Stage Two - Odyssey Stroke Lab 7 Putter – Official MGS Forum Review by Jamie Danbrook
As far as reviews go I have to admit that a putter is a pretty tough one to go through. It is very subjective and without there being a ton of data points we rely a lot of initial feedback and thoughts as well as feelings to determine how good a putter is. In stage 2 I will dive deeper into many of those thoughts and feelings and hopefully give some clarification on if this is a must buy or not.
I spent a lot of time practicing on various greens as well as in the basement and managed to get over 10 rounds of play in with the Stroke Lab. I did drills, some of which are posted on YouTube as well as tried to compare to my current putter for looks/feel/performance and just overall impressions.
Looks (9 out of 10 points)
I have to admit I love the shape and the look of the seven series, although a little smaller then the Tyne and more compact it has a stellar look to it which is very inviting and easy to line up. The different colours and variety of lines give it a very sharp and smart look. I personally could not be more impressed with how this putter looks overall. However its pretty darn difficult to give anything a 10. The head itself as stated is pretty darn beautiful, but then we get to the shaft and grip.
The grip is probably the ugliest part about the putter and its still not bad at all. The shaft is stellar and has that sleek modern look to it which most all of us seem to gravitate towards. It’s also new and refreshing to see something that is not just simple and silver.
Overall the whole club has great shelf appeal and game appeal. It stands out and not in a bad way where it is brash or garish, but modern and sleek. Having loved the seven or fanged style of club for some time this may be the one of the prettiest and most well done in a long time. Nothing too crazy, but has everything you need and could want in term of alignment and simplicity for a modern mallet style. The shapes and lines are proper and how I feel they should be, much like the Tyne and no like the TM Ardmore where it is swoopy and looks a bit goofy.
It is also a nice update on the previous seven series.
The Stroke Lab seven has a great balance and earns top marks in the looks category.
Sound & Feel Head (1/5) Feel of Shaft (5/5)
I have a feeling this will be a common theme among testers, but the sound and feel was where I struggled with the most. The sound of the putter is very muted with the insert and makes very little sound. That being said there is a firmer or harder sound out of the toe and the heel that is very distinguishable from the center of the face. Comparing this to my Tyne was and is night and day and definitely takes an adjustment. They are very different ends of the spectrum which make it slightly more difficult to adapt to.
In terms of feel it was again muted and I could not help but feel as though it was borderline too soft and almost as if there was a delay with it coming off the face. This could also be the insert doing the little pick up and roll of the ball and getting it started. I can’t say this is a bad thing either, just different and not something I was use to feeling. I did however find it more difficult on quicker greens to find the feel for it all. Slower greens were amazing though especially when wanting to hit it firm and harder the feel and repetitive stroke was very easy to find.
Stroke Lab Shaft Feel. I need to separate this, because it is a huge part. The feel of the shaft is stellar and by far the smoothest and easiest putter to swing in your hands. The stroke lab wants to putt itself and having a little extra weight in the hands gives a good sense of control, however even with a slightly heavier head there is a bit of sway. Getting to the point where you simply let the putter do the work rather then guiding it along gives a sensational feel throughout the stroke. The stroke lab shaft is here to stay and will definitely be seeing more companies invest in this area as it hits every point possible on feel.
All in all this putter was on the fence of being too soft for my taste and I did enjoy the smoother softer sound at impact. It didn’t feel crisp or clunky, but smooth and responsive, just in a different manner that was difficult to adapt to. My first putt on course with it was a 30+ foot putt on a slow green that I hammered home and was sold. As testing went on it was very up and down and had my fair share of struggles and a lot I felt was due to the sound and feel of it being so far removed from what I was use to which had a fairly bit impact on my mental side where my confidence wasn’t as high. For this I give it a 6, however with more time, rounds and practice it could grow and become higher. I’m not giving up on it yet!
Basic Characteristics (16 out of 20 points)
Because we had such a poor spring with lots of rain I didn’t get as many rounds in right away as I would have preferred, however that meant that I had lots of time to practice in the basement and at a local range which has a decent area. This gave me a good initial feel for the putter and as well as see how it different from a variety of other putters I have. The stability of the stroke as most could imagine was great and although a bit of wavering I could chaulk that up to me trying to do more of the work rather then letting the putter flow through. In practice it was spot on and through drills as well as comparisons it started to win me over. From a accuracy and distance control perspective it also seemingly did very well in practice. Downstairs basement practice it didn’t miss often and when it/I did I could putt it on me rather then the putter itself.
Distance control outside of 15 feet seemed really good for me as well, I was able to lag puts nice and close and didn’t often many 3 putts. Of course there were the odd one here and there. Inside 15 I did struggle a bit, again going back to the feel off the face I didn’t always get that same pop I was looking for and it was always end up being close ish but I left far too many short of the hole and would often blow one by when trying to ramp of the pace.
