When Odyssey’s Luke Williams told me that the company's next putter release was going to be the Odyssey Red Ball, I totally expected it to be the retail version of Daniel Berger’s red one-ball 2-Ball putter. Opening the box, I quickly realized that I was way off.
I had the mallet part right, but the new Red Ball Scope alignment system was a shocker. Instead of one large white ball on the top of the putter, I was greeted by a smaller shiny red one.
What has the trio of Williams, Rollinson, and Toulon come up with this time?
Red Ball Alignment Scope
The Odyssey Red Ball features some elements that you will likely find immediately familiar. You’ve got the high-contrast color scheme that first debuted with the Versa line and the White Hot RX insert, both of which are classic Odyssey putter elements.
But that red ball is something different.
The purpose of the Red Ball system is to provide the golfer with a tool that will ensure that he or she is “properly positioned over the ball” at address. The concept is pretty simple. Line up such that the shiny red ball is centered in the scope ring and you should find yourself in the proper position over the putter, and with the Versa alignment lines aimed at the target, you should be all set to make the putt.
Now some of you have already started typing in the comment box to let all of us know that this type of an alignment system has already been included with other putters. You are correct. Off the top of my head, I came up with Wilson’s Vizor putters, Cameron’s Red X, and, of course, SeeMore’s Rifle Scope technology. In all of these cases, the golfer positions the putter in such a way to hide the dots/line behind the shaft, or line up a line in the cavity to make sure that the putter is positioned correctly.
The thing is though that outside of Zach Johnson, these other alignment schemes never really took off. Could the Red Ball finally be the version that is embraced by the golfing public?
One difference between the Red Ball system and its predecessors is that the ball and ring system allows you to align the head in 360°. Previous similar systems promoted adjustment in either the left/right or the up/down directions. With the Red Ball, you can make sure that the ball is completely centered, and in doing so, you are now in alignment with the putter in terms of both loft and lie. If you are aimed correctly, and you hit it with proper pace, you should be in good position to make the putt.
The technology isn't foolproof. You can center the ball (or hide the line, or whatever), and still be out of a proper putting stance. For example, let’s say that you are standing way back on your heels. When you look at the Red Ball, it will be sitting low in the circle. Ideally, you would adjust your stance, and that would center the ball. The issue is that you could also center that ball by staying on your heels and dropping your hands. Now the ball is centered, but the toe of the putter is up.
You're not exactly in the ideal position, but the Red Ball is telling you that your position is correct. This is the issue with these types of alignment systems. It’s very easy to manipulate your hands to hide the line or center the ball, when in fact you are in a misaligned putting position.
That criticism aside, the 360° nature of the Red Ball alignment system is an improvement over its predecessors, can be confidence-infusing if you know that you are truly positioned correctly. After a few rounds with the Red Ball, I began to appreciate the simple putting routine that the Red Ball provides.
Read the putt, aim the Versa lines at the target, make sure your stance is correct, check that the ball is centered, and fire the putt.
One other play feature worth noting is that if you are currently rolling one of the Odyssey putters with a Microhinge face, the White Hot RX insert will feel very soft. You can feel the difference between the White Hot Microhinge and the White Hot RX inserts. I’m not going to say that one insert is better than the other, but I definitely prefer the firmer feel of the White Hot Microhinge.
Red Balls Hit the Playground Today
The face-balanced Odyssey Red Ball mallet hits a shop near you on July 20th ($179.99). I’m curious to hear your thoughts on the Red Ball alignment system. Do you think that Odyssey has perfected the integrated body position system, or will the Red Ball ultimately deflate like the others?
If the Red Ball proves a hit, I can see Odyssey adding the Red Ball alignment system to other putter models. The Red Ball would integrate nicely into the #7, or even the #1 wide body. Maybe that’s already in the works. Remember that last summer, Odyssey released a few red and black O-Works slant neck putters, and then followed that up with a major red and black release the following January.
If that pattern repeats, then six months from now Red Balls will be strewn all over the playground...
For more information, visit the Callaway Golf Website.