stroke, Hahn says L.A.B. putters want to stay square. I guess that means it’s on us not to screw it up. 

To paraphrase from the parlance of the youths: Let that L.A.B. putter cook. 

Curiosity Grows 

If there’s a tipping point in this story, it happened early last season.  

I play in a Tuesday night match-play league. In my second match of the year, the strangest thing happened. 

Both of my opponents showed up with L.A.B. putters. Other than the guys on staff, I couldn’t swear I had ever seen one in the wild before. Ever. 

Two in the same night? You guys are messing with me, right? 

My buddy Shane, like Harry, had the DF2.1. He had always putted well when we’d played together, so it seemed odd. When I asked about it on the first green, he said he loved it and, for what it’s worth, he was lights-out that night. 

L.A.B., he said, made him an even better putter. 

It turns out that he had recently bought it from his playing partner. He loved the DF2.1, too, but decided to unload it after having grown tired of his friends making fun of it. 

Tough crowd.

He replaced it with a L.A.B. LINK 1. It gave him similar performance to the DF2.1 without all the background noise. Shane doesn’t care what anybody thinks, apparently. 

At this point, I wouldn’t say I was coming around to L.A.B., but the scales were tipping a bit. 

The Hottest Thing on Tour  

Fast forward to the middle to late part of the 2023 PGA Tour season. L.A.B. got hot and got noticed. Lucas Glover–LUCAS FREAKING GLOVER!–won twice using a L.A.B. putter. Camillo Villegas won once.  

Greyson Murray won on the Korn Ferry Tour last season and then this year’s Sony Open with L.A.B. in the bag.  

Charles Howell III (2023) and Charl Schwartzel (2022) have won LIV events.  

Adam Scott and Will Zalatoris are playing L.A.B. putters. They’re just two more on an increasingly longer list. 

The quirky little putter company run by the guy with the mop-top hairdo went mainstream and I was starting to feel less like a skeptic and contrarian and more like a guy who might be missing out. 

That’s how they get you. 

The thing is, I’m not a putter guy. I don’t have a garage full of them. I’m not involved in the limited-edition, custom 1 of not many, that’ll be $2,000 scene. I appreciate what Sean Toulon and Co. are doing but it’s a “no” from me, dog. 

The putter is the least interesting club in the bag. Put that on my tombstone. 

I’ve always been perfectly content with what I have. Granted, it’s easier to be chill when you’ve been fitted by PING a few times, by PXG just as many, and even Odyssey is willing to help you putt smarter.  

Save an excessive amount of screaming in a commercial or two, there’s nothing unconventional in that mix. The toe-hang, fit-for-stroke approach has worked pretty well for me. 

The stat tracking apps say I’m a pretty good putter. On my home course, my putting handicap is often scratch or better. 

So even if I am more than a little curious, if it ain’t broke … 

It’s Always Broke 

But I am a golfer and there’s something inherently broke(n) in all of us. 

There’s a little voice in my head that says, “What if you could putt better?”  

It’s still early in the 2024 golf season. The greens aren’t up to speed and my golf legs are still a bit wobbly. I mean, I haven’t even switched drivers yet. 

I’m not putting badly but I’m not lights-out either.  

I could be better. 

And, so, with every putt that doesn’t drop–even when the misses are by the smallest of margins, the little voice grows louder. It’s starting to sound more like Sam Hahn and it’s becoming oddly specific. 

“What if L.A.B. Golf could help you putt better?” it whispers. 

I don’t know the answer. For years, I’ve avoided the question like a rectal exam. What I know is that I have co-workers and friends who swear by the company’s putters. The pro tours have been less resistant than I have. 

Ask any of them and they’d likely say that L.A.B. is right.  

What Next? 

It’s said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. In the world of golf equipment, it’s also the greatest validator. When a larger brand comes along with its own take on the L.A.B. design (the momentum suggests it will happen), we’ll know that L.A.B. isn’t wrong. 

None of this proves that L.A.B. is absolutely right but it sure as hell has me wondering if I’ve been wrong this whole time. 

It might be time to listen to that voice and try a L.A.B. putter (but probably not until after I switch drivers). 

This article is written in partnership with L.A.B. Golf.

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Tony Covey

Tony Covey

Tony Covey

Tony is the Editor of MyGolfSpy where his job is to bring fresh and innovative content to the site. In addition to his editorial responsibilities, he was instrumental in developing MyGolfSpy's data-driven testing methodologies and continues to sift through our data to find the insights that can help improve your game. Tony believes that golfers deserve to know what's real and what's not, and that means MyGolfSpy's equipment coverage must extend beyond the so-called facts as dictated by the same companies that created them. Most of all Tony believes in performance over hype and #PowerToThePlayer.

