“You can’t please all the people all of the time.” This common adage can sometimes be applicable when it comes to golf clubs, and in this instance, putters in particular. Putting is such a personal part of the game. What conveys “feel” to one person, is too light to another. Another person’s “too heavy,” is another person’s putting Nirvana. MacGregor’s chief putting design guru, Bobby Grace, is probably most known for his mallet designs such as the Classic “Fat Lady Swings” from the early 90’s, and perhaps more recently for his high-MOI designs like the “Amazing Grace” and MacGregor-branded M and GT Series putters. These mallets offer forgiveness and customizable feel via adjustable weights.
So, when it comes to those who prefer a blade style putter, Bobby Grace and Macgregor offer their M1 and M2 models. These are perhaps the lesser known of the MacGregor putter lineup, but should not be over-looked. Australian PGA player Robert Allenby won all three legs of the Australian Majors in early 2006 using an M1 putter. That certainly piqued my interest in this putter. Boasting a high-MOI design with adjustable weighting, the business of customizing a putter to a player’s personal preferences is possible using the M1 and M2’s available weight kit. I will be reviewing the M1, a heel-toe weighted blade with plumber’s neck a la the Ping Anser and subsequent Scotty Cameron Newport.
Technology and Performance
Upon first inspection, the MacGregor M1 is fairly unassuming. It has a matte gray finish on the topline and flange to reduce glare. There is a single black sightline on the flange to aid in aiming the putter. A stepped true temper shaft connects hands with putter head. The face is a beryllium-copper insert, which is milled flat and flush. It isn’t until you flip the M1 over to view the sole that this flatstick’s biggest and best feature is discovered. In the heel and toe of the putter are removable round weight plugs. The stock set of weights is made of a Copper-Tungsten alloy. An available weight kit is available from MacGregor, which includes 3 pairs of differently weighted inserts, and a small wrench with which to remove/tighten them with. Light to heavy swingweights are achievable. An instruction card is included which describes the different weights in grams and their material makeup, and their resulting swingweight when installed into the M1. Now, everyone can be happy and set the putter head’s weight to their desired feel. No more “Goldilocks and the 3 Putters!”
The feel of the MacGregor Bobby Grace M1 is soft and satisfying. The beryllium copper insert softens the impact. But, because it is an alloy rather than a plastic/polymer, the feel is never too soft. At impact, the M1 emits a slight “tink” sound when struck well, and this sound changes slightly when heavier or lighter weights are installed. The distance control was good and did not take long to get accustomed to. The weights in the sole not only provide customizable feel, but also a very stable stroke through impact. Heel and toe hits, while not as sweet feeling as when struck in the middle of the insert, still produced good results with minimum directional penalty. You will be hard-pressed to find a “blade” style putter that is more forgiving. The weights themselves have a rubber o-ring around them to dampen vibration. I found an extra o-ring “ground up” inside of one of the weight ports when I first removed the weights, and thought the threading had been stripped because the rubber material was bound up in the threads. Fortunately, all was fine after I cleaned out the port.
The M1’s matte finish was appreciated while on-course. Glare from the sun was never a problem, although the matte finish seemed a bit “splotchy” and uneven. (I noticed this in two separate samples of the M1 putter.) The stock grip of the M1 is a Winn wrap style, which is a carry-over from the M series mallets. It would have been nice of MacGregor to update the grips to V17 style to match their current GT series and Fat Lady Swings putters. It made the M1 feel like it was from a previous design series. The M1’s grip is fairly slippery and does not do well in humid conditions. A change of grip quickly solved that dilemma.
The M1 putter offers great customization options with the weight kit, and a feel that is easy to get along with and a classic blade design. The “splotchy” finish was a bit of a disappointment. Considering the weight kit is an additional $50 on top of the base cost of the M1, pushing the overall retail upwards of $250, you will be well advised to demo before purchasing. This is the price of Scotty Camerons and the like, and people expect perfection when dishing out for a “high-end” putter. The M1 has all of the necessary design elements to make it a winner. The build quality, specifically the quality of the putter’s finish, the slippery stock grip, and my ground up “O-ring” experience, unfortunately distracted from what is otherwise an excellent putter design and one that communicates the putting stroke very well. Check it out, and “weigh” your decision.