“First Impressions Review” – COBRA Golf KING SPEEDZONE Driver

The COBRA Golf KING SPEEDZONE was one of the many drivers that I looked forward to swinging in 2020. I had initially seen one in-hand for the first time back in October during an industry show in Kitchener, Ontario. At the time, I salivated in anticipation of what might be, based on the cosmetics of this driver. Would it live up to my expectations?

That was a question that I would have answered at the 2020 PGA Show in Orlando, Florida. Here is my review of the COBRA Golf KING SPEEDZONE driver based on the first impressions that it gave me at Demo Day at Orange County National Golf Resort and Lodge.

The Set-Up

COBRA Golf KING SPEEDZONE (SZ) drivers come in two different models that will appeal to golfers looking for new drivers in 2020. COBRA Golf is offering both a “standard” KING SPEEDZONE and a KING SPEEDZONE XTREME. While the two drivers come with the same chassis, there are some differences between the two of them. Before looking at their differences, let’s see what the two models have in common.

COBRA Golf touts that the new line of KING SPEEDZONE drivers are their longest, most powerful drivers that they’ve created to date. Drawing inspiration from motorsports, these drivers look fast just sitting still. You can see some of this inspiration just by looking at their “dual exhaust” inside of the rear of the trailing edge. The KING SZ drivers feature a CNC-milled face like we first saw in 2018 with that year’s KING F8. Just that this face has a twist, or shall I say a face with an infinity symbol which of course means “no limits” or “endless”.

“Infinity Face” is one of the technologies that we see in the KING SZ. In utilizing Infinity Face. the face sees an expanded sweet zone and more ball speed across the entire surface area of the face.

The “T-Bar Chassis” was introduced this year. The T-Bar Chassis is a section of the interior part that runs from the leading edge all of the way to the trailing edge. In adapting this cross-member COBRA Golf R&D were able to create a stronger frame and in doing so improved the feel and durability of the KING SZ driver.

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Do you like the look of carbon fiber? If so, KING SZ drivers are just what you might be looking for. The KING SZ features a “360 Carbon Wrap”. The 360 Carbon Wrap covers a whopping 50% of the body. The use of all of the carbon fiber allowed COBRA Golf to move a staggering 25-grams of discretionary weight to use elsewhere. This is an absolute luxury in golf club design. By moving the weight around to other areas of the KING SZ drivers, this enabled engineers to create a driver with forgiveness to burn.

Making a return and introduced in 2019 is SPEEDBACK technology.SPEEDBACK weighting is a total of 69-grams of weight that’s positioned as low as possible resulting in the KING SZ driver’s high launch and low spin characteristics. SPEEDBACK AERO SHAPE gives the KING SZ a streamlined shape that transfers airflow energy which aids in providing “maximum acceleration” into the golf ball where you need it most. Through the impact zone.

Both drivers are offered in either a yellow and black or a white and black colorway.

KING SPEEDZONE: This driver is for “better player’s” looking for a driver that packs a ton of punch into a head that is more traditional in its appearance. Very notable is that golfers have the opportunity to find their optimal launch and spin characteristics via two adjustable weights (front and back) that adjust the center of gravity (CG). For lower spin in what’s already a head that’s designed to be lower spinning, golfers can place a heavier weight in the front which brings this low-spinning head even less spin. This is a feature that might benefit the higher spin player that doesn’t fit into the recommended profile (0 to 10 handicap). The standard lofts are 9* and 10.5* respectively. The KING SZ is designed to be controllable and workable.

KING SPEEDZONE XTREME: The KING SZ XTREME is designed with higher handicaps in mind. The targeted handicap is anybody that play’s to over a 10 handicap. Players with a lower handicap can benefit from this driver. The profile is a little more oversized and forgiveness is the key design feature here. There is one weight seen in the sole of the KING SZ XTREME. this weight is placed low and back aiding in the launch and enhanced MOI characteristics. The KING SZ XTREME is offered in standard lofts of 9*, 10.5* and 12* respectively. The head of the XTREME is described as being low to mid-spin.

