Made with weighting positioned using similar principles as the woods of the same family, Cobra’s Radspeed irons also have an innovative 3D printed polymer medallion. Continue reading
Cobra Golf’s Radspeed family of woods use newly designed radial placement of internal weighting for low spin and high forgiveness in three drivers, four fairway woods and two hybrids. Continue reading
Sometimes statistics are important, even vital, and sometimes they are not which is the case with counts of which equipment company can boast the most wins so far in the PGA Tour 2020-2021 season. Continue reading
The big difference between the 2015 Cobra KING Forged TEC irons and those from last season was the addition of a tungsten weight which turned a good iron design into one golfers, especially low handicappers, fell for.
Now it looks like for 2020, Cobra’s design team led by Vice President of Research and Development Tom Olsavsky took a leap forward with the newest KING Forged TEC. As with many models in the players category the muscle back head is hollow making an iron with additional forgiveness, something we all can use at times. Continue reading
The past year was a good one for golf equipment companies lead by the two largest Acushnet Holdings Corp. (NYSE: GOLF) and Callaway Golf (NYSE: ELY). Acushnet owns the largest selling brand of golf balls, Titleist, plus FootJoy (shoes/clothing) Scotty Cameron (putters), Vokey Design (wedges) and Links and Kings (accessories). Callaway sells both clubs and balls and owns TravisMatthew (clothing), Jack Wolfskin (outerwear), OGIO (bags) and Odyssey (putters). Continue reading
Here’s part two of gift ideas and for the benefit of my family, it really is my wish list as well.
Puma IGNITE DISC Extreme Golf Shoes: An upgrade of the Puma’s popular DISC technology plus a new graphic it combines 4-way stretch mesh with a leather saddle for a great look and it’s still waterproof. Using a DISC closure the insole is a molded EVA, the midsole is full-length IGNITE foam and the outsole is integral TPU performance configuration. All this for the attractive price of $120 per pair and there’s a choice of four colors. Get all the facts at CobraPuma.com.
Ben Hogan: Billed as the most technologically advance irons they have ever built, the Ben Hogan PTx model is for better players looking for a more forgiving iron or those who feel they are ready to move from a super game-improvement iron to one with more control. Made with Hogan’s co-forged titanium-steel construction that precisely places the center of gravity in each clubhead. They may be purchased only through BenHoganGolf.com and are priced at $770 for a seven iron set with steel shafts.
Arccos 360: Arccos pioneered club mounted shot tracking and the new 360 uses 50% smaller sensors placed in the butt end of the grip which automatically record every shot for live shot tracking plus there’s GPS yardage and shot analytics with the smartphone app. Great for on the course game tracking of every round. Priced at $249.99 at ArccosGolf.com.
Chase54 Baroque Polo: A classic paisley print with a nice looking embossed style ideal for any time, any place wear. Makes use of Chase54’s DryFuze fabric for moisture wicking to be comfortable (and dry!) in even hot humid weather. The material even has a slight amount of stretch so there is nothing to restrict the wearer’s swing. Metal collar stays keep the collar from curling and are removable for washing. The price for the Baroque is $76 and may be found along with other Chase54 polos at better retail shops or on Chase54.com.
Cobra King F8 Driver: The F8 (and F8+) have Cobra’s first milled titanium face in a driver model which produces better accuracy plus more distance. Arccos for Cobra Connect is included at no extra charge. When paired with the free smartphone app the distance and accuracy of every drive is measured and tracked plus the app may be used as a GPS yardage rangefinder. This makes a perfect gift certificate item and that ensures a perfect fit. The Cobra F8 and F8+ drivers are $399.
Without dusting off my crystal ball—it’s got a big crack in it anyway—I see two trends worth noting in the golf club business. Both involve the development of clubs with limited appeal and at this point neither can be described as having can’t-miss prospects.
First is the appearance of ultra-high-end price clubs as exemplified by PXG custom-only models starting with the driver which carries a tag of $700 followed by fairway woods at $500 and irons at $300 or more. And since a bag full of PXGs wouldn’t be complete without the addition of one of their putter models plan on spending another $400 to $600. Add that all together and the total comes to well over $5,000…without the cost of the bag.
Of course for many years there have been custom-made clubs at prices much higher than normal but none in just two years have made as much of an impression on the overall market as PXG.
PXG founder and CEO Bob Parsons said in an interview with Golfweek he expects $100 million in sales this year and more significantly, to be profitable. Repeat that to yourself. In two years from nothing to profitability…in the golf business.
