L.A.B. Golf Link.1 putter: What you need to know
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: L.A.B. Golf’s new Link.1 putter employs the company’s hallmark technology designed to keep the putter face balanced to the lie angle during the stroke. But now that technology comes in a version of the heel-toe-weighted blade shape that’s long been the most popular in the history of the game.
PRICE: $470, 33-35 inches; (custom versions start at $560, 29-38 inches).
3 COOL THINGS
1. A shape that’s familiar and distinct at the same time. The instantly recognizable shape of the venerable Ping Anser (and subsequent Scotty Cameron Newport) may be the most popular putter shape ever developed, but it wasn’t a shape that L.A.B. Golf’s ever been able to wrap its arms around. It wasn’t belligerence, but instead the technical challenge of working around one of the Anser-style blade’s primary features, the offset hosel.
Typically, to achieve L.A.B. Golf’s main idea of weighting a putter so the face stays naturally square to the lie angle, the shaft has to connect on a straight line to the center of gravity within the putter head, not in the heel of the putter like on a traditional Anser-style putter. (Any kind of heel-shafted putter increases torsional resistance, which is specifically what lie angle balancing is designed to eliminate.) But through a collection of weights in the heel and toe and a hosel that connects within the cavity, L.A.B.’s engineers find a happy middle ground where its technology and tradition could meet.
Said L.A.B. Golf CEO Sam Hahn, “Because of the nature of the Anser-style head, we had that room in the cavity, and [L.A.B. Golf’s] Kevin Martin did a wonderful job of making I guess what you'd call a faux plumber’s neck.
“If this serves as an opportunity for people who we're sort of visually opposed to our other putters, to step in and see the power of lie angle balancing and how much easier they are to use than other putters, than so be it.”
2. How the lie angle balance technology works. Like other L.A.B. Golf putters, the key is in the weighting and the lie angle. Unlike typical toe-hang or face-balanced putters, a L.A.B. Golf putter will balance with the toe up so that it is square to the shaft’s angle at address. This lack of torsional resistance is designed to eliminate the need for a player to manipulate the face angle during the stroke. The Link.1 is milled from 303 stainless steel with four weight screws on the heel side and six on the toe side. Those weights and the way the shaft is positioned so it meets the head near its CG is the key to the Link.1 remaining true to L.A.B. Golf’s philosophy.
“I would not say it's an evolution, rather it's definitely more hommage than ‘evolution,’” Hahn said. “It's also us placing less of an expectation of open-mindedness on the consumer. We're just trying to make it easier for them to understand that putters that stay square by themselves are better than others that don't.”
On the custom side, the Link.1 can accommodate lie angles that range from 65 to 75 degrees. The standard model will be offered at 69 degrees, the most popular lie angle for previous L.A.B. golf orders, with lengths ranging from 33 to 35 inches.
3. One other impediment removed. Another challenge L.A.B. Golf has struggled with in getting golfers to embrace its approach to technology has been its off-center Press grip. But unlike typical L.A.B. Golf putters (like the original Directed Force), the Link.1 allows for the use of traditional putter grips, as well as most any grip a player prefers. L.A.B. Golf also is introducing its own traditional grip, called the Simple Rubber grip. That grip will be standard on the stock versions.