Forgiveness on this putter is stellar, through and through in all segments it is still responsive and gives you a accurate pace for the stroke you put on it. This may be the most forgiving putter I’ve ever used and with that it was very versatile. I quite often use a putter out of rougher conditions and on the fringe and really enjoyed it. Was able to snuggle up many off green putts in a large part again to being able to put a firm stroke on the putt itself which definitely was a go to when I progressed into rounds.
On-Course Performance (20 out of 30 points)
Thankfully as the weather bettered I was able to get a variety of rounds in at many courses. I was able to make lots of birdies along the way and during the 4 Club Challenge something clicked and I had putts that were starting to burn edges and drop a lot more frequently. Yes it was a little late in the testing phase for this, but much better timing for the challenge as well. This Challenge also made me use the putter a little more often and still with a great degree of success because I was able avoid 3 putts and just play well.
I did have a lot of struggles during some rounds and did find myself getting a bit frustrated, but I have found new life with this putter and think it will do me very well going forward. I have yet to go back and play a round with the Tyne because I really want to give this a good run. I dont think it is fair for me to judge it entirely on the last couple months and with it being so new and having all this tech it will take time to get fully adjusted and accustomed to. I believe i wrote this earlier, but I have to compare the stroke lab to a hybrid. In the back of our mind most all of us know that hybrids are more forgiving and an incredible tool in our bag, but alas there are those of us who are struck on long irons forgiveness/ease of use be damned (my being one of them) so we stick to our guns and play the long irons because its a tough adjustment moving to that new style of club. I liken this a lot to the stroke lab putters, they are a improvement on the older design no question and they do provide some benefits that outside of the numbers can be felt and can be seen on the course.
However when we are so use to the standard steel shaft, heavy head weighting it’s very hard to adapt. I only had 3 rounds under 30 putts with the stroke lab and truthfully missed a lot of very makeable putts which could have lead to much better scores. That being said I did make some great putts along the way as well and could argue that it helped some of those bad putts look a lot better then they were actually hit. However I have yet to really dial it in and get that great success out of the stroke lab. I’m close no question about that, but it is still a ways away and I will keep at it until I figure the thing out!
Miscellaneous (10 out of 10 points)
The little things with Odyssey and the Stroke Lab putter are truly awesome. Speed of delivery was spot on and we got the products in short order as well as all the little things such as the note Callaway gives you with the package and the head cover is all class. Within that I got a lot of comments on how good the putter looks and had great feedback when I put it in the hands of friends, family and playing partners. It has a lot going for it and a lot of shelf appeal. Their website is simple and easy to go through to see all the options available and with so many heads it could be a daunting task, however its a very well done custom order section that is simple to use and easy to navigate. Really can’t think of anything negative to say in this regard. Well done and simply a very well thought out product top to bottom.
Play it or Trade it? (12 out of 20 points)
I want to preface this by saying this could and will in all likelihood change over the coming months and season. I will continue to use the stroke lab putter and don’t have any big tournaments to play this season so it will stay in the bag without having to worry about being swapped out due to the fact that I do want to give this a proper run. Following the season I will truly reevaluate how it has performed and determine whether it will replace the Tyne. A big part of me wants to find a way to put the stroke lab shaft on the Tyne... but that is a story for another day. If I had to pick one putter to use for the next few seasons right now I dont think it would be the stroke lab. I would likely go back to the Tyne and be quite happy with the decision, but I could very well evolve my game and stroke into using the stroke lab for a long time as well. It just isn’t something I would be comfortable fully committing to at this time. WIth so many head shapes, neck options and so many more custom offerings within the Stroke Lab family there is no question that there is a putter to fit any and all golfers out there. For me the biggest thing that is holding it back is the soft insert. I could likely get use to it more as well, it’s simply taking more time (Maybe the Toulon series would be better?) I do believe in the tech and that is why I am giving it the benefit of staying for the season.
Well to wrap this all up. I have enjoyed the time with the Stroke Lab and think there is definitely something there. To separate it out, the shaft and feel of the putter are incredible. Smooth with a ease in the stroke that is unlike any putter I’ve used. Looks are spot on as well, however I don’t love the insert and haven’t quite had the success I kind of figured would come with all the new tech. However it earns the opportunity to stay around at the very least to the end of the season to get fully adjusted to. This is a big leap I believe in putting technology and is around to stay, however the adjustment time may take longer for some then others. With so many head shapes, necks, styles, grips and everything else there is definitely one to fit your game and I would encourage any and all to go out there and give this a try.
Finally thank you to MGS and Odyssey this has been a lot of fun and I look forward to updated everyone along the way because the review doesn’t stop with Stage 2 and as long as its in the bag I will share my thoughts and feelings!
Final Score: 73/100