Why are Odyssey's Stroke Lab putters so popular?

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Francesco Molinari is the latest star to win with an Odyssey Stroke Lab putter in the bag, but why are they so popular?

Putters never grab the headlines quite like drivers, but Odyssey has been making some big news on Tour this year, with more and more pros putting the putters in the bag – especially the new Stroke Lab range.

Lots of us look to the Tour for validation when it comes to choosing new gear. If it works for the world’s top players, it must work for us, right?

Odyssey’s new Stroke Lab putters have gone down a storm on Tour, with over 50% of the field in the recent Desert Swing using an Odyssey Putter – making it the No.1 putter brand in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Saudi Arabia. It’s also found its way into the bag of Callaway’s latest recruit, Francesco Molinari – who claimed he’s had the “best putting performance round of my career” en-route to winning the Arnold Palmer Invitational with a Sunday 64 for his second PGA Tour victory.

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Francesco says that he likes how the Stroke Lab shaft helps him make a smooth, consistent stroke. At Bay Hill he was fourth in the field in Strokes Gained Putting and was a remarkable +3.174 in Strokes Gained Putting on Sunday.

He added: “When you're making putts and you’re controlling your speed, that's all you want to see. The Stroke Lab Shaft has been really great for me. It’s really stable throughout the putting stroke and that’s helped me a lot.”

So what is Stroke Lab? The putting gurus at Odyssey took on a mission to prove that modern putter swingweights were out of whack – and costing golfers consistency on the green. They discovered the overall weight of an average putter has gone up from around 470g in the mid-1970s to 530g today, and much of that weight is now contained in the head, which itself has gone up from around 260g to 360g. Odyssey says it creates an imbalance between the head and your hands, which leads to inconsistency. 

“In 1975 the swingweight of a putter might have been down in the mid-C range and now it’s up in the F-range,” says Dr Alan Hocknell, who’s in charge of R&D at Callaway/Odyssey. “A much greater proportion of the weight is near the head than it was in the past, and it’s a heavier overall putter.

“So our question was: Is that a good thing, or a problem, because more mass further from your hands takes away your innate feel for the putter itself, because it’s more out of balance. There’s also been a big change in the stiffness of putter shafts over time. So we asked: ‘Have putter shafts been ignored because they’re cheap versions of iron shafts? We put all these pieces together, did a bunch of prototyping to test the theories about swingweight and stiffness, and the result is Stroke Lab.’

Typically, a putter shaft weighs 110g. But the carbon-fibre/steel shaft in the Stroke Lab weighs just 70g, giving designers 40g of discretionary weight to move around to improve its overall balance.

They moved 30g under the grip and 10g into the head, and the result, according to Odyssey’s Chief Designer Austie Rollinson “gives you more control without making the overall putter heavy and unruly.”

“The shaft is a little stiffer, too,” added Rollinson. “Over the years putter head weights have gone up and up and up, and that’s caused the shaft to get a little weaker during the stroke. Stiffening the shaft gives the club more stability and more control gives you more consistency.”

According to Odyssey’s research, Stroke Lab putters will give you 20-25% more consistency in the tempo of your stroke, the head speed and face angle at impact.

Hocknell added: “Consistency tests between a standard putter and Stroke Lab on a 10-foot putt showed the clubhead’s position at the end of the backswing was more consistent, as was clubhead speed at impact, tempo and the face angle at the end of the backswing and at impact. All the metrics show a consistency improvement through the design of this putter, specifically the lighter shaft.”

Sarah Pyett