Palmetto Championship

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Equipment

Equipment

Cobra makes putters a priority with two new lines and plenty of stroke-saving tech

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW: Cobra is jumping into the putter market with both feet and a heavy emphasis on the technology of bringing more consistency to even the most inconsistent strokes. One key to both the new King 3D Printed line and the King Vintage line is greater perimeter weighting for higher moment of inertia (MOI) to make mis-hits roll out like center hits. Another is the descending loft face technology through Cobra’s partnership with SIK putters where the loft changes from four degrees at the top of the face to one degree at the bottom of the face. The idea is that regardless of whether a player is hitting upward or downward at impact, putts will launch off the face at the same ideal degree. Most notable is the use of a 3D printed intricate nylon structure in the King 3D Printed line, which saves significant weight that in turn is used to bolster MOI while maintaining sound and feel.

PRICE: King 3D Printed, five models ($350); King Vintage, seven models ($250). In stores June 4.

THE DEEP DIVE: Despite the fact that it obviously and frustratingly is the case, one would think putting shouldn’t be that hard. The stroke is the slowest and shortest in the game. What could possibly go wrong? Turns out, as we can easily guess, a lot.

Cobra, which has largely been on the equipment sidelines in the putting market up until this point, will launch two putter lines with heavy doses of technology. The mission has been to ease the pain of putting by building more forgiveness for those inconsistent strokes and mis-hits. The new lines include the King 3D Printed models, a series that showcases the 3D printing technology that the company teased late last fall with the King Supersport-35, what Cobra called the first commercially available completely 3D printed putter. The King 3D Printed line will be joined by the King Vintage series, which incorporates similar technologies (minus the 3D printing) in some conventional shapes.

Across the board, however, the Cobra putters are an effort to improve stability on off-center hits while at the same time increasing consistency of loft at impact, regardless of the inconsistency of your stroke. They do that with 3D printing, multiple materials, perimeter weighting and face insert that employs the descending loft technology from its partner SIK Golf.

“We wanted to get into putters because very simply we wanted people to reduce their three-putts or make more one-putts,” said Cobra’s Jose Miraflor, director of product marketing and a veteran putter designer who spearheaded Cobra’s new putter lineup. “The Supersport-35 was our stake in the ground with 3D printing, and a lot of our engineers like the design freedom that 3D printing has given them. You combine that with our SIK face insert and the modern and classic shapes, we think we’re giving them a chance to experience better roll.”

That’s not just idle talk. Because of Cobra’s partnership with Arccos and the Cobra Connect sensors, there is real data driving the discussion of how much help golfers need. According to Cobra Connect data, even scratch golfers are three-putting once a round. And it gets progressively worse. A 5-handicap is three-jacking twice a round, while a 15-handicap, the meat of the golfing universe, is taking three to hole out on the greens 17 percent of the time, or at least three times a round.

With that data as a backdrop, Cobra’s team focused on stability on off-center hits as a first priority. Moving weight to the perimeter to make a more forgiving putter is an idea nearly half-a-century old. What Cobra is doing differently is using 3D printing to create intricate internal cartridges that are both lightweight and structurally supportive enough to house heavy tungsten to be pushed to the perimeter, both to the heel and toe and front and back. The results are blade and mallet designs that save more than 50 grams compared to similar structures made of single materials. The King 3D Printed lineup includes the Grandsport-35 blade with 15-gram heel and toe weights; the twin fang-shaped Supernova, which features 42 grams of heel, toe, front and back perimeter weights; and the oversize mallet Agera, which features an ultra-thin aluminum crown that saves 52 grams compared to a similar steel crown.

Those weight-savings are largely possible because of the 3D printed internal cartridge of each putter, Miraflor said.

“They're made of different materials so we can strategically position weight,” he said. “And while you’d probably say you could leave nothing in there, and air would be lighter,this cartridge system also adds strength to that really thin forged aluminum crown and it also damps the vibration at impact for all the different materials and helps to tune the sound that we’re after.”

Cobra carried its weight-saving idea to the face insert, but added the benefits of a more consistent role through the SIK Golf descending loft pattern. Made of 6061 aluminum, the face insert saves 24-35 grams compared to 304 stainless steel, Miraflor said.

“We took the opportunity to make an insert that sounds a little bit softer than steel but also still very crisp,” he said. “It also gives us the opportunity to save a lot of weight and move it where we want.”

The King 3D Printed models include armlock versions where the face loft descends from seven degrees to four degrees to work better with the natural forward press setup in armlock putting. The standard models start with four degrees at the top of the face and then descend in one-degree increments down to one-degree low on the face. Upward strokes tend to add launch and strike the putter face low, hence less loft low on the face. Downward strokes tend to decrease launch and strike the putter face high, hence more loft on the upper part of the face.

While the King 3D Printed shapes offer more modern takes, the King Vintage line uses more traditional blade and mallet shapes. Making them different is again the descending loft face technology from SIK Golf (with the same aluminum face insert) and an emphasis on repositioning discretionary weight. That repositioned weight, through the use of ports in the sole, creates higher stability and a lower center of gravity for improved roll.

There are seven models in the King Vintage lineup. Those include plumbers neck and flow neck blades (Sport-45, Sport-60); a traditional clam shell mallet (Torino). Two modern mallets, the twin fang-shaped Nova and the Spider-like Stingray, come in both single bend and slant neck models (Nova-40 and Stingray-40). In each case, the number after the hyphen refers to the degree of toe hang on each model. Altogether, there are four different toe-hang options across the King 3D Printed and King Vintage lines.

Like all Cobra clubs, each model in the King 3D Printed and King Vintage lines will include the Arccos-powered, stat-tracking GPS Cobra Connect sensor on specially designed Lamkin putter grips. As well, each purchase includes free Arccos sensors for the rest of the clubs in your bag.

The King 3D Printed ($350) and King Vintage ($250) putters will be in stores June 4.