Following up on its previous King F7 golf clubs, Cobra is back with its full line of King F8 drivers, hybrids and irons, and you’ll notice a slew of differences from its predecessors. Cobra has thrown the proverbial kitchen sink at the new F8 golf clubs based on about 2.5 years of R&D, according to the company, and many of the new technologies are quite visible. It’s also the first line of “smart” golf clubs, which you’ll learn more about below.
Here are 10 things you need to about Cobra’s new F8 golf clubs, and don’t forget to join the discussion and see more photos of the product!
1) CNC-Milled Faces
Unlike just about every other driver face on the market, Cobra’s new F8 and F8+ drivers have multi-directional CNC-milled faces. The process, which takes roughly 25 minutes per head according to Cobra, allows the faces to be produced thinner to increase ball speeds, and it saves weight to be used elsewhere in the heads (mostly low and rearward to increase forgiveness).
The surface roughness that the milling produces increases friction, which actually lowers spin on drivers. Additionally, milling the faces tightens the tolerances, leading to more consistency and overall ball speed — since there’s a tighter tolerance, Cobra can get consistently closer to the USGA’s CT limit (a measure of spring-like effect).
While we’ve seen “speed trips” on the crowns of other drivers on the market to increase their aerodynamic quality, Cobra was able to add trips without adding much weight to the crown’s structure. That’s because Cobra is using polymer decal tape to trip-up airflow around the crown during the swing. The polymer trips, along with a re-designed, streamlined shape — Cobra calls this “360 Aero” — the company has reduced overall drag by 17 percent compared to the F7 drivers. According to Cobra, this leads to 1.1 mph more ball speed, and 4 yards in total distance.
3) Weight a second
Rather than three weight ports in the soles of the drivers, as we saw in the F7 and F7+ drivers, Cobra has switched to two weight ports in the F8 (draw and neutral) and F8+ (forward and rearward) drivers. According to the company, fewer weight ports in the head allowed engineers to drop overall CG (center of gravity) in the head, thus making them more forgiving, while not giving up the ability for golfers to adjust CG to their swing needs.
4) All of the F8 clubs are “Smart”
Cobra launched its Connect system, in connection with Arccos Golf, in the F7 drivers. That means Arccos tracking system was embedded in the grips of the drivers, which uses vibrations to return club analytics.
Now, Cobra Connect will be available in every club throughout the F8 line. When you purchase a set of King F8 or King F8 ONE iron sets, you will also receive a full set of Arccos 360 sensors for FREE; Cobra says this is a $249 value. With the new Cobra Connect system in every head throughout the set, golfers will receive stroked-gained stats and other helpful data in the app.
Side note: you will still need to play golf with your smartphone in your pocket for the system to work.
5) Doubling down on the rails
Cobra’s Baffler technology isn’t new, as it’s been featured in the last few iterations of fairway woods from the company, it has brought the rails closer together and made them taller. The technology works similarly to bounce on wedges, and helps the club glide through the turf, preventing digging and allowing for a more aggressive pass at the golf ball.
The new F8 and F8+ fairway woods have been given a sleeker head shape based on feedback from player testing. There is also Carbon fiber in the crowns to drop weight in the club head to make them more forgiving.
6) Carbon Fiber in the irons
Cobra’s new F8 irons, as with the F8 fairway woods, have also been given a carbon fiber addition. In the irons, there’s a new Carbon fiber medallion in the rear cavities — the design will work to provide a softer, lighter feel. Like irons in the company’s past, the F8 irons also have progressive TecFlo designs and spin technology throughout the sets; this means the long irons will fly higher and with less spin for more distance, while the shorter irons will fly lower and with more spin for greater control. The F8 irons utilize the familiar “PWRSHELL” technology that keeps CG low to boost forgiveness and speed.
7) One-length irons and… hybrids?
The one-length iron sets have been given a few tweaks. Most notably, Cobra has adjusted lie angles throughout the set to make long irons fly a bit higher and short irons a bit lower. Also, the longer irons have been given a wider sole, especially when compared to their variable-length F8 counterparts. The F8 ONE sets will also utilize carbon fiber for a better feel.
New in this year’s F8 ONE set is the addition of a hybrid — it also utilizes Baffler Technology. Along with bringing the long-game benefits of a hybrid into the one-length concept, a Cobra representative also notes that it will be utilized by many as an option around the greens due to its shortened length.
