Odyssey has always pushed the envelope when it comes to design, so it's not surprising that they've come up with some odd looking putters over the years. The BackStryke putters are no exception. Because the shaft goes into the back of the head rather than near the face, this creates an unconventional look. Many people will be familiar with the 2-Ball model, as it looks a lot like the other 2-ball models. The Marxsman and Blade models are different, with black and white alignment lines. If you are one of those players out there that doesn't like center shafted putters because the shaft distracts you and makes it harder to line up, you may like the BackStryke line. The putters feature Odyssey's new White Ice insert, which to me is a step back in time to the feel and responsiveness of the original White Hot insert from several years back. The finish is slightly darker than the standard White Ice putters, which creates more contrast between the white insert and alignment features and the rest of the putter. The grip is the familiar Winn pistol style.
I'll be honest, my thoughts on this putter (my test unit was the 2-Ball model) has been like a stormy relationship. It's been up and down. When I first saw them at the 2010 PGA Merchandise show, I thought they looked cool and seemed to roll the ball well. When I first got my demo unit from the folks at Callaway/Odyssey, I was a little skeptical. After rolling about 50 putts in my living room over several days, it didn't impress me.
To be fair and thorough with my review I had to play with it for at least 18 holes, so I took it out to Eagle Creek Golf Club in Orlando, FL.
When it comes to this putter, it's true that you shouldn't judge a book by its cover. The look and setup takes time to get familiar with for sure. It's been 36 holes and I'm just now becoming comfortable with the Odyssey Backstryke 2-Ball Putter. I'm used to the face of a putter opening as the putter swings back, returning to square at impact, and closing slightly on the through swing in a traditional arc shape. With the stroke balance feature of this putter, it tends to want to remain square to the line as I make my back swing, making me believe my stroke is off. It took me several putts to realize this and determine that it is actually what is supposed to happen. I also have a tendency to have my hands slightly behind the ball at address with this type of putter, but once I committed to make a slight forward press my results improved dramatically. If you can see the face insert at address, make a slight forward press until it disappears. This is the ideal position to get the best roll from this putter.
The feel is very much like the original White Hot inserts, with the ball popping off the face with some energy. The previous White Hot XG insert was much too mushy for my taste. The new White Ice insert has added more resilience for that extra pop, but retained a soft, controlled feel. The 2-Ball model I had also makes a slight pinging noise at impact, which many players like for auditory feedback. While it is heavy and has a large head for forgiveness, the sound and feel of the putter provide great feedback, and the player can tell right away if a solid putt was hit.
The Three models available in the BackStryke series (2-Ball, Marxman and Blade) all come standard with 3 degrees of loft, 69 degree lie and 355g head weight. I have noticed that Odyssey's putters tend to sit flatter than most. 70 degrees is usually a putter's standard lie angle. The putters are available in 33″, 34″ and 35″ lengths. For the lefties out there, the only model available for you currently is the Marxman. Street price so far is around $199.
The Odyssey Backstryke 2-Ball Putter are a bit like a late night infomercial. You want to look away, but somehow you are draw to it like a moth to a flame. At first glance, I didn't want to put it in play and didn't really trust it when I did, but after I got past the odd setup and unfamiliar way it swings, I started making putts in bunches. This putter is heavy, solid and likes to swing square to square. The key to the BackStryke is to just use it the way it was designed. If you use a forward press style, you should try this baby. If you fight it, you'll have trouble getting any confidence with it.
The design of the BackStryke putters is new, innovative and it certainly won't be for everyone. Traditionalists and players with a hands-back setup like Zach Johnson probably won't like it. However, I think Odyssey really has something with this putter, and I'm certainly a believer!