Connect with us

Opinion & Analysis

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

Published

on

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.

Your Reaction?
  • 35
  • LEGIT4
  • WOW1
  • LOL3
  • IDHT4
  • FLOP3
  • OB5
  • SHANK40

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

Leave a Reply

Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Opinion & Analysis

A road trip to St. Andrews

Published

on

In 2017, my son Brian and his wife Lauren, proposed a family trip to Scotland. Both of them have traveled a surprising amount for a couple barely 30 years old, but for us it would be a huge trip. We couldn’t get it scheduled for 2018 but everything lined up for October, 2019, a trip that might even include playing the Old Course in St. Andrews, if we got lucky. The amazing Lauren made all the arrangements, beginning with multiple email exchanges with the staff at the Old Course, who were extremely gracious and encouraging in their communications.

Unlike most other courses, in order to play the Old Course, you have three options: One is to book a very expensive trip through a travel broker who will guarantee a tee time. This is the only way to make your arrangements in advance, but you’re paying thousands for the package, which would include at least three other days of golf. Sounds great but above our budget. Secondly, you can take a real gamble and just show up at the starter’s window the day you are hoping to play, and get in line as early as 3 a.m., put your name on the list and then wait, maybe all day, maybe hopelessly. It’s no way to budget an entire day on your vacation. The third way is to use what is called the “ballot system,” submitting your request for a tee time via email to standrews.com, 48 hours ahead and hopefully getting a spot.

Now, it’s not as grim a prospect as it may sound for planning to play golf in St. Andrews. The above only applies to getting onto the Old Course. We were able to make a tee time for the Jubilee Course, one of six other courses (Jubilee, Castle, New Course, Eden, Strathtyrum, and Balgove), all part of the St. Andrews Links complex, “The Home of Golf” as their brochure proclaims. Since we were scheduling our trip for the tail-end of the golf season, the gentleman from St. Andrews wrote that he was cautiously optimistic we would be successful using the ballot system.

This wasn’t just a golfing vacation, the five us had an outstanding time touring the west coast of Scotland, including the Oban Whisky distillery, the Harry Potter train in Glencoe, Ben Nevis—the highest peak in the UK, Fort William, and the spectacular Highlands, the town of St. Andrews, and finally the marvelous city of Edinburgh. We ended up spending one night in St. Andrews, at The Saint, a lovely four-room hotel, a 10-minute walk from the Old Course. That evening, walking down cobblestone streets, with the R&A clubhouse coming into view, was like walking in a dream.

Our day started out by driving directly to the new Links Clubhouse, which has wonderful views of the courses from the restaurant. We had lunch, and I must admit to being a bit nervous over my chicken bacon mayo sandwich. We’d parked our bags in the locker room down below, it’s just what you’d expect in terms of world-class accommodations and feel. I could just imagine the pros suiting up there as they prepare to play in The Open.

Our day of golf at the Jubilee Course was spectacular, although it got off to a rainy start, but the weather cleared by the fourth hole. Mary, Jill, and Lauren formed our gallery as we teed off, then they went for a walk around the lovely town. I parred the first hole and told Brian that made my entire trip to Scotland. I was on fire, shooting 42 on the front nine but hitting only three fairways and two greens in regulation. Brian shot 45. We’d decided on match play, and I was up by three on the 11th hole. Brian then said the fateful words, “You haven’t hit into a pot bunker all day!” Which I promptly did. My game immediately tanked while he proceeded to make a total of nine pars, shooting 42 on the back, and won the match 2 & 1. Our gallery re-appeared on the 17th hole, the sun was shining, and we were in golf heaven! We ended the day with a pint at the famous Dunvegan Pub by the R&A clubhouse.

Earlier in the day, Brian had received an email from St. Andrews, unfortunately stating that we had not been selected for the ballot to play on the Old Course the next day. He resubmitted our request for the following day with fingers crossed. We headed to our next stop, Edinburgh, looking forward to exploring this ancient yet cosmopolitan city. During our walking tour, Brian received the email notification that we’d scored an 11 a.m. tee time on the Old Course for Friday. He and I would be making a road trip back north while the ladies spent the day in Edinburgh.

It was about an hour ride back to St. Andrews but traffic was quite manageable and we arrived at 9:30, plenty of time for breakfast at the Links Clubhouse. I felt that anticipatory excitement I always have right before marshaling at a big event, like a U.S. Open, where the atmosphere of the place is nearly overwhelming. Not really nervousness, but we were about to play the Old Course! Isn’t that every golfer’s dream? To say Brian was wound up tight would be an understatement, he could barely choke down half a scone. The walk over toward the starters shack, where we would meet our caddies, with the R&A clubhouse right there at the first tee was unreal.

The clerk was so gracious, taking our 130 Scottish pounds green fee (about $160), and handing us a very nice valuables pouch complete with an amazingly detailed yardage book, tees, pencils, divot tool, and scorecard. We were then approached by our two caddies, who between them had nearly 30 years of caddying experience. I got John, whose personality was perfect for me, quiet, calm, not too chatty, yet personable. Brian’s guy, Steve was just right for him as well, right from central casting with a thick Scottish brogue. He instantly bonded with Brian to become his playing partner/coach, which was just what he needed to get over the first tee jitters.

