Is Odyssey Red Ball the game's first "super game-improvement" putter?

July 10, 2018

The Odyssey Red Ball putter might look like another mallet putter from a company known for its unique, forgiving shapes, but according to Sean Toulon, Odyssey general manager and senior vice president at Callaway Golf, the Red Ball might just be another thing entirely.

“I’m not sure we exactly know where it goes or how big it could be, but we think it satisfies a definite need in the marketplace,” he said. “I guess there’s never really been a super game improvement putter that’s come to the marketplace, but that’s kind of what this is.”

The Red Ball is Odyssey’s first overt, multi-level aim-and-alignment aiding putter model. It continues a trend in putters that includes entries over the years from Tommy Armour, TaylorMade, and more recently from Seemore, Rife, Cleveland and Evnroll. Odyssey’s Red Ball makes use of multiple technologies, but its most noticeable is a tiny hoop and red ball that help a player visualize that the putter is properly soled and aimed and that he’s got his eyes in the ideal position. At address, the player knows he’s in the right setup when the red ball is visible within the small metal ring on the top of the mallet.

In addition, the Red Ball can diagnose problems with your setup when the ball is not centered in the ring. For example, if the ball is slightly forward of the ring (toward the clubface), your eyes are likely too far forward. If the ball is visible toward the heel, then your eyes are likely too far inside the line at address.

Getting aim-and-alignment right is not an insignificant exercise, nor is it without substantial benefits, said Odyssey chief designer Austie Rollinson.

“We’ve seen just with the testing that we’ve done in house that players could be as much as 10 degrees off on lie angle, and those are decent golfers,” he said. “We see a lot with the toe up in the air. If you’re 10 degrees off on lie angle, that can be a degree to a degree and a half pointing the wrong way.

“On a 10-foot putt that’s the difference between a miss and a make.”

Rollinson also noticed that players using the Red Ball were more consistent with their setup position. Company testing showed that 68 percent of the testers were brought closer to the nominal lie angle of the putter, while lie angle setup was 17 percent more consistent.

Odyssey consulted with noted teachers Phil Kenyon, Mike Shannon and Hank Haney in developing the Red Ball alignment technology.

The Red Ball also uses the company’s black-and-white shaded regions known as Versa to assist in alignment. No mere training gadget, though, the Red Ball benefits from high stability on off-center hits (the MOI is over 5,000 grams-centimeters squared) through moving weight from the center to the perimeter. It is a face-balanced design aimed at strokes that work straight back and straight through. The face is a slightly firmer version of the company’s White Hot RX polymer insert.

The Odyssey Red Ball will be available at retail July 20 ($180).