Putting is the part of the game where being consistent is going to pay greater dividends then elsewhere on the course, because it is all about getting it in the hole.
Making you more consistent is what the Odyssey Stroke Lab range is designed to do, thanks to a complete rethink of putter weighting and shafts.
The engine of this performance, like any golf club, is the shaft, which is a combination of a steel tip and a graphite upper section.
These types of shafts have been around before in irons, but Callaway's Stroke Lab is the first to be put it into a full range of Odyssey putters.
The lighter carbon section saves 40g of weight, of which 10g is added back into the head and 30g is added to the end of the grip. The weight of the heavier 360g head is offset by the extra weight of the grip.
The Stroke Lab grip is 10g lighter than normal, so the weight of the grip is actually 40g to create a counterbalanced putter.
The counterbalanced concept is not new, but the way the Stroke Lab putters have been designed is.
With current counterbalanced putters, weight is added to the head and grip with a standard shaft so that the swing weight stays the same, but the overall weight of the club goes up.
This is good for those who feel they have a live snake in their hands, but for the rest of us, a heavier putter is not good for feel.
Indeed the average weight of putter heads has increased by 20% in the last 20 years, but the shaft construction has not changed. With the advent of lighter grips this has combined to see putter swing weights get lighter over the same period from D8 to F2.
This is where Odyssey Stroke Lab comes in, as it brings the benefits of counterbalancing without adding the weight. The head, shaft and grip have been created to work together, so that the overall weight of the putter is not higher than current Odyssey putters.
23% of the weight of the club is now below the grip in your hands and the two parts work together to improve your stroke.
Callaway says that the consistency of the length of the back swing is improved by 21% with the Stroke Lab over a normal Odyssey putter.
That means that your tempo is better and your pace will be more consistent, which in turn will improve your judgement and accuracy and therefore you should hole more putts.
Odyssey has thrown all their best tech at the face too, with the return of the second generation White Hot Microhinge face insert from the EXO range.
This features the larger hinges embedded in the popular White Hot insert, to provide a firmer feeling and sounding face at impact.
The Microhinges get the ball rolling quicker without skidding in order to keep the ball on line better than a standard White Hot insert and I think this is one of the best putter face inserts around.
There is a wide range of 18 head shapes that come in 33, 34 and 35 inch lengths. They all feature various versions of the white on black Versa alignment design for those who like that sort of thing.
The new oversized Tuttle shape evokes memories of the Ram Zebra putter of yesteryear.
However as a mallet guy, I was drawn to the R-Ball, Marxman, 2-Ball Fang, #7 and V-Line in the standard line with the latter probably edging it for me.
The Stroke Lab concept is also being extended to Odyssey's other ranges including Toulon and the Odyssey EXO range. The new EXO 2-Ball looks particularly good.
Both ranges are lovely, but they cost 50% to 80% more, so they would have to be giving a serious performance gain over the standard range to justify the price.
To choose the right model, you first need to pick the hosel shape to suit your stroke. The standard Stroke Lab range has a choice of a full shaft offset hosel for a face balanced putter, or a 3/4 offset for a slight toe hang of 23° to 29° depending on the model.
This slight toe hang is becoming quite a popular set up for mallets, as it enables players with an arc to their putting stroke to move into a higher MOI mallet for more forgiveness.
Thereafter it is personal preference, although an expert putter fitting at a Callaway fitting centre can give you the optimum head shape for your stroke.
Odyssey Stroke Lab Putter Verdict
The feel and sound of the Odyssey Stroke Lab did seem to vary between each head, so a little trial and error might be required to select the right one, once you have narrowed down the options by performance.
There is a wide choice of heads available depending on whether you are a mallet or a blade person, so there should be something in there for everyone.
The feel of the Stroke Lab shaft did not seem to vary from a normal steel shaft, so you are getting the benefits of counterbalancing in a pretty standard set up. You hardly notice the extra weight in the grip end of the club and you get the same sensation of the head moving towards the target that you do with a counterbalanced putter.
The White Hot Microhinge face rolled the ball very well and I like the firmer sound that the bigger hinges give, as that is what gives you auditory feedback for feel of distance.
Therefore Stroke Lab seems to be a counterbalanced putter for those who don't think they need one. You get all the benefits that the weighting can bring, but in a club that looks and feels like a normal Odyssey putter with a great face insert.
It is great to see real innovation in putters and, as an advocate of MOI matching and counterbalancing for years now, it is good to see it moving from the specialised fitters to the masses thanks to the Odyssey Stroke Lab range. They are a bit more expensive than Odyssey putters have been in the past, but I think it's well worth it.