One in a weekly series of stories about golf gear to run each Wednesday.
By Alex Miceli
Bryson DeChambeau is somewhat of a savant.
Dating to his boyhood in Clovis, Calif., DeChambeau has been obsessed with the single-plane swing espoused in “natural golf” and the concept of single-length clubs.
With a U.S. Amateur, an NCAA championship and a PGA Tour victory already on his resume, DeChambeau, 24, has taken the concepts of natural golf and single-length irons to new heights where it counts: at the cash register.
PHOTO BY ALEX MICELI
In 2017, Cobra Golf for the first time offered a full line of single-length irons, the Cobra F7 One Length, to the mass market.
Before the Cobra launch, Edel Golf built many of the early sets for DeChambeau while he was an amateur and collegian at SMU. Edel offered single-length clubs, but not to the mass market. Its clubs were time-consuming to build and much more expensive to buy.
When Cobra signed DeChambeau in 2016, the company made a commitment to expose the masses to single-length clubs, despite being unsure of how they might be received. As it turned out, single-length clubs were a hit for Cobra.
“Of the mix between Cobra F7 One Length and variable length, the One Length was 60 percent of sales, which was very surprising to us,” said Tom Olsavsky, Cobra Golf’s vice president of research and development. “Our initial expectations were that we would have been pleased with One being 20-30 percent of the mix, but after the launch last year, our forecast went up every month on the One Length.”
So why did single length sell so well in its first year as a mass-market product?
Cobra said its research shows that 30 percent to 50 percent of golfers would benefit from One Length and that a One Length survey of buyers done in June supports the enthusiasm of single-length for the future.
Digging deeper, Cobra found that 89 percent of its customers for single-length clubs were older than 35, and 71 percent of purchasers held higher handicaps, ranging from 11 to 30.
Interestingly, Edel Golf, which also offers a higher-end single-length version, did not experience the level of success that Cobra enjoyed in 2017.
PHOTO COURTESY OF EDEL GOLF
An Edel Golf single-length club
“I underestimated the conceptual change in people's minds that that was going to be a bigger hurdle than it was,” David Edel, the founder of Edel Golf, said on the phone from his facility in Liberty Hill, Texas. “The products performed phenomenally, but getting people to pull the trigger on the idea, I think, is the biggest resistance we have.”
Yet, Edel remains positive about single-length irons and looks forward to seeing Cobra continue its success, which he thinks will generate interest in Edel clubs that are priced at $245 each.
In comparison, Cobra’s King F8 irons are priced at $799 for a standard set of seven clubs (5-GW) and also include Cobra Connect, an Arccos Golf tracking program that provides immediate analysis about a player’s game.
Cobra is adding the F8 One hybrid to the single-length portfolio for 2018. The club will be available in three lofts: 19, 22 and 25 degrees.
PHOTO COURTESY OF COBRA GOLF
Cobra’s King F8 hybrid
“We expect the F8 One hybrid to add fuel to the One Length momentum by combining hybrid-head playability to One Length consistency,” Olsavsky said. “Additionally, many have commented that the F8 One hybrid is an excellent chipping club, and we know golfers need help with that.”
So, is single length for you?
Edel thinks so.
“I think every article that's been written about single length talks about it as if this is a fad,” he said. “It's almost like, is there a negative to this, rather than, what are the benefits and what are the situational good-case scenarios of people going through it and what are the experiences that people that are playing it; what are they experiencing.
“I'm not changing product at all. I'm extremely happy with my product, and the people that play it are extremely happy with it. It's just, how do we say that this is a way to play golf and this is an option? It makes the most sense. You're learning one swing motion. You're not working off multiple planes.”
Alex Miceli is the founder and publisher of Morning Read. Email: email@example.com; Twitter: @AlexMiceli