2 MODELS, 2 WEIGHTS
As you would expect given Cobra’s recent history, the F8 driver will be available in both standard and plus (+) models. The standard version features what Cobra calls a full profile. That means it has a shallower face and is more elongated than the traditionally-shaped F8+. The latter offers a taller face and is more compact overall.
The standard F8 is more forgiving and offers higher launch, while the F8+ is more workable and offers a flatter more penetrating trajectory.
Both models feature Cobra’s MyFly8 adjustability. The F8 is adjustable from 9°-12° (draw settings at 9.5°, 10.5°, 11.5°). The F8+ is adjustable from 8°-11° (8.5°, 9.5°, 10.5°). Both are CG adjustable too, though it’s notable that Cobra has shifted from the F7’s 3-weight design to a new, but not unfamiliar, 2-weight system.
For those wondering why Cobra decided to drop a weight – the company found that only 10% of F7 users were taking advantage of the front position, while only 5% of F7+ users were putting the heavy weight in the heel. Rather than continue to offer configuration options that were largely being ignored, the company elected to simplify and re-engineer the platforms to take better advantage of the settings golfers were actually using.
To that end, the F8 allows for mass to be shifted between the back and the heel. As a refresher – placing the weight in the heel produces medium launch with a draw bias, while placing the 12-gram weight in the back produces higher launch while increasing forgiveness.
The F8+ is a front/back system not dissimilar from the Fly-Z+. The weight forward configuration, while less forgiving, will increase average ball speed by just under 1MPH, while at the same time decreasing launch and spin by .5° and 500 RPM respectively.
With the weight back, you can expect a higher, more controlled ball flight (more spin) along with an MOI number similar to the KING LTD.
And speaking of the KING LTD…
He gone. Dead. Not coming back. It’s disappointing, I know, but Cobra’s VP of R&D, Tom Olsavsky assures me that the F8+ will outperform the LTD due to its improved aerodynamics and milled face.
FORGED CNC MILLED FACE
The most significant feature of the F8 driver is the industry’s first 100% CNC Milled face. Before we can talk about why that matters, we need to take a moment to review the USGA CT limit and what it means from a design perspective. The USGA caps driver CT at 239 microseconds. Toss in a tolerance of 18, and that brings us to the number most reference as the allowable limit – 257 microseconds.
While manufacturers would love to be right at the limit – and most claim that they are – the reality is that between manufacturing tolerances and variations in measurement, companies have to design for 239. Few retail parts actually sniff the limit. 257 is for Tour pros, 239 is for you.
By using a 100% milled face, Cobra is able to eliminate the hand polishing necessary to remove the outer face welds. Because milling can be done to much tighter tolerances that what you can achieve with humans, Cobra can design closer to the 257 limit. The company isn’t claiming every head is at the limit, but it’s saying it can get closer than its competitors.
Milling the face also gives Cobra more precise control over the thickness in the various regions of its E9 face. The result is higher ball speeds over portions of the face; most appreciably in the high toe area where Cobra is claiming ball speed gains of 1.6 MPH.
The 25-minute milling process also results in more consistent bulge and roll, which means more consistent performance from driver to driver.
360 AERO TECHNOLOGY
Golfers will immediately notice some significant changes to the F8 crown. For 2018, Cobra has joined the aerodynamics club with a set of crown-based features it calls Aero Trips.
Like the similar features used by PING (Turbulators) and Callaway (Speed Step), Aero Trips are designed to keep airflow close to the head and reduce turbulent wake (drag) leading into impact. What differentiates Cobra’s offering from its competitors’ is that instead of using the same material used in the crown (titanium or carbon fiber), its drag reducing features are made from a polymer that’s 90% lighter than titanium. The weight savings mean that the aerodynamic features don’t raise the center of gravity in any appreciable way, which helps Cobra keep comparatively more weight low in the head.
Similar to what PING did with its G400, Cobra has refined the shape of the hosel transition area to reduce drag during the part of the downswing where face isn’t in the square position. Finally, unlike its competitors, Cobra has added titanium Aero Trips to the sole (photo below) as well.
Cobra claims that F8’s aerodynamic features reduce drag by 17% (compared to F7), though I’d be remiss if I didn’t again remind you that aerodynamic improvements provide greater benefit to faster swingers.
For a golfer with a swing speed in the 95-100 MPH range, Cobra is suggesting gains of .8 MPH clubhead speed, 1.1 MPH of ball speed, and 4 yards of total distance.
REAL DEAL SHAFTS
Cobra acknowledges that it has taken some heat from its retail accounts over its continued use of less than real deal shafts. While many OEMs still have made for in their lineups, the market leaders all have at least some authentic aftermarket equivalent stuff mixed in with their stock offerings.
Made For gets spun a number of different ways, but the reality is they’re not the same shafts, and when you’re the last guy still all-in on the same name, different performance game, it doesn’t look good. To be taken seriously by gearheads, Cobra needed to make a change to its stock shaft lineup, and that’s exactly what its done.
The F8 lineup will leverage real-deal shafts. No co-branding, no Cobra graphics, just 100% the same as you’d get from a custom fitter shafts. Those stock options are as follows:
- F8 – Mitsubishi Chemical Tensei Blue (50g – Lite, R), Aldila 2kNV Blue (60g – R, S), Aldila 2KNV Green (65g – S)
- F8+ – Aldila 2kNV Blue (60g – R, S), Aldila 2KNV Green (65g – S, X), Project X HZRDUS Yellow* (75g – S, X)
*Like some others, Cobra is using a non-Handcrafted version of the Project X. While machine produced, the structure and bend profile are the same as the Handcrafted version.
COBRA CONNECT INCLUDED
As it did in 2017, Cobra will include Arccos/Cobra Connect sensors with every driver. Building on the Arccos Driver functionality, all F8 clubs (drivers, fairways, hybrids, and irons) will come with Arccos sensors installed in the grip, which means that golfers who buy Cobra drivers get Arccos Driver, while golfers who buy Cobra irons will be able to leverage the full power of Arccos 360 under the Cobra Connect system.
Cobra Connect now includes a driver tuning feature which takes data from rounds recorded with the system and leverages Arccos’ AI to make recommendations on club setting adjustments to improve your driving.
It’s also worth mentioning that Cobra has expanded its Arccos-embedded grip offerings. In addition to the Lamkin REL, Cobra will now offer Cobra Connect versions of the Lamkin Crossline and Wrap Tec as well as Golf Pride’s MCC, MCC +4, Tour Velvet, and Tour Velvet Ribbed.
As was the case last season, there is no upcharge for Cobra Connect.