As we continue our exclusive tour inside the Ely Callaway Performance Center in Carlsbad, California, Austie Rollinson shares a favorite saying of the late Ely Callaway: “If it’s demonstrably superior and pleasingly different, then you’ve got a hit.”
Rollinson, the principal designer for Odyssey Golf, says that this saying still drives the Odyssey putter design philosophy to this day.
Earlier, Rollinson shared his insights into the development of Odyssey’s iconic 2-Ball putter. Now he’s talking about other enduring Odyssey models, as well as Odyssey’s new Metal-X line.
While the 2-Ball stands out as the most significant and successful putter design breakthrough in the new millennium, Odyssey Golf has also managed to produce several other designs that have stood the test of time, such as the #7 fanged mallet and #9 heel-shafted mid mallet. Meanwhile, the Rossie half moon mid mallet has been around since Odyssey’s inception.
Indeed, few companies can match Odyssey’s record of putter model endurance, which is a testament to the talents of Rollinson and his team.
You might look at the #9 and think, “Well, it’s just another mallet.” But designing a lasting putter is, in fact, much harder than it sounds. The #9 was developed to meet the exacting eye of Phil Mickelson. Every bevel, curve and line is the product of numerous sketches and revisions. In other words, it’s not just another mallet—which is why it remains a fixture in the marketplace today.
According to Rollinson, the success of certain models helps drive the creation of new ones. “It gives us the leeway to be creative and take some risks,” he says. “The #7 was one of those risks, and now it’s a stalwart in the Odyssey portfolio.”
Rollinson says that he and his team “sketch like crazy” to come up with new model designs. The ultimate market performance of these designs is unpredictable. For example, nobody predicted the 2-Ball to sell 300,000 units in its first year—10 times the forecasted 30,000 units. Meanwhile, other designs fail to gain market traction for whatever reason.
Of course, the model shaping is only part of the design story. Technology and particularly insert technology have long played an instrumental role in Odyssey’s success as well. Which brings us to the new Odyssey Metal-X putters.
With the Metal-X putters, Odyssey is changing its game with its first metalized insert. The Metal-X insert features a dimpled aluminum plate backed by a urethane dampening layer, offering the crisp feedback of a metal striking force combined with a smooth, supple feel. The insert’s oval depressions are designed to maximize the “mechanical lock” with the ball to increase friction and impart proper launch for a truer roll.
At the end of the tour, we are left with an appreciation for the devotion and persistence that drives the design of Odyssey putters. As Rollinson says, “Innovation doesn’t happen overnight.”