The “nardo” gray color (pictured on the right), which is an option in the metalwoods aside from black, is undeniably popular right now throughout the sporting world and beyond. You may have noticed Oklahoma State and Ohio State’s college football teams using the color recently for their alternate jerseys, and several automobile manufacturers utilizing nardo in their color schemes. It’s the hottest color in sports right now, so why not bring it into the world of golf?
9) For the kids
Cobra is offering F8 Junior heads that are “real deal drivers,” in 39 (7-9 year olds), 41 (10-12 year olds) and 43-inch (13-15 year olds) length options. The best thing is that if you register the club through Cobra, the company will upgrade the driver with the longer shaft option for free as he/she gets older.
10) Specs, pricing and more
Note: All drivers, fairway woods and hybrids will hit stores on January 12, while all irons will hit stores February 2.
King F8 and F8+ Drivers ($399)
- The F8 drivers (9-12 degrees) come with stock MRC Tensei CK Blue 50, Aldila NV 2KXV Blue 60, or Aldila NV 2KXV Green 65 shafts with Lamkin REL Cobra Connect grips.
- The F8+drivers (8-11 degrees) come with stock Aldila NV 2KXV Blue 60, Aldila NV 2KXV Green 65 or Project X HZRDUS Yellow 75 shafts and Lamkin Crossline 360 Cobra Connect grips.
King F8 fairways ($249)
- Head options: 3-4: (13-16 degrees), 5-6: (17-20 degrees), 7-8: (21-24 degrees)
- Grip: Lamkin REL 360 Cobra Connect
- Stock shaft: Aldila NV 2KXV Blue 70
King F8+ Fairways ($249)
- Head options: 3-4: (12-15 degrees), 5-6: (16-19 degrees)
- Grip: Lamkin Crosline 360 Cobra Connect
- Stock Shaft: Aldila NV 2KXV Green 75
King F8 hybrids ($199)
- Head options: 2H (17 degrees), 3H (19 degrees), 4H (22 degrees) and 5H (25 degrees)
- Stock Shaft: Aldila Rogue Pro 75
- Grip: Lamkin REL 360 Cobra Connect
King F8 ONE hybrids ($199)
- Head options: 3H (19 degrees), 4H (22 degrees) and 5H (25 degrees)
- Grip: Lamkin REL 360 Cobra Connect
- Stock Shaft: Aldila Rogue Pro One Length
King F8 Variable length steel ($799 steel, $899 graphite)
Steel irons (5-PW, GW) come with True Temper XP 90 shafts and Lamkin REL 360 Cobra Connect shafts, while graphite (5H, 6-PW, GW) come with Aldila Rogue Pro 65 shafts with Lamkin REL Cobra Connect grips.
King F8 ONE ($799 steel, $899 graphite)
One-length iron sets (5-PW, GW) come with either Aldila One Rogue 65 shafts or True Temper One Flighted shafts and Lamkin Crossline 360 Cobra Connect grips.
What It’s Like: TaylorMade Golf’s “The Kingdom”
One of the best parts of this job, beyond the people we get to meet, is the facilities. All of the core OEMs have a “place” that is exclusive, away from anything normal, and you gotta know someone to get a ticket in.
That’s what the “What It’s Like” series is about. Those certain OEM places with no doors open to the public. Those places that if you happened to sneak in, there is no way you can Fletch your way around into two steak sandwiches and a bloody mary.
I never admit this, but I used to manage a night club in Los Angeles called Les Deux (it was cool for a minute). It was a fun although soul-sucking endeavor but the thing that made the experience stick out was the exclusivity of it. If you got in by knowing someone, greased the door guy (me), or got invited, it was four hours of awesome. Yes, it’s a lame example, but there is, unfortunately, something about getting to the other side of a closed door that is just awesome.
TaylorMade Golf’s Kingdom is location No. 1, and as you would expect, it’s nothing short of pure golf ecstasy.
I have been to TaylorMade HQ quite a number of times, and typically those visits involve time at what I call the gear junkie mecca (short of Tiger Woods’ garage or the Nike Oven graveyard now called Artisan) AKA The Kingdom.
The coolest thing about it is how subtle the location is. Located just steps away from the front door of TM HQ (and a very random corporate basketball hoop) sits a small-yet-elegant building that if you didn’t know was there, you would fly past it. Once you pull into the side parking lot, unload your sticks, and head to the door, there is still that feeling of “will they actually let me in?”
