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New irons

Cobra's latest T-Rail irons: what you need to know

November 07, 2022
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What you need to know: Cobra’s latest version of its T-Rail hybrid-iron set boasts a new variable-thickness face design to boost ball speed over a larger portion of the face. The company’s hallmark sole rails not only assist turf interaction but drive the center of gravity low to help foster a high launch.

Availability/Price: Available immediately, the T-Rail is offered as a 4-hybrid through pitching wedge set in a graphite shaft in men's (a lightweight steel shaft is available as a custom option) and 5-hybrid through sand wedge in women's versions. Both cost $999 for seven clubs.

The deep dive: When setting out to design its third generation of the T-Rail hybrid-iron set, Cobra’s engineers asked themselves a straightforward question: Who is the T-Rail customer? After some research they came to a couple of simple conclusions.

“The player that we felt we were targeting was more of a social golfer,” said Caitlin Farley, product manager for Cobra. “Players concerned more with how many good shots they hit during a round rather than their score. Or players that wanted to improve but with having to do minimal work with their game.”

Of course, the first key to achieving that uncomplicated but somewhat difficult task was knowing what works and what can be improved on.

Remaining is a hollow, hybrid-iron shape with the company’s hallmark hollow Baffler split rails on the sole. The rails provide several benefits. They not only help move the clubs more effortlessly through the turf, but they combine with the wide soles and hollow-body construction to foster a low, deep center of gravity to help get the ball airborne—a critical attribute for the target audience. Because the front portion of the rails (nearest the face) are hollow, they have the added benefit of boosting face flex at impact as well. Finally, they create more effective bounce to prevent the club from digging—kind of like the nose of a ski—while the taller front rails prevent also help mitigate the loss of clubhead speed on fat shots.

While the rails are simply refined, the face received an overhaul. Designed using artificial intelligence, the forged face insert employs ST-118 stainless steel in a variable thickness pattern that increases the area of the sweet spot to provide more ball speed across a larger swath of the face. In all there are 15 unique zones ranging in thickness from 2 millimeters to 2.2 mm. The result is a face that is slightly larger but one that weighs less, no easy feat to accomplish.

Sound in a hollow iron also can prove to be challenging. “The first two versions were a little too loud,” said Farley. “We used thicker ribs inside the clubhead this time. That helped produce a more pleasing sound at impact.”

Those looking at clubs such as T-Rail typically possess slightly slower swing speeds. As such, a lightweight 50-gram graphite shaft (45 grams on the women’s model) helps give players the ability to generate more clubhead speed than they would when using lightweight steel shafts that often weigh twice as much if not more.

Slower swings also tend to lead to gapping issues within a set, especially at the longer end where the distance lines between a 4-, 5- and sometimes even 6-iron can be blurred. To assist there, the T-Rail comes stock with a traditional hybrid for the 4-iron loft before transitioning to the hollow-body iron style at the 5-iron (a 5-hybrid replaces the 5 hybrid-iron in the women’s set). Not only does this stretch out the yardage gap to an appropriate level, but the hybrid is more forgiving and provides a launch boost in a club that many players typically find difficult to hit.

Available immediately, the T-Rail is offered as a 4-hybrid through pitching wedge set in a standard graphite shaft in men's (a lightweight steel shaft is available as a custom option) and 5-hybrid through sand wedge in women's versions. Both cost $999 for seven clubs.