Should You Switch to a Counterbalanced Putter?
Putters

Should You Switch to a Counterbalanced Putter?

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Should You Switch to a Counterbalanced Putter?
  • Switching to a counterbalanced putter could cure your tempo and stability issues.
  • Many manufacturers offer their putters in standard length and longer counterbalanced configurations.
  • Counterbalancing will be a solution for some—but not for all.

If you are reading this, you likely have putting issues. Something is just not right on the greens. You are missing the reads, struggling with speed, aiming at anything but the hole and are finding putting to be petulant, not pleasant.

Poor putting can really sink a good round. Imagine you finally get to play the Old Course at St Andrews and you card 40 putts for your round. You enjoyed the walk and snapped a sassy photo on the Swilcan Bridge but you just can’t stop thinking about how four fewer putts would have dropped your score below 80.

What should you do? Take a putting lesson? That’s a good start. Learn a green reading system? Aimpoint will help you improve your feel for slope. Practice more? Obviously.

Since all of those options take too much time, let’s jump to option four: buying a new counterbalanced putter!

Quite a few pros who were struggling on the greens dramatically improved their putting when they moved to counterbalanced putters. Maybe that is the answer for you as well.

Why Should You Consider a Counterbalanced Putter?

Odyssey Ai-ONE Cruiser Jailbird putter

Can making the move to a counterbalanced putter actually improve your putting?

First of all, switching putters will not fix everything. Yes, I know that is a blasphemous statement. Buying a new club should always make everything better.

If you are considering buying a counterbalanced putter, first think about the areas of your putting game that are giving you problems.

If swinging your current putter feels like landing a lunker trout, moving to a counterbalanced putter should bring stability to your stroke. The heavier than usual head and shaft will promote more of a smooth stroke.

Odyssey Ai-ONE Cruiser Jailbird putter

If you are struggling with distance and tempo, then a counterbalanced putter may help improve those aspects as well. Both of these metrics are really just stability measurements with different names.

Erratic tempo comes from a lack of stability. Inconsistent distances are caused by inconsistencies in swing path, tempo, face rotation and so on.

If the added weight of the counterbalanced putter improves stability and thus removes inconsistencies, your putting should improve.

What a Counterbalanced Putter Can’t Fix

Odyssey Ai-ONE Cruiser Jailbird putter

I’m going to say the sad truth out loud: Some of us need lessons to become better putters. If you can’t read greens, your putting will suffer. Making the putter counterbalanced will not help you see that the putt is downhill and breaking left.

You may be suffering from alignment issues that have nothing to do with the weight of the putter but, rather, its optics. Certain putter shapes and alignment schemes will help some people aim correctly but may prevent others from aiming correctly.

Figuring out how your eye dominance influences how you aim the putter could be the key to making more putts.

I mentioned practice. I love to practice putting. I spend hours doing so. Realistically, I’m probably 2:1 with my putting versus full-swing practice time. If you practice more with your current putter, you should putt better … unless that putter is not a good fit for you. If that’s the case, then you are thankfully back to the buying a new putter plan.

A Tale of Two Jailbirds

Odyssey Ai-ONE Cruiser Jailbird putter

Rather than just give you theoreticals, I have some first-hand experiences to share with you. I recently spent some time with two Odyssey putters, the standard length Ai-ONE Jailbird Mini and the longer counterbalanced Ai-ONE Jailbird Cruiser.

While they look very similar, their builds make them play very differently. Here are my observations.

Counterbalancing brings stability but reduces feel

Odyssey Ai-ONE Cruiser Jailbird putter

As expected, the Odyssey Ai-ONE Cruiser Jailbird felt way more stable than the Odyssey Ai-ONE Jailbird Mini. Though the putters look almost identical at address, once you put them in motion, any similarities quickly diminish.

The Odyssey Ai-ONE Jailbird Mini plays like a normal mallet. I’d argue that there is not much about it that is actually “mini.” Its profile behind the ball is akin to other mallets of its size. When swung, it feels like a mallet (shocking), providing some feedback in terms of strike location and quality.

Both versions of the Jailbird include the Versa alignment scheme of alternating black and white perpendicular lines.

Odyssey Ai-ONE Cruiser Jailbird putter

The Odyssey Ai-ONE Cruiser Jailbird sits a bit larger behind the ball but not awkwardly so. Once you put the Cruiser version in motion, you’ll immediately feel the difference in weight and stability. This Jailbird takes a bit more effort to move and resists manipulations once in motion.

If you need to calm your stroke, the counterbalanced Jailbird will help. It’s like your usual putter just took a 10-mg gummy.

