ODYSSEY BLACK SERIES I 2-BALL
STREET PRICE: $270WEBSITE: odysseygolf.comTECH TALK: The head is constructed of multiple materials and includes a urethane bridge between the top and sole. It has a 58-gram tungsten plug that pulls the CG deep. According to Odyssey, in a comparison of mass properties against the White Hot XG 2-Ball, this putter's MOI is 25 percent higher at 4,580, and the CG is 28 percent deeper at 1.58 inches back from the face. It features the line's two-piece elastomer face insert.PLAYER COMMENTS: (T) "Couple this with a soft ball and you can really control your putts." ... (L) "It's one of the more conservative-looking mallets." ... (M) "It's the best 2-Ball they've made. Refined. The heavier head feels very solid, and the metal finish is handsome without being reflective." ... (T) "The 2-Ball has become a classic look."HOT: This isn't just a cosmetic tweak. The landmark optical innovation of the last decade has been retooled for the better.NOT: If you want a mallet with ultimate forgiveness, other putters have higher MOI.
PING IWI CRAZ-E
STREET PRICE: $200WEBSITE: pinggolf.comTECH TALK: The shape places weight along the perimeter to increase MOI. An elastomer backing is designed to improve the feel of a machined 304 stainless-steel face insert. The black-white-yellow alignment aid is raised to sit even with the topline to avoid the two-dimensional look of the original model. Two ports in the heel and toe accommodate 12-, 20- and 28-gram weights, allowing for nine customized possibilities.PLAYER COMMENTS: (L) "Impact was very responsive. The distance the ball rolled was true to how it felt."... (T) "Love the subtlety. The features are easy to line up, but then mentally you can get away from the lines and think about making your stroke." ... (M) "Ping keeps making a good thing better."Hot: Ping is already one of the best when it comes to offering stock length and lie options. The iWi takes fitting a leap further. NOT: Still charging an extra $70 for the weight kit? Seriously, without that upcharge this space would be blank.
TAYLORMADE ITSY BITSY SPIDER
STREET PRICE: $200WEBSITE: taylormadegolf.comTECH TALK: The 303 stainless-steel frame and lightweight aluminum core save weight, which is concentrated into heavy screws in the rear cartridges. The screws are movable so total weight and face balance can be customized. At first glance it appears to be a shrunken version of its older sibling, but the black wings have been pulled inward, and the white alignment decal has been abbreviated for a simpler look. With an MOI of 5,500, it still has 82 percent of the stability of the previous (and bigger) version. The face has the Rossa AGSI+ groove insert.PLAYER COMMENTS: (L) "Still looks like a spaceship with two engines, but I'm OK with that." ... (M) "The way the Spider should've been made in the first place." ... (L) "Heavier than it looks, which is good. Rolls beautifully."HOT: A symphony of function over form. The two hosel options--plumber's neck or double-bend--nicely anticipate different tastes.NOT: Even 82 percent of the world's fattest man is still a lot to look at.
STREET PRICE: $140WEBSITE: rifeputters.comTECH TALK: The monochromatic head (20-20A shown), shaft and grip are designed to optically blend into the putting green so the white alignment stripes stand out. The most significant change from last year's introductory mallet is that the open spaces in the head have been filled in, creating a solid green shape. The benefit of the large, square design is a high MOI that mitigates twisting on off-center strikes.PLAYER COMMENTS: (L) "Sometimes I have trouble setting up closed, but this corrected that problem." ... (T) "The green-white concept really does help, but I found the face profile a smidge high." ... (T) "You could leave this on the putting green and never find it again." ... (M) "Good touch on short ones; great feedback on long ones."HOT: Free your mind and free your stroke. When you can't see the putter, all you can (and will) think about is speed.NOT: The extra-large sole has the potential to get scuffy if you're not stroking it well.
ODYSSEY WHITE HOT XG 2-BALL F7
STREET PRICE: $170WEBSITE: odysseygolf.comTECH TALK: What we have here is a fusion of the company's two most popular alignment systems, the 2-Ball and the parallel "fangs" of #7. With 120 grams repositioned in the fangs, this model has an MOI of 4,800, which is 40 percent more than the original 2-Ball. As with most mallets in the XG line, it includes a double-bend shaft with a shaft's width of offset as well as the two-piece elastomer-based face insert with a textured sweet spot.PLAYER COMMENTS: (M) "Center hits and off-center hits all go the same. I could get used to this." ... (T) "Looks like it can balance itself. I think I could set this putter up, walk away, and it would still be lined up at the hole when I got back." ... (L) "One of the softest inserts." ... (T) "A lot of features, yet it's simple."HOT: For anyone struggling with alignment issues, this could be the best cure around. The combination of bars and balls is as effective as it is bold.NOT: It looks like the Millennium Falcon.
