Hello fellow spies (and spyettes?) For my first unofficial review I decided to review something that has been in my bag for only 6 months now, but it has absolutely had a positive impact on my rounds as a newer golfer and I don't see it getting much attention on the forums or really anywhere else on the internet, but it is something that is geared more toward new golfers and not those of you who have played for your whole lives or have single digit handicaps.
As an abridged background for this review, I am 33 years old and have only been playing golf for one-and-a-half years now. I desperately wanted to learn as a child, but I was always told it was a rich man's sport and that I should stay away from it. At some point as a child or early teenager, my grandmother caved and bought an open box set of clubs that was missing the majority of the clubs and I wish I could say I remember the brand, but I can't. I think she found it at a Sam's Club in the late 90s. No lessons were offered or given, it was just here they are, here are some plastic balls, now go swing them in the backyard. I had no idea what I was doing, but I had some fun for a little while. Eventually a practice putting green came along that was complete with an electric ball return. That was something I could get into! And boy did I. I used that thing enough that the ball return quit working! After that, I lost interest as I had never figured out what to do with the irons and putting wasn't fun if I had to go get the ball back every time. Flash forward to the college years and I discovered that I could take golf and badminton as a one hour elective. Jackpot! The professor ended up just being another member of the athletics staff who glazed over the rules of golf, told us all that if we didn't have certain muscles in our hands, we wouldn't be any good at golf, and then took us out to the "driving range" on campus. It was nothing more than a small grassy area with a shed full of 7 irons, practice balls, and shag bags. We never had gloves or golf shoes or tees. Just hopes and dreams in my case. Again, I never really learned what I was doing and the ball went every direction possible and we were encouraged not to take divots so that there would be minimal maintenance required. Finally very early in 2019 I had an epiphany. I was the only thing keeping myself from finally learning to play golf. Well...that and you know...the wife. After much persuasion, a set of clubs was purchased that I could beat up in the learning process and not feel bad about them being beat up. Now that my introduction has gone on longer than I intended it to, let's get down to business.
As I said in my very first What's in Your Bag post when I was still brand new to the forums, I lost faith in a hurry with the Strata putter that came with my set of clubs. The wedges too, but that's not what this review is about. Little did I realize, my natural tendency to be a window shopper had a whole new outlet. Eventually in my pre-MGS web browsing, I came across the Odyssey Red Ball Putter. I'm not sure, but I believe I saw it first in the offical Odyssey store on Amazon, but I could also have been in the rewards catalogue at work. I was hooked on the looks and the idea of this putter immediately. Odyssey has since moved on from this putter, so offical information from them is harder to find these days, but there is and official MGS First Look from 2018 https://mygolfspy.com/2018-odyssey-red-ball-putter/ . I have never read this article because it was from before my time as a forum member and I already own one, so a first look does me no good at this time. I happened to find one on sale for Black Friday 2019 that was certified pre-owned through Callaway Pre-Owned. I'm not much of a person for buying used things of any kind, but from what I could tell, Callaway meant it was as good as brand new and unable to resist the temptation, I bought it. I don't remember all of the options, but at the time, my uneducated thought was that I wanted a putter that was the same length as the set of wedges I had bought.
As I stated, I didn't know about My Golf Spy at the time, so I didn't take any pictures of the putter in the box when it arrived and tore into the packaging like a child at Christmas.
Hey! I just learned how to add pictures into the thread by accident! That aside, this is the first picture I took of the Odyssey Red Ball after I had opened. I had to send a picture to my buddy of course! And I swear the listing said it would come with the original head cover, but I have been happy simply having a genuine Odyssey head cover that fits. It is 35" in length and has the standard Odyssey pistol grip.
