Odyssey Golf has been on a roll since April of 1996. Though that spring’s Masters is better remembered as the year Greg Norman lost a six-shot lead in the final round, equipment buffs remember it for the putter craze set off by winner Nick Faldo. Nick wielded a Dual Force Rossie 2 to great effect, and the “insert” putter niche was crafted.
Odyssey, a Callaway Golf brand, is almost always the first- or second-ranked putter each week in the Darrell Survey, and their tagline “#1 putter in Golf” is true for many – visit your local muni and you’re bound to find plenty of 2-Balls or 2-Ball knockoffs. The insert market is, for the most part, owned by Odyssey, despite attempts by nearly every other putter manufacturer to best company with the hurricane-like logo.
Ed Koster, father of The Sand Trap staff member Dave, is back. He’s previously helped to review the TaylorMade RAC LT irons, and this time around he’s looking to improve his putting. Ed previously used an older Scotty Cameron blade. He forward pressed so much he often drove the ball into the ground at impact, sending it hopping and skittering to the hole.
Design and Technology
For years, I’ve resisted the “White Hot” line of putters because the inserts felt, well, “mushy” to me. Sure, they offered some forgiveness and made today’s harder balls feel more like the balatas of old, but distance control was not what I liked with my steel-on-urethane.
So Odyssey did a somewhat logical thing: they put a steel insert into their polymer insert (does that make it an “ininsert” or an insert2?). The benefits of steel (consistent distance control, “non-mushiness”) and the advantages of a polymer (we forget what they are, but Odyssey has sold so many putters, they’ve gotta be good for something!). Voilà:
Of course, this “White Steel” is then glued to the face of a standard 2-Ball blade/mallet. The 2-Ball bit hasn’t changed: two white discs the diameter of a golf ball on top of the club aid in alignment, particularly on short putts. Ed’s son Dave has been deadly with the short putts since picking up his White Hot 2-Ball, and the nasty five-footers have teased Ed for quite some time.
Looks and Setup
The 2-Ball line of putters has succeeded largely because it is so deadly at helping golfers align the putter face square to the target line. Two “balls” on the top of the clubhead align with the ball sitting on the green to create a “three-ball” alignment system that both puts the ball in the center of the clubface and provides a very strong visual clue as to where in the heck the ball is going to head if struck.
Unlike other mallets, the 2-Ball manages to blend a classic, muted appearance (unlike the Ping Doc 17 or the Cameron Futura) with a large head and unusual markings to create a unique design for a putter. The design of the Odyssey White Steel 2-Ball putter gives one a feeling of confidence as you stand over it. The three-ball alignment system is effective in encouraging the player to stoke the ball down the line of the putt – a key factor in successful putting.
The addition of the two sight lines along the perimeters of the two balls on the head of the putter greatly improve the ability of the player to attain a more successful line for the putt. Earlier models of this putter were lacking these lines, leading to a little more difficulty in aligning putts properly.
Initially, I found myself pulling putts to the left when using the 2-Ball. After a period of experimentation with my stroke, I soon found myself getting the proper line more consistently. I had to visualize putting straight up the line provided by the three ball alignment and then follow through on that line. It was definitely an adjustment for me, after putting with a Cameron Newport Two putter for the past three years. I found that I completely eliminated a pronounced forward press that I had developed using the Cameron putter.
As with most any upper-tier putter, the fit and finish of the White Steel 2-Ball Blade only further enhanced my confidence. The lines are sleek and clean, the corners smooth, and the production quality is very high. The finish appears shiny yet doesn’t often flash when you line up a putt, and the milled steel insert2 is offset beautifully against the polymer insert.
Feel/Sound and Performance
A large part of the reason I had shied away from earlier Odyssey putters was the “mushiness” I attributed to the polymer inserts. I had become quite used to the solid, firm “click” of a urethane- or surlyn-covered ball meeting a steel putter face. The “mushiness” of what amounts to a plastic insert seemed to go beyond even the days when I putted a balata ball. My main issue with the “mushy” inserts was not short putts – I could confidently put a firm stroke on them with a polymer insert – but on longer putts, which often were hard to judge and came off feeling quite “dead.”
The combination of steel plus the polymer insert seem to have produced a synergy. The sound remains a muted “thwack” instead of the hard “click” to which I’ve become accustomed, and yet the steel provides a lively “jolt” on longer putts. Combined with the larger head and the increased moment of inertia (MOI) attributable to putter heads with weight low and away from the face, distance control has improved dramatically. The 2-Ball putter seems to produce a solid, consistent strike every time.
It is a heavy, solid-feeling putter with a light swing weight. I strokes the ball smoothly and requires less effort on longer putts. In fact, one has to fight the tendency to underswing the putter because of its size.
Putting is all about two things: distance and alignment. The White Steel 2-Ball provides the now classic three-ball alignment system with an additional “stripe” to further aid in alignment. The steel ininsert (or insert2) aids in controlling my distance without sacrificing a good sound (80-90% of feel) at impact, regardless of ball construction. Clearly, the White Steel 2-Ball is a winner when it comes to performance.
But how much so? Let’s just say I’m making a lot more putts these days. If I said anymore, the poor pigeons at my course wouldn’t take me up on any bets… 😉
The headcover is pretty standard for Odyssey putters – a red and white headcover that slips over the back and seals with two round velcro dots. The grip is your standard Odyssey putter grip, and my only complaint is that the red portion of the grip gets dirty fairly quickly.
The White Steel 2-Ball putters survive without interchangeable weights or lead in the grip (like Heavy Putters). It survives without a grooved face (Yes! putters, Rossa AGSI putters). Three different models are available: blade, mallet, and center-shafted mallet.
The White Steel 2-Ball Blade is available with 3° loft and 70° lie. Its shaft is a full shaft offset and comes in 33″, 34″, 35″, and 36″ varieties. It’s available left-handed and MSRP is $199, though it can be had on the street for $169 or less.
The White Steel 2-Ball Blade is a winner in each aspect of putting: alignment and distance. Pick your line, decide how hard to hit the putt, and watch them drop.
Overall, the greatest improvement in my putting has been the ability to make putts from five feet and in. In the past, I had much inconsistency on these putts. Now, using the White Steel 2-Ball, my confidence on these has increased greatly and I have experienced a must greater consistency in making these putts.
Of course, the fact that I’m confident over longer putts has enabled me to have a run at some putts I previously would have been trying simply to “get close.” If I do roll one by three feet, conversion is nearly automatic.
If you’ve been holding out on getting a 2-Ball because of the “mushy” polymer insert, give the White Steel models a try. You will be happy you did.