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|Cobra's 440cc Bio Cell+ Driver is aimed at better players. (Courtesy of Cobra Golf )|
Cobra Golf has rejuvenated itself in the past years, with youthful injections of tour players (Lexi Thompson, Rickie Fowler), a veritable PGA Show rave, and colors -- bright, shiny colors.
But Cobra Golf isn't all about the colors. The company backs up the hype with equally rejuvenated engineering. Underneath the splashy hues lurks serious muscle -- muscle that can be felt throughout the company's new Bio Cell and Bio Cell+ lines.
The Bio Cell line is aimed at a wide range of golfers, from high-single-digit handicaps on up. The Bio Cell+ line is aimed at better low-single-digit players all the way down to pro-level golfers.
Both lines incorporate the company's comparatively simple MyFly8 technology into the woods and hybrids, allowing for eight adjustable lofts. The Bio Cell+ lines, both woods and irons, are a bit more compact than their standard Bio Cell counterparts, consequently requiring a bit more precision in ball contact. But both lines push the limits on distance.
I headed out to my local course once the snow melted here in east central Illinois and immediately put the new Cobras to the test. I had the 460cc Bio Cell driver ($299) in blue with a stiff Grafalloy Project X shaft, the 440cc Bio Cell+ driver ($399) in orange with an X Matrix Red Tie 6Q3 shaft (both drivers set to 9.5 degrees), the Bio Cell fairway wood (set to 15 degrees; $219) with a stiff Grafalloy shaft, a Bio Cell hybrid (set to 19 degrees; $189) with a stiff stock shaft, and some of the Bio Cell and Bio Cell+ irons ($699-$799).
Cobra Golf touts a "Low Forward CG" (center of gravity) in its woods. Unlike many companies, who prefer to locate the center of gravity far back in the clubhead, away from the clubface, Cobra's strategy is to place the CG low, but closer to the face. The effect of this decision is a lower, piercing ball flight that is truly noticeable. Compared to drivers with deeper CGs, the Cobra drivers' lofts seem more realistic: a 9.5-degree loft is really 9.5 degrees, rather than an effective 10.5+, which is what happens when you move the CG farther back. Add to this the high kick points of the shafts in my test models, and I found the ball started off low, traveled pretty far, and then rolled extremely far.
In practical terms, this delivered a drive with the Bio Cell+ into a 25-mph headwind on my home course's second hole never got more than 12 feet off the ground but cleared the pond with ease and then ended up inside the 100-yard marked, rolling out beyond 270 yards -- not all that different from a good drive on a calm day. On the 300-yard seventh hole, I tried to take the Bio Cell up over 60-foot trees to drive the green, caught the ball a tad thin, and consequently caught the tippy top of final tree. Here, a little more loft would have been helpful.
The fairway wood and hybrid were equally boring -- in the sense of like a drill into soft pine rather than in the sense of dull: Long, low- to medium-ball flight, with plenty of roll. If you play a hybrid to hoist the ball high into the air and land softly, you'll need to make sure the MyFly8 loft is set as high as possible, or you'll be playing often from the back of the green.
The Bio Cell irons are an excellent choice for game-improvement clubs. The top-line isn't as wide, nor the offset as pronounced, as are many game-improvement irons. Feel was acceptable, distance was admirable, and forgiveness was generous.
The Bio Cell+ irons are advertised as "players irons," but even though the top-line and offset are significantly reduced compared to the Bio Cells, these are not going to be the first choice of true low-handicappers. Neither the feel nor the workability, as far as I could tell, was much different from the Bio Cells. The thinner sole was perhaps a touch more effective at nipping the ball and taking a perfect divot, however.
The biggest criticism of all of the Cobra Bio Cell line I tested related to the grips: Every single grip felt waxy and hard to me, rather than tacky and soft. As a result, it felt like I had to strangle the clubs on every swing just to hold on. Of course, this was partially in my head, but nevertheless, after a few hours of playing and pounding balls with these clubs, my hands were sore and my forearms were tired from hanging on too tightly.
The flashy, Euro-chic vibe Cobra Golf has cultivated over the past several years belies technology and performance that are approaching elite levels. This isn't your dad's Cobra Golf anymore, but at the same time, it doesn't have to be your teenager's Cobra, either. With a rainbow-like palette of colors and a wide range of adjustability and customization options, even the blandest of golfers will be able to find a fit to their games and eyes.
Next up for Cobra Golf, devising a true "players iron" and improving the grips. After that, expect more Cobra staff players to be hoisting major tournament trophies on all tours for many years to come.
For more information, visit cobragolf.com.
May 19, 2014
Kiel Christianson has lived, worked, traveled and golfed extensively on three continents. As senior writer and equipment editor for WorldGolf.com, he has reviewed courses, resorts, and golf academies from California to Ireland, including his home course, Lake of the Woods G.C. in Mahomet, Illinois. Read his golf blog here.
One writer who travels more than nearly anyone I know said his Sun Mountain's Club Glider Meridian Golf Travel Bag was a "game changer." He said he'd never travel again without it. After this jaunt to Northern Ireland, I have to agree.
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