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Company Spotlight: Don’t Cell Cobra Short

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In the last year, the golf industry has seen Cobra-Puma push the limits of how much color golfers will tolerate in their games. Its 2013 line of drivers, fairway woods and hybrids will be available in silver, as well as colors called Directoire Blue, Barbados Red and Vibrant Orange; names that sounds more Crayola than Cobra. Right now color is cool, and Cobra’s new lineup makes it the coolest.

But Cobra has always been a cool company, even before Puma purchased it in March 2010. Cobra was previously a part of Acushnet, where it sat beneath Titleist in prominence. But it caught the attention of both serious and casual golfers with its dedication to performance, especially in drivers.

The company will turn 40 this year, making it one of the longest-running OEMs in golf. Acushnet purchased Cobra in 1996, a time when the company was enjoying success from endorser Greg Norman and its Baffler hybrid. But the spotlight stayed fixed on Titleist at Acushnet, which stifled Cobra’s development. Under Puma, however, Cobra is back on the main stage. And despite its youthful vibe, the company has grown up.

Cobra’s 2012 product releases were some of the most polarizing of the year. Riding the buzz of Rickie Fowler’s affinity for orange, Cobra added orange to its drivers, fairway woods, irons and wedges. Consumers were hard-pressed to find a product in the 2012 lineup that was not available in orange. But there’s such a thing as too much of a good thing, which is why Cobra has broadened its color palate.

   

   

Cobra’s AMP Cell iron in different color options

But Cobra isn’t just hoping to become the most noticeable golf equipment company. Cobra-Puma President Bob Philion said he wants Cobra to become the most desirable company in golf. To do that, the company is focused on creating golf equipment that makes the game as easy and as fun as possible.

An example of that focus is Cobra’s AMP Cell driver, which gives golfers the ability to adjust loft from 8.5 degrees to 11.5 degrees without changing any other variables. Philion recognized the importance of adjusting loft in an internal test of Cobra employees that showed that 62 percent were playing drivers with the wrong loft.

The solution was highly technical – Cobra engineers wanted to create a driver that allowed a wide range of loft adjustability. But the problem with changing loft on most adjustable drivers is that when loft is changed the look of the club is changed at address as well. This is because changing loft on most drivers means changing what part of the driver’s sole rests on the ground.

When loft is added to most adjustable drivers, the face tilts up. This places more of the rear portion of the sole on the ground and has a tendency to close the face. When loft is reduced on most adjustable drivers, the face tilts down. This puts more of the front portion of the sole on the ground and has a tendency to open the face. But Cobra engineers figured out a way to solve the problem with a “Smart Pad,” a 1.5 cm strip located on the bottom of the AMP Cell drivers, fairway woods and hybrids that limits the amount of sole that rests on the ground at address. This keeps the face angle of the AMP Cell drivers, fairway woods and hybrids remarkably square regardless of loft setting.

According to Tom Preece, vice president of R&D at Cobra-Puma, the AMP Cell’s adjustability, coupled with the Smart Pad, creates an elegant, low-cost solution to long-game fitting (the AMP Cell will retail for $299). More importantly, the adjustability eliminates the need to make drivers, fairway woods and hybrids in different lofts. Because of that, Cobra can make its long-game clubs in different colors without increasing the amount of SKUs that retailers have to carry. Click here for more discussion in the “Tour/Pre-release equipment” forum. 

“Celling” out

Many golfers who were loyal to the Cobra brand were concerned for the company’s future when Puma acquired it. The familiar black-and-yellow color scheme took a backseat to orange, which gave some Cobra loyalists the impression that the company was more interested in paint than performance. But what they didn’t know was that while Cobra changed its look, it kept its independent R&D team from Acushnet.

According to Philion, one of the perks of being a part of Puma is Cobra’s ability to tap Puma’s trend research. That connection helped Cobra decide on the four different color options for the AMP Cell lineup. It sparked innovation as well.

The face of an AMP Cell driver

Puma has employed “Cell” technology in footwear and clothing for years, using cell-shaped structures to make its products lighter, more stable and more comfortable. Cobra engineers piggybacked on the concept, carving out cells in their new drivers, fairway woods, hybrids and irons that helped them redistribute weight in the most desirable areas.

