It takes the ultimate belief in the story and design behind a product for a company to truly dare to step outside of the “norms” of any industry, but especially golf. Let’s admit it golfers, we are at our root vanity driven when it comes to what we play. Sure, there are those walking amongst us who will play anything that works best, regardless of appearance, but the broader reality is we all tend to put blinders on, at times causing us to miss innovative solutions to helping improve our games.
Enter MLA Putters and their Tour Classic putter, its alignment system is unlike anything else on the market, but does performance triumph over unique looks?
The MLA Tour Classic may not win any beauty pageants, but there is truescience to back up this unique aesthetic. It works, and if aim/alignment accuracy is the weakness in your putting, then the MLA putters should be on your list to try.
MLA Tour Classic Putter
Three years ago, at the PGA Merchandise Show, the THP crew and I stopped by to take a closer look at a putter unlike anything else out there, that putter was the MLA. The aesthetic was as abstract as any I had ever seen in a design, and that openly dominated my thoughts on the putter more than it should have, but with such a brief encounter it is to be expected. Fast-forward to present day and getting the notification I would be spending time with the MLA Tour Classic for review, I was both hesitant and intrigued to revisit things.
Why hesitant? Because I knew how most initial reactions of the putter by readers would be, they would all focus on the looks. Why intrigued? Simple, it was an opportunity to not only tell the story, but also truly get to work with the alignment design in a prolonged timeframe.
The MLA putters look unlike anything else. With one of the largest and most unique alignment aids on the market, the contrast here is real. For the review I worked with the Tour Classic, which is their blade option, although it is more like the width of the Odyssey Double-Wide. While at address, the bumpers do have some inkling of a classic putter shape, but that is where it stops as the rest of the visual is dominated by the wide topline which the contrasting alignment aid is positioned upon. The sole and rear badging feature the lime green motif that makes MLA putters even more recognizable. I don’t mind the bright colors against the impressively high quality PVD finish, but it may be a bit in your face for some.
The alignment setup here looks much like a backwards “C” at first glance, but there is science in this shape. MLA stands for “Multiple Line-Detector Activation”, and in coordination with Dr. Lennart Högman who specializes in the “perceptual process” the company has got a lotof research behind the alignment shape. The simplest breakdown is that the human brain has 100,000-line detectors and a traditional single alignment line activates just one of those groups, where multiple lines activate manygroups. However, placement and perception matters, as standard lines can create competition in the brain, where MLA and their shape is designed to help the brain make “optimal aiming adjustments” when standing over the ball.
Proof is in the putting though, so to speak. I spend a lot of time with the MLA indoors and outside trying to get a feel for if I thought the alignment system truly worked. Initially overcoming the look was hard, particularly the shaft placement of the double-bend being a bit more forward of the heel which lets the entire alignment aid be visible at address. With time though, some level of comfort set in, and more than that the results in terms of alignment accuracy did seem to improve for me, particularly on putts 10ft and in. From longer range, I really do think there was tangible improvement directionally there as well, but it was those mid-range putts and in where the alignment aid almost seems to contrast the shape of the cup providing a unique mental visual cue.
As for overall forgiveness, the slightly larger head is going to increase the MOI, but it will still all come back to the user and the stroke as with any putter. I will add, this one comes in at a hefty 384g so you can completelyfeel the head through the stroke, and it gives a supreme feeling of balance even with the somewhat unique shaft position. The feedback off the fully milled putter is a bit firmer than I expected, especially given the horizontal grooves on the face, but it’s just on the sharp end of the spectrum and does still avoid being clicky.
I will fully admit to being a looks driven golfer when it comes to the putter that I put into the bag, it’s simply because it’s the club that makes me happiest to look down at. However, even though the aesthetic here isn’t in my wheelhouse, I without any doubt am a believer in the design behind this alignment system, it just works. If you are a golfer that struggles with alignment on the greens, the MLA putters just might be a game changer.
Grip: P2 Aware Tour Black (55g)
Weight: 384g (All putters come with weight kit including two 10g and two 15g weights as well)