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

rickie fowler putter grip

Fowler using a counterbalanced putter build last year (left) and standard-length offering this week (right)

Jonathan Wall/GOLF

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — 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.)

rickie fowler putter grip
Fowler was seen using an Odyssey Jailbird 380 mallet in Charlotte. Jonathan Wall/GOLF

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.

rickie fowler putter grip
Fowler said the smaller SuperStroke Pistol Tour grip allows him to use his hands more during the stroke. Jonathan Wall/GOLF

As he rolled putts, Fowler confirmed to GOLF.com 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.

Odyssey Ai-ONE Cruiser Jailbird DB Putter

This Odyssey Ai-ONE Cruiser Line offers three distinct configurations for three different styles of putting (Cruiser, Arm Lock and Broomstick). All of these putters feature our Ai-ONE insert which delivers more consistent ball speeds, even from off- center hits, leaving putts closer to the hole AI-ONE INSERT Designed using Artificial Intelligence, we’ve created contours on the Aluminum backer of the insert which we co-mold to a White Hot Urethane striking surface to promote consistent ball speed across the face with the classic White Hot feel that Tour players and amateurs love. AI WINDOW Our designers and engineers developed a Panlite window, which is a unique automotive grade polymer, that allows us to showcase the unique topology of the back of our insert. SL 140 AND 200 SHAFTS These heavier steel shafts are designed to complement the heavier heads, longer grips and longer overall lengths of these models UNIQUE NAVY BLUE PVD FINISH These putters all feature a beautiful navy blue PVD finish that really sets them apart and gives them a premium look. INTERCHANGEABLE FRONT WEIGHTS Available in 5, 10, 15 and 20 grams these removable weights allow you to dial in your head weight to your exact preference.
View Product

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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Jonathan Wall

Golf.com Editor

Jonathan Wall is GOLF Magazine and GOLF.com’s Managing Editor for Equipment. Prior to joining the staff at the end of 2018, he spent 6 years covering equipment for the PGA Tour. He can be reached at jonathan.wall@golf.com.