** Both drivers have several hosel adjustments typically seen in COBRA Golf over the last several years. These adjustments include adjustments of +/- 1.5*.

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The Transition

There’s a reason why the KING SZ drivers scored very high marks in my Teezy Awards adjudication process. Ultimately the KING SZ scored very well, earning 45.5/50 points (91%) and securing the Silver Medal Teezy Award.

Aesthetically-speaking this is a driver as mentioned that looks fast sitting still. The inspiration from motorsports racing is obvious. Not only are the red “dual exhaust tips” noticeable but so are the “racing stripes” and accents just add to the illusion that this driver is fast and packed with plenty of horsepower. The KING SZ drivers have plenty of “rack appeal”  and they really do stand out in a golf shop. The face of the KING SZ is the prettiest in the industry. The CNC-milling is done with a purpose and the infinity symbol is another cosmetic stand-out of this driver. Your face is my case KING SZ.

In the address position, there is a difference in the profile between the two heads. It’s a difference that isn’t glaring in my opinion. But there is a difference. Either way, the look at address is confidence-inspiring. You get over the golf ball and you just want to put a swing on with the KING SZ. You just sort of have that urge to annihilate the golf ball and cause it cruel and unusual punishment. The KING SZ just sits so great at address. I like the simple alignment aid and the detailing around the trailing edge.

The performance of the KING SZ drivers is outstanding. Starting with the feel and the acoustics of the KING SZ drivers. Exactly what I look for in a driver. The acoustics are not intrusively loud but are also not muted in any way. When you make a good swing with these drivers you know it because the golf ball “blasts off of the starting line” (drag-racing reference). The sound and feel are so gratifying and in saying that I actually scored the feel and acoustics a perfect 10/10.  Sticking with the feel for a second, I just wanted to touch on the “other” feel. The feel through impact. Out of the two drivers, I liked the feel more of the SZ than the XTREME through the impact zone. I just felt like that I knew where the clubhead was at all times whereas with the XTREME I sort of “lost” that reference point. The ballflight is long and deep with both versions of the KING SPEEDZONE drivers. The ball gets up quickly and flattens out quickly. The flight penetrates and just flies downrange. In fairness though, the COBRA Golf booth was set-up in their customary location on the range at Demo Day, which gave them the advantage of attendees making swings with a helping wind.

The KING SZ XTREME might be one of the most-forgiving drivers that I made swings with at the 2020 PGA Show and among the most-forgiving that I’ve ever made swings with. I would definitely place it in the top two and that’s because it just seemed that no matter what I did, the golf ball went straight. Off-center strikes stayed straight and true with nary a loss in distance. The KING SZ is also a forgiving driver, so if you’re looking for a forgiving driver and prefer a more traditional shape, do not shy away from the KING SZ if you don’t “fit the profile” of the geared towards golfer of this driver.

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The Finish

I’ve said in the past that COBRA Golf is one of the biggest “movers and shakers” in the golf industry. The KING SZ drivers have not changed my sentiment. If you’re a golfer looking for a new driver in 2020 these drivers should be a serious contender and on your “must swing” list. The list impressive as far as the stock shaft offerings that include the Project X HZRDUS Smoke Yellow 60, the UST Mamiya HeLIUM, Aldila Rogue Silver 60 (110 MSI) and the Tensei CK AV Blue 60 from MCA.

The KING SZ and SZ XTREME drivers boast a perfect combination of distance and forgiveness. The latter is undeniable. Golfers will love the explosive feel off of the face. In my opinion, these drivers are an upgrade over their counterparts from 2019 and mot by a small margin. The KING SZ and SZ XTREME drivers definitely met my expectations and then some. One of the best of drivers of 2020.

Until The Next Tee!!

