You’ve likely seen the infomercials for the putters that stand up behind your ball. This review is NOT about those putters. The Bloodline Vale (HPP) ($299) does stand up on its own, but there is no infomercial for Bloodline putters, the original self-standing putters.
The Vale is Bloodline’s newest addition. It’s a mallet with a “sabretooth” head shape – two “fangs” (flanges) extending from the rear to provide heel-toe balance and a big sweetspot in the center of the face. The head is exquisitely face-balanced. Two of the three alignment lines on the top of the putter head extend from face to the tips of the flanges, with the short line in the middle. This system precisely frames the ball, too, so when the putter is standing up behind the ball, the optics are ideal.
I played The Vale for several rounds, testing on faster and slower greens. Although a couple of my old-school playing partners (like, playing for 60+ years old-school) ridiculed it as a gimmick, after they saw putt after putt struck on the precise line I was trying to hit, even they had to admit it worked.
How does it work, exactly? Well, The Vale (HPP) has a high-performance polymer head that is quite heavy, and the carbon fiber shaft and custom grip are extremely light. (You can find several other models at Bloodline, including The Vale (AA), with aircraft-grade aluminum head construction.) There are four small nubs on the bottom of the clubhead to level it out and stabilize it when it stands alone. The Vale comes with a tiny Allen wrench to adjust the lie angle, too, though if it is set too flat, balance might be affected.
As already noted, when I played with The Vale, it felt like every putt took the line I intended. Sometimes my reads were off, but I never questioned what line I *thought* was right.
The one detractor from The Vale’s performance for me was due to the weighting scheme. The balance point (when you balance the putter across your finger) is just a couple inches above the putter head – again, that’s how it stands by itself. This weighting is opposite that of putters with counterbalanced grips and shafts, which has become extremely common in recent decades. So it was difficult for me to dial in the speed with such a head-heavy putter. The Bloodline Vale rolls the ball beautifully off its grooved face, and during my first couple of rounds, many putts either flew past the hole or, as I tried to adjust, came up just short—but online.
“Vale” means “farewell” in Latin. With some practice to dial in the speed, you’ll be saying “vale” to a lot of putts as they dive into the hole like homesick gophers. Don’t listen to the old farts who needle you about your self-standing putter – just tell them you’ll show them the line.
The Bloodline Vale is a visually striking putter, too, aside from the stand-alone capability. The headcover is made from bright red vinyl with a knight and coat of arms (evoking the Knights of the Vale from Game of Thrones) and a magnetic closure. The quality throughout is top-notch – definitely not the stuff of infomercials.