Odyssey Golf now makes two of its standard-length models available as an
Odyssey belly putter. But Odyssey isn't the only putter manufacturer
branching out into belly-length putters - for example, TaylorMade is now
making belly versions of its popular Corza Ghost and Spider Ghost
models. PING and others are doing it too.
In a separate article on this site, I talk about how belly putters have become the newest sensation on the PGA Tour, and how they are also being used by many players on the LPGA and Champions Tours. Basically, belly putters in general seem to be the hottest thing going right now. And after we all watched Keegan Bradley use an Odyssey belly putter to win the 2011 PGA Championship (the first time a major has been won with a belly putter), it seems like everyone wants one of their own.
The sudden popularity of these putters might be based in part on Bradley's win with his White Hot XG Sabertooth Odyssey belly putter, but Phil Mickelson used a similar Odyssey putter through much of the 2011 FedEX Cup playoffs, beginning with the Deutsche Bank Championship. And they're not the only pros using one of Odyssey's belly putters. Being played in (and winning some) high-profile, televised events has given these putters a ton of publicity, and their popularity is surging with professionals and recreational golfers alike.
Odyssey seems to be using the belly putter's surge in popularity after Bradley's PGA Championship as a catapult to introduce new models to the public. Until recently, the only model being sold was the White Ice 2-Ball Odyssey belly putter. For a while now, the White Ice 2-Ball model has been available in standard lengths (e.g., 33-, 34- and 35-inch), a 43-inch mid/belly length, and the 48- and 50-inch lengths that are suitable for "chest putters."
Now, however, Odyssey has released belly and even longer versions of its popular White Ice D.A.R.T. putter. Odyssey's principal designer says the success of belly putters on the PGA Tour has led to heightened interest in amateurs, and the company is moving quickly to make more of its putters available in mid/belly versions.
The White Ice D.A.R.T. Odyssey belly putter is the first of these new versions to be launched, but I'm betting it's not the last. Belly putters are scorching hot right now, and Odyssey will almost certainly try to capitalize on people's interest. According to Odyssey, 2011's rash of tour wins with belly putters has created not only curiosity about their usefulness, but also questions about their future legality. Odyssey believes this curiosity about belly putters (and, I might add, the controversy about their future legality) is translating into sales.
I could be wrong, but from what I can tell, the heads of the two Odyssey belly putters currently being sold - the White Ice 2-Ball and the White Ice D.A.R.T. belly putters - are identical to the heads used on the standard-length versions. To me, it looks like the only differences between these bellies and the standard-length models are the length of the shaft, the grip and (probably) the weighting and balance.
In 2011, six different players won PGA Tour events with belly or longer putters (Bradley won twice with his Odyssey belly putter). With that many wins in one year, it seems like there must be something to them.
If you're shopping for an Odyssey belly putter, keep in mind that a standard-length putter will give you better feel but less stability in the putting stroke. A belly putter provides greater stability but less feel, so there's definitely a trade-off. You also need to find the right shaft length - you don't want to be standing too tall or too hunched-over at address. Finally, most players who use belly putters (including most pros) place the ball in the center of their stance rather than toward their front foot, the way most people do with conventional-length putters.
Buying a putter - whether it's a belly putter, a chest putter or a traditional length - is a very personal, subjective decision. There's nothing "standard" about putting, and if you put ten golfers on a green together you'd probably see ten different techniques. When it comes to belly putters, some people love ‘em, but others hate ‘em and think they should be banned. I tend to be a purist but I haven't made up my mind about how I feel. I just keep thinking all those wins in 2011 must mean something.