#fightandgrind #seeuonthenexttee

 

 

“First Impressions” Review – Cobra Golf KING F9 SPEEDBACK Irons

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

 

2019 PGA Show Demo Day – Summary

The buzz of the chatter amongst golfers. Golfers that are industry professionals, PGA Professionals and media types. The sound of golf balls meeting club face. The hustle of going from one side of the range to the other. This is Demo Day at the 2019 PGA Merchandise Show.

Today started out early enough. In fact, I was laying awake in bed at 4:30 a.m. with visions of golf balls and new drivers dancing through my head. Part of it was because of all the equipment that I was about to digest and part of it was concern because I had no idea who was coming to swing the clubs. It would be one of Dr. Jekyll, Mr. Hyde or Frankenstein. Hitting into a net in the backyard is one thing… but not seeing real flight is another.

 

After getting ready, Crystal and I left the motel and made our way to the Orange County Convention Center where we checked-in to the Media Center and picked up our badges. After taking the obligatory shot in front of the large PGA Show sign we made our way to the shuttle bus that would transport us to Demo Day at Orange County National Golf Resort and Lodge. Thru Disney and traffic our driver navigated his way ever the skillful driver.

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Upon arrival, it was time to have the first scheduled meeting. Wilson Golf. The 2019 line-up is so much more than the Driver vs Driver 2 winner (Cortex). I had a nice talk with Rich Hulock (Wilson Golf Innovation Manager – Metal Woods) about their range for 2019. The first thing that I need to say in a brief summary is that the Cortex was the rightful winner of the reality t.v. show. It looks fantastic (their nicest to date), the sound/feel was on point and the performance was undeniably terrific. However, as I alluded to Wilson Golf introduced their D7 range recently. When released, I said that the D7 driver and woods “looked right”. They are!! This is a product range that performs and has an appealing price-point. Oh, the D7 irons were just as good as the metal woods. I’ve often said that while their irons have been great for some time now their metal woods have lagged behind. This is simply not the case in 2019.

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Tour Edge Exotics released their EXS range in late 2018. I had the opportunity to test and review the hybrid. I’ve been saying for some time that Tour Edge Exotics got it right with EXS. They got it right because they had a ton of technology packed into their clubs with a very attractive price point. The driver was worth the price of admission and the same can be said of the fairway wood and irons. I have no doubt that Tour Edge Exotics (EXS) is the best bargain for the golfer dollar in 2019.

I should really talk about Callaway Golf and the Epic Flash. I had the pleasure of meeting with Dave Neville. Mr. Neville is the Senior Director of Brand Management for Callaway Golf. Admittedly, I had some skepticism about their latest creation. I mean AI (Artificial Intelligence) in a golf club. “Flash Face Technology”? Really?! After the launch and in the days leading up to the show I offered these words. “If they married the Rogue and Epic… they might really have something”. Holy Smokes! They have something! In 2017, I said that Epic looked and performed just like it should. The Epic Flash is that and more. It’s AMAZING! As much as I loved the driver the fairway wood was even better. Oh… the latest iteration of Apex is one great set of irons. The sound and feel is so pleasant. It’s what I dream of at night.

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Cobra Golf. The new KING F9 SPEEDBACK driver already has two wins to its credit. Both Lexi and Bryson have won with it in their golf bags. After how good the F8/F8+ were in 2018 I wondered how the encore would be. Tom Olsavsky… I have no idea how your R&D does it but you guys did it again. That product range of metal woods is just a total juggernaut. When it came to the new SPEEDBACK irons (Variable and ONE Length) I knew within two swings how good they were. Either one produced easy launch and a repeatable ball flight. My meeting with Mr. Olsavsky was very educational.

Bridgestone Golf. Not only did I see new clubs of theirs today (Tour B JGR) but I also saw and used their newly introduced E12 golf ball. It’s priced at $29.99 USD and is a 3-piece offering. The wind was brutal out there today and this golf ball stayed on line in the wind, was very controllable and feels great off of all clubs. Speaking of feel. Their tour B JGR driver and metal woods had one of the most responsive faces of the day. I describe the feeling as “lively”. Moreover the new Tour B JGR irons are not only great-looking but are really easy to swing and launch.

