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Are Cobra’s F7 Junior One-Length Irons Good for Youth Golf?

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Golf equipment companies that make clubs for junior golfers are in a difficult position. They need to look out for their business by turning profits, developing brand loyalty and ultimately making their customers happy. But these equipment companies also need to look out for the future of the sport, and get clubs in the hands of junior golfers that will properly develop their golf games.

As such, I want to have a conversation about Cobra’s new Junior F7 One irons, which are single-length golf clubs made for juniors aged 13-15 years old, and the possible consequences (negative or positive) of putting these clubs in their hands.

First, I’d like to commend Cobra on making a set of irons that may make the game easier for more junior golfers, and for being bold in its chase to simplify the game. The single-length iron sets were developed by Tom Olsavsky, the Vice President of R&D for Cobra, after thorough testing, study and input from Mike Schy, a proponent of The Golfing Machine theories and Bryson DeChambeau’s longtime swing coach. Although the single-length system is not widely accepted — not yet, at least — the concept of single-length irons is such that a golfer doesn’t need to change his/her swing between irons because they’re all the same length, weight and have the same lie angle. To make the golf ball go different distances, single-length irons clubs use different lofts and head designs. That certainly can simply things.

Junior golf equipment has come a long way from the days of simply cutting down adult sets, or using your father’s hand-me-downs. There are now many different options for golfers of different sizes and strengths, and that’s a wonderful thing. Also, Cobra gave these particular irons serious engineering attention and similar technologies as the adult, one-length sets.

Like the adult versions, the F7 Junior One irons have TechFlo — a technology designed to help the longer irons fly higher and farther — and they also have PwrShell faces, which means they are thinner and more forgiving across the face. The grooves are milled and designed to produce the proper spin for each individual iron. The clubs come stock with Lamkin EPDM REL-Red, White and Blue grips and graphite Fujikura Fuel Junior shafts (36.25 inches in length), and they come in a five-piece set (5-7-9-PW-SW) that sells for $449 available now at retail and online.

I question the effectiveness of buying a single-length club for a junior golfer who’s 13-15 years old — a fairly wide range of physical characteristics there — without getting fit, but that’s another argument for a different day. My particular worry is for junior golfers who plan to take the game seriously, and have hopes of competing in high school and attaining a college scholarship. Along with the benefits, there could be longterm drawbacks of using single-length irons at a young age.

As a former NCAA Division I golfer who used progressive, or “normal” length irons his entire career, I had a mostly positive experience with the single-length irons — for which I was fully fitted — during my experiment for a GolfWRX review. I’ve since switched back to a normal-length set of irons because of the limitations I felt with trajectory and distance control; the more time went on, the more I felt long irons went too low and short irons went too high. My shotmaking was also suffering around the greens.

For me, using single-length irons was an experiment that I underwent by choice, and switching back to “normal” irons was natural because my swing and mentality had developed using progressive-length irons. My fear for junior golfers ages 13-15 who are given a set of single-length clubs is that their swings would be ingrained under the single-length concept… a concept that isn’t necessarily for everyone. Junior golfers in the developing stage of their bodies and swings are impressionable, and switching back from the single-length set into normal length irons later in life could prove difficult. Also, their shotmaking could be sacrificed in the short- and long-run.

I spoke to top-100 fitter Scott Felix of Felix Clubworks, and Ryan Johnson, the 2015 Michigan Amatuer champion and a fitter at Carl’s Golfland, for their expert opinions on the topic. Felix said while the single-length system could be beneficial using the relatively shorter 5 iron in terms of contacting the center of the face more consistently — but not in creating more speed — the longer wedges may take away from touch and feel around the greens. He said while he wouldn’t necessarily recommend single-length irons to a junior golfer, he would evaluate their performance with the clubs and help the junior get what they play the best. Johnson added that the single-length system may be easier since it’s only one swing in theory, but that the system might work best for a one-plane type swing (which The Golfing Machine calls a “zero shift”) and for junior golfers who understand and embrace the concept. As an accomplished player himself, Johnson once tried the one-length system and found difficulty with the short irons and wedges because they flew too high and to the left, and said “I couldn’t even think about hitting a bunker shot with them.”

