When it comes to irons that impress some take a little longer than others. Meanwhile, there are some products that make such a tremendous first impression that you just know when you have a special piece of golf equipment in your hands. The new Cobra Golf KING F9 SPEEDBACK irons are one such example.

Having put the KING F8 ONE Length irons through their paces during a somewhat lengthy testing period in 2018  I made the final conclusion that they were the most fun I had swinging a set of irons (REVIEW HERE).

The thing about movies when they bring out a sequel is that there’s always the concern that the sequel doesn’t quite make the grade. I mean sure, the movie had its moments of comedy but it’s not the same. Look at Caddyshack vs Caddyshack 2 (has anyone watched the sequel?) When it comes to Cobra golf this hasn’t been quite the issue. When they first released ONE Length iron (2017’s F7) it was a decent enough offering in my eyes. The ONE Length concept model made sense to me and they were easy irons to swing and for the short time and limited experience with them, I walked away thinking that they would help a ton of golfers willing to give them a chance. The sequel in 2018 was fantastic but now in 2019 golfers see the third iteration. The KING F9 SPEEDBACK irons.

***If you haven’t seen the most recent review prior to this, I’ve changed the format up just a little bit. All of the technical information is now “The Pre-Shot Routine”. “The Transition” is how I break down the performance while “The Finish” is my final conclusion.

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The Pre-Shot Routine

When it comes to Cobra Golf I have said for several years that Cobra Golf is one of the biggest “movers and shakers” in the golf industry. Cobra Golf is always finding a way to be innovative. It’s one of the things that I admire about Cobra Golf and mentioned this fact to Tom Olsavsky during my time spent with him at the 2019 PGA Show Demo Day.  With that thought comes a question. How? “How do they (Cobra Golf) produce products that seemingly are better year after year?”. The answer is strenuous R&D efforts, brainstorming, and model development long before consumers and in some cases TOUR player’s see them.

When it came to the design of the KING F9 SPEEDBACK irons innovation and R&D were definitely integral components to the development of this iron set. Before we delve too deep into the irons let’s look at their moniker. “SPEEDBACK Technology”. In designing this iron set Cobra Golf sought out a way to make these irons “long, stable and accurate”. This was achieved by placing the CG (Center of Gravity) low while creating a design with high MOI.

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By adding a “steel belt” that is wrapped around the rear perimeter of the head the weight was set low and back. The end game here is to maximize distance through more carry and better launch conditions. When it came to increasing the MOI (stability or resistance to twisting) Cobra Golf R&D utilized the addition of Tungsten (33-grams between the heel and toe) of the long and mid irons (4-7).  Like its predecessor, the KING F9 SPEEDBACK irons feature the PWRSHELL face. The face features variable thickness which makes the size of the sweet spot just a little bit larger (E9 Variable Thickness). The forged PWRSHELL design “features a deep undercut sole with a 1.2 mm internal Speed Channel that absorbs and returns more energy” resulting in higher ball speeds thus equating to longer distance.

Like the previous years, Cobra Golf is incorporating Cobra Connect into the KING F9 SPEEDBACK irons. It’s a great way to track your stats and performance. The KING F9 SPEEDBACK irons come in two versions. Cobra Golf offers the KING F9 SPEEDBACK irons in both a Variable length and ONE Length variant (all irons in the set are a 7-iron length). Cobra Golf didn’t skimp on the golf consumer on their stock shafts with these irons. The KING F9 SPEEDBACK irons come with either KBS Tour shafts (steel) or in the case of graphite, the Fujikura ATMOS 6 ONE Length shafts are featured. The grips are Cobra Lamkin Crossline grips.

