Cobra Darkspeed fairway woods, hybrids: What you need to know
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: The Cobra Darkspeed fairway woods and hybrids use an L-shaped face that wraps around the front of the sole combined with an internal weight bar that's suspended like a bridge low and forward in the head to create the ideal blend of high launch and low spin with more speed all across the face. The fairway woods include three models: There's the oversized Max for low-profile forgiveness, the X for broad appeal with low spin and high launch, and the compact LS with a titanium body and face along with heavy tungsten weighting for fast speed with ultra-low spin.
PRICE: Fairway woods: Darkspeed X, $330 (15, 18, 21 degrees with eight-way adjustable hosel); Darkspeed Max, $330 (15.5, 18.5, 21.5 degrees with eight-way adjustable hosel); Darkspeed LS, $430 (13, 14.5, 17.5 degrees with eight-way adjustable hosel). Hybrids, $280 (17, 19, 21, 24, 28 degrees, fixed. hosel). At retail Jan. 19.
The standard model in the lineup produces a neutral flight with a lower and more forward center of gravity than the Darkspeed Max. This should result in faster ball speed, less spin and a slightly lower flight. An internal weight bar is closer to the face and sole on this year’s model to push that CG even lower and forward. A carbon-composite crown saves as much as 17 grams to provide extra perimeter weighting and lower internal weighting.
Designed with the shallowest face and deepest front-to-back measurement, the Max is built for easy launch and stability on off-center hits (the two things average golfers need the most for a club that’s hard to hit off the ground). Thanks to the weight saved by the carbon-composite crown, there’s room for two sole weights, one in the deep center and one in the heel. Placing the heavier weight back boosts forgiveness, and moving it to the heel adds a draw bias to fight a slice.
This clubhead’s lightweight titanium construction (compared to traditional stainless steel) provides more discretionary mass to move the center of gravity as low and as far forward as possible. That makes this compact head ideal for better ball strikers looking to maximize distance through low spin. The titanium face might not generate more ball speed, but by lowering the CG and raising the launch angle, the head creates more distance. Also enhancing distance is the L-shaped face that wraps under the sole with 15 thickness regions for better ball speed across a wider area.
We get that making a hybrid with a trampoline face is desirable, but all that ball speed without the ability to launch the ball isn’t much use. The ideal hybrid needs its internal weight to be low to boost that launch angle. Darkspeed uses an ingenious internal bridge-like weight bar low and close to the face to make it easier to launch shots high. At the same time, this structure allows the thin face to wrap around the leading edge for maximum ball speed.
3 COOL THINGS
1. Unseen power. Like most technologies in golf these days, the most remarkable aspect of the Cobra Darkspeed fairway woods and hybrids isn’t visible. Rather than gathering some heavy pad of steel pooled in the sole, all three fairway woods and the hybrids use an internal weight bar that’s suspended like a bridge above the sole and close to the back of the face without touching it. Called “PWR-BRIDGE,” it positions mass low and forward to help shots launch with less spin and higher flight for better distance potential. Carbon-composite crowns on the fairway woods further help to lower the CG for reduced spin.
2. Facial recognition. What makes the PWR-BRIDGE design most special is not just the weighting advantage from ideally locating the center of gravity; it’s how the suspended bridge-like design of the weight bar allows the face to wrap around the leading edge of the face and underneath the PWR-BRIDGE. That makes the overall face larger and creates more flexible areas, particularly low on the face.
Cobra enhanced the face designs on the fairway woods and hybrids with a new variable thickness pattern that optimizes thicknesses across 15 different regions. It results in better retention of off-center ball speeds, while at the same time saving weight in the face that can be redistributed elsewhere for forgiveness. On the X fairway wood, that means a fixed eight-gram sole weight in the rear for extra stability on off-center hits. For the larger Max fairway wood, there are two sole weights (15 grams and three grams) in the deep center and the heel. Placing the heavier weight in the rear port increases stability on off-center hits and creates more dynamic loft for higher launch. Placing the heavier weight in the heel side of the sole creates more slice-fighting draw bias.
3. Fairway special. The Darkspeed LS fairway wood is an aggressive option for better players, thanks to its titanium construction (using a high-strength Ti-811 alloy) that is built for better rebound off the face. More importantly, though, the massive weight savings from the lighter titanium construction helps to make this fairway wood Cobra’s lowest, most forward CG option.
The lightweight construction, which includes a carbon-composite crown, means the body weighs less than 100 grams, freeing engineers to use more than 120 grams to push the center of gravity lower. That includes three movable sole weights (two 15-gram weights and a three-gram weight in the rear center, heel and toe). Arranging the heavier weight in either the heel or toe can encourage fades or draws, while pushing both heavy weights to the heel and toe creates the lowest spin setting for maximum energy transfer. In addition to the PWR-BRIDGE internal weighting, there are two heel and toe internal weight pads of tungsten of 19 grams each.