The question that I have is in regards to the new Odyssey Backstryke putter. According to company claims, it is said to improve your alignment due to the fact that the shaft is near the rear of the putter head as opposed to the front so that it does not interfere with your sight line. Also, it automatically sets your hands in a forward press position. What are the pros and cons of that? Finally, many of us are familiar with face balanced and heel toe balanced putter but with this new putter I heard the term 'stroke balanced.' Could you please elaborate on that because I have never heard of that.
With reference to the Backstryke putter design you refer to, let me explain that it is not a new concept just a rehashed one with a little more pizzazz. This is what competition and driving for more market share does to our game. We need to bring out something new every year or, where there is little room for new, we delve into the archives to find something that was rejected more for style than performance, polish it up and hope that golfers don’t remember what it looked like before.
This particular putter is designed to have the shaft axis go through the center of gravity of the head. The hosel section (lower several inches) of the shaft is bent and attached to the back of the head. This allows the view of the face and a portion of the head to be unimpeded. This is the case with many other putters without this shaft configuration.
If the shaft angle is set forward – as it appears to be – this will increase the loft angle if you address the ball in the normal and suggested putter set up position. If you address the ball with the shaft forward this will give you a forward press starting position, whether you like it or not. If you like to use a forward press as a trigger, then you would have to move your hands forward even more – which may not be desirable as your hands may get too far ahead of the putter head.
Because the shaft axis extension goes through the center of gravity of the head it is neither face-balanced nor toe-down, in fact the head has a neutral or no specific balance. This is like a baseball on the end of a rod. This allows the face to point in any direction you desire. You have stated that the manufacturer has called this “stroke balanced” which is not a bad name if you are looking for one.
This stroke balancing doesn’t promote any type of preferred face orientation coming into impact as for example, face balancing does.
Eddie, the bottom line is that if it works – and this may do wonderful things for you – or you think you just want something different, then have fun with it until the next change is made. I believe that refining a concept that works is progress but change for the sake of change may not be in your best interests. I say this unless you rely on the placebo effect – lasting for as long as the price tag stays on the shaft – to propel you forward for short spurts of time and from which you get your jollies.Hope this has helped.
Frank Thomas, inventor of the graphite shaft, is founder of Frankly Golf. Thomas is chief technical advisor to GolfChannel.com. He served as technical director of the USGA for 26 years and directed the development of the GHIN system and introduced the Stimpmeter. To email a question for possible use in an upcoming Let's Be Frank column, please email firstname.lastname@example.org