The Odyssey Versa Jailbird putter has made a remarkable comeback, causing a ripple effect on the PGA TOUR and in the golf market. Players like Wyndham Clark, Keegan Bradley, and Rickie Fowler have achieved great success using this putter and its elongated SuperStroke grip. To understand this current trend, let's delve into the history of the putter.
Designed by Austie Rollinson in July 2012, the Odyssey Versa Jailbird putter was initially introduced to the public in January 2014. Its unique appearance, featuring black and white perpendicular stripes, made it instantly recognizable. However, its appeal extended beyond aesthetics. The putter incorporated two key technologies for enhanced performance.
Firstly, the Jailbird's shape resembled Odyssey's renowned dual-fanged No. 7 model, with a back bar connecting the rear points of the fangs. This design pushed the center of gravity (CG) farther from the face, resulting in a higher moment of inertia (MOI). The increased MOI made the putter more forgiving on off-center hits and provided greater stability during the stroke.
Secondly, the Versa technology employed black-and-white color contrast to accentuate the face angle at address and throughout the stroke. This feature enhanced alignment and stroke path. Although the Versa Jailbird gained initial popularity on the PGA TOUR, it eventually faded as players and the retail market explored different putter designs and shapes.
In 2021, Keegan Bradley revived the Versa Jailbird after working with putting coach Phil Kenyon. Bradley's experimentation with this slightly longer putter, measuring around 38.75 inches to the end of the grip, paid off as he found success with the head's contrasting cues and better face angle awareness. His victory at the ZOZO CHAMPIONSHIP in 2022 broke a four-year winless streak.
The putter market remained relatively indifferent to the Versa Jailbird until Rickie Fowler tried his caddie's Odyssey Versa Jailbird putter with a 17-inch SuperStroke Tour 3.0 grip and additional lead tape. Fowler immediately connected with the setup and requested an exact replica. Fowler's adoption of the putter coincided with a resurgence in his game, resulting in ten top-15 finishes so far this year.
During a round with Fowler, Wyndham Clark experienced the magic of the Odyssey Versa Jailbird and promptly requested his own identical version. This marked the official return of the putter from extinction. Clark went on to secure two PGA TOUR victories at the Wells Fargo Championship and the U.S. Open, currently ranking fourth in the FedExCup and 11th in the world.
Following Clark's success, several PGA TOUR players, including Kramer Hickok, Jimmy Walker, Ryan Moore, Carl Yuan, and Joel Dahmen, tested versions of the Odyssey Versa Jailbird putter with counterbalanced SuperStroke grips. The trend gained momentum, with amateur golfers also seeking the putter's benefits.
PGA TOUR putting instructor Stephen Sweeney highlighted the putter's alignment aid and counterbalanced design, explaining how they work together to promote a proper swing path. The Odyssey Versa Jailbird's performance lived up to the hype, leading to skyrocketing prices in the third-party putter market.
To add to the fervor, Keegan Bradley won the Travelers Championship using the Jailbird putter. Consequently, Odyssey announced the release of limited-edition Odyssey Jailbird 380 putters in response to the overwhelming demand.
Thus, the Odyssey Versa Jailbird putter has soared to new heights, captivating both professional players and avid golf enthusiasts alike.