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GolfWRX Insider: Inside the development of Rickie Fowler’s Cobra irons (plus full specs)

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It’s been nearly 10 years since Rickie Fowler showed up on a PGA Tour driving range with Cobra blades in the bag. He was coming off of a 2010 rookie campaign that immediately put the young Californian into every big golf conversation there was to be had. Its been fun looking back at the work that has been done thus far, but oh my, did they go into a rabbit hole on this project.

On Sunday, Fowler will debut a set of the most unique forgings I’ve seen in a long time…maybe ever. The Cobra Golf Rev33 (33rd revision) muscleback irons are the brainchild of Cobra R&D, Director of Tour Operations Ben Schomin and Rickie Fowler. As you can see in the photos, getting here took some serious engineering chops and a lot of Rickie’s imagination.

The development process of the Rev33 took place over a year, from late 2018 to late 2019, and in that time Cobra R&D, Fowler, and Schomin had one goal in mind—make an iron designed with Rickie Fowler that inspired confidence in Rickie Fowler.

I had a chance to chat with Cobra’s Director of Tour Operations Ben Schomin on the development of the Rev33, and this is what he had to say.

JW: This isn’t the first time you have collaborated with Rickie on a Cobra iron. What made this experience feel different?

BS: In many ways designing a muscle back has similarities no matter who is making them but in this case, the experience was more of an exploration of taking the best of what Rick liked from the past, keeping it and adding in his own personal preferences to truly make it his iron. That involved as you know now 33 versions but what this process landed us on is a very special iron that has attributes you don’t see very often.

JW: It sounds like this project was a bit old craftsmanship and new tech—computers and a good old fashioned grind wheel.

BS: Yeah, the Sunday before Torrey last year, we had Rickie in the workshop and I pulled out some old MB heads and started grinding. As we went along and the ideas started flowing he’d say a little more off here, blend this line, a little less off there, etc… It was a great day especially if you’re a gear nerd like me.

JW: From the look of it there is some “old school” attributes to this iron. Did you look back at old forgings for inspiration?

BS: I went into our archive for inspiration. Gathering iconic blades from years past; MP14/29, Ram FX Tour Grinds, Wilson Staff Fluid Feel sets, Cobra Norman grinds, etc… The crazy thing was I forgot how much offset many of those old school blades had. That’s when I realized we could pick out certain design features and aesthetics, but ultimately this new iron idea was going to be just that, an entirely new creation. Remember Muscle Backs typically follow the similar design rules, where we and many other great companies get creative is in the engineering of it all. Edges, lines, widths, etc… all while making sure they hold up for the best players in the world. No easy task.

Top Line of early Proto 4-iron Rev33

JW: Let’s talk about that offset—or the fact that it’s not there, mathematically or optically.

BS: LOL. That’s the first thing you will notice with these. His old irons had barely any offset, to begin with, (40/1000th of an inch) so we are already dealing with very little space. So the real question was how do we take out more offset and eliminate any appearance of offset. That’s where it got interesting. If you set it down, you would notice that the hosel has no taper to it at all. That taper, believe it or not, can optically add the appearance of some offset, next step was to flatten out the “par” area—most irons have a little space from the ferrule to the scoring line; these have basically none. So to your point, mathematically, there is zero offset and optically there is zero, which is rare.

JW: You mentioned the 7-iron being the anchor club in this set. Explain that. 

BS: Rickie loves the look of the 7-iron; it’s his favorite shape in the set. The idea was to transfer the look of that club into the whole set. You can really see it in the shorter clubs where the roundness or softness in those clubs is replaced by sharper lines from toe to heel. That’s where visually the set will catch any player’s eye.

JW: From a spec standpoint, is Rickie married to certain lofts? Another way to ask is are the Rev33 engineered around his loft preferences or was a bit more fluid?

BS: Rickie’s specs have always been right where they are now (47 PW on down). The set was engineered around his specific lofts. I understand with launch conditions/preference being stuck on certain specs could add some extra math but in this case, it didn’t hold us up much nor was it really a mountain to climb. Remember these are soft metal MB’s so a degree here or there won’t alter the performance.