Realistically $100 million in club sales is not a very big ripple on the pond compared with Callaway who expects around $980 million in sales this year and well behind Acushnet who has forecast in the neighborhood of $1.6 billion. The importance is that major makers have even decided to enter at the ultra-high-end price point. Titleist, for example, has the C16 driver selling for $1,125 and Callaway’s new Great Big Bertha Epic Star is $700.
The story is the same with irons and illustrating with the same two companies, an eight iron set of Titleist C16 irons are $3,000 while Callaway Epic irons start at $2,000 with new Epic Star irons at $2,400.
The question of course is how big can this ultra-high-end price market be? The fact is though at least three companies (and you can add Honma, XXIO, Bettinardi plus a couple of others) are working to take advantage of what growth may be there.
The bottom line is performance has to justify the price otherwise the only players paying double or triple of what are considered “usual prices” are those whose egos make the decision.
The second trend is the increase in the number superlight clubs made specifically for those with relatively slow swing speeds, often identified as seniors and ladies. These superlights are made to answer the quest for added distance based on the idea if the club weighs less it can be swung faster and thereby generate more yardage.
A couple of examples starting with Cobra Golf’s F-Max family with the F-Max driver headlining the offering. Cobra’s approach is to use extremely light shaft with a head shaved of extra grams while the center of gravity has been positioned both to fight a slice and hit the ball on a higher trajectory. Interestingly the $300 F-Max driver is also at the bottom of the price spectrum as is the pricing of other F-Max family clubs.
Callaway has gone the other way with the Great Big Bertha Epic Star driver which follows the extremely successful Epic of last season and with all the features that made the Epic such a hit but much, much lighter. The Epic Star comes in at 286 grams versus the Epic at around 310 grams. The Epic Star ($700 as mentioned above) is for players having trouble generating even a moderate clubhead speed and a relatively modest swing speed increase of five mph can produce an additional 15 yards. The cardinal rule is more speed equals more distance.
Lightweight, even superlight, clubs especially drivers have been around since titanium heads and graphite shafts became the norm and even after clubhead sizes reached 460cc Cleveland had a 260-gram driver. As always performance will decide if these latest examples are cost effective plus of course whether a $300 driver can outsell a $700 model. In any event it would seem the market for superlight clubs is much larger than that for ultra-high-end priced clubs.
It’s going to be interesting to see how these two trends develop.
In 2013 Tom Olsavsky joined Cobra Puma Golf as Vice President of Research and Development after a long stint with TaylorMade Golf as Senior Director of Product Creation. Industry observers expected this well respected designer would make his mark on the entire Cobra product line and he has.
Last year we told you we liked the KING F6 Baffler with the iconic rails on the sole and the KING LTD driver with the center of gravity on the neutral axis of the clubhead plus a “Spaceport” in the sole to help create lots of forgiveness. In fact, Olsavskly’s team did such a good job, the KING LTD quickly took the number one slot in my bag.
We also commented on the KING F6 driver which had a font-to-back weighting system and in revamping the F6 for this season the result is the KING F7 (460cc $350) and the slightly smaller profile KING F7+ (452cc $400). Both have three weights (1-12 gram and 2-2 gram) in the sole. One is positioned in the front just behind the face, the second towards the heel and the last in the very rear of the head. By switching the weights around gives in essence three much different drivers.
Trying out the various weight positons in the KING F7+ did produce noticeable changes in trajectory and curvature bias. Our 10 rounds of testing included one with the 12-gram weight in the heel and two with it in the rear position. Since my tendency is a hook (truth be told it deteriorates often to a pull hook) having the heavier weight in the heel didn’t produce a lot of fairways and with it in the rear position trajectory was too high.
Settling on the heavier weight in the front position, which obviously was correct for my swing, produced and mid-trajectory basically straight shot and allowed for a fade for those holes requiring a dogleg tee shot.
The stock Fujikura PRO XLR8 shaft is slightly stiffer in the tip and butt and gives lots of mid-point kick for mid-launch complimenting the 12-gram weight being in the front position.
The crown is carbon fiber which, being 20% lighter than titanium, weight could be shifted lower and deeper in the head making the KING F7+ above average in forgiveness.