Here’s the thing. The best (all of them) have been in here. To test, practice, hang out, get fit, get wowed to potentially be on staff and everything in-between. A schmuck like me should get nervous, but then it happens, the door opens and you are not only let in but you are greeted by the master of ceremonies and a man I truly adore Tom “TK” Kroll.
With the passion to match not only yours but anyone else who walks in, he makes sure every nuance is seen and experienced. From the lobby with current TM athletes on the wall to the locker room with your custom locker that sits next to an exact replica of Tiger’s bag. There are snacks, extras shoes, gloves, swag, coffee, beer, and all your wildest dreams…and we are barely in the facility.
From a 35,000 foot view, The Kingdom has everything a golfer would ever want, need, or wish for. Starting with Duane Anderson’s putter studio that has tested thousands of strokes from players ranging from a 20 handicap to Rory McIlroy. The data compiled in this room is staggering. We did a video (link below) that gives you the full rundown.
There are three (one with an Iron Byron for testing) main inside hitting bays with all the bells and whistles you would assume. TrackMans, cameras, big screens, fresh gloves hanging on the wall, and a club fitting matrix with every TM combination you could think of.
The outside hitting area is heaven on earth. There is no other way to describe. Huge hitting area with multiple styles of grass, lies, pins, etc. Any shot you would need to hit can be recreated here on grass with a ball flying into the air and not into a screen. My favorite area is the Flick Tee. In honor of the great teacher and longtime TM staffer Jim Flick. Its tucked up high and privately in the corner of the range under a tree and this may sound ridiculous but you can almost feel Mr. Flick standing there with you as you look out onto the facility. I get goosebumps just thinking about it.
As mentioned, the man who manages your experience is Tom Kroll. He’s about as respected and beloved as anyone in the industry and for good reason. You combine passion with service you get an awesome human to hang out with. Everyone that has been through these doors has a TK story, which includes a chuckle and a smile.
I chatted with him recently about The Kingdom, and this is what he had to say.
JW: Walk me through how The Kingdom came to be what it is now? Basically origin to current day…
TK: Back in 1994, I was in R&D, running player testing, and we needed to find our own testing range. We built our headquarters in Carlsbad in the 1990s and added the range in 1998. Only robot, cannon and player testing were done at the start. Once in a while, a tour or staff pro would come out and test, but it was all operated from one building. At the time, what’s currently the clubhouse at The Kingdom was actually a maintenance building. But in 2010, The Kingdom was reimagined to the layout we have now.
Over the last three years I’ve been at The Kingdom, we’ve added GEARS, Quintic high-speed cameras, and a Foresight simulator bay. We transformed the putting lab with a Perfection Platforms articulating floor and SAM technology. Last year we resurfaced the main tee, redesigned and dedicated the Flick Tee, underwent a complete renovation of the short game area with new bunker complexes, redesigned the targeting downrange, and developed a par-3 routing. We partnered with Kurt Bowman Design, a longtime designer under Jack Nicklaus.
Our superintendent Mark Warren and his crew have done incredible work with our current maintenance equipment, and I can’t wait to see the conditions after we deliver a brand new fleet of brand new Toro equipment. We structured a long-term partnership with Toro and Turf Star Western.
JW: What is the simple function of The Kingdom?
TK: We still have the robot bay and R&D does development work almost every day. We are mostly a resource for the entire company: Global Sports Marketing (Tour), developmental pros and ams, AJGA standouts, our Crusaders (club professionals), and commercial teams. We host pre-lines to introduce new product to our at-large teams and training events. We’re even a PR resource, hosting media, social influencers, celebrities, and professional athletes.
We also act as a hub for our Crusaders. They send their members to us, and we wholesale back to the staff account. I’ll do a significant amount of corporate events, charity events and have had “Flicks at The Kingdom” where we set up a giant projector and our employees bring their kids, beach chairs and blankets to watch a movie out on the range. Really a fun and cool event.
JW: Give me three awesome stories or experiences from your time there that you are cool sharing.
TK: It’s tough to only pick three! From Reggie Jackson stopping by to Matt Ryan, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Albert Pujols, Mike Trout, Jake Arrieta, Zack Greinke, President Bush. Those may be the most haughty name drops of all time! What can I say, it is beyond the coolest job I have ever had! It’s truly tough to pick, but here are my three…
Story 1: Tiger was preparing to make his first PGA Tour start after fusion surgery and he just spends the day grinding out here. He was testing an early proto of the TW irons and to see how much speed he still had. There’s a sound that only he and maybe two or three others make when they center it up. That sound is something that goes through your body, I can still hear it. It sticks with you.
