Odyssey Versa Jailbird putter

In July, when Phil Mickelson stood on the 18th green at Muirfield and raised his arms in triumph, knowing he was going to win the 2013 Open Championship, the putter in his hand was an Odyssey Versa #9. Now, with the release of the Versa Jailbird, the company is trying to extend the success of the Versa line, literally and figurative.

According to Austie Rollinson, Odyssey Golf's principal designer, the black and white pattern that makes the Versa series so distinctive was created when a member of his team tinkered with a multi-material prototype putter. Each of the materials was made in a different color. Odyssey realized that particular prototype wasn't going to work, but its striped pattern made the club very easy to align.

Rollinson said the first intentional attempt to use the black and white scheme on a prototype Versa putter was actually made by marking a white stripe on a black putter with Wite-Out correction fluid.

"Versa provides high-definition alignment between the black and the white, and instead of it being parallel to your target line, we moved it to perpendicular so you can put it on a blade putter," Rollinson said.

The new Versa Jailbird, however, is anything but a blade. The Jailbird is a forgiving putter that features two sets of black and white alignment stripes. A pair of arms extends back from the face, reminiscent of the popular, fang-like #7 design that Luke Donald and numerous PGA Tour stars have used. A flat bar connects the two extensions in the back of the putter.

The added mass in the heel and toe of the Jailbird are designed to increase the club's moment of inertia (MOI), which helps it resist twisting on offcenter strikes and enhance distance control.

Odyssey is continuing to use the venerable White Hot face insert with the Versa Jailbird. All of last season's Versa putters featured the White Hot insert, and Rollinson said it is one of the most popular inserts the company has ever produced.

"We said, 'What can we do to really accentuate and employ the Versa technology on a large putter,’ ” Rollinson said. "Well, if one line is good, two must be better."

Rollinson said the stripes that are farthest from the face make it even easier to line up. Relative to the area of the face immediately behind the ball, the back of the putter rotates more when a player twists the club offline, which makes it easier to detect poor alignment.

The Odyssey Versa Jailbird putter should arrive in pro shops Jan. 17 and cost $169.

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