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How a 9-year-old putter has taken the TOUR by storm

7 Min Read


How a 9-year-old putter has taken the TOUR by storm

Keegan Bradley, Rickie Fowler and Wyndham Clark enjoy success in 2023 with the Odyssey Versa Jailbird putter

    Escrito por GolfWRX

    In the words of PGA TOUR player Kramer Hickok: “Success tends to leave clues behind.”

    As such, the domino effect of the Odyssey Versa Jailbird putter is currently in full force on the PGA TOUR and on the market at large.

    Wyndham Clark (U.S. Open) and Keegan Bradley (Travelers Championship) both used the club to win over the past two weeks. The Jailbird also has played a key role in Rickie Fowler’s resurgence. All three players use an elongated SuperStroke grip on their club, as well.

    What’s going on here?

    To figure out the current trend and how we got here, let’s first look back in time at the putter’s inception.

    The Odyssey Versa Jailbird was originally sketched by putter designer Austie Rollinson in July 2012. It was released to the public in January 2014

    Rickie Fowler's Odyssey Versa Jailbird putter, equipped with a longer 17-inch SuperStroke grip and some 20 grams of lead tape. (GolfWRX)

    Rickie Fowler's Odyssey Versa Jailbird putter, equipped with a longer 17-inch SuperStroke grip and some 20 grams of lead tape. (GolfWRX)

    “In 2013, we launched Versa at the Sony Open and had three in play. Four weeks later at Pebble, we had 15 in play,” Callaway rep Johnny Thompson said in a recent story on Callaway’s “World of Wunder.” “That’s significant growth on the hardest TOUR in the world to get new product in play. Versa was different, and what made it different made it great. Nothing was easier to consistently align, and what was ‘slightly misaligned’ appeared massively misaligned and players noticed it immediately.”

    The unique shaping and colorway of the Versa Jailbird mallet – its black and white stripes are perpendicular to the intended target line -- certainly make the putter stand out, but it’s not just all about looks. The design uses two main technologies to induce better putting performance:

    First, the Jailbird is similar in shape to the famous dual-fanged No. 7 model from Odyssey, except a back bar connects the two rear points of the fangs in order to drive the center of gravity (CG) further away from the face. This raises moment of inertia (MOI), which makes the putter is more forgiving on off-center hits and adds stability to the stroke.

    Second, Versa technology uses black-and-white color contrast to accentuate the face angle at address and during the stroke. This helps with both alignment and stroke path. While the Versa Jailbird had a hot start on the PGA TOUR, in retrospect, it didn’t have much-staying power. The players -- and the retail market -- moved onto other designs and mallet shapes.

    “Keegan first started experimenting with his current style of putter in September of 2021,” Joe Toulon, Callaway tour manager, told “It’s a slightly longer putter (about 38.75 inches to the end of the grip), but he uses it in a similar fashion as Alex Noren and Billy Horschel. He goes left-hand low but has the fingers on his right hand in between his left forearm and grip. I think, originally, he was looking for something that gave him a similar feel to the Sabertooth belly putter he won a major (the 2011 PGA Championship) with. He ended up liking the Versa Jailbird head, and the contrasting black and white cues gave him better face angle awareness. Keegan has obviously had a lot of success with Odyssey mallets, and this is another example of that.”

    Bradley logged a win with the putter at the ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP at the beginning of this season, which broke a four-year winless drought.

    Keegan Bradley wins 2022 ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP

    The victory was surely a feather in the cap of the Odyssey Versa Jailbird, but it remained extinct as far as the putter market was concerned. At least in comparison to what was coming.

    In January of this year, just days prior to the start of The American Express, Fowler tried out his caddie Ricky Romano’s Odyssey Versa Jailbird putter, which was equipped with a 17-inch SuperStroke Tour 3.0 putter grip and 20-25 grams of lead tape added to the sole. Fowler took an immediate liking to the setup, and he requested an exact replica from Toulon.

    “I’ve been, over the last few years, not putting how I’m used to, or how I want to by any means,” Fowler told at The American Express. “Some of it, confidence-wise, not having the same feel I’ve always had. The right hand, not making confident strokes, and I wasn’t necessarily searching. I’ve been grinding and working on my normal stuff.

    “I was very shocked because I never really looked into anything that was longer, counterbalanced, or anything like that. … It’s very interesting, but it’s kind of freeing me up in a way. I’m not changing stroke-wise, or setup, not gripping anything differently than my normal length putter. I just feel like it’s, I don’t know, kind of helping me do some things, and I don’t have to think about it.”

    After years of testing and changing putters nearly weekly, Fowler put the putter in play that week, and it’s stayed in the bag ever since. To date, Fowler has recorded 10 top-15 finishes this year.

    During Fowler’s resurgence with the Odyssey Versa Jailbird putter, Fowler played a round with Clark at Medalist Golf Club in Florida. That sparked Clark’s interest in the putter, too.

    Wyndham Clark buries birdie putt from 45 feet at U.S. Open

    "We were playing at Medalist where he belongs in Florida, and I hadn't been putting good, and this was right before Bay Hill, and I played with Rickie, and he just made every single putt," Clark said. "Afterwards, we were practicing a little bit getting ready for it, and I hit a couple and I was like, ‘Oh, gosh, this is really nice.’ So I texted the Odyssey guy, and I said, ‘Hey, can you make me Rickie's putter?’ And he's like, ‘Well, what specs?’ I said, ‘The exact same.’ So literally had the exact same putter.”

    At this point, the Odyssey Versa Jailbird was officially out of extinction.

    Shortly thereafter, Clark reeled off his first two PGA TOUR victories at the Wells Fargo Championship and the U.S. Open. He is now fourth in the FedExCup and 11th in the world ranking.

    Just days after Clark’s 2023 U.S. Open, spotted five different PGA TOUR players testing out a version of Clark’s Odyssey Versa Jailbird putter with a counterbalanced SuperStroke grip to see if it had the same magic for them. The list of testers included Kramer Hickok, Jimmy Walker, Ryan Moore, Carl Yuan and Joel Dahmen.

    “Success certainly leaves clues behind,” said Hickok when asked if Clark’s win led to his putter testing session at the Travelers. “Wyndham’s a good buddy of mine, and after his win I had to bring it back out. It feels really stable in my hands throughout the stroke, … I’m not sure if it’s the grip or the head, though.”

    On Wednesday at the Travelers Championship, spoke with top PGA TOUR putting instructor Stephen Sweeney about the real-world benefits of the Odyssey Versa Jailbird for amateur golfers.

    “I think the biggest thing that people don’t understand with that putter is the Versa element to it; the black-white-black colorway,” Sweeney said. “So it helps with alignment at the very start. And then with the counterbalanced part of the putter and the Versa together, the way they work together, it almost swings itself once you get it started. It’s very easy to swing on the correct path. So, no, it’s not hype. It actually does have some technology in it that helps it perform better.”

    Then, as if the Odyssey Versa Jailbird wasn’t hot enough, Bradley won the Travelers Championship by three strokes using the putter.

    On Monday following the Travelers, Odyssey officially announced the release of limited-edition Odyssey Jailbird 380 putters to the market.

    And that’s the story of how the Odyssey Versa Jailbird went from extinction to a market re-release.

    The Jailbird is officially flying high.

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