WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: L.A.B. Golf’s new DF3 mallet putter is a reimagined and gently downsized version of the company’s original Directed Force putter that established the idea of “lie angle balanced.” The arrangement of sole weights in the extremely perimeter weighted design, the orientation of the shaft in the head and the angled grip seemingly function to keep the face square to the path of the stroke naturally, reducing any manipulation of the head for a smoother putting motion.
PRICE: $450 for stock models; $560 for custom. Available in standard-length and counterbalanced in eight colors: black, red, blue, cappuccino, platinum, pink, green, orange.
3 COOL THINGS 1. Working the angle. Like the original Directed Force putter, the latest version, the DF3, remains true to its heritage: An unusual, perhaps even off-putting look that is highly functional. From its beginnings, these T-shaped heads with an oddly circular deep back flange with a cutout made the case that with the proper weighting and shaft angle, the putter would naturally stay square to the stroke path because it was balanced with respect to the putter’s lie angle. The system was designed to make the putting stroke more efficient by eliminating the tendency for the hands to manipulate the face angle during the stroke.
While the original design has had minimal success at the elite level, the idea of “lie angle balanced” putters (hence the L.A.B. in the company’s name) began to resonate when tour players put other L.A.B. designs in play and won a few events. Those included Adam Scott with the Mezz.1 winged mallet, as well as the back-to-back wins from a resurgent Lucas Glover late last year. Also, Grayson Murray won twice on the Korn Ferry Tour with the Link.1, and then backed it up most recently at this year’s Sony Open.
The DF3 is an updated version of the original Directed Force, but in a more compact package, said Sam Hahn, L.A.B. Golf’s CEO.
“DF3 was designed simply out of demand for people who wanted the performance of the Directed Force, but in a smaller package,” he said. “The basic footprint clearly has Directed Force’s DNA in it, and the DF3 is the second most stable putter in our product line. We think our lie angle balance technology feels very obvious and apparent with each stroke.”
2. Downsizing. Making that distinctive shape more palatable obviously was a mandate for the DF3. The hitting surface is about 25 percent the width of the DF 2.1, and the front to back measurement is about 15 percent shorter.
Hahn said he knows it’s still a putter that makes a bold visual statement, even compared to the second-generation DF 2.1. “The typical experience with DF 2.1 has been for a golfer to look at it and think, ‘I could never use that,’” he said. “But then golfers try it, see their putting improve, and after a few weeks or months they wonder why they would use anything else.”
Hahn thinks offering options will make it even more palatable to those struggling initially with the looks. The DF3 comes in eight colors, and there will be multiple grip choices, as well as armlock and long putter models introduced later this spring. The custom line includes a choice from 33 different alignment markings. It also can be customized to standard, heavy, or light head weights.
3. Orientation. While the sole weighting is a major part of the functionality of the DF3 putter on the DF3 (there are more sole weights: eight), its foundation lies in how the shaft meets the head. The idea is to create a putter with “zero torque,” which essentially means a head that stays stable during the stroke for a more consistent face angle. Both the lie angle and the placement are key to allowing the face to stay square to the lie angle, which in turn lets the putter swing naturally on plane with little to no hand manipulation. As Hahn says, “All you have to do is let it stay square to hit your line. The lighter you hold the DF3, the better.”
On the DF3, the shaft is a bit closer to the target side than it has been, and there is two degrees of shaft lean to set the hands at the angle that has been a DF model hallmark. The unique stock Press pistol grip features two degrees of reverse lean “to complement the two degrees of shaft lean built into the putter to ergonomically offset the onset head,” Hahn said.
This article was originally published on golfdigest.com