I did experience a loss of feel/feedback when switching to the Cruiser from the Mini. When you hit the ball with the Jailbird Mini, you can tell if you hit it too hard or too soft. With the Cruiser Jailbird, this feedback is diminished.

Be prepared for girth as well as length

Odyssey Ai-ONE Cruiser Jailbird putter

It comes as no surprise that the Cruiser Jailbird is longer than the Jailbird Mini. They have stickers on their grips that tell you their lengths.

What does come as a surprise is just how different they feel in your hands.

The grip on the Jailbird Mini is a comfortable standard-sized grip. Nothing too surprising there. On the other hand, the grip on the Cruiser Jailbird is a whopper.

Odyssey Ai-ONE Cruiser Jailbird putter

My “cadet medium”-sized hands were not expecting the increased diameter of the Cruiser Jailbird’s grip. The increased size of the grip contributes to the counterbalancing but also affects how you will grip the putter.

Your hands will be well below the end of the putter when you address the ball. The weight of the grip and shaft above your hands offsets the increased weight of the putter head.

Be conscious of your hand position when you grip the putter. You will want to make sure you have your hands in the same position every time you putt so the weighting will be consistent. It will likely take you a bit of trial and error to find your ideal hand position.

It is also worth noting that the counterbalanced version will take up more space and add weight to your bag. If you are making more putts, you’ll likely not even notice.

Counterbalanced Captures Consistency

I found the Cruiser Jailbird to be the more consistent of the two in terms of dispersion. The Cruiser’s feedback is diminished but there is feedback. You just need some time on the practice green to truly understand what the counterbalanced putter is whispering to you about your stroke.

Your putts with the counterbalanced Cruiser Jailbird should all end up in a tighter circle than with the Jailbird Mini. The final practice goal is to figure out how to make that circle of putts correspond with the hole.

I know—we are back to needing to practice putting more. Sorry about that.

Counterbalancing Could Be Your Solution

Odyssey Ai-ONE Cruiser Jailbird putter

Counterbalanced putters are not the be-all, end-all solution to putting woes. If they were, everyone would be using them. We tested in 2014 when counterbalanced putters were in vogue. Our testing found no performance difference between counterbalanced and standard length putter performance.

Although counterbalancing was not the universal answer to the anchoring ban, it did prove to be the ideal design for some golfers.

Ultimately, you will need to spend some time trying counterbalanced putters to see if you are one of the players they help. Why do you miss putts? Do those misses fit into the range of faults addressed by counterbalanced putters?

Don’t buy one blindly and expect it to fix everything.

The counterbalanced putter resurgence is happening because some professional golfers are putting better with them. Perhaps you are someone who will benefit from using one as well. Hopefully, your shop has one in stock that you can demo.

Find out more about the Odyssey Ai-ONE Cruiser Putters at odysseygolf.com

FAQ: Counterbalanced putters

Are counterbalanced putters the answer?

No. Counterbalanced putters are not the answer for all. That said, they will be the answer for some. Some golfers should just practice more with their Ansers …

How do counterbalanced putters work with the anchoring ban?

As long as you don’t ram the butt of the putter into your belly, you should be good. As for how you keep a broom putter “non-anchored”—that’s a whole other conversation.

What if 38 inches is too long for me? Can you counterbalance a shorter putter?

Unless FootJoy comes out with platform golf shoes, 38 inches will be too long for a pool of petite players. Odyssey will let you order a Cruiser at 37 but that’s likely not helping enough. Rest assured that building shorter counterbalanced putters is possible but you will likely need some help from internal shaft weights and extra tape for securing the larger grip to the tapered shaft.

Do other companies make counterbalanced putters?

While Odyssey’s Jailbird is the current belle of the counterbalanced ball, quite a few other companies are offering counterbalanced options. Bettinardi made counterbalanced and armlock versions of their 2024 Inovai putters. Evnroll has a longer MidLok version of the ER11v. TaylorMade has a counterbalanced version of their Spider Tour S mallet. Other options are out there as well.

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For You

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Dave Wolfe

Dave Wolfe

Dave Wolfe

A putter-obsessed recreational golfer, constantly striving to improve his game while not getting too hung up about it. Golf should be fun, always.

Dave Wolfe

Dave Wolfe

Dave Wolfe

Dave Wolfe

Dave Wolfe

Dave Wolfe





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      Donn Lost in San Diego

      4 weeks ago

      Dave, I went cross handed a few years ago, and I just posted my view yesterday as a full article, on Forum, Member Community, General Q & A, titled “Step by step guide to putt cross handed.” I don’t know how to submit it to MGS as an article for a wider audience to see but I would like to. A lot of golfers have eternal struggles with regular putting.

      Reply

      Mike

      4 weeks ago

      What is the weight of the putter?

