Odyssey has built upon the success of their Stroke Lab Black range, which has been seen in the bag of Tour pros across the globe over the last twelve months, with the release of new models for 2020.
Last year we tested the futuristic Bird of Prey and Ten Putters and we were impressed with the firm-feeling insert and extra forgiveness offered by the super-high MOI design.
This time around, we're sticking with the mallet theme but looking at two more rounded shapes with the R-Line Arrow and the return of the renowned Rossie model.
What's It All About?
The Rossie and R-Line Arrow may not boast the 'Super-high MOI' characteristics of the Bird of Prey and Ten models due to their slightly more compact head shape, but there is still plenty of technology packed into the putters which are said to bring out your best on the greens.
The multi-material Stroke Lab shaft, which we have seen in Odyssey putters over the last couple of years, is able to save 40 grams of weight which can then be redistributed to the head and grip end of the putter.
The result of this is that it can rebalance the feel of the putter and improve the speed and consistency of your stroke, for a more repeatable movement with the flat stick.
Odyssey's White Hot insert has been one of the most popular among professionals and amateurs over the years, and this was enhanced in the O-Works range when they introduced Microhinge, which was said to improve the quality and consistency of the ball's roll.
The Stroke Lab Black putters feature a Microhinge Star insert, and this provides all the same benefits of the White Hot Microhinge whilst also providing a firmer feel and better sound at impact.
The putters come in a 'rich black finish', hence the name 'Black', which is said to give the putters a clean and premium look.
There's only one way to decide if a putter is worthy of a place in your bag - get out on the golf course with it, to see whether it can live up to the pressures of a proper round and help you hole some more putts.
So I took the R-Line Arrow and Rossie out to Bramall Park Golf Club to do just that.
Odyssey Stroke Lab Black Putters Review
Odyssey Stroke Lab Black R-Line Arrow Putter Review
The R-Line Arrow is a large rounded mallet with a distinct arrow shape cut into the back cavity of the head, and a clear white alignment band running horizontally from front to back.
The putter is face balanced and features a double bend shaft, so it is ideal for golfers who either already have very little rotation in their stroke, or want to try and decrease the amount of rotation and arc that they have.
To be honest, I think calling this an elegant black finish is pushing it a little bit. Yes, the black does look smart, but the aesthetics of this putter are more around confidence-building and practicality than looks in my opinion.
Although if it works better than any other putter for you, does it really matter what it looks like?
The putter does have a big footprint down by the ball which may take some getting used to, particularly if you're used to using blade putters like me, but it does sit quite nicely and certainly fills you with confidence that you're going to strike the ball well.
I was a big fan of the clear alignment line on the back and the arrow shape did do a good job of focusing your eye towards the centre of the putter face where the ball is located.
I was also impressed with how the Stroke Lab shaft and grip did a great job of really balancing weight throughout the club. When I have previously tested big-headed mallet putters like this, it's always been a concern that they would feel really heavy and clunky down the bottom end, and I used to find it difficult to get the weight right on the longer putts.
It felt like the added weight made it easier to get a little carried away when you had to hit the putts harder, and before I knew it I'd send the ball hurtling 10 feet past the hole. Nobody wants to hit their first putt and not lose their turn...
Despite the fact that this is such a large head, and it is designed to effectively quieten down your stroke in terms of arc and face rotation, there was still decent level of feel provided by the new, firmer Microhinge Star insert so that you can quickly tell if you've not quite struck it.
I always seem to find that these big mallets make short putts a little harder for me, because they seem to make the hole look smaller and I prefer to have the extra feel of toe-hang putter on the putts where pace isn't really an issue, so I'm not sure this one is for me.
If you are someone who struggles with consistency when you putt however, and you're looking for a big friendly head which should improve your distance control and give you a slightly more neutral stroke, then the R-Line Arrow could be one worth trying.
Odyssey Stroke Lab Black Rossie Putter Review
The Rossie shape is one of very few putters to have made a 59 on the PGA Tour, thanks to Brandt Snedeker at the Wyndham Championship in 2018. Snedeker has used the Rossie for well over a decade and is living proof of the old saying 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it'.
The Rossie is a half-moon mallet putter which is face balanced, and so suits a stroke with less face rotation and arc. For those of you who are Odyssey putter experts, you may remember the original Rossie design and this may bring back fond memories.
Odyssey themselves are very excited to bring back an iconic shape and combine it with their latest technologies for what they think will be a winning combination.
My favourite feature of the Rossie putter by far is the alignment offered by the white lines on the top of the putter and into the back section.
This really does make it easy to get the ball lined up - particularly because the three lines on the top show you exactly where your ball should be if you want to strike it from the centre of the face.
It really takes away some of the guesswork if you can be sure that the putter face is lined up squarely with the ball. How many times have you stood over a putt, only to readjust at the last second? This should really help simplify things and leave you to focus on getting the line and pace right.
Again the Microhinge Star insert felt great, and the smaller head shape seemed to suit the Stroke Lab weight distribution a little better than the R-Line Arrow, meaning that it was a little easier to get to grips with.
The Rossie was my favourite of the two putters as I currently use a blade and so this was a little easier transition into the mallet world due to the smaller head shape compared to the R-Line Arrow.
I could see this being ideal for golfers who also use a blade, but find that they get a little 'handsy' in the stroke because of this, and want a putter to simplify things whilst giving them a little more stability across the face.
Odyssey Stroke Lab Black Putters Verdict
If you're a mallet lover then the new Stroke Lab Black models could be exactly what you're looking for. You get the same friendly shape and high-MOI output that you'd expect from the large head, but there's now the added bonus of the Stroke Lab technology and the firmer insert which gives you a little more feel on the greens.
At £239 they aren't cheap, but then again the putter is the most used club in your bag and so instead of paying £400 for a driver which gives you an extra five yards of distance, maybe it's time to find a putter which can really make the difference to your scores.
I also think that these putters are a clear example of why you should really try and test your golf equipment as thoroughly as possible before purchasing, and ideally get a proper fitting, rather than buying online or just having a couple of putts in the golf shop.
When I hit the first few putts on the putting green with these putters I thought I'd never get on with them, but once I'd got used to the look and feel I actually ended up putting pretty well on the course and by the end of my round I was definitely considering a switch to a Rossie-style shape due to the performance.
- New Microhinge Star insert feels great
- Large head provides plenty of forgiveness
- New black finish is an improvement
- Excellent alignment on the Rossie
- High spec finish and build quality
- Head shapes will put some golfers off
- Stroke Lab shaft can take a bit of getting used to
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