Tony Covey

Tony Covey

Tony Covey





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      Alex Hulse

      3 weeks ago

      I feel like could have written the same exact article! I too did a deep dive on these putters starting this year. Last year I threw a comment on instagram criticizing L.A.B. For their outrageous cost. Pretty sure Sam himself wrote back that they are very labor intensive hence the cost. I went about my merry way until this spring when I saw one at my local PGA Superstore. I picked it up, hit a few putts and I can only describe what’s happened since as an obsession. I’m still working through Mezz Max, Mezz or DF3 but I can’t imagine using anything but a L.A.B. Putter going forward. Very amusing in a round to go from ridicule on 1 green to “let me see that” by 5 green. I would definitely say putting has always been my strength but now it’s crazy how good I feel over makeable putts.

      Reply

      capecodder

      3 weeks ago

      my first putter 50 years ago was a “plop” putter, anybody remember them, and i have always used center shafted putters. if i only knew i was ahead of the times!

      Reply

      Joe Cook

      3 weeks ago

      I can’t see how a putter can fight or override your grip and swing, a hammer has more mass and therefore more potential to fight against your grip and swing and people drive nails with it. Even with an easy grip it seems nothing the weight of a putter is going to assist or fight against your grip. I’ve seen many popular golf club ideas come and go and it might truly help some people whether actually or with a placebo effect. I tried one and I pushed and pulled it more than the Evnroll center shafted putter I ended up buying

      Reply

      Tom Sletten

      3 weeks ago

      So does this mean all center-shafted putter are “lie angle balanced?”

      Reply

      Andy LaCombe

      3 weeks ago

      I started with the MEZZ.1 and have also owned the DF2.1 and MEZZ.1 Max in regular length, and the DF2.1 and MEZZ.1 Max in brooms, and finally I have a DF3 in a 34″ 79.5º lie angle. The DF3 has been so successful that I have a DF 2.1 and MEZZ.1 Max on order in the same specs as the DF3

      I have been on a jpurney studying LAB putters, brooms and my putting. Right now I can say, for me, a more upright lie angle is a huge benefit – because it reduces stroke arc. Stroke arc forces you to have to time the arc or your face angle will vary on the strike. A SBST stroke is NOT possible because a human can not do that. Make teh putter more upright and that stroke (which is an arc) gets more straight. To prove this, take a bike wheel and set it at a 70º angle, there you have the putter stoke. Change it to 80º and you will sese what I mean.

      LAB reduces the need to fight the putter from torquing your hands open or closed. Make the putter more upright and it is easier to be more consistent. Brooms are best powered by the shoulders IMO. If you make a putter like my DF3 you can eliminate hand power and use the shoulders to power the stroke.

      IMO, LAB is 100% right and upright putters have merit as well. Give LAB a shot and if you can arrange it – try putting with a very upright putter and listen to Sam – the putter will stay on line if YOU let it. To me that means get your hands out of your putting stroke, use a putter that will stay online, and power that stroke with the shoulders.

      This is amazing IMO.

      Reply

      Dom D

      3 weeks ago

      if you have time listen to FirePit Collective (Matt Ginella) series (it’s really, really long) on LAB putters. The history and “making of” LAB is great, plus there’s a quote from a former tour pro now teacher (forget his name) that the key to LAB putting is: “You have to lose control (of the face) to gain control.” And for someone that’s putted with an armlock Mezz Max for over 15 months now they are spot on. It’s become a “putting key” for me, to just let the putter go!!!

      Reply

      Ken

      3 weeks ago

      Edel made tourque balanced putters AND they looked good. Certainly a more traditional look. Sadly they have abandoned that with their new ownership and putter lineup

      Reply

      Richie3Jack

      3 weeks ago

      I bought a LAB and got it about a week ago (DF3). I got it after hearing both sides of the arguments for LAB (by pro-LAB people) and against it (expert putting teachers). I came to the conclusion that neither side is wrong and both sides had merits to their arguments. I think in the end, the statistics…particularly SG – Putting…will tell the story. I will say that the putting experts are usually anti-heavy putters because they feel it ‘neuters’ the feel from the golfer, but the LAB putters are light feeling because they have no torque. And I think they don’t really consider that factor.