“I wouldn’t tell a junior golfer or a parent not to (buy a single-length set),” Johnson said. “I’d just give them a rundown of the concept and what it entails.”

Olsavsky, on the other hand, doesn’t see a downside to the single-length system. “If a kid can hit a 7-iron, [he or she] can hit every club in the bag,” he says, and that one-length irons will ultimately put less stress on the mind and body throughout a junior’s life if they stick to one-length irons. He described a short game test that Cobra performed on one-length wedges vs. normal-length wedges, where a group of 2-12 handicappers hit 20- and 30-yard shots, as well as a chip shot and a flop shot. The results of the test showed that shots hit with single-length wedges finished closer to the hole and were more preferred in three of the four locations.

Regardless of performance, however, junior golfers are influenced heavily by what they see on TV or what their friends are doing.

“Since working with Bryson DeChambeau to help bring this concept to life in two adult sets of irons earlier this year, we have had requests from retailers and consumers to offer a set of one-length irons for junior golfers,” Olsavsky said in a press release.  

So let’s say a junior’s favorite golfer is Bryson DeChambeau and they see him using single-length irons. Obviously, they ask their parents to buy them a set of single-length irons because it’s “cool.”

Parents should proceed with caution here. If a child wants to compete at a high level, it’s a bigger decision than simply saying, “Oh, this is what the kid says he wants so I’m going to buy it for him.” Let’s remember, DeChambeau himself grew up using a conventional length set of irons and later switched.

That’s not to say single-length is the wrong decision, either. Some kids will absolutely thrive under a single-length system, and in turn have confidence they wouldn’t have otherwise. The game may be simplified and come easier for the junior golfer because of it, and make golf fun.

For others, their development may be stunted. That’s why seeking professional guidance in this circumstance is so crucial.

CobraOneLength

Cobra has this to say about the performance aspects of the clubs.

“We tested these irons among a wide range of skill levels ranging in age from 13-15 and we found that universally they delivered more consistency and better performance for these younger golfers,” Olavsky said in a press release.

Personally, I don’t doubt that to be the case. In a vacuum, the irons surely perform really well (it’s more of the long-term effects that have me nervous).

Let me make this clear: I’m not bashing Cobra for providing single-length irons as an OPTION for the youth, I’m simply warning parents and junior golfers that the decision to buy these clubs is an important one. It will have lasting effects, whether positive or negative. Before buying a set of single-length irons for a junior golfer, please have this conversation with them under the supervision of a professional fitter or teaching professional.

We don’t want to rob golf of the next Justin Thomas just because he/she idolizes Bryson DeChambeau, or vice versa.

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He played on the Hawaii Pacific University Men's Golf team and earned a Masters degree in Communications. He also played college golf at Rutgers University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism.

22 Comments

22 Comments

  1. Bruce

    May 19, 2017 at 9:21 am

    Written from an OEM perspective; that is, throw away a good idea to preserve the business profits. Quit bringing up red herring non-issues for marketing reasons. If we all played single length and someone introduced variable length, what an uproar that would cause. Golf is a marketing driven business: very very little science (I am a PhD Mechanical Engineer who understands golf science). Single length irons make good sense. Multiple length irons and swing weight matching HAVE NO BASIS IN SCIENCE. These are all marketing.

    • Mat

      May 20, 2017 at 7:29 pm

      Actually, multi-length irons have plenty of basis in science. They use length of shaft as one of two main properties that provide distance gaps between irons. By doing this, they can achieve a more consistent descent angle, apex, and distance range within a set.

      These are the issues that SLI are working hard to overcome. There have been advancements, but that doesn’t mean they’re perfect. But for a ME PhD to go on about how MLI have no basis is ignorant.

  2. Dave R

    Apr 26, 2017 at 10:07 pm

    Ken I think you need a hug.

  3. Eddie

    Apr 26, 2017 at 6:32 pm

    Talent will always trump equipment. No piece of equipment will ever make or break someone’s golf career.

  4. The dude

    Apr 26, 2017 at 4:55 pm

    What I don’t understand….why it takes someone forever to share their thoughts on a post. If it’s longer than 5 lines…just read the last sentence….