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Mizuno Golf. I never made any swings with the irons. What I did do however (time constraints) was make swings with the ST-190 driver. There are two models of ST-190. (standard and G). Not only does this club look great and feel even better. It’s face is “jumpy”. Swings were rewarded with flights that just seemed to float and continue down range.

Every year that I come down to the PGA Show I eventually find a “hidden gem”. The discovery of the 2019 PGA Show might have happened at Demo Day. Have you heard of Eagle Rebirth Golf? No? That’s because they’re new. I had an appointment at 3 p.m. with the owner Ernie Reynolds at the ICG booth. He has a very thorough range. Drivers, woods, hybrids, irons, wedges and a couple of putters. I nearly made swings with everything that he had. The irons and wedges are forged from 8620 and they feel soft. The driver and metal woods were easy to launch, went straight and just penetrated. I was picking a tall flag in the middle of the range and I was carrying driver over it. Oh… there was a hurting quartering wind. I wasn’t too sure what to expect after looking at them on their site… let me tell you. It wasn’t what I experienced. Holy Smokes! It takes a while for this Eagle to land. Mr. Reynolds… you have some amazing products.

I could go on and on but I won’t. Here’s what you need to know. The products are so good in 2019 that it’s hard to comprehend. This product cycle is STRONG! Look for first impression reviews of all of these clubs and more in the near future. Time to lick the wounds and get ready as the show moves indoors tomorrow for Day ONE.

Until The Next Tee!!

#FightAndGrind #SeeUOntheNextTee

First Look – Cobra Golf KING F8/F8+ Driver Review

In my opinion there have been two companies in particular that have been the biggest “movers and shakers” in the golf industry over the last several years. Because I haven’t had the opportunity to have any long-term demo and testing opportunities with many products most of my evaluation takes place at the PGA Merchandise Show every January in Orlando, Florida. Honestly, it’s my main reason for attending the show for the last 5 or 6 years. While the one company took a step backwards Cobra Golf has continued to move the needle on the golf industry.

Cobra Golf long-known for its affiliation with Greg Norman is also known for a number of other things. Among them, they can be looked upon as a brand for the young or young-at-heart because they’re trendy. Trendy? Sure, look at the colour schemes of their previous products. Remember the television spots when it was “Go Time” where Rickie Fowler was in the room with all of the oranges on the floor? That was in 2012 when Cobra Golf introduced orange-crowned drivers (The Fowler Edition AMP). Following on the heels of that driver other colours were introduced (blue, red, silver, white, pink, a Masters Edition green, and the aqua known as the colour choice of Lexi Thompson). The AMP Cell, BiO Cell and Fly-Z followed with the latter leading to a fun booth at the PGA Show where Cobra actually had a functioning teeter-totter in place. It was clearly to demonstrate the ability of the Fly-Z and it’s ability to move weight back and forth. Over the last several shows Cobra Golf in my opinion has had the best performing metalwoods. Queue the fast forward to the present.

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For 2018, Cobra Golf introduced the F8/F8+ range of products. Personally speaking, the F7 range of 2017 didn’t wow me so I was pretty excited to see what the F8 was going to be about. As pictures and content slowly showed up over social media the more intrigued I became. First up was the face. With the F8 range the face of the driver is a milled face. Next was the finish(es) that would be offered with my eye very keen on the finish known as “Nardo”. An eye-catcher without being a bright orange or blue. Then there was the addition of Cobra Connect powered by Arccos introduced by Cobra in 2017. Clearly there was a combination of many things from aesthetics to technology that made me curious. Below is a rundown of some of the features of the F8/F8+ driver.

  • The KING F8+ Driver introduces COBRA’s first CNC milled driver face paired with 360° Aero™ Technology, bringing you COBRA’s smartest, fastest, most precise driver ever. Tour preferred shape for maximum workability.