Cobra engineers did this by finding out which parts of the clubs were put under the least stress at impact. They were able to move weight from the areas under the least stress to places where it could boost performance, making certain parts of the titanium-constructed AMP Cell drivers as thin as 0.7 mm. Many golfers assumed that the colored dots that surround the sweet spot of the AMP Cell drivers, fairway woods and hybrids were cosmetic details, but they are actually the easiest-to-see example of Cobra engineers moving weight on a granular level in the new line.

“To save a few grams doesn’t sound like a lot,” Preece said. “But it’s huge.”

Casting a wide net

One of the biggest issues facing Cobra as it moves forward is an uncertainty about what segment of the market it should be targeting. Is its future creating products for golfers who dress like Rickie Fowler or those who play like him? While Cobra has roots in super game-improvement clubs such as the Baffler, the company is also releasing an AMP Cell Pro driver and AMP Cell Pro Forged irons in 2013, PGA Tour-inspired designs that will meet the demands of the best golfers in the world.

 

It’s easy to say that the bright colors of Cobra’s 2013 lineup mean that it’s aimed at younger golfers. But as anyone who’s ever been to a recent PGA Tour event can attest, it’s not just young golfers who are wearing bright, bold Puma clothing: it’s 30-year-old, 40-year-old and even 50-year-old golfers.

Maybe that’s the point. It doesn’t matter how old you are or how serious you are about the golf — you can still enjoy the game. Cobra is helping golfers have more fun on the course by giving them color options. And offering nearly one-size-fits-all equipment takes a great deal of risk out of the purchase, making buying new gear more attractive. The 2013 lineup of equipment has also proven that Cobra’s R&D team is committed to making the game easier as well, which means there is only one question left for Cobra-Puma.

How do I keep my white belt clean?

Click here for more discussion in the “Tour/Pre-release equipment” forum. 

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Zak is the Editor-in-Chief of GolfWRX.com. He's been a part of the company since 2011, when he was hired to lead GolfWRX's Editorial Department. Zak developed GolfWRX's Featured Writer Program, which supports aspiring writers and golf industry professionals. He played college golf at the University of Richmond (Go Spiders!) and still likes to compete in tournaments. You can follow Zak on Twitter @ZakKoz, where he's happy to discuss his game and all the cool stuff that's part of his job.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Fred

    Oct 27, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    Color – don’t forget the 70 years young

  2. Jason

    Oct 19, 2012 at 9:53 pm

    Great piece! I play mizuno irons but will NEVER go away from Cobra drivers… The instant I can get that Amp Pro I will be ordering!

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Equipment

Jimmy Walker spotted testing a Titleist prototype driver?

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As spotted by GolfWRX Forum Member “anthony007,” Jimmy Walker was shown on the Golf Channel’s Morning Drive hitting an unidentified driver at the Warrior Open.

In anthony007’s forum post, along with the photo, he asks the question “Is this a new Driver from Titleist?”

Well, it’s hard to tell from the grainy photo exactly what the driver says on the sole. But then Jimmy Walker himself posted on Twitter saying: “Great catch! Its always fun to test new prototypes and the [Titleist on Tour] guys have given me some cool toys to play with that are incredible – but unfortunately I can’t talk about them yet!”

While the response is a bit cryptic, it does seem that Walker confirms he was indeed testing a Titleist prototype driver.

What do you think?

Click here to see what GolfWRX members are saying about the photo.

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Whats in the Bag

UNLV Rebels WITB: 2018 NCAA Men’s Championship

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The University Of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) Men’s Golf team is participating in the 2018 NCAA Championship at Karsten Creek Golf Club in Stillwater, Oklahoma on May 25-30. Representing the Mountain West Conference, the team is led by Head Coach Dwaine Knight.

To see the team’s full roster, click here

Below, we highlight the clubs and shafts that each of the players on the team are using at the championship.