Rickie Fowler Rev33 iron specs (4-PW)

Shafts: KBS C-Taper 125S+ (soft stepped)

Grips: Golf Pride Tour Velvet Align (non-brushed RF style)

  • 4: 23° / 61.5° / D3 /38
  • 5: 27° / 62° / D3 /37.5
  • 6: 31° / 62.5° / D3 /37
  • 7: 35° / 63° / D3 /36.5
  • 8: 39° / 63.5° / D3/36
  • 9: 43° / 64° / D3 /35.75
  • PW: 47° / 64.5° / D3 /35.5

JW: He has been in a KBS Tour C Taper S+ for a while. Was that the shaft all the testing was done with?

BS: Yes, he switched to a Dynamic Gold S400 at one point last season to find some spin, but the KBS has been in the bag for a while, so the Rev33 was tested with that shaft.

JW: In speaking with Rickie last year, he mentioned the turf interaction being so good on King MB. Was that sole something you wanted to keep in the Rev33?

BS: We didn’t want to sacrifice anything he loved from the King MB irons, so the sole shape, camber ,and bounce remain the same. Since he plays at 1/2-inch short, we also continue to add tungsten plugs to increase weight. Blade length from heel to toe is about the same as well, but aesthetically everything else has been changed. Even the copper finish was his pick. We set out to make a unique iron that was his, and we didn’t stop until it was just right.

JW: What materials are these irons made of?

BS: His current prototype sets have been machined in-house from 304 stainless steel.

The Cobra “Rev33” MB are scheduled to be released as a custom order beginning fall 2020.

JUNO BEACH, FLORIDA – MAY 17: A detail of the clubs of Rickie Fowler of the CDC Foundation team prior to the TaylorMade Driving Relieve Supported By UnitedHealth Group on May 17, 2020 at Seminole Golf Club in Juno Beach, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

JUNO BEACH, FLORIDA – MAY 17: Rickie Fowler of the CDC Foundation team plays a shot from a bunker on the third hole during the TaylorMade Driving Relieve Supported By UnitedHealth Group on May 17, 2020 at Seminole Golf Club in Juno Beach, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

 

 

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Johnny Wunder is the Director of Original Content, Instagram Manager and Host of “The Gear Dive” Podcast for GolfWRX.com. He was born in Seattle, Wash., and grew up playing at Rainier G&CC. John is also a partner with The Traveling Picture Show Company having most recently produced JOSIE with Game of Thrones star Sophie Turner. In 1997 Johnny had the rare opportunity of being a clubhouse attendant for the Anaheim Angels. He now resides in Toronto, On with his wife and two sons. @johnny_wunder on IG

14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. VINICIUS COSTA

    Sep 20, 2020 at 5:38 pm

    Any word on the release date for these irons?

  2. Wilson

    May 16, 2020 at 5:28 am

    Stainless steel? Why not 1020 or S20C?

  3. Kevin

    May 15, 2020 at 11:21 pm

    FINALLY we get an answer on when Cobra is releasing a new MB. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the current MBs but as a gear junkie ever since they had this new “Rickie Proto” ive been wanting a set. Gonna have to order a set of the new ones and probably an extra set of the current model if they drop the price to move old stock. Thank you for this article!!

  4. Jeff

    May 15, 2020 at 6:54 pm

    Kevin Na would be so upset

  5. Mike Rowe

    May 15, 2020 at 3:24 pm

    Remember when Rickie switched iron shafts and it was a huge story, but when he switched back no one said a word? Pretty weird.

  6. stanley

    May 15, 2020 at 10:59 am

    for the first time in my life, “those cobra irons are amazing.” there are some mean curves on those cobras!!!

  7. Cody Reeder

    May 15, 2020 at 10:42 am

    I am getting a set….

  8. Mike Honcho

    May 15, 2020 at 10:39 am

    It took cobra a year to rip of the p7tw? From the inspiration (mp14/29), look, to the milling, to the tungsten plugs? You would think in a year you could have came up with something unique. I would label this a shank but it’s really more just diarrhea.

    • Guy who actualy pays attention to detail

      May 15, 2020 at 11:01 am

      Ricky has had a tungsten plug in his irons for many years, so nothing new there. Tungsten in irons has been going on for quite a while in general (Ping S56 from 2011, first Ap2 irons from way back). Also, how is it ripping off when they are both ripping off older irons? This iron honestly looks nothing like the P7tw. Your “Shank” comment, Ironically, these would be the first irons ever made that could shank relatively straight because they milled the par area and hosel flat to remove the offset look. I’m not even sure what would happen on a hosel shot.