  • Golf’s first CNC precision milled forged titanium driver face with E9 Technology™ is thinner, hotter, and more precise.

  • Featuring COBRA’s thinnest and hottest face, the KING® F8+ driver delivers the perfect blend of speed and workability with precision face milling, aero and adjustable weight technology.

While in Orlando at the PGA Show Demo Day held at Orange County National Golf Center and Lodge I had the pleasure and opportunity to meet with Tom Olsavsky who is the VP of Research and Development for Cobra Puma Golf. Many thanks go out to Communications Manager Rachel Rees for arranging my time on Demo Day. During my time with Mr. Olsavsky I learned a lot more of what separates the F8 range apart from others. most notably is the face. As mentioned, the F8 is precision-milled as opposed to the usual hand-polished common in the industry. Not only does CNC machining mean more precision when it comes to face thickness… think of it in another way.

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Picture yourself working in a foundry somewhere… anywhere. It’s a real dirty and dark environment. Perhaps it isn’t the healthiest of places to be. Now picture it when it’s 100*F outside. You work what seems endless days. Maybe the quality of your work deteriorates a little bit. Now on the flip side of the coin. You’re working on a CNC lathe. The room is clean and air-conditioned. The work environment is cleaner, safer and the quality of work does not suffer. Which would yield the happier workers? 

The face of the F8 range isn’t just about aesthetics… the face is about a lot more than looks. The thinner face also creates more ballspeed and potential length. The body of the F8 features 8-1-1 Titanium while the face is forged saving weight to be placed elsewhere in the head to enhance launch conditions. Cobra Golf spent a lot of time in researching golf swings… impact in particular. What R&D found was most golfers (99%) have an array of areas on the face where the make impact. From low heel to high toe. So instead of remaining in the mold of other manufacturers where the sweet spot is a circular in nature Cobra Golf expanded the sweet spot to be elliptical allowing for more forgiveness and ballspeed across the face on misses. Cobra Golf uses “Dual Roll Technology” where the curve of the face is more pronounced on the top than the bottom the face. The purpose for this is to optimize launch and spin on shots low or high on the face. Incorporated into the F8 range is the “MyFly 8 With Smart Pad” which allows for further adjustment options to further optimize your launch and spin conditions. Three stock shafts including the Aldila NV 2KXV Blue 60, Aldila NV 2KXV Green 65 and the Project X Hazrdus Yellow 75. The crown is ultralight carbon fiber which features “360 Aero Technology”. Instead of using titanium strips on the crown Cobra Golf researchers decided on polymer strips instead which is lighter aiding the aerodynamics while use on the sole makes it more durable. Cobra Golf did everything they could to reduce the weight while improving aerodynamics and speed.

Lot’s of interesting tech talk… but how did it perform for this mere mortal? First off, I will preface this by saying that there is a reason why it won the first ever Teezy Award.

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Aesthetics – Upon looking at this driver in the address position it just looks like a serious weapon. I love the Nardo finish which comes from the automotive industry. When the light hits the paint at a certain angle metallic flake noticeable. The carbon fiber crown is evident while the polymer strips give the F8/F8+ a sleek, stealthy look. Flipping over the F8+ the first thing that my eyes went to were the dual pentagon-shaped weight screws. On the F8+ Cobra Golf also allowed for further adjustments. By switching the weights back and forth you can optimize your launch and characteristics even more by changing the center of gravity from front to back while the F8 the ability to change the center of gravity back and heel is an option. The F8+ really does suits my needs the best of the two. The graphics meld seamlessly together. The face! Oh the face! I love the intricate CNC-milling of the face and in particular I really thought that the “disc” looked smart! Such a fresh change and escape from the usual and mundane. The F8 has a slightly larger footprint than the F8+.