      I just think the LAB putter design is a viable option that many golfers should consider, particularly if you’re not a good putter and/or if you don’t have enough time to diligently practice enough so you can maneuver the torque of a traditional putter consistently. There is a learning curve with most of the putters, but I think probably less so with the Link.1 model due to the lack of forward press

      Reply

      Tony

      3 weeks ago

      Have just played my 5th round with my custom Mezz1 Max….Love it, but I am still adapting. Trust is part of the issue and that comes over time. I will say this, if you play on slow greens, definitely consider getting the “heavy” option. Also, if they would consider a pistol grip (which I have) that is slightly larger for guys with larger hands (me).

      Reply

      Yummy

      3 weeks ago

      Well……..
      the stats will show the evidence when the putting numbers on Tour with these things actually prove it. Or not.
      If they are significantly better for the players who use them, and far better than standard putters, then EVERYBODY will be switching.
      Why isn’t Bryson using it, yet? He’s the scientist, right?

      Reply

      Dave Kissel

      3 weeks ago

      Bryson was an early user, but LAB doesn’t pay pros. Bryson has a LA Golf putter and a contract with them. Listen to the Firepit Collective series on LAB and they talk about Bryson.

      Reply

      Calvin

      3 weeks ago

      Also, I think Bryson used an Edel putter early on with “face balance”, which effectively eliminated the effect of toe hang. While Edel’s “face balance” and LAB’s “lie angle” balance are different concept, both attempt to remove a variable from the stroke.

      Reply

      George

      3 weeks ago

      as a Rh putter I keep my left elbow up against ribs and create a fulcrum when I put..that in my oppinion keeps the putter head and the stroke square

      Reply

      Ross

      3 weeks ago

      I have recently got a Mezz.1 and it’s is unbelievable. It takes some time to learn to not manipulate the putter / face but the LAB CEO mentioned putting without your thumbs in the grip. It makes you way more passive until you learn to let it happen. When I go back to my other putters they feel horrendous now.

      While I’m sure there will be times I don’t hole outta, the science behind LAB makes me believe I will likely not putt with anything else.

      I also got a broom handle and it is disgustingly easy once you’ve got used to it. My only decision now it which one to use.

      Reply

      Theo G.

      3 weeks ago

      Great article. If these putters are so impressive, why have they never showed up on the Best Mallet (or Blade) putter list. If it was more than a novelty, shouldn’t the performance improvement show up in your testing?

      Reply

      Tony Covey

      3 weeks ago

      Speaking as the guy who has never used a LAB putter for more than a few putts on the putting green, I think it’s probably a combination of two things.

      1. A previous commenter noted there’s a learning curve. Again, no experience myself, but our testing process doesn’t allow for much of a learning curve.

      2. In years of testing one of the things we’ve discovered is that anything that’s different stands out. Sometimes, it can be fore the better, but when you have 30+ like things in a test and one or two that are wildly different, it can be a challenge.

      Reply

      John B.

      3 weeks ago

      I switched to a Mezz.1 two months ago. IMO this thing is 💰. I shot the best round of golf in the last 20 years four weeks ago and my putting was a huge part of it. I might miss with my reads, but the ball tracks like a bullet.

      Reply

      Joe

      3 weeks ago

      You mention in the article that we all think we have a straight stroke but we actually have arc. I’ve spent most of my life thinking I had an arc. I’ve gone from an 8802 to an anser 2 to a 7s. Recently I discovered I have a fairly straight stroke but there’s substantial face rotation. What do you call that?

      Reply

      Marty Durkin

      3 weeks ago

      Great article! It was informative, engaging, and had just the right amount of humor.

      Reply

      Michael McDowell

      3 weeks ago

      I have used the DF3 for about a month and I have never putted better. If I grab my buddy’s Odyssey putter and try to putt with it, I instantly feel why L.A.B. works. Instead of having to just focus on the speed and line, now I have to worry about getting the face square which I suck at. With my DF3 the face is automatic if I don’t try to fight it. Give it a try but realize that it will take some time to retrain your brain.

      Reply

      Joseph Foell, Jr.

      3 weeks ago

      10 years back I found a Odyssey Backstrike ( very similar concept as L.A.B.) putter at Dicks and sunk a 10-12 footer. FLUSH. Was using a brass head Target Line Balance putter 15 years prior to that. Also same concept as LAB. I can never go back to anything that’s not a center shafted design. Hooked on this concept for 25years.

      Reply

      MarkM

      3 weeks ago

      Tony, just one thing about switching to a L.A.B. putter – there is a transition period. You will find out how much you’ve been manipulating the putter head when you first start using it. I’d just advise that you spend some time on a putting green with it to figure that out before you take it on the course.

      Reply

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    Drivers
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