To me this putter is everything I need and want at this stage in my time as a recreational golfer, so looks aren't a big priority. But, grade I must. The flat black of the grip is very quiet and doesn't draw my eyes away from the ball. The shaft has a small Red Ball sticker near the top, but it isn't eye grabbing enough either to draw my eye away from what really matters. The black and white color scheme of the head of the putter provide crisp contrast for alignment as only those two colors can and the vibrant red of the Red Ball itself is easily spotted through the scope. The only thing that I have to say about the scope is that sight might be a better word for the shape, but that's just me. The one and only subtraction is that the head of the putter is a bit of an off shape compared to other mallets that I have seen, but it's not as weird as some.
I haven't used very many putters, but I have never had a putt that felt bad with this putter. Short putts, mid putts, and long putts all feel soft. I may not have a tiny wear mark in the long run, but I tend not to hit the toe or heel very often, so I cannot speak to hits there feel. I came as close to yipping and blading a putt as possible two weeks ago, and there was nothing terrible feeling that was transmitted back through the putter to my hands.
The Red Ball and sight are very easy to use and check your body's alignment against what Odyssey considers the proper putting stance. However, the Red Ball alone won't tell you if the face of the putter is twisted out of alignment. The White alignment marks that frame the ball at address take care of that job. It seems like a whole lot to review before taking a stroke, but in reality checking and correcting alignments can be achieved in about 30 seconds or less. I have not timed that, but I cannot see all of these alignment tools slowing down the pace of play. I am not a Claw grip putter, so for me a traditional pistol grip feels fine and allows me to relax my hands. The 35" length feels comfortable when I am standing over the ball and during my stroke. I was not fitted for this putter or length, so there may be a different length that works better for me, but as a recreational golfer, I am pretty easy to satisfy. I have seen a few articles and statements that a mallet putter is best for someone who tends to have a curved putting stroke that opens the face and then closes it at impact. That's me for sure, but it's not a very big opening and closing motion.
My first trip to the practice putting green ended up being a shock to my system from the White Hot insert. I have never owned a milled or an inserted putter, so when there was suddenly an appearance of more power to my putts was a surprise. Power is a relative term with putters, but a mid range putt that would have normally come up short for me, went rolling right by the hole and stopped about 6 inches beyond. A sudden surge of confidence overwhelmed me and has never left when I have this putter in my hands. But more on that in the on course performance section. Keep in mind, this is no magic wand putter. I didn't suddenly become automatic from 10 feet and in and I certainly didn't start sinking 40 foot putts.
On Course Performance
Technology is where I am lacking. I do not have Arccos or Shot Scope or a launch monitor\simulator, so you the reader will have to take my word for things and I promise not to spin any yarns about state record fish or sinking 100% of my putts. Not all of the improvement to my putting is attributable to just this putter. I have gotten better at reading greens each time I go out, but the alignment checks before attempting a putt have helped correct issues that could turn a good putt into a bad putt. The very first time on the course with the Red Ball in the bag came on a cool, soggy February day that featured slow and firm greens. I can only attribute such a combo to it being Winter in Arkansas. Everything went as well as I could hope in the course conditions and I ended up shaving a few strokes off of my usual score thanks to being on a good starting alignment. It's still not a magic stick, but the confidence gained from the practice green carried over to the course and honestly has never even dwindled. Over the past four months, I have stopped 3 putting and mostly 2 putt with the occasional single putt mixed in to keep me coming back. About two weeks ago, I had two of my coworkers playing with me that hadn't seen me play since I bought the Red Ball. Both of them remarked on how much better I was putting with this putter in my hands.
My review has been about confidence more than anything because that's what I can speak to the most. I don't have a lot of experience within the rather large world of putters. And to me, confidence is what matters most because it's impacts every aspect of what happens on the golf course. Allow me to put it this way: Confidence=more success. More success=more confidence.
Play it or Trade it?
For me, this putter falls into the "Cold Dead Hands", category. Even though I make fewer corrections at address with each passing round, the visual checks and reassurance will keep this putter in my hands.
Thank you for taking the time to read this and I welcome any and all questions and I will do my best to answer each one. I also openly welcome the criticism of anyone who has been writing reviews on the forums for a lot longer than I have.