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Rickie Fowler's latest gear change could slow a popular Tour trend

via Jonathan Wall

Rickie Fowler sent the equipment world into a frenzy last season. His decision to put a counterbalanced Odyssey Versa Jailbird in play coincided with a resurgence on the greens and return to the winner’s circle.

Fowler’s peers caught wind of the 38-inch counterbalance build and started using it, down to the lead tape plastered on the sole and larger 17-inch SuperStroke Zenergy Tour 3.0 grip. Wyndham Clark won the U.S. Open with Fowler’s build, and weekend golfers couldn’t get enough of the putter. Odyssey even released a limited-edition version (Jailbird 380) that sold out in minutes and ground the company’s website to a halt due to demand.

Fowler’s putter was the equipment story of the 2023 season. (And if you’ve never heard the term “counterbalanced” before, it’s a putter built at a longer overall length to help create extra stability compared to a standard-length putter. The extra length, which is usually paired with a larger and heavier oversized grip helps place more mass towards the golfer's hands to counteract a heavier putter head and assist in building a smoother putting stroke.)

And yet, as quickly as the counterbalanced build gained steam on Tour, it could be on the verge of losing the two players who helped put it back on the map. Wyndham Clark offloaded the longer, heavier putter earlier in the year for an Odyssey Ai-One Cruiser Jailbird featuring a smaller SuperStroke Tour 1.0P Claw grip. Now Fowler appears intent on doing the same thing at the Wells Fargo Championship.

During a practice session at Quail Hollow Club, Fowler was spotted testing several different putter builds from Odyssey, Axis1 and L.A.B. Golf. The session was notable because all three were built at standard length (35 inches), rather than the 38-inch counter-balanced setup Fowler had been using since last January.

As he rolled putts, Fowler confirmed to that he wanted to move away from the larger 17-inch Zenergy Tour 3.0 grip that initially took his hands out of the stroke and engaged the larger muscles.

“It served its purpose,” Fowler said of the larger grip. “I just wanted to bring back more feel with [a smaller grip].”

The standard SuperStroke Pistol Tour grip was affixed to a fresh Odyssey Jailbird 380 head with black-and-orange paintfil (a nod to Oklahoma State University where he went to school). Until last year, Fowler relied almost exclusively on a smaller pistol-style grip that allowed him to deliver the putter head more with his hands, so the change isn’t something that requires a learning curve.

As for Odyssey’s Jailbird, the putter head remains highly popular on Tour. Roughly 20 players are still using it, including Valero Texas Open winner Akshay Bhatia and Webb Simpson, who confirmed he’s going to a broomstick build this week.

Nothing is official until Thursday morning when Fowler steps on the tee, but for the moment, the counterbalanced craze on Tour appears to be dying down.

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