He’s playing old school lofts, which are three degrees weaker than any other tour pro, but the carry distances were still there, the windows he hits it through, holding it against the wind, flighting a 6-iron even ripping a 5-wood 275 yards. His feedback and ability to discern the most minute details working with the advanced teams developing the irons was fantastic to witness.
To come full circle, I played with him in the Southern Cal Amateur when he was 16-years-old and had a front-row to his 62 at Hacienda, I was keeping his scorecard so he has my autograph. To again be standing three feet from him while he goes through the process is just special.
Story 2: I’m going to put two guys in the same bucket (because The Kingdom is so magical, I hope the golf gods are okay with it). Rory now spends a day out here the week of Farmers–he has for the last two years, and with the U.S. Open there 2021, I think he’s a lock for the next few. He went through two sets of irons in a wind quartering off the right at 20-25 mph. The consistency of launch, speed and spin were shockingly close! It was one of the greatest ball-striking exhibitions I’ve ever witnessed. We handpicked the range after his day, it took us 10 minutes He’s also the most gracious, down to earth person.
Jon Rahm stops by five or six times a year. To watch his sessions in the putting lab, to see Duane show him what’s changing and getting Jon back to baseline and see his confidence, to the 4-iron flop shots after we tell our Seve stories. Jon is part of the family. His brother and dad came out before Jon and Kelly’s wedding. He’s one of the two or three others where the sound goes through you.
Story 3: Has to be Operation Game On (OGO). We have partnered with Tony Perez for over 15 years, we are the cherry on top of a 6-10 week program where wounded veterans take lessons and the graduation is a fitting at The Kingdom. I had a dear friend, Joe Horowitz, who’s a golfer and a musician, here late one day and I mentioned the OGO guys were coming the next day. It’s Veteran’s Day and the Marine Corps Birthday. Not to mention Jon Rahm would be here for a last tweak before he left for Dubai. Joe shows me a video of him singing the national anthem at the Jaguars game a few weeks before, and we both say let’s do that for the OGO guys. I get in early and send an email to all employees to be on the tee at 9 a.m. sharp. We have the OGO guys arrive and Jon is hanging in the locker room. I’m stalling to get all the employees onto the tee through the side gate, I walk the boys into the bay and hit the roll up door. Outside are 250 employees cheering these guys on! Joe sings the anthem (goose bumps every time), then happy birthday to Jon and the marine corps. There’s fittings, a pizza truck, Jon Rahm signed U.S. Open staff bags for the OGO boys. Then, get this, Jon goes on and wins that week in Dubai!
JW: If you could change anything about the property or the experience what would it be?
TK: At TaylorMade, the relentless pursuit of improving is in our DNA. The Kingdom is no different. We’re constantly innovating and reimagining the downrange experience. From targeting, to conditions and turf types, we’re always nuancing and squeaking out ways to be better. One example, we’re designing each of our targets with a specific purpose. When players are testing at The Kingdom, we want them to feel that every shot has a consequence. So, we want to deliver a real-world experience in every testing situation. We went through a massive redesign last fall and are currently still working with the advanced research team on new ways to enhance our testing and fitting experiences to meet the way that players perform in competition.
When it comes to the overall experience, The Kingdom has transformed from a predominantly R&D and fitting facility to the most capable environment to test, measure and understand how equipment performs and how golfers interact with their equipment. I call it the ultimate truth machine. We help golfers at every level uncover the insights they need to improve. After each session, we’re going to know everything about the club, the player and the ball flight.
So we came from a place where we were mainly focused on research, fitting, and selling. Our goals have changed. Now we obsess over how to help golfers get better.
What would I change? If you’re curious and passionate about making change, the answers are out there. The first thing we do is listen. We’re going to change everything that needs to be changed in order to meet our goals. I have an incredible focus group to bounce ideas off of. To ask our tour pros, club professionals, and teachers for feedback on the design ideas and what they like and prefer is fortunate. We’re constantly learning, we’re constantly improving, and if there’s a better way do something, then we’re going to figure it out and do it.
JW: What does the kingdom look like in 10 years?
