You do not like them, so you say.
But try them, try them, and you may.
Try them and you may I say!
Prior to the start of my the Mantis ‘B’ putter review, I did a little reading and frankly was concerned with how it would fit my game. Basically, I saw three potential problems.
- It’s heavy. 355g worth of heavy.
- It has a full-face polyurethane insert.
- It comes with a soft, oversized grip.
But if “Green Eggs and Ham” taught me anything, it’s that I really should try things before I decide I don’t like them.
Earlier this year we reviewed the Mantis mallet putter. Following up on that success, the company has recently released the Mantis ‘B’ blade putter, taking advantage of the same visual and perceptive science as the mallet in a more classic blade form factor.
If you are a little behind on your cognitive science homework let me get deep into the gory scientific details. On second thought, let me sum it up. The Mantis ‘B’ blade putter reviewed here are green. Not just any green, this green is the result of a good bit of research and development by Mantis. Enough so that they hold a patent on this exact green. Golf greens are… (Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?) Golf balls are white. You putt better if you’re looking at the golf ball and not the putter, so Mantis created a green putter to blend in to the visual background and let you focus on your golf ball.
If that sounds like a lot of marketing voodoo then ask yourself this: How many times have you stood over an important putt, and when you started to take the putter back the head swung all over the place? If you saw the head wander, you weren’t watching the ball, and chances are you missed the putt. I am the world’s worst for this – the putter wobbles, I panic and make all kinds of strange corrections, and the putt goes who-knows-where.
If Mantis had stopped there this would be a very short review, and probably a very short-lived putter. Lucky for us the folks at Mantis kept their thinking caps on and applied that kind of thought and attention to detail to the rest of the putter.
The Mantis ‘B’ blade is a pretty classically styled blade putter. The shape is reminiscent of the Ping B60, of which I am a huge fan, if not quite as flowing and rounded. Let’s call it a half hourglass. Pretty is as pretty does, and the shape of the head follows conventional putter wisdom by positioning more weight at the heel and the toe for a higher moment of inertia (MOI) to prevent twisting and minimize the discrepancy between the distance of on- and off-center hits. The Mantis B does a very good job of this – more than once I hit a ball that I knew was well on the heel and watched it track right into the cup. 355 grams of weight in the 304 stainless steel head doesn’t hurt in that regard either.
The face of the Mantis ‘B’ is a full-face polyurethane insert like the one found on the original Mantis mallet. With an insert, especially a full-face insert, it’s important that it’s installed both flush and flat, and the Mantis gets high marks for both the quality of the installation and the quality of the insert itself. I’m not a big fan of insert putters, but the feedback from the Mantis insert is very good with most balls. Distance control is outstanding for an insert putter – I had about 15 minutes of practice with this putter before the first time I took it on the course, and the first putt I hit with it was a 30 footer from the fringe that stopped 2 inches from the hole, on the high side, thankyewverymuch. The entire round was like that – I tried it on both fast and slow greens, and with just a little acclimatization, distance control was, for the most part, very good.
For this review I tried the Mantis ‘B’ with several different types of golf balls and unsurprisingly it performed best with firm, urethane-covered tour performance balls. Lower compression balls with softer covers were more than acceptable as well. Ultra low compression/soft cover balls, however, were a bit of a minefield. In the middle of my third round with the ‘B’ I started blowing balls past the hole with what seemed like no effort at all. I was at a loss to explain it, until I checked my golf ball and found that I had replaced a drowned ProV1 with a Callaway Supersoft. I like the Supersoft, and I like the Mantis, but the combination is tough to control on fast greens. If you’re faced with shaggy greens and are having a hard time getting the ball to the hole, the combination of the Supersoft’s marshmallow cover and the Mantis’ polyurethane insert might just give you the extra distance you need.
From the top, the Mantis B has a relatively thin top line, and the simple white alignment aids make it easy to align the head. The green finish is non-reflective, which makes the ball stand out even more. And the heel/toe weighting creates a nice pocket cavity that’s almost perfect for scooping up conceded putts. I know that seems like a little thing, but once you get used to it you’ll never want to go back. Another nice detail that’s easy to overlook is the hosel. The ‘B’ has a full shaft of offset in the neck, but rather than use the much more common plumber’s neck hosel, the Mantis ‘B’ blade has a hosel that fits inside the shaft. This means less club between your eye and the ball, making it easier to focus on the ball and let your green putter blend into the background.
One part of the Mantis ‘B’ that doesn’t blend into the background is the sole, and it’s a crying shame that you don’t get to see more of it than you do, because the shiny chromed sole is far and away the sexiest part of this putter. The highly polished chrome plate on the sole also lets the club glide across the green, and so far it has proven very durable.
The Mantis ‘B’ comes with a custom Winn midsize grip in the company’s green and white colors and bearing the Mantis logo. There is no provision on the Mantis website to customize the grip, but the Winn midsize is very popular with many people. I’m not usually one of them – I prefer a firmer standard-sized grip, but on the ‘B’ the bigger one works very well, and I appreciated the extra girth when wielding the hefty 355 grams at the far end of the club. In a perfect world Mantis would offer both the ‘B’ and the original mallet with a SuperStroke grip in the company colors, but Mantis is still a young company, it wouldn’t surprise me at all to discover that they’re working on just that.
The Mantis ‘B’ is very toe-weighted, with a 4:30 toe hang. This weighting rewards an arcing stroke, and my biggest miss with the Mantis ‘B’ putter came from being too cautious to release the toe on putts inside 4 feet. I broke out my homemade version of the Putting Alley, and the situation improved somewhat. I usually prefer a light putter, and those extra 20 grams or so made it difficult for me to really let the putter swing freely on short putts. I was able to adapt by choking down on the grip and using a less arcing stroke for shorter putts, and on longer putts the weight of the putter almost seemed to release itself, which contributed to the Mantis B’s effectiveness at getting the ball to the hole.
The Mantis B comes with a headcover embroidered with both the Mantis logo and the “B” logo of the blade. My sample was very well executed in a very pliable vinyl with a hook and loop closure. I would prefer a magnetic closure like the mallet version, but the hook and loop did the job and doesn’t seem likely to scratch the finish.
And the finish deserves a bit of discussion. Before I actually got my hands on the Mantis I expected that I would have to baby it to prevent the finish from chipping or flaking or otherwise coming off. Nothing could be further from the truth. After the first 9 holes I treated the Mantis B no differently than I’d treat a plain stainless steel putter, and it still looks perfect. I’m not sure what the coating is, it feels almost like plasti-dip. Whatever it is it was applied beautifully, the finish is smooth and even. Overall the fit and finish of my sample is top-notch, particularly for a putter that lists for $159.99.
The Mantis ‘B’ blade will catch your eye because it’s designed to not catch your eye, but it might just find a place in your bag because it’s a darned good putter, in any color.
You can check out all the Mantis putters on the Mantis website.