‘This putter is like cheating’: Rickie Fowler’s caddie explains origin of golf’s hottest club

odyssey versa jailbird

Fowler got the idea to use an Odyssey Versa Jailbird after trying out caddie Ricky Romano's gamer. The rest is history.

Jonathan Wall/GOLF

The 2023 PGA Tour season will be remembered for Rickie Fowler’s resurgence on the greens with a putter that took the golf world by storm. The story behind the decade-old Odyssey Versa Jailbird mallet Fowler’s been wielding since January has been well documented by the man himself and the Tour rep who helped bring the putter to life.

The one person we haven’t heard from is the impetus behind Fowler’s putter switch. That would be caddie Ricky Romano, who introduced Fowler to the putter back in January during a round together at the Madison Club.

During a recent interview on GOLF’s Subpar Podcast, Romano recounted the story to co-hosts Colt Knost and Drew Stoltz of how Fowler wound up with an exact replica of his gamer putter.

As the story goes, Romano and Fowler were on the practice putting green at the Madison Club preparing to tee off. Romano had just made another mid-range putt when Fowler asked if he could roll a few with his putter. From that point forward, Fowler was hooked.

“We played 9 holes that day,” Romano told Subpar, “and on every green, he grabbed my putter and asked if he could use it. On the fourth green, he made a comment to me, ‘This putter is like cheating.’ At that moment, a lightbulb went off in my head. For the last year, I’ve seen Rick with four, five, six different putters. He’s searching.

“I wondered if he was going to have another putter made. I didn’t suggest any of that, but when we got done, he asked if he could borrow the putter for a couple of days to have the guys at Odyssey make a replica. I told him of course he could, and if they couldn’t make a replica, he could just have mine. As long as he’s making putts, I’m good with it.”

Odyssey White Hot Versa Twelve DB Putter

$259.99
The White Hot Versa Twelve DB is a crowned winged face-balanced mallet suitable for strokes with minimal face rotation and arc. Our black and white high contrast Versa alignment system has dominated on Tours all over the world. VERSA ALIGNMENT Versa’s high contrast alignment technology highlights the proper face angle from address to impact, allowing you to align the putter throughout your stroke. The black and white contrast lets your eyes key in on the linear designs while highlighting face angle. The lineup features a blend of blades and mallets with our famous White Hot insert and game-changing Stroke Lab shaft. WHITE HOT INSERT The original White Hot formulation creates incredible feel, sound and performance in one exceptional two-part urethane insert. Versa and the iconic White Hot insert are long time favorites of tour players and golfers alike. They’ve been asking for us to bring these technologies back and we’ve listened. 
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Odyssey wound up making Fowler a replica from the lone Jailbird head on the truck — remember, Odyssey had stopped making Jailbird heads — and things started to click. It got to the point that other pros started to take notice of Fowler’s success during the season, including Wyndham Clark.

Soon after playing a match with Fowler, Clark asked Odyssey to make him a replica of Fowler’s putter. Shortly thereafter, Clark took down Fowler at the U.S. Open — while playing in the same group on Sunday — with an identical Versa Jailbird in his hands.

Romano admitted that even though Fowler had an impressive season, he wished the putter could have stayed under wraps — and out of the hands of competitors — for a little longer.

“I just wish nobody had the opportunity to try it,” Romano joked. “Obviously you can’t hide it, but it was a little gut-wrenching to watch [Wyndham] win the U.S. Open with that putter.”

Odyssey, on the other hand, was more than happy to embrace the demand. Its limited release of the Versa Jailbird 380 sold out in minutes and quickly became one of the most profitable days in the company’s history. Not bad for a putter Romano picked up on a whim during his days looping for Charlie Beljan.

JWall

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.