The starter, Richard, approached us as we made our way over to the first tee, greeting us much like you see them do at the start of the Open Championship. He made our presence there seem extra special, despite the fact he’d probably done the same routine 10 thousand times. He even took our picture. We were then introduced to our two other playing partners, both former members of the course, so they didn’t need caddies to show them the way. These guys were hilarious, self-deprecating, with brogues so thick I could understand maybe one word in three, not the best golfers by any stretch, which was somehow quite reassuring and certainly less intimidating. Brian proved to be the best golfer in our foursome by far although he had a rough start, hitting his drive into the Swilcan Burn.

I was really calm on the tee, it helped that there were very few spectators as it was drizzling and maybe 50 degrees. John told me where to aim, (“at that gorse bush off in the distance”) and I was able to do exactly that. As we walked off the first tee Steve said “now you can all breathe again!” I found having a caddy to be such a wonderful added dimension to this whole experience—not just as a guide to point out where in the world I should be aiming on this alien golf layout, but also to set an expectation for me on each shot which I then tried my best to fulfill. The greens weren’t too scary as I felt used to the speeds having played Jubilee, but having John read the subtle breaks and provide aiming points was terrific.

I played bogey golf through the first 12 holes but the rain only intensified and despite John’s best effort to keep things dry, the final 6 holes were a mess. Brian was one up on our match at the turn, then went on to win decisively at 5 up, with a total for the day of 5 pars and a birdie, including par on 17, the famous Road Hole. As the day went on, we found ourselves saying over and over to each other, what a wonderful experience this was despite the conditions. Steve took the traditional picture of us on the Swilcan Bridge, on our way to finishing on 18, which Brian almost parred. He later said he had such a tremendous feeling of accomplishment, having conquered the Old Course.

Your Reaction?
  • 10
  • LEGIT1
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK0

Continue Reading

Podcasts

TG2: Brooks and Peter Kostis rip Patrick Reed

Published

on

Brooks Koepka and Peter Kostis both talk about Patrick Reed and his cheating allegations. Brooks was on SiriusXM and Kostis on No Laying Up don’t hold back their feelings on cheating. Kostis also has some PGA Tour beef, saying that they don’t care about the television broadcast.

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. 

Your Reaction?
  • 6
  • LEGIT0
  • WOW0
  • LOL0
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP0
  • OB0
  • SHANK8

Continue Reading

Opinion & Analysis

Watch for players lofting up at altitude at the WGC-Mexico Championship

Published

on

This week, at the PGA Tour’s WGC-Mexico Championship, we are going to watch some of the best and longest players on the planet play what will effectively be one of the shortest courses on tour.

Now, 7,341 yards is by no means a cakewalk, and there are shorter courses from a pure yardage perspective played on tour—Harbour Town, as an example, only plays at 7,099 yards from the very back. The difference is Harbour Town is played at sea level while Club de Golf Chapultepec is at over 7,500 feet of elevation, and when you factor in the altitude difference between the two courses, they play very differently—more on the math in a moment.

The altitude will also factor in how some players will be setting up their equipment and we could see some adjustments. The most obvious is lofting up the driver or fairways woods to increase carry, which is something Tiger Woods specifically mentioned last year.

The biggest misconception when talking about playing golf at altitude is that the ball doesn’t spin the same in thinner air and players “loft up” to maintain spin. Let’s get into the physics to bust this “spinning less” myth and simplify the science behind playing at altitude,

The golf ball is an inanimate object, and it has no idea it’s at altitude; the air will not have an impact on how much the ball will actually spin. Yes, increasing loft should, by almost every imaginable measure, increase spin but the air it travels through will not change the spin rate.

However, playing at altitude has an effect, Let’s break down what happens

  • Thinner air exerts less drag force (resistance/friction) on the ball. The ball moves more easily through this less dense air and won’t decelerate as quickly as it flies. But note that the faster an object moves the more drag force will occur
  • Less resistance also means that it is harder to shape shots. So you when you see Shot Tracer, the pros are going to be hitting it even straighter (this makes Tiger’s fairway bunker shot last year even more unbelievable)
  • Less force = less lift, the ball will fly lower and on a flatter trajectory

Time for some math from Steve Aoyama, a Principal Scientist at Titleist Golf Ball R&D (full piece here: The Effect of Altitude on Golf Ball Performance)

“You can calculate the distance gain you will experience (compared to sea level) by multiplying the elevation (in feet) by .00116. For example, if you’re playing in Reno, at 1 mile elevation (5,280 ft.) the increase is about 6% (5,280 x .00116 = 6.1248). If you normally drive the ball 250 yards at sea level, you will likely drive it 265 yards in Reno.”

Not every player will be making changes to their bag, and some will instead focus on the types of shots they are hitting instead. When speaking to Adam Scott earlier this week, I was able to ask if he planned on making any changes heading into Mexico the week after his win at the Genesis Invitational.

“It’s very rare for me to make club changes week-to-week beyond playing in the Open Championship and adding a longer iron. The one thing I focus on when playing at altitude is avoiding partial shots where I’m trying to reduce the spin because as spin goes down the ball doesn’t want to stay in the air. I’ve experienced partial shots with longer clubs that end up 25 yards short, and because of that I want to hit as many full shots as possible”

With Club de Golf Chapultepec sitting just over 7,800 feet above sea level, we’re looking at 9.048 or an increase of just over 9 percent. That makes this 7,341-yard course play 6,677 yards (+/- where the tees are placed).

 

Your Reaction?
  • 41
  • LEGIT6
  • WOW2
  • LOL3
  • IDHT0
  • FLOP4
  • OB1
  • SHANK3

Continue Reading

WITB

Facebook

Trending