The Empire Backstrykes--Part I The 2-Ball
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Time was when Odyssey was a little rebel of a company that made fairly revolutionary putters. The designs themselves were just a touch left of conservative, but they didn't mind stepping way out on the far side of reality and betting the house on face inserts. Their original face insert was a good one. It was black, and though a touch "Thuddy" feeling, it left no doubt in the hands that wielded it, that one definitely held the power to go after a 50+ foot lag putt if necessary. In fact, before this last Odysset Mini-T I purchased this year, I hadn't owned an Odyssey since the days of the old Brass Version Dual Rossi with that original thuddy insert.In their younger independent days, they ended up fighting several product wars with other more established companies, such as Styx, who were already seen as THE FACE INSERT COMPANY. History proved that Odyssey, with better basic design concepts, and better, more consistent insert quality, would emerge the leader in this part of the industry.
From there, Odyssey went on to design the ubiquitous 2-Ball Putter, and soon after that, the rest was history. During a huge spate of acquisitions and mergers in the industry--Callaway found itself in desperate need of a good putter design that would set them apart from the rest of the industry. Though it has been a marriage made in heaven for those two, it has, until recently, not been so great for the consumer, as it has led to a sense of complacency in the newly formed Odyssey Division of Callaway. They were no longer a rebel company, but now part of a huge corporate empire. Sadly, their designs began to reflect this new corporate culture.
None of the designs were too bad, it's just that they lacked that certain je ne sais quois they once posessed. One of the first designs out of the gate was a rather large and clumsy thing dubbed--how's this for imagination---The 3-Ball. Same basic design, only enlarged to gargantuan proportions in order to allow for a 3-ball alignment system. Well--you get the picture......if 2-Balls are good--3-Balls just has to be better. (I'm certainly glad our maker never felt that way.---That could be all kinds of clumsy in the worst way.) So after a while, it became fairly obvious that they probably needed a little fresh blood to help them overcome their newer more timid design philosophies. Time to tap the design concepts of one of the few remaining rebels---Tour Edge Golf.
Part II-- The Original Backstryke Putter/ T-Balance
8 years before Callaway/Odyssey came running out at the PGA Merchandise Show in 2010, raving about their new product that sports, "A Hi-Def Alignment System, Forward Press Stabilization, and Stroke Balancing Shaft" Tour Edge Golf, the same folks who brought you the super high tech "Exotics" line of clubs, had already perfected The Stroke Balancing Shaft, and Forward Press Stabilization with a putter dubbed--"T-Balance." In fact, if you'll do a little research and put a "T-Balance" side by side with a "Backstryke Blade" model, you'll realize that the similarity between these two putters is asolutely striking.That's not necesarily bad, as the Backstryke Blade/Tour Edge T-Balance and The Backstryke Marxman/Tour Edge Bazooka Automatic are amazing putters. Unfortunately, the "Stroke Balance In Line Axis Shaft" does not translate well to The 2-Ball.
This is one of those sad cases where you think you have a no miss/win win combo coming out of the gate, but somehow something just doesn't jibe. The 2 Ball was definitely one of Odyssey's best putters . Even though it has never worked for me, it has certainly worked for hundreds of thousands of others. It is as Iconic a putter as The Titleist Bullseye or The Ping Anser. The T-Balance, though able to achieve cult status, was deserving of much more than that. Problem was, Tour Edge spends less money on marketing than just about anybody out there. Even though they were founded and funded by a golf pro, they still don't pay anyone to use their sticks. The T-Balance was a revolution that never took place. Later on, hoping to gain more traction from a concept they knew to be a winner, they built the Bazooka Mallet Automatic, sporting the same "In Line Axis Shaft.?"
I believe the problem with this concept, and the 2-Ball is that the basic philosophies of each design are mutually exclusive. I have tried almost all the 2-Balls. 2-Ball Original, 2-Ball Plumber's Neck, 2-Ball Center Shaft, and my favourite, 2-Ball Saturn Ring w/steel insert within polymer insert technology. The 2-ball always feels much better balanced as a club with an offset heel shaft. I believe that was the best balance point for the shaft, and my hands, and personal results over many years continue to reinforce that conclusion. Not to mention, that is the design that made it what it is, and the one that continuously shows up on tour. Just today I was trying both the Backstryke for the 4th time, and Center shaft for G*D only knows how many times, and in all honesty, I kept going back to the original design w/the offset heel shaft.
Distance control is okay with this design, but talk about heading for the hole "with a hop, skip, and a jump." Definitely unsettling to me. The forward press, something I am more than familiar with, as at one time I was hooding all my clubs , save for the driver and fairway metals, in order to increase both distance and backspin, just doesn't seem to sit right with a club which rode the wave of success based on it's easy alignment and follow through at normal address. It's simply one of those great duets where the chemistry just isn't there. Don't let that stop you from trying it--BUT---I give much higher marks to the Backstryke Blade and The Backstryke Divine Line Marxman Mallet. Both of them stay much truer to the original Tour Edge designs from which they were spawned. If you want to get a 2-Ball--get the original. If you need an exceptioanlly well balanced blade--Check out The Backstryke Blade. If you need an exceptionally well balanced mallet--try The Divine Line Marxman. Otherwise you'll end up paying top dollar for a 2-Ball that doesn't perform like a 2-Ball, and more like a very overpriced Tour Edge T-Balance Wannabe.