  5. Scott

    Apr 26, 2017 at 4:06 pm

    Just because you have a different grip with different clubs does not mean everyone else does. And just how many 6′ 4″ juniors do you come across? Wow.

  6. Philip

    Apr 26, 2017 at 2:29 pm

    They are if you are an OEM that wants to start a new batch of players that will not have an enormous supply of cheaper used clubs to pick from once they grow up and can spend their own money.

  7. cody

    Apr 26, 2017 at 1:18 pm

    I have a 5 year old girl that i would like to get into golf. I will be honest i dont see a donw side to single length irons to start with. Are you all really saying that a kid cannot switch to more traditional clubs at some point?? c’mon man!!!

  8. Mat

    Apr 26, 2017 at 4:09 am

    Navel gazing. If a kid is starting out, they get a lower learning curve. Fantastic.

    What makes anyone think that the equipment they had as a 14 year old will affect them as an adult? Seriously, if you’re talking about things like apex height and swing weight to a 14 year old, not only is it a relevant conversation, let them choose themselves!

    This product is designed for Daddy Upper-middle-class to give to his kid as a starter set that does not suck. This is not, at all, for serious kids. The serious kid MIGHT strip the crap shaft and play something else if they want SLI, but you’re talking a few very good kids with parental bankroll.

    Arguing against quality options for kids is not growing the game. It’s the opposite.

  9. AussieAussieAussie

    Apr 26, 2017 at 12:35 am

    I still can not understand why so many people hate the idea of single length irons? If a kid starts out playing golf with a single length set in years to come- when they have made them for the 3-5yr old age groups, then he or she will know no different than to use single length, to them varying length could be a foreign and ridiculous concept. Ultimately we want to as golfers grow the game- however that be. Relaxed dress codes, cheaper big name brand clubs more realist available, so why not just embrace the change, I’m sure hybrids and lob wedges were seen as a fad at the time of establishment? Yet here we are with most of us having one or both in our bag?! If one length works great, if it doesn’t that’s also fine! I wouldn’t expect you all to go swing like Jim Fuyrk just because it works for him. It’s not likely to work for you but no one begrudges him his success as a result of it?!

  10. Ken

    Apr 26, 2017 at 12:09 am

    I bought a set of Tommy Armour EQLs many years ago and got rid of them for that exact reason. I couldn’t use my 7 iron left hand grip for the other clubs and particularly for the low loft clubs. Junior golfers who try to use these clubs will limit their progress and likely never make it into the pro tours.

    • Scott

      Apr 26, 2017 at 4:04 pm

      That is quite a leap to think that someone starting the game should not start with an easier system, then move into a different set that may work better for them down the road. I started with blades and persimmon woods – certainly a world of difference over today’s equipment.

      Andrew you could not be any more wrong.

    • Scott

      Apr 26, 2017 at 4:04 pm

      Ken,
      As if you could even know that.

  11. Prime21

    Apr 25, 2017 at 9:07 pm

    It’s like everything else in golf, it will work for some, not for others. Hopefully Cobra is willing to supply a Demo Set so that Juniors could test them out prior to purchasing. Wishful thinking, but a thought!

    • Ken

      Apr 26, 2017 at 12:12 am

      Good junior golfers will never adapt to the single length/single shaft lie clubs because it will be too frustrating for younger minds to go through the trial and error phase of conversion.

      • Scott

        Apr 26, 2017 at 4:10 pm

        Ken,
        Juniors are probably the BEST at going through a learning phase because they can look at things with an open mind and have not been influenced by people such as yourself.

  12. RI_Redneck

    Apr 25, 2017 at 8:48 pm

    IMHO:
    Shafts should have been steel.
    Heads should have adjustable weights to adjust for longer lengths for varying heights and as the kid grows.
    Price should be lower (steel shafts hep here).
    It would have AT LEAST offered length options based on the kids height. Overlooking this greatly hamstrings Cobra’s ability to market these to the young masses. 13-15 yr olds height can vary A LOT. Good concept, but poor marketing.

    BT

  13. Steve

    Apr 25, 2017 at 2:11 pm

    Why is nobody complaining about the insane cost? This is at least at the same cost as a set of regular irons $90 per. How can that ever be good for junior golf?