 

The Transition

(Conditions at Orange County National Golf Resort and Lodge while swinging Cobra Golf products was sunny, breezy with a crosswind right to left. Later in the day with the temperature was about 64*F/18*C)

Aesthetics – When the KING F9 SPEEDBACK irons are sitting in the golf bag it’s hard not to notice the carbon composite in the cavity immediately. It looks sleek and it was something done on the previous iteration. There is a slight difference between the Variable Length and the ONE Length in this area. The paint scheme. The Variable Length irons say “SPEEDBACK” in red whereas the ONE Length have it in blue and red. When compared to the F8 from 2018 I think the cavity view of these irons looks somewhat “boxy”. It just wasn’t blended in a way that I thought it could have been. Perhaps, it’s just a simple matter of the paint-filled areas where the tungsten is placed and advertised. They have a relatively “futuristic” look to them.

Flipping the club over into the address position you’ll see a relatively moderate topline. There are thinner toplines in this iron category (GI) but there are some others that make this look head look sleek and svelte when looking down at it. In the address position, for some reason, something bugged me. While there is some offset (as is the case with most GI irons) it wasn’t the offset that bugged me. There was something that I didn’t like with the cavity or something to that effect. Even as I write this review I still have a hard time expressing the right thought that I’m looking for. Unsettling maybe? That said, it’s not like the looks would sway me from not playing them.

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Looking at the club face I loved the milling on the face. Although, the milled face isn’t strictly for aesthetics. There’s a high level of functionality involved as the milled faces aid in creating precise lofts with a perfectly flat surface area to work with. The hosel lengths vary for moving weight around to get the best CG location. Groovy right? Oh, speaking of groovy. Even though you can’t see them, Cobra Golf designed these irons to have three different spin “groove cuts”. The long irons featured Milled V-Grooves (4-7), the 8-PW has Milled U-Grooves, while the GW-SW have Wedge Grooves.

Sound/Feel – I won’t waste any time here. These irons sound and felt great. Overall, they were the best sounding clubs acoustically speaking. They have a “crack” that I associate to them. That said, the feel isn’t harsh and that fact can be attributed to the multi-material construction of the badge (aluminum, TPU (Thermoplastic Polyurethane) and acrylic foam). Literature from Cobra golf says that these materials “promote a softer, more responsive feel” and they do just that. Strikes off of the massive sweet spot were distinct and crisp. Especially when it came to the long irons.

Performance – This is the facet of testing and reviews that golfers want to know about. Especially when dealing in a situation where the term of testing isn’t long by any stretch and limited to only so many swings. But these sticks PERFORM!

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The KING F9 SPEEDBACK irons absolutely “killed it” on Demo Day. After I made my first swing with them I turned back to the bleachers at their demo area where my wife (Crystal) was sitting. I just shook my head. I knew with one swing that these irons were every bit as good as the F8 or dare I say… Better! That first strike was as crisp as any that I can recollect. The ball flight was long (7i) and it was “dead straight”. No sign of curvature whatsoever (bear in mind the wind direction). The next swing resulted in the same way… Two shots that were identical in every way. So I changed clubs. I selected a 5i and it was more of the same. I took 10 swings with the KING F9 SPEEDBACK irons and knew that they were one of the best for me during the show. At the very least, I walked away knowing that the F9 SPEEDBACK irons were an improvement over the incumbent.

Flighting the ball wasn’t an issue when adjusting to my right a little and hitting into the “teeth of the wind” a little more. Drawing and cut shots. No problem there as well. Like I said, these irons “killed it”. They nearly stole the show in their Teezy Award category (37/40 points).

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The Finish

When Cobra Golf introduced the KING F9 SPEEDBACK irons they already had a name to live up to. Not only was the previous generation “the most fun I’ve ever had swinging an iron (in my life)” but the really big brother (KING F9 SPEEDBACK driver) had already seen victories on professional TOUR’s worldwide (Lexi and Bryson).

Yes, there are better-looking irons in the category but looks aren’t everything. My issue was two minor things where one of which was something that I still can’t put a finger on to this day. When a golf club is this fun and easy to swing and you see immediate results it says a lot. These irons are geared towards 5-25 handicap golfers. Heck, if you’re Scratch or better why not? Rickie Fowler has KING F9 SPEEDBACK  4-iron in his bag. If it’s good enough for him… Why wouldn’t it be good for us?

