Those watching the Ryder Cup likely noticed something different about Phil Mickelson's Odyssey Versa #9 putter during the biennial matches. Instead of sticking with the standard White Hot insert, Mickelson opted for something completely different featuring tiny micro dots that ran the length of the face.
In the past, Mickelson has tinkered with the insert in his putter to get the optimal feel and roll on the greens. Hoping to find a fit for Hazeltine National's putting surfaces, Mickelson selected a microhinge insert that was designed specifically for Odyssey's new O-Works putter line that was introduced for the first time on Monday.
As opposed to creating the insert using a single piece of urethane — a practice the company has executed in the past — designers co-molded the insert using a 304 stainless steel hinge plate that's interconnected with a thermoplastic elastomer insert body to give it a hardness and sound that's comparable to White Hot.
"The first prototypes we made, they worked really well but the feel wasn't there," said Odyssey's principal designer Austie Rollinson. "The feel was too soft. We had to firm up the material to get the feel that the players wanted while not degrading any of the spin. There's a limit that you hit, in terms of the firmness of that material, where the hinges don't start to work. We found a great balance."
While sound and feel are absolutely critical at the professional level, the microhinge insert plays an important roll in performance. Similar to White Hot RX and Fusion RX, the 304 stainless steel hinge plate creates enough friction to grab the ball at impact, lifting it up off the ground with enough topspin to produce a true, consistent roll, regardless of the attack angle.
Along with lifting the ball off the ground, the insert was also found to have a putter head speed to ball speed that was identical to White Hot (1.66) and slightly faster than White Hot RX and Fusion RX.
While putter head speed to ball speed might seem like a curious number to highlight, Rollinson noted that creating a faster forward roll leads to better distance control. This is achieved when the insert can produce a consistent launch after impact with the proper amount of top spin, thus reducing and controlling the amount of skid in the putt.
The high contrast Versa alignment technology was also updated to include a new red highlight line that gives the golfer an additional sight aid during address. It's similar to the vertical and perpendicular lines that have been added in the past to the #9 head.
Each putter in the line comes with two 15-gram adjustable weights in the heel and toe of the sole that help dial-in head weight.
There are seven head shapes in the O-Works line (#1, #1 Wide, #2, 2-Ball, #7, #9 and R-Line). The #1 and #7 heads are offered in a Tank version as well that offers more stability at impact through a counterbalance weight system. The heavier head and grip quiet the hands and engage the core muscles to promote a more consistent stroke.
Odyssey's O-Works putters retail for $229 and will be available Feb. 17. The standard grips offered are Superstroke's Slim 2.0 (with Counter Core Technology), Pistol GT Tour (with Counter Core Technology) and Tank.