Cobra 3D Printed, Vintage putters: What you need to know
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Cobra launches its second generation of putters, the 3D Printed and the Vintage collections. With eight models in each, the putters all feature faces with LA Golf’s descending loft technology, where the loft changes from four degrees at the top of the face to one degree at the bottom to ensure the same ideal launch angle for consistent forward roll. The multimaterial 3D Printed Collection uses an aluminum face insert for firmer feel, while the Vintage Collection is fronted by a softer Pebax thermoplastic elastomer insert.
PRICE: 3D Printed Collection ($350):
Agera: Full mallet with single bend shaft
Agera RS: 15 percent smaller footprint, single bend shaft
Agera RS-30: Agera RS, slant neck
Agera CB: Counterbalanced version, 38 inches with 17-inch grip
Agera AL: Heavier head with 41-inch shaft for armlock-style putting.
Supernova: Parallel fang mallet, single bend shaft
Grandsport-35: Heel-toe weighted cavity blade with plumber’s neck
Grandsport AL: 41-inch shaft with heavier head for armlock-style putting.
Vintage Collection ($250):
Sport 60: Flow neck heel-toe weighted blade.
Sport 40: Heel-toe weighted Plumber neck blade.
Widesport: Face balanced, wide-soled blade, single bend shaft
Nova: Parallel fang mallet with single bend shaft
Nova-30: Fang-style mallet with slant neck.
Stingray: Face-balanced mallet with single bend shaft
Stingray 30: Fang style mallet with slant neck.
Cuda: Modern rounded mallet with single bend shaft.
Available for pre-sale now, at retail Feb. 23.
As any 6-year-old schooling us at Volcano Mini-Golf reminds us, putting is easy. Cobra knows better, and that’s why these putters are engineered to compensate for erratic strokes. Custom 3-D printed internal structures save mass that is used to monumentally increase stability on off-center hits for better distance control. The face has staggered lofts from top to bottom to ensure that wherever we make contact, our putts launch the same way. Take that, rug rat.
3 COOL THINGS
1. Two different builds. Visually, the 3D Printed and Vintage lines differ like Ferraris from two different generations, and those differences are more than skin deep. As its name implies, the 3D Printed Collection, like its predecessor the King 3D Printed line, is constructed using internal pieces made through a three-dimensional printing process. It’s part of Cobra’s partnership with HP, using its “multi-jet fusion technology,” which is a way of creating thin, light and complex geometries that cannot be achieved with typical casting techniques.
A rigid lattice-work cartridge made of nylon (about one-seventh the density were the same space cast out of steel) provides structure with less mass. The 3D-printed piece also helps to enhance sound.
The mission of a mallet is to minimize off-center strikes, but that fixes only part of the problem. These putters use a face design that staggers loft from top to bottom, 1 degree on the bottom of the face increasing by 1 degree three times to 4 degrees at the top of the face. In that way, when we mis-hit our putts high or low on the face, the ball still launches at the same angle, reducing skid and producing better roll.
“If you simply left that area of the putter empty or even injected some kind of filler, it would still sound and feel worse, so this structure saves weight but strengthens the body to damp vibration for a better sound and feel,” said Tom Olsavsky, Cobra’s vice president of research and development.
Computer-driven 3-D printing has been part of golf-club prototype design for two decades, but it had no practical value in making finished clubs. Cobra’s engineers found a way to 3-D print certain parts that could not be cast, forged or machined by traditional means. The intricate nylon lattice structure in the heel and toe sections is one-seventh the density of steel yet provides a stable core that supports the heavier materials around it. The support provided by the 3-D printed section damps vibration for better sound and feel.
Meanwhile, the Vintage Collection of putters, much like its predecessor the King Vintage line, uses a one-piece solid body, but rather than a traditional casting, its shaping comes from metal-injection molding process. The benefit is more precision in the shaping of the heads, which neatly falls in line with the more classic models in this collection.
The reduced mass internally, as well as a weight-saving carbon-composite crown, frees more weight to be selectively distributed to the perimeter and in adjustable sole weights to provide enhanced stability on off-center hits.
“The key thing really is the fit and finish,” Olsavsky said. “In putters, looking extremely precise is very important, and these look much more precise than a casting. We also can do certain things with finishes and textures that you can’t do easily in casting.
2. Two Different feels. While the heads occupy different ranges from modern to classic, they also incorporate feels that match their differing aesthetics. The modern 3D Printed collection incorporates an aluminum face insert that yields a slightly firmer feel. Meanwhile, the Vintage Collection seeks a softer feel and uses a thermoplastic elastomer called Pebax that was originally developed for the athletic shoe industry. It provides a cushioned but responsive feel, but the insert material is also less dense to save weight by replacing more of the internal mass behind the face depending on the shape of the head. That means larger mallet shapes are possible while keeping the head weight in the acceptable range, and by filling in the voids behind the face, the sound and feel remain consistent.
Putters usually don’t come up in the rollback discussion, but the insert used in these relatively traditional-shaped blades might raise an eyebrow. Light, soft and flexible Pebax is a “block copolymer” that has been referred to as “technological doping.” This has to do with its use in running shoes and its ability to be soft and resilient in terms of energy return. That’s a good thing for a putter seeking consistent roll out on mis-hits. Of course, it also helps that the insert varies loft from top to bottom for a skid-free consistent launch.
3. One consistent roll. Despite these differences in shapes, constructions and feels, there is an overriding consistency in both the 3D Printed Collection and Vintage Collection, and that consistency is in the most important job of a putter: roll. Specifically, as in past versions, these putters feature face inserts with LA Golf’s “Descending Loft Technology.” Originally developed by SIK Golf, the face features four loft planes that start with four degrees at the top and descend to one degree in the bottom fourth of the face. The end result is that whether the stroke is level, slightly upward or slightly downward, the varying loft will yield a consistent launch angle. That consistent launch angle of 1.5 degrees yields a more consistent forward roll for better distance control.