Cobra's new King F8/F8+ drivers embrace precise manufacturing as key to better performance
The Cobra King F8 and F8+ drivers offer a fundamental shift in driver technology, and they get there in a novel way that attempts to go beyond the standard improvements in performance and mass properties.
In a word, they may be better because they are made better.
A new precision milling process for the faces on the King F8 and F8+ drivers is designed not only to ensure more refined intricacy in the thicknesses and curvatures, but also to ensure those measurements repeat in driver after driver.
According to Mike Yagley, director of innovation, research and testing for Cobra, the problem with the way many drivers are traditionally manufactured is that while the designs are meticulous down to the fractions of a gram and tenths of a millimeter, the final product often involves significant hand grinding and polishing that is random and ultimately inaccurate.
“It’s tighter tolerances in terms of the exterior face shape, the subsequent thickness, which led to weight savings and performance gains,” he said of the multi-directional, multi-stage milling procedure. “The process wasn’t that precise; now it is.”
That kind of precision is important because it’s led to the King F8 and F8+ drivers featuring a face that’s now three percent lighter and ll percent thinner. That means a face that flexes more across a broader area, while using less weight that can be redistributed low for better low-spin launch conditions.
It also leads to more consistent effectiveness of Cobra’s canted bulge and dual roll face design, where the bulge is angled from low heel to high toe and the lower portion of the face features a larger radius roll measurement for more loft and higher launch.
The two drivers feature a number of updates to core technologies that have been part of Cobra drivers in recent years. That includes a variable face thickness design, enhanced by the new precision milling technique, that stretches in a trapezoidal shape from low heel to high toe. The forged face and body are both made of high-strength, lightweight titanium alloy Ti 8-1-1.
As well, the King F8 and F8+ drivers feature a weight-saving carbon fiber crown and eight-way hosel adjustability that stretches across a three-degree range of lofts.
Newly implemented on both drivers is an enhanced focus on aerodynamics, which includes visible trip steps on the crown, sole and skirt, each designed to reduce drag as the club moves and rotates on the downswing. The aerodynamic package also includes subtle shape changes like shifting the peak of the crown slightly farther back from the face and softening the edge radii on the topline and leading edge, as well as slightly reducing the face area.
All of that precision, though, is only meaningful if you can manufacture it, and only if you can do it every time, Yagley said:
“We know there’s a large number of consumers that have tested at demo day and said ‘I want that exact driver, I want the one I just hit,’ and the poor salesman has to say, ‘You can’t have that one. That’s my demo.’ Now, he can look at him and go, ‘Guess what? The one you’re going to get IS just like that one.’ That’ll be huge.”
The King F8 and F8+ are aimed at two different players. While both drivers feature two movable weights of 12 and two grams, the F8 features ports in the rear and heel of the sole to give average golfers a choice between a higher flight or a draw-biased flight. The weight ports on the F8+ are in the rear and front of the sole, allowing for a lower flight with the 12-gram weight in the front position. The F8 (adjustable from 9-12 degrees) offers a larger profile, while the F8+ (adjustable from 8-11 degrees) is more compact and is designed to produce lower trajectories.
The King F8 line will include fairway woods and hybrids, too. The larger profile F8 and more compact F8+ fairway woods feature redesigned rails in the sole that both help to lower the center of gravity and smooth turf interaction. The parallel rails are more tightly spaced and more directly frame the center of gravity for improved stability. The rails also change in height based on how each of the three heads are used: shallow on the 3-4 and progressively taller as the swings get steeper on the 5-6 and 7-8 models. The 3-4 adjusts between 13-16 degrees, the 5-6 adjusts between 17-20 degrees and the 7-8 (only on the F8 model) adjusts between 21-24 degrees.
Each also features a weight-saving carbon composite crown and high-strength, variable thickness 475 stainless steel face insert. The F8 utilizes a rear weight for higher relative flight compared to the flatter trajectory of the F8+, which has the weight positioned in the front part of the sole.
Also benefiting from the turf and weight benefits of the sole rail features, the King F8 hybrids use a 455 high-strength steel face insert and use a reduced hosel height to save weight for a lower CG. It will be available in five lofts (17, 19, 22 and 25 degrees). The F8 hybrid line also includes a single-length hybrid. Built to 7-iron length on much the concept of the F8 One iron line, it will be offered in 19-, 22- and 25-degree lofts.
The King F8 and F8+ woods all will feature the Cobra Connect sensor embedded in the grip. It works with the Arccos stat-tracking GPS app to provide club distances, statistics and interconnected gaming options.
The King F8 and F8+ woods will be available in black and nardo grey (a battleship color made popular by Audi). Also available in a women’s version with an adjustable hosel that runs from 11-14 degrees and two colors (black/Lexi blue and silver/raspberry), the King F8 and F8+ drivers ($400), along with the fairway woods ($250) and hybrids ($200) will be in stores Jan. 12.