TPP REVIEW: Odyssey ProType Tour 2-Ball

How Many Of You Have Bagged a 2-Ball?

As a relatively new golfer, I missed the introduction of the Odyssey 2-Ball putter to the golf marketplace in 2002.  Although I didn’t experience it first hand, I still view the 2-Ball introduction as a big deal.  Golfers like to argue about the innovations, or lack there of, in the putter marketplace.  Who copied who, whose version is better, who has made a career by rehashing old designs, and so on.  Then comes the 2-Ball.  That first Odyssey White Hot 2-Ball just rolls into the golf shops and says “BAM!  Take a look at my two balls innovative design!”  It racks up wins on tour and quickly becomes a huge seller.  I think that the alignment concept is the big selling point, especially for the casual golfer.  Just line up the two balls on the putter with the ball and fire away at the hole.  The original design concept of the 2-Ball (and 3-Ball) putter should, of course, be credited to Dave Pelz and his ultimately non-conforming version of the putter in the 80’s.  Without a doubt though, it was the Odyssey version of Pelz’s idea that has prospered in the golfing world for a decade.  Did you notice that Padraig Harrington was using a 2-Ball Blade at the Masters last week?

I have actually owned three 2-Ball putters prior to testing out the ProType Tour version.  My introduction to 2-Ball land was a center-shafted DFX 2-Ball.  This was the first mallet putter that I invested practice and play time into.  While I liked the putter, the insert just felt a bit too soft to me, especially when playing with a soft tour ball.  I had a White Hot XG 2-Ball blade for about a week.  We did not communicate well.  My third 2-Ball was the Black i 2-Ball that was released in 2009.  I loved the styling of this putter and the weight was perfect.  But again, the insert just didn’t feel quite right.  At this point, my putter preference was milled carbon steel faces.  Too bad they didn’t make a milled version of the 2-Ball.  Last year’s Black Tour Design taunted me a bit with the release of the milled 2-Ball blade, but that one is just not a true 2-Ball to me.

When the photos of the 2012 Odyssey ProType Tour line first hit the web, I saw the putter that I had been hoping for, a classic 2-Ball with a fully milled, insert-free face.  I swear that I stared at the photo on my monitor and mumbled “Oh yes, you will be mine” like some kind of comic book villain.  Milled, carbon-faced 2-Ball.  Awesome!

Aesthetics

Not a lot of middle ground for 2-Ball aesthetics for most golfers.  Seems like the people who I talk to either love or hate the design.  Whatever end of the spectrum though, everyone that I talked to has an opinion about it.  No “kind of” responses.  Let’s take a look at some of the design features of this incarnation of the 2-Ball.

Shape:  Perhaps a true 2-Ball scholar can pick up the subtle variations in shape through the lineage of the 2-Balls.  My response to the ProType Tour 2-Ball is much simpler:  It looks like a 2-Ball is supposed to look.  For me, the counter point to this would be the 2-Ball blade.  The whole shape complements the alignment balls rather than taking away from it like in the blade version or the F7 (2-Ball+Sabertooth+Fang construct).

Finish:  Rich, but non-distracting.  I think that the satin finish gives the putter a bit of visual appeal without producing unplayable glare on the green.  Time will tell how it wears, but so far it looks like it has some longevity in the finish.  Early on, I thought there was going to be a black finished version of the ProType Tours as well, but so far those have not come to market as of yet.

Milling:  Tight and precise.  There is pretty significant depth to the face milling as well, though not silly, deep-for-deep’s-sake milling.

Color Options:  The whole ProType Tour line comes with the option of color customization in the grip and paintfill.  The grips are Lamkin 3Gens.  The orange grip on this putter looks and feels great.  Excellent choice of grip company.  Paintfill can also be changed at various points on the head.  On this 2-Ball, the Odyssey symbol on the face was painted orange, along with the ProType logo on the sole.  These color customization options may be minor compared to the small putter making shops offer, but I can definitely say that adding my personal touch of orange to this putter makes if feel more like my putter.

 

On the Course

I love the feel of the insert-free 2-Ball on the course.  This putter has great tone at impact, the balance through the swing is excellent, and the ball just wants to get rolling after you hit it.  The feel is soft as one would expect from deep milled carbon steel, but definitely not soggy-soft.  One of the things that I noticed right away with this version of the 2-Ball as compared to the others was that I was leaving far fewer balls short of the hole.  The responsiveness of this 2-Ball is far more in sync with my mental picture of my swing/perceived distance than any previous version.  Your experience may vary, of course.  I bet that you will find the face a little hotter than your insert-possessing 2-Ball.  Not exploding off the face hot, just a little hotter.

I think that the make-or-break quality that determines if a golfer will game a 2-Ball is not the face construction, but rather the 2-Ball alignment system.  Obviously, some players will swear by the system while others feel that the balls hurt rather than help.  I am not sure what camp I belong in.  When I really focused on using the balls to line up the putt, my “make” percentage seemed to drop off a bit.  However, when I focused more on the face of the putter as the primary aiming device, with the balls being used almost peripherally, my makes seemed to go up.  Perhaps some of this comes from that mythical putting component: confidence.  2-Ball aiming is still a relatively new art for me, but the concept of aligning the two balls on the putter with the ball and target line makes nothing but sense.  As I continue to game the 2-Ball, the aiming will likely improve.  I am very confident that I can hit the putt to the correct distance with this putter and I think that fact is a major motivator for becoming more comfortable with the 2-Ball aiming process.

Summary

While the Black Tour Design 2-Ball blade could be called Odyssey’s first milled 2-Ball putter, the ProType 2-Ball is the first insert-free 2-Ball that has the classical 2-Ball shape.  If you have experimented with the 2-Ball in the past, you should pick up a ProType Tour and see if the milled carbon construction makes the difference for you.  I welcome the 2-Ball to the milled putter club.  If I can get a bit more comfortable with the aiming system, this putter will definitely be getting bag time this season.

 

Find out more about the Odyssey ProType Tour 2-Ball and the other ProType Tour Models at the Odyssey website HERE