If you’re looking for a 2019 iron set that you’ll get your golf consumers dollars worth for I highly recommend the Cobra Golf KING F9 SPEEDBACK irons.

 

Until The Next Tee!!

#FightAndGrind #SeeUOnTheNextTee

 

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One of the highlights at the 2019 PGA Merchandise Show was the return of Covington, Georgia based Bridgestone Golf. The last time that they were in attendance showing the golfing world their new products was back in 2016. The company at the time was introducing their JGR range and to be honest… they were real “sleeper” products.

As we fast-forward the clock to the present we are seeing an elegant range of products from the folks at Bridgestone Golf. The Tour B JGR range is a perfect blend of elegance, precision and power and nowhere is this more evident than looking at the new TOUR B XW-1 wedges.

These wedges are gorgeous and I really enjoyed swinging them at the 2019 PGA Merchandise Show Demo Day. As aesthetically pleasing that they are… what impresses more is the feel of the golf ball as it comes off of the face. The marketing material says “buttery-soft” and that’s what they are. While I cannot comment on greenside performance I did apply swings ranging from half to full wedge shots. divots were crisp and I really liked the feel of the XW-1 wedges through impact.

One of the feature’s that I will elaborate on a little bit more is that the XW-1 wedges feature what Bridgestone Golf R&D refers to as “Biting Rail Milled’ grooves. These new “Biting Railed Milled” grooves generate more spin on approach and greenside shots.

What I can tell you was that I observed the new Bridgestone Golf e12 Soft drop and spin back at Demo Day when hit into a temporary green. If that was any indication these might be the spinniest wedges I’ve tried to date. The TOUR B XW-1 wedges are nominated for a Teezy Award in the “Top Wedge” Category of the 2019 PGA Show

Until The Next Tee!!

#FightAndGrind #SeeUOnTheNextTee

New Biting Rail Milled Finish Grooves Optimize Spin and Control Greenside

 

(COVINGTON, GA) – Bridgestone Golf – the #1 ball-fitter in golf, revealed today its new TOUR B XW-1 collection of wedges, its softest and highest spinning wedges ever designed for better players. The XW-1 Wedges feature Bridgestone’s proprietary, new Biting Rail Milled grooves leading to more spin on approach and greenside recovery shots.  Premium forged from 1020 mild carbon steel, the XW-1 Wedges provide the ultimate in soft feel better players prefer.

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“Low-Mid handicappers are going to love the control and feel that our new TOUR B XW-1 Wedges deliver,” said Zack Kupperbusch, Golf Club Marketing Manager – Bridgestone Golf.  “The combination of the industry’s most premium forging and our new Biting Rail Milled grooves provide unparalleled softness and optimum spin on a variety of short shots.”

The new TOUR B XW-1 Wedge series is designed with three separate sole configurations, each intended to optimize the types of shots played with that particular club. The F (Flat) sole is found in the 50-degree gap wedge, and intended to optimize turf interaction on full or mid-range approach shots providing added stability at impact for a more penetrating ball flight. The M Sole, or the “Multi-Purpose Sole” characteristic of the 52, 54, 58 and 60-degree wedges, focuses on providing versatility for all the varying shots one would hit during a round.  From hooded bump-and-runs to open-flange flop shots, the M-Sole delivers maximum controllability. Finally, the A Sole, or the “Forgiving Sole” offers supreme forgiveness in the 56-degree wedge, whether you’re hitting an explosion shot to get out of a steep face bunker, or pin-hunting from the fairway.

The XW-1 wedges are available in right-hand only with a satin chrome finish and come stock with a Modus Tour 105 stiff shaft.  With retail availability beginning March 1, 2019, the street price will be $139.99 per club.  The TOUR B XW-1 wedges will be available through Bridgestone Golf’s proprietary equipment demo program, Test Drive, and all Club Champion retail locations.

