Confession time. Embarrassing though it is to admit, I'm one of those sad sacks who keeps statistics of my golf. So instead of simply recording the number of shots taken on my scorecard, I also keep track of fairways hit, greens in regulation and, if I miss with my approach, whether the ball has gone short, long, left or right of the putting surface.
Most importantly, I keep track of the number of putts I make because nothing will bring the score down quicker than having a good day on the greens. I can therefore say, with absolute certainty, that 36 putts is my benchmark - more strokes than that is bad news, fewer is cause for optimism. I can also assert with a pretty fair degree of conviction that my average for this fledgling season so far is between 32-34 putts a round.
The first round I played with this Odyssey two-ball putter in my bag I had 27 putts. Count 'em and weep; that's 27. Admittedly it was a day when I was driving well (10 out of 14 fairways) but my approach radar was a bit off so I only hit two greens in regulation and was therefore chipping quite often from just off the green, and in those situations you would expect to get the ball fairly close and hole a reasonable percentage. But this pattern is not unusual for me.
Taking only 27 putts is.
But it doesn't end there. I didn't three-putt once and at least four efforts burned the hole without dropping, so the result could have been even better. When I walked off the 18th green (one-putt par as you ask) I felt as if I'd been set up on a blind date and arrived nervously at the restaurant only to find Jamie Lee Curtis waiting.
In short, this magic wand so far exceeded my expectations that I had to pinch myself quite a lot to make sure I wasn't dreaming.
Did I mention that I only took 27 putts?
Although the Odyssey two-ball has been one of the equipment sensations of recent years, ScottishGolf had stoutly resisted trying one for two reasons. First, everyone else was writing about them and we rather like to plough our own furrow. Second - and much more importantly if I'm honest - the putter is the most idiosyncratic club in the bag and, in our experience, the most difficult about which to make a detached, objective assessment. In addition, my putting is usually one of the strengths, or at least most consistent parts, of my game and I hate testing short sticks because it always takes a while to adjust and in the process your score is going to hell in a handcart.
Unless, that is, you only take 27 putts.
ScottishGolf's only previous first-hand experience with the Odyssey two-ball was on a press trip to Portugal about two-and-a-half years ago. A journalist friend, never renowned as a master on the short grass had one in his bag and seemed to be holing out from everywhere. He swore blind the putter was the next best thing to cheating so I tried it out on the practice green and was impressed. But still we didn't ask Callaway to test one because, what if we really (and I mean really) liked it and they demanded it back?
However, in the intervening 30 months we noticed more and players, both amateurs and Tour pros, carrying a two-ball putter and all of them seemed to wax lyrical about its abilities so eventually we gave in and decided to try it for ourselves.
The result was 27 putts.
Okay, the next time out I took 31 strokes on the green - still better than my average, you will note and this, on one of those days when I just couldn't see the line, and was constantly allowing for borrows that weren't there. My two subsequent rounds were 29 and 31 putts respectively, giving me an average with the Odyssey of around 29 putts a round. Compared to what I had been taking (assuming a mean of 33 putts a round), over 72 holes I have improved by 16 strokes.
Granted, a new putter often brings promising results the first few times out of the box, and perhaps I simply had a couple of rounds where I was stroking the ball consistently and would have scored well anyway, but an improvement of four shots over 18 holes is a heck of a return for any new bit of kit.
Especially when it means you can take only 27 putts.
The model we tested - the DFX two-ball blade - is one of many variations and frankly, if you can't get the specifications to suit you, we can only assume you're a physical freak.
Do I love this club?
Is Phil Mickelson a southpaw?
Will Odyssey ever get it back from me?
Only by prizing it from my cold, dead fingers.
The Odyssey two-ball we tested has a RRP of £139.
Martin Vousden, 10 handicap.
|| 4 - MAY 2004