I’ve been gaming the same putter for nearly two decades. I bought it from an older man at the Scally’s Golf Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, when I was in high school. That putter was released in 2001. These days there aren’t many of them out there, which means one in good condition can fetch a couple hundred bucks on the secondary market—but mine has served me so well that I never thought about selling it. I even avoided getting it restored, because I couldn’t imagine parting with it for four to six weeks.
And then the folks over at Odyssey tipped me off that they’d be releasing a new suite of putters in November, and I got my hands on the latest iteration of their most straightforward blade model, the #1. I decided I was going to give myself a chance for the first time in two decades to switch. It’s changed everything.
Odyssey’s suite of Ai-ONE putters continue to use Callaway’s artificial intelligence to optimize the club’s balance and forgiveness on off-center putts. In simpler terms, the algorithm is here for you—making sure you don’t lose ball speed on putts you don’t strike perfectly, minimizing the amount of birdie (or worse, par) putts you leave short, or push/yank off center.
The first difference I noticed between my early aughts beauty (also a blade, by the way) and Odyssey’s new #1 is the balance I felt holding it in my hands, before I ever took it to the course. The grip is a bit thicker than the old-school one I’m used to; these thicker grips do a lot for your stroke balance and swing weight, a cheat code for many, and I’ve always been averse. But feeling the balance it provided even without putting a ball was enough to intrigue me. Also, sooner or later, I needed to admit that if Jon Rahm’s using it, I should, too.
The other tech feature worth noting is the brand’s patented Panlite window that offers a peek into all of the hard work on the back of the clubface. It’s a literal act of transparency from Odyssey that I’m sure all the YouTube guys who take apart clubs appreciate.
When I finally got my Ai-ONE out on the course, I was pleased. In four rounds with it, I shot the exact same score, which is right around my handicap. Granted, I recently moved to a more golf-leaning locale where I can play year-round, so my game is trending upward, but I also didn’t have one three-putt throughout those rounds, either. I found the Ai-ONE, for all its bells and whistles, extremely easy to get used to, despite gaming something from two decades ago up to this point. The ball is soft off the face, a big change from a primitive putter that gives you tons of feedback in comparison. But that’s the sacrifice you make for forgiveness—my putts less often wound up short of the hole, so even when I missed, I felt a little better about giving it a chance.
We wouldn’t be here at all if the Ai-ONE didn’t look sleek—as high-performing as a club can be, I’m not interested in having it in my bag if it looks corny. Odyssey finished this one in a navy PVD finish so deep it’s nearly black, so it’s less Darth Vader and more Tron, which, good! The leather headcover looks like a space helmet. My favorite movie is Interstellar. Enough said.
So, did I switch? Well, sort of. Golf sickos will remember when Phil Mickleson used two drivers at Memorial. I don’t think anyone would say carrying two putters in your bag is a good idea—but I’m going to try it for a couple of rounds. The Ai-ONE won its first battle, and it’s got a spot on the front lines of what’s next. I like its chances.
Odessy Ai-ONE Putter
Odessy Ai-ONE Putter
Ben Boskovich is a contributing editor to Esquire, and writes about style and golf. He previously served as Esquire’s Deputy Editor, and the site’s Managing Editor. Prior to joining Hearst Digital Media, he was the Social Media Editor at Entertainment Weekly.