The green is often the equalizer of all play on the course. Even a perfect game from tee-off and navigation of hazards to avoiding surrounding rough culminates in a test of mental and physical strength—and performance of equipment. It becomes a game of inches, if not millimeters, where the slightest inconsistency or miscalculation is the difference in all that stands before player and golf hole.
In October 2019, Odyssey, a Callaway Golf Company global brand, announced the release of two new putter models to its Stroke Lab family lines. Innovative in design and engineered for performance, Odyssey Stroke Lab Black Ten and Odyssey Stroke Lab Black Bird of Prey are a solution in dynamics and consistency, ultimately meant to improve a player’s stroke from backswing and face-angle impact, to alignment, ball speed, and ball direction.
Sean Toulon, senior vice president of Callaway and general manager of Odyssey, stated the new Stroke Lab Black Ten and Stroke Lab Black Bird of Prey Putters are truly remarkable with all of the premium technologies and performances offered.
“Stroke Lab has revolutionized the putter category by fundamentally improving the rhythm and consistency in a golfer’s stroke,” Toulon said. “We’re combining it with all the forgiveness from these super high MOI head shapes with one goal in mind: to help every golfer make more putts.”
Odyssey has produced putters in the game of golf since its founding in 1991 and became part of the Callaway Golf Company’s global brand portfolio in 1997. Callaway, headquartered in Carlsbad, California, has become one of the world’s largest golf equipment and active lifestyle companies since its establishment in 1982. Founded by Ely Callaway, the golf company strives to create innovative, high-performance golf clubs, golf balls, and other equipment, and has grown its portfolio of brands to include: Odyssey, OGIO, TravisMathew, and Jack Wolfskin.
“High MOI mallets have benefits in putting in terms of forgiveness, much like they would in drivers, so when you miss the center of the face, which everyone does even with a putter, you maintain more ball speed and directional control. It is a category we are always interested in and try to be leaders in,” said Luke Williams, senior global product director for Odyssey at Callaway.
“We wanted to have a launch at the end of the year at a time when we normally don’t to create some excitement in the market and keep Odyssey front-of-mind. We came up with these two shapes and felt like they were a good pair to put out together,” Williams added.
The Odyssey Stroke Lab Black Ten and Odyssey Stroke Lab Black Bird of Prey complement an existing line of Stroke Lab putters—six mallets and four blades integrated with White Hot Microhinge inserted in the face—where a unique weighting strategy has had an impact in rhythm, tempo, consistency, and head swing. By using a multi-material shaft of graphite and a steel tip—with more mass concentrated in the tip—Stroke Lab putters redistribute the weight with an added 10 grams to the head using two sole weights and an added 30 grams to the grip-end.
For the Odyssey Stroke Lab Black Ten and Odyssey Stroke Lab Black Bird of Prey, multi-material head construction, hi-def alignment, and a new Microhinge Star Insert are not only meant to create more stability and increase ease to setup at address, but also a firmer feel and sound of impact. Williams noted the larger, oversized mallets have extremely high MOI—higher than any other putter in their line—and are extremely easy to align with the hi-def alignment aide. The Ten and Bird of Prey are both offered in a double-bend option, and the Ten is also available with an S-neck option for players who like a little more face rotation in their stroke. The Ten, in particular, was prompted by Tour player interest in its style of putter.
“Whenever we are designing a line of putters, we will have a range of shapes. We have some traditional blades we would have in the line, like One and Nine—Double Wide is a new model for us—but we want to have a range where we have conventional mallets and have some progressive mallet shapes,” Williams said. “We want to have that broad offering with a little bit of something for everyone.”
Williams also noted the industrial team led by Austie Rollinson, chief designer for Odyssey at Callaway, will conduct a lot of exploration particularly around progressive mallet shapes since those are new and tend to push convention.
“We will do a lot of ideation around concepts for more progressive mallets and then we whittle that down, refine them, and maybe combine ideas in order to come up with a couple that we think are unique and can be exciting in the marketplace,” Williams said.
Though Callaway and Odyssey unveiled Odyssey Stroke Lab Black Ten and Odyssey Stroke Lab Black Bird of Prey on October 15, 2019, with putters available nationwide as of November 1, 2019, the Stroke Lab Black Ten had already been put in play on Tour by a number of players, such as Phil Mickelson, who had previously used Callaway’s Nine and Eight shape with a more traditional blade and toe-hang.
“[Mickelson] was really pleased with how it was performing for him. He was someone we probably wouldn’t have expected to move into the Ten, so I think that was a little bit eye-opening for us and showed us the putter really has a broad appeal,” Williams said.
“It has exceeded our expectations for sure. Bringing this shape out got a lot of attention and a few consistent comments we get is the players just love the way it sits on the ground. It sets up very consistently, it is very square at address, the line angle looks good to the eye, they like the shape, and it is very easy to align,” Williams added.
Both Stroke Lab Black putters also feature the new Microhinge Star Insert, which builds upon the technology of the White Hot Microhinge, but is firmer and has more sound since the grooves were taken out. The White Hot Microhinge face insert was introduced with the initial release of the Stroke Lab putters in January 2019 and combined Callaway’s White Hot-feel with embedded microhinges across the face to promote topspin and distance control.
“When you are designing golf clubs, it is really balancing the form and the function. Sometimes what the function would dictate may be a shape or form that is not going to be pleasing to golfers’ eyes. We could have a putter that performs better than anything on the market, but if nobody wants to look down at that putter, no one is going to pick it off a rack and hit putts with it, then it doesn’t matter,” Williams said.
“Design is very subjective. What some people like and others maybe don’t, so the challenge is coming up with new designs that will excited golfers, that will get them to want to try something, and then having not only the performance that they are expecting, but also a look that excites them.”
Photos Courtesy Callaway Golf Company