  14. mvhoffman

    Apr 25, 2017 at 2:00 pm

    I just have a feeling that these will continue to be developed. Players will soon start to play these from the start of their golf “career”. The USGA will wait, and wait, and wait…. and wait… just like they did with the belly putter, and then find a loophole to take these away and destroy more careers… I’m going to start a thread on this.

    • Ken

      Apr 26, 2017 at 12:16 am

      Parents who buy such clubs for their aspiring amateur golfer and hopefully a golf scholarship are only trying to cover up the swing faults of their child. That’s the only reason an adult will buy them too. An expensive band-aid remedy for a poor swing with regular clubs.

      • Brandon

        Apr 26, 2017 at 4:58 pm

        Ok, you can say whatever you want, but don’t you even dare thinking about using a putter that isn’t a blade. On that note, trade in your 460 cc driver for a good old fashioned steel shaft 975D driver, as current day drivers are also an “expensive band-aid for a poor swing”.

  15. Tom 1

    Apr 25, 2017 at 11:24 am

    Yes

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Mondays Off

Mondays Off: Golf Hall of Fame resumes—what does it take?

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We are back from last week, and Knudson is finally a father! Steve asks what it takes to get into the Golf Hall of Fame, how much do majors count? Knudson talks about his last round and how much fun he had. Finally, we talk about the Rory and Keopka beef that is starting to play out.

Check out the full podcast on SoundCloud below, or click here to listen on iTunes or here to listen on Spotify.

Want more GolfWRX Radio? Check out our other shows (and the full archives for this show) below. 

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Opinion & Analysis

The Wedge Guy: Getting more out of your wedges

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When I started SCOR Golf in 2011 and completely re-engineered the short end of the set, I took on “the establishment” and referred to our line of clubs not as “wedges” but as “scoring clubs”—I felt like the term “wedge” had become over-applied to clubs that really weren’t. While I’ve tempered my “respectful irreverence” a bit since then, I still think we are shackled by the terms applied to those high-loft clubs at the short end of our sets.

Think about this for a moment.

It all started with the invention of the sand wedge back in the late 1930s. This invention is generally credited to Gene Sarazen, who famously had metal welded onto the bottom of a niblick to give it bounce, and introduced the basic “explosion” sand shot. Over the next few decades, the sand wedge “matured” to a loft of 55-56 degrees and was a go-to staple in any serious golfer’s bag. In his 1949 book, “Power Golf”, Ben Hogan described the sand wedge as a very versatile tool “for certain shots” around the greens, and listed his maximum distance with a sand wedge as 55 yards.

Even into the 1970s, the pitching wedge was considered the ‘go-to’ club for short recovery shots around the greens. And because the typical pitching wedge was 50-52 degrees in loft, it was very versatile for that purpose. I remember that even as a scratch player in the 60s and early 70s, I would go days or weeks without pulling the “sand wedge” out of my bag—we didn’t have bunkers on that little 9-hole course so I didn’t feel like I needed one very often.

Fast forward into the 1980s and 1990s, people were hitting sand wedges from everywhere and the wedge makers began to add “lob wedges” in the 60-degree range and then “gap wedges” of 48 degrees or so to fill in for the evolutional strengthening of iron lofts to a point where the set match pitching wedge (or P-club as I call it) was 44-45 degrees typically. Along the way, the designation “G”, “S”, “L” and “P” were dropped and almost all wedges carried the actual loft number of the club. I think this was a positive development, but it seems we cannot get away from the pigeon-holing our wedges into “pitching”, “gap”, “sand” and “lob” nomenclature.

So that history lesson was a set-up for suggesting that you look at all your wedges as just “wedges” with no further limitations as to their use. I think that will free you up to use your creativity with each club to increase your repertoire of shots you have in your bag…more arrows in your quiver, so to speak.

For example, long bunker shots are much easier if you open the face of your 50- 54-degree wedge so you don’t have to swing as hard to get the ball to fly further. You’ll still get plenty of spin, but your results will become much more consistent. Likewise, that super-short delicate bunker shot can be hit more easily with your higher lofted wedge of 58-60 degrees.