Shintaro Ban

Driver: Callaway Rogue Sub Zero (9 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Tensei CK Orange 70TX

3 Wood: Callaway Rogue Sub Zero (15 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Tensei CK Pro Blue 80TX

Hybrid: Callaway Epic (20 degrees)
Shaft: Oban Steel 115

Irons: Callaway X Forged (4 and 5 iron), Callaway Apex MB (6-PW)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100

Wedges: Fourteen RM Raw wedge (50, 55 and 60 degrees)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue X100 (50 and 55), S400 (60)

Putter: Odyssey O-Works 7S

Harry Hall

Driver: Titleist 917D2 (8.5 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Tensei CK Orange 70TX

3 Wood: Titleist 917 F3 (15 degrees)
Shaft: Aldila Rogue M-AX 65TX

5 Wood: Titleist 917 F2 (18 degrees)
Shaft: Aldila Rogue M-AX 65TX

Irons: Titleist 718 AP2 (3-9 iron)
Shafts: KBS Tour V 120X

Wedges: Titleist SM7 (48, 54 and 60 degrees)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold S300

Putter: Evenroll ER5 Hatchback (36.5 inches)

Jack Trent

Driver: Titleist 917D3 (8.5 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD-TP 7X

3 Wood: TaylorMade M2 Tour (15 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD-DI 8TX

Hybrid: Titleist H2 818 (17 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD-DI 105X

Irons: Titleist T-MB (4 iron), Titleist 718 CB (5-PW)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold X100

Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM7 (50, 56 and 60 degrees)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold X100

Putter: Scotty Cameron Futura X5R
Grip: SuperStroke Flatso 1.0 (35 inches)

Justin Kim

Driver: TaylorMade M2 2017 (10.5 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD-TP 7TX

3 Wood: TaylorMade M2 2017 (15 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD-TP 8TX

Driving Iron: Titleist 712U (3 iron)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD-DI 105X

Irons: TaylorMade P-750 (4-PW)
Shaft: KBS $-Taper 130X

Wedges: Titleist Vokey Sm6 (50, 54 and 58)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400

Putter: Scotty Cameron

Golf Ball: Titleist Pro V1

Justin Chong

Driver: TaylorMade M4
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD-IZ 6X

3 Wood: TaylorMade M3
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD-DI 7X

5 Wood: Ping G30
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD-DI 7X

Hybrid: TaylorMade M1 (21 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD 85X

Irons: Miura CB-57 (4-PW)
Shafts: Project X LZ 6.5

Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM7 (52-09 F Grind and 58-08 M Grind)
Shafts: True Temper Dynamic Gold Tour Issue S400

Putter: Odyssey V-Line Fang O-Works

Golf Ball: Titleist Pro V1

Garrick Higgo

Driver: Titleist 917D3 (9.5 degrees)
Shaft: Aldila Rogue Silver 60X 120MS

3 Wood: Titleist 917F3 (15 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana Black 70 TX

Hybrid: Titleist 816H2 (18 degrees)
Shaft: Aldila Rogue 85H X-Flex

Driving Iron: Titleist TMB (2, 3 and 4 iron)
Shaft: KBS C-Taper 130X

Irons: Titleist AP2 (5-PW, GW)
Shafts: KBS C -Taper 130X

Wedges: Titleist Vokey SM7 Matte Black (55 and 60 degrees)
Shafts: KBS C-Taper 130X

Putter: Scotty Cameron Futura X7M Black Tour Only

Ball: Titleist Pro V1

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Equipment

Spotted: New Aldila Rogue Silver 130 MSI shaft

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The official Tour launch of the Aldila Rogue Silver 130 MSI shaft is this week at the 2018 Forth Worth Invitational at Colonial, and we were able to snap a few photos on the range. MSI stands for millions of pounds per square inch, and basically, it refers to how stiff the fiber is — the higher the number, the greater stiffness it has.

Headed to retail later this summer, according to Aldila, the lower-launching, lower-spinning Rogue Silver 130 MSI is the successor to the Rogue Silver 125 MSI.

Per the company, the new Rogue Silver 130 MSI will feature the same tapered butt-counter-balanced design as the 125. The stronger 130 MSI carbon fiber produces slightly lower torque, however, and is the strongest material in a Rogue shaft to date.

Several Tour pros have already made the switch to the new shaft:

  • Jimmy Walker put the 70 TX in his driver for the first time at The Players. He had been gaming the 80 TX in his fairway wood since the Masters.
  • Kevin Chappell has been playing the 80 TX in both his 3 and 5-woods.
  • Martin Flores has put the 70 TX in his driver
  • Chez Reavie put the 60 TX in his driver at the Masters.

We’ll bring you more details as they become available closer to launch. Click here to see what GolfWRX members are saying about the new shaft in our forums.

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