    • Craig

      May 15, 2020 at 10:23 pm

      Um, no. It is well known Tiger likes a little bit of offset and longer blade. These are almost the opposite, zero offset and tiny blade.

  9. Shallowface

    May 15, 2020 at 9:55 am

    The 304 Stainless is interesting. I’ve heard they need to be checked frequently as they go out of spec for loft and lie very easily with use. No problem for Fowler, but it could be an issue for the consumer.

    • chip75

      May 17, 2020 at 3:34 pm

      I’m sure those that are inclined will get them checked, otherwise they’ll be just like other clubs that “wander” around though use.

  10. Pelling

    May 15, 2020 at 9:35 am

    Do they keep Rickie from putting big numbers on the card?

  11. dat

    May 15, 2020 at 9:23 am

    These are amazing clubs. Hope they bring something like them to retail. What’s the deal with the grips? (non-brushed RF style)

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Equipment

‘My brief blade experience’ – GolfWRXers react

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In our forums, our members have been reacting to an interesting experience WRXer ‘LongJohnPeter’ had when testing out blades for the first time. ‘LongJohnPeter’ writes:

“For reasons unbeknownst to myself, I have been obsessed with playing blades lately. So I took a trip to my local range today and picked out an old Lynx USA 7 iron blade from the rental rack (I don’t own a blade and had never hit one previously). While I did see a reduction in distance (more of a result of EXTREMELY crappy range balls and a 50 degree day), I couldn’t believe how much more consistent my face contact was, compared with my Ping Zing’s I currently use. And even on the few mishits, they weren’t punished nearly as bad as everyone and their mother said they would be, and I knew exactly what had happened and could adjust accordingly.

Anyone have a similar experience? Is this just a honeymoon phase? Or is the golfing elite trying to preserve the sanctity of blade irons?”

And our members have been reacting to the post and sharing their thoughts 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.

  • uglande: “I switched back to blades this year (had not played them in decades), and I will never give them up. They are so pure and consistent and easy to maneuver. I prefer the thinner soles, which give me better turf interaction. Blades will never produce those nuclear shots that go 15 yards longer than you expected. And, yes, GI clubs help retain ball speed on mishits, but I would rather be 10 yards short of the green than in the bunkers or other garbage on either side of the green. And I certainly don’t want to torpedo one (happened frequently with my P790s) that goes over the green, which is always where the worst hazards lie.”
  • NotTheGuyOrAmi: “I ’m far from a technical expert, but I have concluded that increased MOI may give some incremental benefit, and of course less loft means clubs with a particular loft might hit father, but the point of most of the “improvement” in-game improvement irons is to allow people who hit the ground before the ball with a slow swing speed to get a better result from a lower center of gravity. This, by the way, is not a good thing.”
  • CCTXgolf: “For some people a smaller club makes them concentrate a little harder, and that extra little bit of concentration can certainly help you find the center of the club face more often. Problem is it’s tough to keep that going for 18 holes. Much less day to day. I just went to blades in my short irons (8-P) and don’t really find that much difference in those shorter irons. They sure are pretty though.”

Entire Thread: “My brief blade experience”

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Whats in the Bag

Charles Barkley WITB: The Match 3

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Driver: Callaway BB21 (9 degrees)
Shaft: Ventus Blue 6 X (@46.5″)

3-wood: Callaway BB21 (15 degrees)
Shaft: Ventus Blue 7 X (@44″)

Hybrid: Callaway Mavrik (19 degrees)

Irons: PXG

Wedges: PXG

Putter: PXG

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Whats in the Bag

Peyton Manning WITB: The Match 3

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Driver: Callaway Mavrik Sub Zero (10.5 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD TP 6 X

3-wood: Callaway Rogue

Irons: Callaway Mavrik Pro (3-PW)
Shafts: KBS C-Taper Lite 110 S

Wedges: Callaway Jaws MD5 (50-10S, 56-10S, 60-10S)
Shafts: KBS C-Taper Lite 110 S

Putter: Scotty Cameron SB+

Ball: Bridgestone Tour B XS with #18

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