      Reply

      Hopp Man

      4 weeks ago

      The visual look of a putter is very important, I putted for years with face balanced center shafted putters, really liked them. When I did a putter fitting with a laser I consistently aimed my Ping gamer putter to the left of the hole, so my very consistent miss was on the left side. I then tried an Odyssey tri hot 5K #2, not a putter look or design I ever really liked. Well my putting aim definitely improved with that putter and my putting has improved.

      As a follow up I did another putter fitting at PGATSS using SAM Putt Lab, I brought all my putters, well almost all of them and did testing with them, sure enough, the Tri Hot 5K was the best for me with no fitter bias. The guy doing the fitting was like, why do you have all those other putters. My response was, “because I am a club how.”.😁

      Reply

      David West

      4 weeks ago

      Is the AI Mini considered a CB putter at the normal length? I assumed it was the shaft that makes it a CB?

      Reply

      Dave Wolfe

      4 weeks ago

      The standard length Jailbird Mini can be counterbalanced if you go with the Stroke Lab 90 shaft option. That build places a bit more weight up in the grip end. The Stroke Lab weight distribution tech is not as visible as it was in the multi-material Stroke Lab shafts, but it was not abandoned.

      Reply

      don

      1 month ago

      Gave my buddy a counterbalanced Putter for Xmas. The next day we went golfing and he complained I can’t feel it come off the head. My answer was feel you don’t feel the correct part anyhow you’re a terrible putter. He stuck with it and little by little got better and better and now he is a far better putter than he ever was.

      Reply

      BH

      1 month ago

      Tried the heavy, counterbalanced route. Just can’t get used to not being able to feel anything. I’ve found that the correct head shape, shaft length and grip have had the biggest influences on my putting. There are a bozillion heads out there but so few that I can actually line up correctly.

      Reply

      Dr Tee

      1 month ago

      You can counterbalance almost any putter with a Superstroke grip accepting their proprietary weight kit. You don’t have to buy a new putter.

      Reply

      JJ

      1 month ago

      What if you don’t like a SuperStroke grip?

      Reply

      PHDrunkards

      1 month ago

      Then you can get a Tour Lock Pro type counterbalance weight kit, install a somewhat heavier weight around 70 to 100 grams, and then put your grip on as normal. It will take some experimentation, as with anything, as grips all have varying weights themselves, so you will have to try different weights until you find a comfortable spot

      Dr Tee

      4 weeks ago

      Superstroke makes literally dozens of shapes and styles. If you can’t find at least one that’s suitable, you are hopeless or just being difficult.

      Dan H

      1 month ago

      I just put away my Counterbalanced PING “Cadence TR B65″ putter. Been using it since 2016 and the counterbalance really makes you use mechanics more than feel. I was just struggling with distance control too much. Going back to a traditional putter for the time, but I’m keeping it around because I may want to revisit it. One of the nice things about it is ping has lines on the putter grip , bout and inch apart, so you can ALWAYS put your hands in the same spot, which is really important for keeping the weight in your hands, and the eye line the same.
      Side note, the putter is face balanced. I wonder if all CB putters are face balanced, if they can work with toe hang, or if that works against the philosophy of have a CB putter?
      At 38” it is not long enough to arm-lock, nor is it the right loft for that.

      Reply

      John Johnson

      1 month ago

      Our crew of Optimization Fitters as well as individual golfers have optimized tens of thousands of putters for improved putting results by simply counter weighting or adding weight above the the balance point. In most cases with simple testing, improved feel and putting results can be achieved.

      Reply

      Eddie Heinen

      1 month ago

      Johns weights are a good way to counter balance a putter and does create a very solid feel at impact. Highly recommend them.

      Reply

      Dave Tutelman

      1 month ago

      Sorry, but this article is not about counterbalancing. It is about a particular Odyssey putter that has a bunch of somewhat radical features, of which counterbalancing is only one. It also has a huge grip, and extends enough above the hands so that arm-lock putting is feasible.

      The counterbalanced putter where JUST counterbalancing sets it apart was developed about twenty years ago by Steve Boccieri. That was a big improvement for a surprisingly large number of golfers — but, as the article notes, hardly all golfers.

      I have reverted to arm-lock putting. I used counterbalanced putters for years, and they were conventional-length putters. But I developed the yips in my mid-70s. After much experimenting, arm-lock putting turned out to be the most effective way to combat my putting yips. And counterbalancing an arm-lock putter does not work for me. It reduces my ability to feel the head of the putter, and so makes distance control harder.

      Reply

      Keith

      1 month ago

      Did TaylorMade not do this years ago with the Spider Tank?

      Reply

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