When you get out further, and are facing mid-range shots of 40-75 yards, don’t automatically reach for your “sand wedge” out of habit, but think about the trajectory and spin needs for that shot. Very often a softened swing with your “gap” wedge will deliver much more consistent results. You’ll reduce the likelihood of making contact high on the face and coming up short, and you can even open the face a bit to impart additional spin if you need it.

Around the greens, your lower-lofted wedges will allow you to achieve more balance between carry and roll, as almost all instructors encourage you to get the ball on the ground more quickly to improve greenside scoring. For the vast majority of recreational/weekend golfers, simply changing clubs is a lot easier than trying to manipulate technique to hit low shots with clubs designed to hit the ball high.

Finally, on any shots into the wind, you are almost always better off “lofting down” and swinging easier to help make more solid contact and reduce spin that will cause the ball to up-shoot and come up short. Too often I watch my friends try to hit hard full wedge shots into our all-too-common 12-20 mph winds and continually come up short. My preference is to loft down even as much as two clubs, grip down a bit and swing much more easily, which ensures a lower trajectory with less spin…and much more consistent outcomes. It is not uncommon for me to choose a 45-degree wedge for a shot as short as 75-80 yards into a breeze, when my stock distance for that club is about 115. I get consistently positive results doing that.

So, if you can wean yourself from referring to your wedges by their names and zero in on what each can do because of their numbers, you will expand your arsenal of shots you can call on when you are in prime scoring range and hit it close to the flag much more often. And that’s really the goal, isn’t it?

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Opinion & Analysis

Autumn golf is the best golf

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For many, golf euphoria occurs the second weekend of April when the flowers start to bloom, courses begin to open, and the biggest tournament of the year is on television. But I believe the absolute best season for golf is the fall.

Let me explain.

SPRING

Spring is the season of hope and rebirth, and for most golfers, it’s the first opportunity to break out new clubs or take the game you’ve been working on all winter to the course for the first time in many months. Depending on where you are in North America or around the world, golf courses are just opening up and the ground is drying out from a winter filled with snow and ice.

Yes, spring is fantastic, you can shrug off the occasional mud ball since it’s probably your first round in four months and you’re willing to cut “the super” some slack for the slow greens, because you’re just happy to be out on terra firma chasing around a little white ball. Your game is rusty. Courses aren’t quite there yet, but it’s golf outside, and you couldn’t be happier.

SUMMER

The dog days. This time of year is when golf courses are the most busy thanks to the beautiful weather. But high temperatures and humidity can be a real deal-breaker, especially for walkers—throw in the weekly possibility for afternoon “out of the blue” thunderstorms, and now you’re sweating and drenched.

Unless you are a diehard and prefer the dew-sweeping pre-7 a.m. tee time when the sun breaks on the horizon, rounds tend to get longer in the summer as courses get busier. And you’ll often find more corporate outings and casual fairweather golfers out for an afternoon of fun—not a bad thing for the game, but not great for pace of play. Summer makes for fantastic course conditions, and with the sun not setting until after 9 p.m. for almost two months, the after-dinner 9 holes are a treat and you take them while you can.

FALL

As much I love nine holes after dinner with eight clubs in a Sunday bag and a few adult beverages in June, nothing compares to the perfect fall day for golf.

The sun’s orbit, paired with Mother Nature, allows you to stay in your warm bed just that little extra, since you can’t play golf when it’s still dark at 6:30 a.m. The warm, but not too warm, temperatures allow you to pull out your favorite classic cotton golf shirts without fear of the uncomfortable sweaty pits. We can’t forget that it’s also the season for every golfer’s favorite piece of apparel: the quarter zip  (#1/4zipSZN).

Courses in the fall are often in the best shape (or at least they should be), since player traffic and corporate tournaments are done for the season. As long as warm afternoons are still the norm, firm and fast conditions can be expected.

Last but not least, the colors—reds, oranges, and yellows—frame the green fairways and dark sand to make them pop in the landscape. Fall is the final chance to get in those last few rounds and create happy thoughts and mental images before the clubs go away for the inevitably cold, dark days of winter.

Fall is meant for golf! So take pictures, smell the smells, and make great swings, because golf season is quickly coming to a close, and now is the time to savor each moment on the course.

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