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Odyssey 2012: Interview with Austie Rollinson
When Keegan Bradley raised his arms to celebrate his first major championship victory at the 2011 PGA Championship in August, he reached higher than any major champion had ever before — literally.
Along with his arms, Bradley also raised his 46.75-inch Odyssey White Hot XG Sabertooth putter, making him look more like Patrick Ewing than his aunt, Pat Bradley. It was a life changing moment for the 25-year-old PGA Tour rookie, but possibly even a bigger moment for the putter industry.
Bradley’s win was the fuel for the vast long putter migration that has occurred during the final months of the 2011 season, a trend that has carried over to the retail side as well. Since Bradley’s win, Odyssey has seen a 400 percent increase in demand for long putters from consumers, which has caused the company to fast track release of the retail version of the White Hot XG Sabertooth belly putter. But there’s much more to building successful line of long putters than shoving an extra-long shaft in a putterhead, according to Odyssey Principal Designer Austie Rollinson.
Because of the extra weight necessary for a long putterhead, most companies including Odyssey have opted to use mallet-styled putterheads that better accommodate the added bulk. But there’s another reason for the use of mallet-styled heads in long putters.
“When players use a belly or long putter, they tend to stand more upright,” Rollinson said. “They’re farther away from the ball, so they need to have a bigger head looking down. Some of our bigger mallets, including the new D.A.R.T. we just came out with – they lend themselves better to long and belly putters.”
There are many different ways to add extra weight to a putter. Both TaylorMade and Titleist have introduced putters with removable weights that allow a player to fine tune the weight of a putter to their liking. Another approach is to increase the size of the putterhead, as a way to keep the putter’s proportions in check when the extra weight is added. But Rollinson and his crew came up with a different approach for the White Hot XG Sabertooth, one that allowed them to keep the popular dimensions of the standard-length putter, but also add the necessary weight needed to balance its longer length.
Instead of casting the White Hot XG Sabertooth belly putters from stainless steel, Odyssey cast them out of a denser material called tunnite. For that reason, the putter Bradley used to win the PGA Championship had the exact same dimensions as the standard-length White Hot XG Sabertooth, but a heavier head weight because of the tunnite casting.
Odyssey will release the White Hot XG Sabertooth belly putter Nov. 18. It will be available in a 43-inch length, and feature the same tunnite construction Bradley uses in his putter.
ProType Tour Series Putters
While a lot of Odyssey’s focus has been on its long putter offerings, the company has also been hard at work with its new standard-length putter line, the ProType Tour Series.
The ProTypes are a departure from what has been Odyssey’s bread and butter in putter design, insert putters. The ProTypes are milled from 1025 carbon steel and feature the deeper, sharper milling marks on the face that have gained popularity among tour professionals for their softer feel and truer role.
In Europe and Japan, Odyssey’s high-end insert putters have thrived because of high use on foreign professional tours. But in the United States, where purchases are highly influenced by what consumers see Tour players using, one-piece putters have risen in popularity, which has shifted Odyssey’s U.S. strategy.
The ProType models will include Odyssey’s No. 2, 3, 6, 7 and 9, as well as a Two-Ball mallet that will be released without an insert for the first time.
“For the 2012 line, we chose models by what’s doing well on Tour,” Rollinson said. “A former Callaway staff player won the U.S. Open using the No. 7, and the No. 6 model is a lot like the TriHot TriForce No. 2 shape that K.J. Choi and Steve Stricker have been using for years.”
The ProTypes will be released Feb. 17 in with a slew of custom options. They will feature a dull, milky white chrome plating and a Lamkin 3Gen Pistol Grip, available in six different color options that can be matched with the putterhead paintfill for an added charge. All models will be available in 33-to-35-inch lengths. They have an MSRP of $335, with the exception of the Two-Ball Mallet, which has an MSRP of $375. The No. 2, No. 3, No. 9 and Two-Ball Mallet will be available in left-handed models.