Toy Box: Behind Lefty’s belly putter switch

Phil Mickelson during Thursday's pro-am at the Deutsche Bank Championship

Phil Mickelson during Thursday's pro-am at the Deutsche Bank Championship

You think it’s easy being a left-handed golfer?

Sure, Phil Mickelson wanted an Odyssey Sabertooth belly putter similar to the one used by his buddy, Keegan Bradley. One little problem: Bradley plays righty; Mickelson plays lefty.

Odyssey does not sell the Sabertooth in a belly or long version. The company made several extra-heavy heads for Bradley and several other right-handed touring pros, but it had no heavy left-handed Sabertooths.

Luckily for Mickelson, Tom Hilton, the primary designer of the Sabertooth, is left-handed and had a shorter, lighter lefty model in his office.

The putter head was taken off the shaft and sent to Austie Rollinson, who oversees all Odyssey putter designs. Rollinson machined a custom tungsten weight insert for the Sabertooth, bringing the head to its final weight of 392 grams. If a long putter doesn’t have a heavier head, it loses head feel.

Mickelson’s putter is 45 1/4 inches in length, 1 1/2 inches shorter than the one used by Bradley. Furthermore, Mickelson has a 70-degree lie angle, 2 degrees more upright than Bradley’s putter.

Precisely fitting a belly putter is crucial for any golfer. The length and lie depend on a person’s body type and putting style. Bradley, for example, has long legs and likes to bend over when he putts, with his eyes considerably inside the ball.

There is good news and bad news for consumers. Although the Sabertooth is not sold in a long version, two other Odyssey putters are: the D.A.R.T. and the 2-Ball.

Mickelson actually received a D.A.R.T. belly model a few months ago, but did not use it in competition.

At the Deutsche Bank, Mickelson continually expressed concern about speed control, particularly on downhill putts. Indeed, the common wisdom on long putters is this: They are deadly accurate on shorter putts but more difficult to use on longer putts.

• • • 

Switch a success for Snedeker: How about Brandt Snedeker and his new Bridgestone J40 Forged Cavity Back irons (4-PW)?

Since switching from an older set of Bridgestone Tour stage irons (a Japanese model), Snedeker has contended in each of the first two PGA Tour playoff events.

Snedeker also is using new Bridgestone J40 Black Oxide wedges (52, 56 degree).

• • • 

Short shots: Anthony Kim used a Nike VR Pro Limited prototype 5-wood (19 degree) at the Deutsche Bank, removing his VR Pro hybrid (18 degree) from the bag. Kim said he wanted the higher ball flight provided by the fairway wood. . . . Lucas Glover received a new Nike VR Pro Combo 9-iron after damaging his original on a rock during a practice round at TPC Boston. . . . Who says all wedges have to look alike? Paul Goydos goes against the grain with his TaylorMade xFT wedges (54 and 60 degree), preferring an offset look. To accomplish this, TaylorMade clubmakers use a tricky double-bending technique on the hosel.

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