NOTE: I write these Project articles as a reference for your own DIY projects. I do not professionally customize, restore, or repair putters. I would highly recommend much more impressive people like Tom Slighter, BOS Golf, or Spry Evo. If you have any questions for guidance, leave a comment below and I’ll be happy to point you in the right direction.
Rory McIlroy was one of the major free agents when Nike announced it was leaving the equipment game. In this transitional period, Rory took his time trying out different gear. First he was playing a Scotty Cameron Fastback with TaylorMade woods, Titleist wedges, and Nike irons. Then he popped up using Callaway woods and irons, but most interesting was the new putter in his bag. Rory had a custom “prototype” Tour Only putter with the O-Works weights and Microhinge insert, but the finish was a brushed steel and the shape was unlike anything in the Odyssey lineup. In fact, it was very similar to the Scotty Fastback shape he has been using for awhile.
The closest thing at retail to Rory’s putter is the O-Works R-Line. I decided a cool project would be to make a custom “inspired by” Rory McIlroy Odyssey O-Works R-Line putter. I say “inspired by” because there are a lot of things very different about the putter but the idea was born out of McIlroy’s design. A few hours in the garage and some elbow grease later, I have a new putter that I’m pretty pleased with.
I struggled internally with the approach I wanted to take for this project. As I try to preach in these Project articles, there’s always more than one way to skin a cat. My original intention was to tape off the insert, ferrule, shaft, and sole badge, and sandblast away. I was thinking it would make a good shortcut. The reality is, the right way to do it was to disassemble the whole club and take my time.
“Disassembly” for a putter like this is not a walk in the park. I literally cooked the putter in a pot of boiling water on my stove.
The hot water breaks down any of the adhesive without damaging anything. The first thing I removed was the small badge on the sole which was only held on by a small piece of double sided tape. With a metal pick and steady hands, this was quick and easy work. Next, I used that same metal pick to remove the face insert. This is tough to get perfect. By staying close to the edge and making sure you get as far underneath the insert as possible before pulling up, you will minimize damage to the insert. Make sure you have it nice and hot so the insert separates easily. Once you remove the insert, it may warp a little. While it’s still warm, you can flex it back into shape and save it for later.
Boiling the club also gets everything hot enough to remove the shaft. I decided to pull the shaft this way because 1) I already had the water boiling and 2) this preserved the ferrule.
This is the most time consuming, difficult part of this effort with small garage tools. In fact, I ended up buying a new sandblaster during the process because I realized the one I had was a piece of **** (now I need to upgrade my air compressor).
I used a 70 grit Black Aluminum Oxide media at 125 psi to blast away everything: the paintfill, laser etching, and black and white finish. Just a raw, rough stainless head stood in the sandblaster’s wake.
As you can tell, this is a bit rough looking. The whole point of sandblasting is to create your canvas and get you to square one. Now, one approach would be to use a finer media, like walnut shell or glass bead at a lower psi, and blast it again to get a smoother finish. For a variety of reasons, this was not an option for me, so I finished the putter by hand sanding.
I knew I wanted a brushed stainless look so I dry sanded with 80 grit, 100 grit, 220 grit, 440 grit, 800 grit, and 1000 grit sandpaper. At this point, the putter head was fairly smooth with a little bit of sheen to it. I’ve noticed that a lot of these Odyssey putters with an applied finish still finish a bit rough and show their grain a bit. The final step I took was to use a green scotch brite pad to create the brushed look. If you’re going to try this, make sure you wipe the pad across the putter in a uniform direction, much like sanding.
The Final Product
After the sanding and dust inhalation, all that was left to do was reassemble the putter. I used regular shafting epoxy to glue the badge back on the sole and the insert back into the face. I like to clamp the insert in so it stays seated all the way in the pocket and adheres well. Clamping across the whole face was tough because of the shape, so I improvised by using two pieces of wood.
All that was left to do was paint. I chose to go with black and a metal-flake red, which is subtle until you have it in the sunlight. The finishing touch was a pittards camouflage Scott Readman Concepts cover which was a better fit than the stock Odyssey cover. What I love best about this putter is that it’s understated but still cool and unique. There won’t be many Odyssey O-Works R-Lines like it on the course.