In the worldwide driver race, every manufacturer is pursuing speed. It’s the fastest path to increased distance, which is what nearly every golfer is looking to buy.
Until now, the two roads to distance have been aerodynamics, which produces more speed, and a low and deep center of gravity (CG), which produces higher launch. The high launch and low spin combination is the holy grail of drivers. You could have one or the other, but not both.
Cobra believes it has solved the riddle with the new King F9 driver by combining an aerodynamic clubhead with a properly positioned CG.
“One of the challenges in the industry is that everyone is trying to do aerodynamic drivers and usually when you do that, you have to raise the crown from the backside,” said Tom Olsavsky, vice president of research and development at Cobra and a 29-year golf industry veteran. “The crown is more even with the ground and that helps the air flow.
To get low CG, typically, you drop the crown. The tricky part is you’re somewhere between raising the crown and dropping the crown and usually you get good CG with poor aerodynamics or poor CG with good aerodynamics.”
The King F9's Speedback design puts more weight in the back of the clubhead, which helps keep the crown high. [Photo: Cobra Golf]
For the King F9, Olsavsky’s team created what Cobra calls the Speedback, which is like a triangular rudder on the bottom of the clubhead. That was the result of saving extra weight from using carbon fiber in places where titanium was traditionally used.
“With the Speedback design we’re able to take that extra material and put it in the back where we can keep the weight low and still keep the crown high,” Olsavsky said. “Key to that is the way we wrapped the carbon fiber to save some weight. It was a real challenge to the design team to get a compromise with what the industry has had to put up with forever.”
The other place where manufacturers chase speed is in the clubface — within limits. The USGA restricts the amount of speed coming off the clubface and the maximum is typically in the center of the face. So, off-center hits are where manufacturers seek to increase speed.
“The USGA is tough on us so we can’t really make it faster in the center of the face,” Olsavsky said. “The only way to do that is to tighten your specifications so that you can make the face faster outside the center. Until you put it on a robot and know where your off-center hits are, you don’t know what you’ve accomplished.”
The face on the King F9 is CNC milled, which the company says creates 1.5 mph more speed than a traditional polished face. Olsavsky says the milled face also creates more precision.
The King F9 comes in 9-degree, 10.5-degree and 12-degree in men’s and 12.5-degree in women’s and juniors. It also has interchangeable 14-gram and 2-gram weights to adjust CG and is adjustable with eight loft and three draw settings.
The stock shafts are Helium 50, Fujikura Atmos Tour Spec Blue, Fujikura Atmos Tour Spec Black and Project X Hzrdus Smoke 60.
Cobra’s professional staff – Rickie Fowler, Bryson DeChambeau and Lexi Thompson – all won with the King F9 within two weeks of having the new driver. Fowler won the Waste Management Phoenix Open in February, DeChambeau won the Omega Dubai Desert Classic in January and Thompson won the CME Group Tour Championship at the end of 2018.
Mike Purkey has written about golf for more than 30 years for a number of publications, including Golf Magazine and Global Golf Post. He lives in Charlotte, N.C.