Cobra ZL Encore Driver: Editor Review

by   |   March 16, 2012
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Cobra ZL Encore Driver: Editor Review Reid Ogata
Looks
Performance
Feel / Sound:

4.5


By pitbull808

Pros:
E9 face technology with duel roll face technology makes this ZL Encore driver one of the most forgiving and long across the face drivers Cobra has ever made. $399 for an adjustable driver!

Cons:
They made the ZL Encore in black with neon yellow accents and stunning white. How can you choose just one??!!

Bottom Line:
Forgiveness, length, adjustability, color options all in a great affordable price is a tough match for any company. Cobra’s ZL Encore is a must try for anyone looking for a new driver!

Reviewed:
Cobra ZL Encore
Shaft- Graphite Design Tour AD DI 6X
Loft-9.5
Length-45.5”
460cc

Looks:
Some people have called it loud and obnoxious. I just call it flashy and youthful. Sure it’s not your “father’s Cobra”…and I consider myself old enough to be a father a few times and I absolutely love it! I have read some comments about the flashy neon yellow Cobra alignment mark on the head which I initially thought was a bit much but soon grew to like it. The flashy neon on the sole as well as head cover in my opinion brings excitement and youthfulness to the club as well as the company.

I’m sure there are a few Cobra purists who would rather have the old gold and black but I think that group has aged. They are definitely are not the group that Cobra is aiming at to bring life back to the company as they’re numbers are probably very small. Puma has injected some life and youthfulness to the brand with the looks of the clubs and the signing of Lexi and Rickie. It may not be for everyone but I’m sure there’s a new youthful crowd that at one time would not have taken a moment to try one out will at least look at it now.

Performance/Playability: 
The ZL Encore brings together some of the great features of past heads and new technology creating a great driver that not only for me excels in great length but great forgiveness.

First of all, like the old ZL, the Encore starts with a composite head and sole fused to a titanium face and soleplate. A weight screw is strategically placed to the rear of the sole to move the center of gravity low and back which per Cobra will help the initial launch of the ball yet the full design will allow lower spin.

E9 face technology is once again used on the Encore which per Cobra basically gives you a larger sweet spot across the face with less loss of ball speed and great accuracy.

New on the face of the Encore is the “dual roll” club face. Cobra engineered this dual roll club face to allow shots made lower on the face to launch higher with less spin. The duel roll face with E9 techonology along with the weight screw on the sole creates a head which will launch the ball higher at impact and still do it with less spin.

AFT/Adjustable flight technology is also available on the Encore. At neutral the 9.5 sets up square. Utilizing the AFT I’m able to adjust the head in 2* increments closed or open. If you should choose to buy a 8.5* driver, adjustability is a bit different as it is already 1* open. Opening it up will result in a 3* open face. Closing it will set it 1* closed.

All these innovations are great on paper but all that matters to me is how it works on the course. I had been playing a R11 for most of 2011 going back and forth with my S3. I found the R11 to be a bit more forgiving but I thought my distance was much better with the S3. A friend had actually picked up the ZL Encore before me and had told me how much he liked the forgiveness of the head. Since he’s usually very instrumental in my ho-ing ways, I knew I had to get one for myself to try out.

A custom ordered ZL Encore was made with Graphite Design DI 6X shaft. When it arrived, I was pretty giddy with excitement. Much to do with me trying to change my ways in 2011 and keep the majority of my bag the same. It was nice to start 2012 with something new. That evening I arranged a range session. Sure enough what my friend told me was correct. Launch was fantastic, carry great but the best part of it, I was swinging out of my shoes and keeping it in the range! Of course that still didn’t throw the doubt out of my head. Heck, I’m a world class putter with any putter I pick up in a golf shop. I know with drivers and driving ranges, I’m a +2 handicap!  The real test would be the next day on the course.

The 1st hole at the usual course I play has a fairway bunker on the right that seems to attract my ball like magnet and steel. I just can’t seem to draw the ball on that hole because of the close out of bounds on the left and usually bail out to the right. My mind was confident from the evening before at the range so I just figured, grip it and rip it as hard as I could. I nice soft draw occurred which actually took me to the middle of the fairway and past the bunkers. Okay I told myself..great start. The 2nd hole has water all along the right and OB on the left. It’s the #1 handicap hole on the course and the drive is easily the most important shot. Filled with confidence from the first hole I lined up with left edge of the water and hit a nice draw back to the middle of the fairway. After that drive, you can ask my playing partners, I was crowing about how great the Encore was and they needed to get one!

The rest of the round was great — probably the best driving day I’ve had in ages. Since I’ve been using the Encore for over a month now, it hasn’t let me down yet and has quickly settled itself firmly in my bag. I’ve found that the launch is a bit higher then what I usually get with 9.5* lofts but the combination of it and the GD DI shaft has worked very well. I’ve found that moving the ball either way takes a bit more effort as this driver just seems to want to go straight. Not a bad fault because when I do put a bad swing on it, where I’d immediately think I’m heading for another fairway, the misses have actually surprised me because they’re not bad at all. It’s actually become common place for me to tell my playing partners, “hmmm..not bad for a #1 spot on the face..or #9 spot on the face!” (referring to the E9 Face Technology)

Feel: 
I love the feel of this driver. The face in my opinion actually feels hotter and with more spring then other drivers I’ve played. I’m sure there are guys who would like a more harder feel at impact but for me the head seems to absorb the ball and then shoot it off the face. The sound is much more muted then the older Cobra drivers people are used to hearing on the driving ranges. Cobra really has done well with the face because the shots across the face still fly well and sound the same. The face really does make you feel the huge sweet spot that they’ve attempted to engineer in the head. For me the ball seems to rocket off the face even on your worse swing.

Overall Bottom Line:
The Cobra ZL Encore is an excellent driver that worked for me from the get go. Great looks, forgiving face and great distance were enough to convince me that I didn’t need to go try anything else on the market. Its inspired great confidence in my game and I’m actually going for it on Par 5’s again where I used to lay up. Probably because it’s so forgiving I can actually go back to swinging hard with no worries and of course realizing much more yards from my drives. The performance of the ZL Encore has actually made me feel young again. I’m keeping up with the young guys I golf with again and now gloat when I outdrive a guy twenty years younger then me! If you want to bring some youth and energy to your driving game, go out and try the ZL Encore. It’s been years since I could actually say “I love this driver!” I can’t even remember the last time I felt this way about any driver in my bag. At this time the Cobra ZL Encore is easily my pick for 2012 driver of the year.

Discuss the ZL Encore here in the forums.

About

Reid's been an avid golfer for more than 40 years. During that time, he's amassed quite a putter collection and has become one of GolfWRX's leading equipment nuts.

Reid tries all the latest equipment in hopes of finding the latest and greatest of them all to add to his bag. He was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii where the courses are green and the golf is great!


4 Comments

  1. Dave C

    November 13, 2012 at 12:47 pm

    got this driver after a custom fit, initially went for an R11s, but tried this at the same time. Got much better results and consistency with the cobra. I can now stand on the tee and feel easy that I will find the short stuff. Like the previous review I do get a high launch, but I love the hang-time and carry.

  2. Pingback: Cobra ZL Encore Driver Review | TheGolfingPost.com

  3. Kris

    September 17, 2012 at 5:06 am

    I Love this Driver!

  4. Dave Clyne

    August 19, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    I purchased the new Cobra ZL ENCORE (Black) this spring and while I love the driver I am getting a higher launch than with my previous driver and not any roll out. I have the 9.5 loft and noticed the sole weight screw is an 8. Can this screw be changed to help lower my launch angle. I have the motore F-1 55 stiff shaft?

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