For more information on Bridgestone Golf’s award-winning TOUR B family of golf balls and clubs, visit www.bridgestonegolf.com.

 

About Bridgestone Golf

Based in Covington, GA, Bridgestone Golf USA manufactures premium golf balls, clubs and accessories under the Bridgestone and Precept brands. The company started making golf balls in 1935 and today has more golf ball design patents than any other company. Beginning in 2006, Bridgestone revolutionized golf ball selection with its custom ball-fitting program, identifying a golfer’s ideal golf ball based on personal swing characteristics. Today, as the #1 Ball-Fitter in Golf, Bridgestone has conducted over 2.1 million fittings via a combination of live-fitting, online selection and its B-FIT App.  The consumer data gathered from ball-fitting continues to inspire Bridgestone’s innovative new golf ball designs, yielding industry-leading performance products for the entire range of players, from recreational golfers to the best in the world. Bridgestone Golf is proudly represented on international professional tours by icons such as Tiger Woods, Fred Couples, Matt Kuchar, Brandt Snedeker, Bryson DeChambeau and Lexi Thompson.  Bridgestone Golf USA is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Bridgestone Sports Co. Ltd., headquartered in Tokyo. More information:  bridgestonegolf.com.

Cleveland Golf. The brand that was founded in 1979 by Roger Cleveland and owned by Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd has long been known mostly for their innovations in designing game-changing wedges. The 588 was a stalwart in many golfers bags and to this day is one of the top-selling golf clubs in history. But Cleveland Golf has been about much more than just wedges. They’ve also been a leader in innovation as far as metalwoods go. Did you know that Cleveland Golf was the first golf manufacturer to introduce the industry to the world of 460 cc drivers? Or the first to be involved in the craze that was geometrically based design (The Hi-Bore in 2006)?

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The Huntington Beach, California-based company has developed it’s fair share of terrific iron designs too. Models like the CG 16 Tour, an entirely hybrid-based set the Hi-Bore irons, the Tour Action series of irons (TA5, TA7 etc), CG 1 Tour and of course the infamous (for perhaps the wrong reason) VAS 792 irons that incidentally Corey Pavin played to win a Major at Shinnecock Hills in 1995. From the prettiest of blades to the penultimate in game-improvement irons. For some time a few years ago it nearly looked like that Cleveland Golf was all but out of the equipment game except for the wedge market. Then something happened last fall. The company announced the release of new metalwoods (Launcher HB) and irons… the Cleveland Golf CBX. I was amazed to see this news and I was excited to get down to the PGA Show to see these irons in person.

When discussing the Launcher CBX irons the first thing that I need to point out is that these irons are designed to compete in the ultra-competitive game-improvement corridor of the industry. Even though these irons look so unassuming the Launcher CBX irons are loaded with innovation and technology. Highlights of the technology are…

  • Cup Face design. Between a thinner face and a periphery constructed of high strength steel golfers can achieve greater distance by virtue of a face that flexes at impact. Better Energy Transfer = More Distance.
  • Used initially in wedge design the Launcher CBX irons feature Tour Zip Grooves. The laser milling employed allows for more friction between the face and golf ball. The end result is control like you would have with your wedges. I’d be remiss in saying that the grooves also “debris away from the ball so you get consistent spin and control in the fairway, rough, or sand.”
  • The long irons feature confidence inspiring thicker top lines while the shorter irons have a thinner top line and more compact shape for golfers that don’t like a thick top line or a “clunky heavy look” on their scoring irons.
  • The “Dual V Sole” grind allows for more versatility from a variety of lies while also allowing golfers to cut through the rough easier. The reward for their efforts is better distance contact and better distance control.
  • “Feel Balancing Technology” was something that I first encountered during my testing of review of the RTX-3 wedges “microcavity in the hosel moves the center of gravity closer to the middle of the face, enhancing feel and distance control.With a sweet spot closer to your ideal hitting location you get more forgiveness in every iron”.
  • PW loft is 44*.
  • Available in steel (True Temper Dynamic Gold DST 98 gram) and graphite (Miyazaki C. Kua). 
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A Progressive look. Photo Credit; Cleveland Golf

 

One of my first stops at the PGA Show Demo Day was in fact the Cleveland Golf/Srixon/XXIO location. The weather was overcast and there was at one point a brief light rain.