TK: We have a lot of incredible plans for new targeting, bunker complexes, and refining the purposeful design of the range and short game area. Beyond that, we have designs for new teeing areas, a new short game complex, adding another GEARS system and Foresight Simulator, along with other new technologies. I can’t disclose all we do, since the R&D guys get a bit jumpy when I start going on about all the cool stuff and high science! I don’t know exactly what The Kingdom looks like in 10 years as technologies and our understanding continue to improve, but I do know give me six months, and we’ll have done something new. Always grinding to get better!
JW: Tell me a little bit about your career at TaylorMade.
TK: 31 years is hard to do in a “little bit” but I’ll try to give you the Clif Notes! Bob Vokey ran our Tour department and had me running his repair shop in Vista after George Willett took a job driving the Tour truck for TaylorMade. I was refinishing wooden clubs and repairing clubs for the local country clubs. I told Bob I was going broke making $4.50 an hour and driving all over San Diego. I asked if he could get me a job at TaylorMade and I started on the custom line with Wade Liles! Get to work at 2 p.m., off at 1 a.m. and golf in the morning. It was the life! Not to mention, I was lucky enough to meet my wife who worked for the company.
I started our player testing and worked for the great Dr. Benoit Vincent–the smartest man I know. I was a pretty good player, and I played a bunch of USGA and national amateur events. But when I did a TV commercial, I lost my amateur status and made the decision to turn pro. I quit my job and started that journey. Our CEO wanted me to take a leavem and I said: “I need to be all-in on this.” I had two children, a mortgage, car payments and had to buy health insurance while getting through all three stages of Q School. I realized I was a better amateur than a tour pro. We had our third child, and then I got the sales rep job in San Diego. After 10 years of sales, I moved inside the building and the ran innovations department before taking over our metalwoods category when we hit our highest market share in history. I spent a few years in product creation, ran global experiential for a few years and then got the best gig in all of golf here at The Kingdom. Been here for three years, and we’re just getting started!
Puma Golf teams up with Ernie Els in support of Autism Awareness Month
April is National Autism Awareness Month, and Puma Golf has teamed up with ambassador Ernie Els in support of the Els for Autism Foundation.
Throughout April, Puma will donate a portion of every individual sale of the brand’s Ignite Pwradapt Caged shoes with the proceeds going towards the Els for Autism Foundation.
Every pair of Caged shoes sold this month will include a blue Els for Autism shoe bag and puzzle piece ribbon lapel pin – with the color blue and the puzzle pieces representing Autism Awareness.
The Els for Autism Foundation helps deliver and facilitate programs designed to serve individuals with autism spectrum disorder. You can purchase the shoes here.
What GolfWRXers are saying about “Boutique brands vs Major OEMs”
In our forums, our members have been discussing both boutique brands and major OEMs and why the former “trail the OEMs in drivers and woods”. WRXer ‘gr8 flopshot’, who plays a bag full of boutique clubs bar woods, poses the question and it’s got our members talking in our forum.
Here are a few posts from the thread, but make sure to check out the entire discussion and have your say at the link below.
- DaRiz: “Irons, wedges, and putters don’t change much, and for all the technology OEMs try to pack in there, it’s more about how they look and feel. So boutique can fit in nicely here. Drivers/FW, on the other hand, definitely benefit from the millions of dollars in R&D, and it is probably really hard to compete. You can argue that COR is maxed out, but the tiny changes in launch conditions, spin rates, and forgiveness add up.”
- MattM97: “One reason why I and most other lefties don’t go boutique is options. At least with OEM’s for drivers and most woods we get the most of what is released, some versions and loft we don’t get but better than nothing. I’m not against boutique; I love my putters, I love the look of a lot of wedges, I would absolutely love a set of Japanese forged CB irons one day. Just woods I’ll stick to OEM options.”
- sniper: “The Wishon 560’s I had built years ago were as good (or better) as anything I’ve had. My current set of MP-18SC’s and Wishon’s are the best feeling irons I’ve played. Both came from a club builder and not built by the OEM. Obviously on the Wishon’s.”
- RogerInNewZealand: “Genuinely good point. It’s like why we buy JDM, Yonex Ezone 420…and the famed J33 Bridgestone driver from long ago! T.E.E is another one..always a surprise there. With your wood/driver if your sorted that’s fine! You don’t have to bag an exotic club to hit fairways.”
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