ODYSSEY WHITE HOT XG SABERTOOTH
STREET PRICE: $170WEBSITE: odysseygolf.comTECH TALK: Two dense, semicircular fangs account for 132 grams, which spread 37 percent of the head's total weight away from the CG location to increase stability on off-center hits. The soft, elastomer-backed face insert is designed to complement multilayer balls and features a textured sweet spot to enhance feel. Parallel bars and two stacked aiming dots assist with setup.PLAYER COMMENTS: (M) "Real easy to rotate the clubface through the ball." ... (L) "I'm looking for a 'click' that is not tinny, and this provides that. It's easy to set down square, perhaps the easiest putter ever to align." ... (T) "Good stuff. How can a putter be solid and soft at the same time?" ... (L) "Nice contrasting colors." ... (T) "Good for Generation X. Too flashy for Baby Boomers."HOT: The optical bonus of the round shape is that it corresponds perfectly with the dimensions of a cup.NOT: Shaft-length options (three) and hosel choices (one) seem parsimonious.
ODYSSEY WHITE HOT XG TERON
STREET PRICE: $170WEBSITE: odysseygolf.comTECH TALK: The design is similar to Odyssey's Sabertooth, especially the idea of pushing weight toward the perimeter to improve stability on off-center hits. The outer wings occupy 147 grams, or 41 percent of the head's total weight, helping it achieve an MOI of 5,750. The face has the XG line's soft and textured elastomer-backed insert. Alignment features borrow the Marxman's white bars.PLAYER COMMENTS: (L) "A no-brainer to align. If you can't get this pointed at the hole, just give up." ... (T) "Busy-looking, but it draws your eyes right to the center spot." ... (L) "I love scooping up balls with it." ... (M) "The more putts you make with it, the prettier it looks."HOT: Having the highest MOI of any putter in the Odyssey line makes for serious bragging rights. Its stability can help win nassaus, then the wings can help pop the tops to the free beers at the clubhouse.NOT: Forget to put the headcover on, and the sharp ends can give a nasty scratch.
PING KARSTEN SERIES CRAZ-E
STREET PRICE: $120WEBSITE: pinggolf.comTECH TALK: (L) "I like that it doesn't have an insert on the face. Just the solid feel of steel." ... (M) "Feels like it just glides across the grass. This one's impossible to miss with from short range." ... (T) "Fairly heavy, so it promotes the use of the big muscles in the stroke." ... (M) "If you read the putt right, it's going to go in."PLAYER COMMENTS: (L) "Sometimes I have trouble setting up closed, but this corrected that problem." ... (T) "The green-white concept really does help, but I found the face profile a smidge high." ... (T) "You could leave this on the putting green and never find it again." ... (M) "Good touch on short ones; great feedback on long ones."HOT: If you prefer the traditional sound of steel but want a modern shape, Ping has played matchmaker with this model. And the price tag makes it a cheap wedding.NOT: Gunmetal gray and muted blues will be a welcome subtlety to some but will feel industrial and boring to others.
RIFE BARBADOS TOUR MALLET
STREET PRICE: $180WEBSITE: rifeputters.comTECH TALK: The computer-milled 304 stainless-steel head has a notch cut into the back of the topline directly above the sweetspot. When the central white aiming line appears in the notch, you know your eyes are over the ball. Because the horizontal grooves are designed to grip the cover of the ball and lift it from its depression on the green, the face has a strong loft of 2 degrees. The shaft features a half-degree of kickback, meaning it leans slightly toward the right eye.PLAYER COMMENTS: (M) "Very balanced. Doesn't wobble at all when you set it down." ... (L) "It makes sense visually." ... (T) "Three prominent lines make alignment a cinch, but they'll distract some players during the stroke." ... (L) "Ball comes off syrupy. One of the most consistent rollers out here."HOT: The two-tone look of the tour-black finish and polished grooves puts it high in the running for most attractive mallet on our list.NOT: If the putt on 18 must drop, do you want to worry about an alignment notch?
TAYLORMADE MONZA SPIDER
STREET PRICE: $170WEBSITE: taylormadegolf.comTECH TALK: The combination of a large steel frame and a light aluminum core allows more weight to be pushed rearward. The purpose is a CG depth that is 40.5 millimeters back from the center of the face. Because the movable weight cartridges extend farther from the heel and toe, 60 percent of the head's total weight lies outside the center portion, as defined by the outskirts of the white alignment graphic. As a result, the MOI is 6,750.PLAYER COMMENTS: (T) "The adjustable weights really give you the chance to get it the way you want it."... (M) "Within six feet, it's deadly." ... (M) "A lot going on visually, but not too distracting. Loved the roll of the insert." ... (T) "Real easy to line up; the ball feels like part of the putter." ... (T) "Last year I was like 'whoa,' but now I like the look."HOT: One of last year's hottest-selling mallets. About 50,000 Americans can't be wrong.NOT: Full-court-press alignment graphics could upset the stomachs of some golfers.