Looks – Not to keep going on about the aesthetics but these are an iron that look nearly “Plain Jane” which isn’t a bad thing at all. In fact, for my personal taste I’d rather see an iron clean and bare as opposed to any unnecessary graphics. As I pulled out the 4 iron and 8 iron I compared them side by side and while there was a noticeable difference between the profiles of both the “larger” 4 iron never struck me as being obtrusive or shovel-like. If anything it would instill confidence in my “mind’s eye”. As I flipped over the clubs to examine the soles the “V Sole” grind reminded of the RTX-3 that I had the opportunity to review long-term. Ultimately, that wedge became my gamer and to this day because of the V Sole I have the confidence to play the 52* from anywhere… including flops if I open it up setting it right flat. The sole comes in handy as I explain the performance.

Performance/Feel – Okay I’m not going to mince words. The performance of these Launcher CBX irons are fantastic. Have you ever had the feeling that you were playing an iron that was confused with its genetic make-up? This was the case for the Launcher CBX irons. It’s very much a game-improvement iron but it’s like it thinks it’s a players club. From the inspiring looks at address to the feel at impact. This is a golf club that easily launches the golf ball into the air (living up to the moniker) and as you make impact you really have a strong sense of knowing where the golf club is. What’s more? The feedback is great… well struck golf shots allow you to feel those shots. The sensation is crisp yet soft. There is a true sense of “heat” off of the face and the Cup Face is something that I feel truly works. Of course, I’d love to be on a launch monitor at the show but based on my organic vibes and roots I knew the club (8 iron) was landing some 160 yards away… into the wind. Yes the lofts are bumped but much can be said of the technology that’s packed into the Launcher CBX irons. Shots were repeatable with repeatable high(ish) draws being the “norm”. However, shaping shots was easy as pie. The longer irons produced a more aggressive, penetrating ballflight. Again, elevating the ball easy.

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Specialty shots like a punch or “stinger” was a snap but the versatility of the V Sole was very much a winning technology here. Have you ever been in a situation where a 47*-58* lofted club was just too much loft to escape trouble? So instead you need to go to a 6 or 7 iron to escape with a rescue shot (stroke saver”)? The V Sole allows the shot by virtue of its versatility. Huge bonus marks here!!!

Forgiveness – Forgiveness in my opinion is more important than distance. Golf is not about that perfect shot that we pulled off. It’s about how good our misses were. I was really “on” with the CBX Launcher irons in my hands and maybe that was because of the confidence inspiring look. However, I happen to be good enough (at times bad enough) to purposely hit shots off of the toe. Any shots that were struck towards the toe were punished from a distance aspect (as they ought to be). However, misses didn’t flail weakly out to the right. Instead they were straight and never wandered off of their intended line. If you’re going to miss… miss straight.

Conclusion –  The Cleveland Golf Launcher CBX irons are a fantastic golf club that very much deserves to live up to the Cleveland Golf branding that they bare. Not flashy… and that’s alright by me. These are an unassuming that would be dangerous in the hands of a golfer that an easy single digit to something in the 20 range. High performing, forgiveness with tremendous versatility. A lot of golf club with a very reasonable price tag ($700 USD Steel)

***Coupled with the Launcher HB driver, fairway wood, hybrid and CBX wedges Cleveland Golf won the Teezy Award for ‘Most Forgiving Product Range” at the 2018 PGA Merchandise Show. A point that I made known to Communications Manager Noelle Zavaleta on the show floor Wednesday.

Until The Next Tee!!