Performance – Right from the acoustics of my first pass I knew that Cobra Golf got this one right. I think they missed in this department with the F7. With the F7 the sound and feel translated into a feel that wasn’t inspiring bordering on “ho-hum”. The F8/F8+ is a massive improvement over 2017. When you make impact the sound is solid, authoritative and has the best sound of any driver I made passes with during the 2018 PGA Show. The ballflight offered a penetrating trajectory and I felt that the F8+ was an “easy swinger” regardless of the recommended handicap rating for players wanting to game the F8+ (Tour to 15 Handicap). But don’t get trapped into thinking if you’re a 20 handicap that you can’t use one. Try both and go with the one with the better results of the two. I used a stock set-up where the shaft was the Project X HZRDUS Yellow 75 X. Every swing yielded the same repeatable aggressive ballflight. Long into a quartering hurting wind (from the right) and I have no doubt that it was the longest of the show for me. The F8 was more of the same although I did find the flight higher… as might be expected by the weight configuration. I really feel that the F8+ would make golf holes shorter for me and definitely would put me in better position for setting up better Par 5 scoring. Shaping shots was a breeze and I always felt like I was in control at all times on the tee with the F8/F8+ in my hands. Confidence inspiring!!

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Cobra Golf introduced the addition of Cobra Connect powered by Arccos in 2017. For those out there unfamiliar with Cobra Connect and Arccos the premise here is that it “allows golfers to track their driving distance and accuracy using detailed stats and analysis to improve their game”. Through the use of a sensor in the end of the grip golfers can collect over the course of several rounds. At this point, Cobra Connect (Arccos) can actually give you club recommendations based on your yardages and tendencies. This data can really help golfers improve.

Like I said, the Cobra Golf F8/F8+ stole the spotlight at the 2018 PGA Merchandise Show Demo Day. It won the Top Driver category quite handily and I knew it by the time the show moved to the Orange County Convention Center on Wednesday. I tried to tell Tom Olsavsky about my conclusion in person but never found him. Cobra Golf… you did it again! If you need to purchase a new driver have the Cobra Golf F8 range on your “to try” list.

Until The Next Tee!!

 

 

2018 PGA Show Demo Day

The weather forecast the night before Demo Day for Winter Garden, Florida wasn’t exactly ideal. For me, there was a sense of disappointment because not only was there rain in the forecast but there were thunderstorms expected at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.. Fortunately, the rains never came and instead came blue skies and temperatures in the high 70’s. Sure there were a few clouds in the sky and there was plenty of wind for attendees and manufacturers alike but not once was there a threat of ill weather.

My day started at around 8 a.m. after a drive from the Plant City area that was mired in traffic. Upon arriving at Orange County National Golf Resort and Lodge and driving through the fescue to park I made my way into the grounds with my media badge proudly on display. I stopped at a couple of booths that were setting up (Wilson Golf and Cleveland Golf) just to say hello to a contact or two there. I took advantage of watching Cleveland Golf Staffer Jamie Sadlowski make some swings before attendees came in. Sadlowski is a recent signing and I received an amazing tip of a new staffer tat’s going to be announced. Later in the morning while I was at morning meetings Wilson Golf announced that the sequel to Driver vs Driver was currently undergoing filming. At this time Wilson Golf also introduced the judging panel who includes Wilson Golf President Tim Clarke, ex-NHL superstar Jeremy Roenick and internet sensation Rick Shiels.

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As I moved on from there I met with a representative of Buffalo Agency (Bill Fiedler) who introduced me to a few of their clients. The first was a brand of high-end golf shafts from a Japanese-based brand called Seven Dreamers. The brand sees its root in the aerospace and medical industry’s respectively. Their golf shafts offer a wide variety to players of all types which totals 27 different SKU’s in a wide variety of weight and shaft flex options. A review will be coming but once we found the right shaft for me putting the ball in play was easy. Predictable shot patterns and trajectory. Afterwards, I was introduced to the team at the JPGA. The Junior Players Golf Academy attracts junior golfers (and their parents) from all over the world. Having two locations (Orlando-area and Hilton Head Island, South Carolina) the academy teaches junior golfers not only how to play the game of golf but also gives them an education with the goal of the golfers earning scholarships into university golf programs. Moreover the academy also teaches their prospects very important life skills.