Then there’s what they are calling COBRA CONNECT, a partnership with Arccos to track every drive. The Arccos sensor is preinstalled in the butt end of the grip so once it’s paired with the free smartphone app not only drive data is recorded but there’s a GPS rangefinder. It works, is automatic to use and the data may be reviewed after the round including distance and the number of fairways hit. They tell me the sensor battery is good for at least two years.
Distance however, is the thing everyone wants to know about and the KING F7+ is as long as the KING LTD I was carrying and with the same dead-solid sound. The trajectory (with the 12-gram weight in the front positon) is mid-launch and the lack of ballooning in the wind indicates low ball spin even on slight mishits.
Finally, the blue KING F7+ has a really great look at address. The shape is pleasing and the blue—with red and white accents on the sole–stands out in a world of mostly black clubheads.
The Cobra KING F7+ also has what is sometimes called Tour validation. Fan favorite Rickie Fowler won the Honda Classic with the F7+ and it’s played by Lexi Thompson, Jonas Blixt, Jesper Parnevik and World Golf Hall of Fame member Greg Norman. While it’s tough to make a comparison between their swings and that of the average golfer plus of course they are paid by Cobra, it is a vote of confidence since they could be using any of the other Cobra models.
Negatives: the F7+ is billed as being for better players and comes with an adjustable hosel from 8 to 11 degrees so if you need help with trajectory the F7, which adjusts from 9 to 12 degrees (and with the 12-gram weight in the rear), would be a better choice.
Recommendation: Get on a launch monitor and test (with the help of a PGA Professional) the KING F7+ against any of the other new drivers and I think you will find it will hold its own in terms of feel, accuracy, forgiveness and distance. The $400 price is at the low end of the range for Tour level drivers and with comparable features making it attractive for a lot of budgets.
Time flies and if you’re of the age to remember Cobra’s Baffler has been around since 1975. Granted the Baffler name has been applied to every type of club in the bag except putters but each “Baffler” has shared a common feature. Each had metal skids on the sole called “rails” that helped the head glide through the turf and get the ball out of almost any lie.
Once golfers discovered what the original Baffler could do for them it’s no wonder it wore the “utility” club tag.
The first Baffler had a steel-shafted persimmon head with 23 degrees of loft and 40 years ago this was considered a strong 7-wood. Significantly the Baffler was among the first clubs of the modern era (along with the Ginty by Stan Thompson and the TaylorMade Raylor) that ultimately lead to the development of today’s jack-of-all-trades hybrids.
The current King F6 Baffler is described by Cobra as a “4/5 Fairway” and in addition to the pair of rails on the sole Cobra added two interchangeable weights to adjust launch trajectory and included their eight setting hosel—the familiar MyFly design first seen four years ago in the AMP Cell driver.
For the 10 rounds testing I put the heavier weight (15 grams) in the rear position, the lighter weight (3 grams) in the position closer to the face and set the loft at 19 degrees. My thinking was to see how the Baffler could do out of the thick Bermuda lies common in my home state of Florida. This also fit nicely into the gap between my 3-wood and 4-hybrid.
Jose Miraflor, Cobra’s Senior Director of Product Marketing & Creation, has said Rickie Fowler was instrumental in designing the F6 Baffler and uses one regularly on Tour, switching out with a 3-iron depending on conditions.
Another thing worth mentioning is the slightly shorter shaft of 41 ¾ inches which is around one-half inch less than a typical 5-wood, but since distance is not the primary consideration this helps with control. The clubhead is 178cc and larger than hybrids with lofts in the high teens that are usually in the range of 110 to 120cc.
Before taking the F6 Baffler to the course I wondered if the head size might be problem getting through long Bermuda rough but results showed it wasn’t and the ball seemed to “shoot” out of virtually every lie. The rails not only help the sole glide through the grass but they have a slight ramping up on the ends nearest the leading edge of the clubhead. A very handy design especially if your downswing tends to be a little steep.
After the 10 rounds with the Baffler in my bag, using it more as a hybrid than a fairway, it proved its usefulness time and again. From the fairway and off the tee I found it longer than the 18 degree hybrid it replaced and from thick lies it always got the ball back into play.
Negatives: as a 4/5 fairway some may have a tough time finding a slot in their bag particularly if they already are carrying a 3-wood and 5-wood they really like. The clubhead size is larger than a hybrid and may be an issue with some.
Recommendation: There is no question the F6 Baffler (retail $239) is a design that can do double duty as a fairway wood and hybrid. Those looking to improve their results when a long shot from the rough is called for should consider it.
Images courtesy of Cobra Golf