I had an appointment at 10:30 a.m. with the VP of Cobra-Puma Golf Tom Olsavsky  . Mr. Olsavsky talked me through the 2018 product range from Cobra Golf and the range is setting up what could be another juggernaut of a year for the brand. The brand features two color stories for their metal woods (F8 and F8+). This year the finishes come in black (stealthy) and a color called Nardo. The Nardo is mean and is accented by having metallic flakes infused into it. The face features CNC Milling as opposed to forged types and the reason for this will be explained in a later article. The brand also released the new F8 ONE Length irons building of a very successful F7 model in 2017. Added to the ONE Length range in 2018 is a matching hybrid. I will be receiving a set of the F8 ONE Length irons for review and the one feature that the irons have is the integration of  Cobra Connect. Launched in 2017  in only their driver Cobra Golf has added the Arccos Golf system to their sets. Arccos has so many features that I can’t list them right now but this might be the ultimate golf metrics data collection in the business. It’s powered by Mircosoft and this thing is amazing.

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I had an appointment with TaylorMade Golf where I made swings with the new M3 irons and the M3 and M4 drivers that feature “Twist Face Technology”. I really enjoyed the M3 irons (preferred the pairing of the Tensei graphite) and between the M3 and M4 I had to lean towards the M3. Both clubs were easy to hit but my time was rather limited. I would go back to Wilson Staff and swing the new C300 range. Their irons come in two different models (C300 Forged and a Cast version). As much as I liked the C300 Forged the C300 (cast) “went like stink”. The exit speed was great and the 8 iron was carrying 165 yards. I really did like the hybrid, fairway wood and driver as well.

So as one might expect you always have the givens. The can’t misses that are the giants of the golf industry. You know them… TaylorMade Golf, Callaway Golf, Titleist and PING. What people don’t realize there are so many terrific independent or lesser known brands in the industry… especially on this side of the pond. I have to start by mentioning New Level Golf Equipment. Their CEO Eric Burch brings 20 years of design and clubmaking knowledge with him. New Level launched new irons and wedges and I fell in love with with the 1031 Forged irons. KBS Shafts is a partner of his and paired with the C-Taper 125 the 1031 Forged proved to be a hidden gem (btw his 902 irons are no slouch either). All of their irons are forged. I made swings with Vertical Groove Golf who launched their driver last year and a fairway wood this year. Drives into the wind with an 8* head and X-Stiff shaft hit bombs into the wind. Back in North America is Lynx Golf. After their purchase by Dick’s Sporting Goods the brand was all but extinct in North America. With the launch of their new Prowler VT irons and their Forged CB irons they are clearly no longer “that Lynx”. Performance and irons that are simply good looking. I had high expectations and those were met. But their #BB driver was the biggest shock of the day because that driver is one sneaky, long, and consistent performer.

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Finally, this year I got to swing some of the lesser known (to North America) JDM (Japanese Domestic Market) manufacturers. Starting with Epon the brand offers the cleanest wedge on the market because it is essentially void of markings. Forged by premier foundry (Endo) these irons are of the highest quality and their AF-705 irons were a powerful combination of beauty, forgiveness and distance. Honma Golf might be a brand that as far as I’m concerned has a huge stigma attached to them. That stigma is that they are for the wealthy and feature a gold driver worth $2000 USD (4 Star). They are that but… they also feature 3 other models including the BeZeal. The driver and irons were disgustingly good and I’ll save that write-up for another time. Also in the brands that I’ve never made swings with until now category is Onoff Golf. Their Onoff Kuro Black range is sleek, sneaky and powerful and again they were well worth the wait.

Stay tuned for more PGA Show coverage in the upcoming days.

Until The Next Tee!!