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Rickie Fowler explains why he has three vertical lines etched on Cobra Darkspeed driver face (plus full Q&A)

5 Min Read



    Written by GolfWRX

    Rickie Fowler made equipment news at The American Express 2024 with his all-new Cobra King 3D-printed lob wedge, but that’s not the only piece of unique gear in his bag for 2024. That’s not the only piece of unique gear in his bag for this year, however.

    He’s also using a new Cobra Darkspeed LS driver with three vertical (yes, you read that right) lines that are laser-etched onto the driver face.

    Rickie Fowler's Cobra Darkspeed LS driver. (Courtesy GolfWRX)

    Rickie Fowler's Cobra Darkspeed LS driver. (Courtesy GolfWRX)

    Typically, modern-day drivers have horizontal grooves, or various framing elements on the face for alignment, but why does Fowler have three gray vertical lines on his driver? Is there a performance benefit, or is it strictly visual?

    To find out those answers, recently caught up with Fowler at Cobra’s launch event for its new Darkspeed products, which are currently available on the retail market.

    Below is’s Q&A with Fowler, where he spoke on the new Darkspeed LS design and performance, and how the vertical lines on the face help his game.

    Andrew Tursky, So obviously with GolfWRX, you can get tech-y if you want, but if you were reviewing the Aerojet versus the Darkspeed, how would you describe the Darkspeed driver and what you like about it?

    Rickie Fowler: It took me a little more time than I was hoping to get into it, but ultimately for the better, because I feel like I'm in a better spot now than Aerojet, and that's saying a lot.

    I had high expectations, and I wasn't going to switch out of something unless it was at least as good, or better, or potentially better in the long run. Definitely a lot different look as far as (Darkspeed) is matte. Darkspeed is just super clean versus Aerojet. The Aerojet was still clean but had some graphics and stuff going on with the crown, and a different top on it. And then on the kind of tech side, I would say it’s lower spinning. I'm up a degree in loft – loft is your friend when you can still keep spin down, so I feel like I have a bit more control with the Darkspeed.

    Tursky: Would you say you have a lot of influence on Cobra’s driver designs? Do they always come to you with the prototypes and ask, ‘Hey, what do you think? What do you think about color?’

    Fowler: Yeah. Really it's as much as I want, in a way, which is great. Between myself, Gary (Woodland), even Duff (Jason Dufner) and Justin (Suh), that's what's nice with being kind of a smaller family versus maybe some other manufacturers, is that our input is heard and used and put into new equipment.

    Rickie Fowler's Cobra Darkspeed LS driver. (Courtesy GolfWRX)

    Rickie Fowler's Cobra Darkspeed LS driver. (Courtesy GolfWRX)

    I've seen next year's driver already to start kind of giving feedback there, and we'll start to see more stuff on that, but with Darkspeed, I saw from the original pictures or files to rapid prototypes, and then giving feedback from there. The first time I hit it, I'd seen it multiple times before that, so it's fun to be involved and invest in that.

    Rickie Fowler's Cobra Darkspeed LS driver. (Courtesy GolfWRX)

    Rickie Fowler's Cobra Darkspeed LS driver. (Courtesy GolfWRX)

    Tursky: I noticed you have the three vertical lines on the driver face. What are those lines for?

    Fowler: With it being matte and a similar color the whole way, … it didn't look like it had as much loft as 8.5 (degrees), which is what I was used to seeing. That was one of the reasons we tried more loft, but also having the lines there helps me see face angle, because it's not like there are super hard lines or anything. So that's what's kind of cool (about Cobra) is it kind of allows you to customize it if you want. It started with Sharpie, and now those are laser-etched on the face.

    Tursky: I wanted to ask about the 3D-printed wedge, as well. Can you tell me about that process, and what it’s like using that new tech?

    Fowler: Yeah so almost a year ago, at Riv (The Riviera Country Club) last year, we were continuing to mess with the grind and leading edge, and get something where it felt really good, because I don't like to change grinds a whole lot. I like something to be super versatile. Use it from soft conditions to The Open. You know, if I get soft bunkers, I'll go to a 56 because I have a wider sole, but I like 60. I want to know what I've got and know how it reacts in all kinds of conditions. So we got a very good one, and I loved it. And we tried to make some backups and replicate it, but it was hard to do by hand. You can get it close, but sometimes it's just a little off. And so after the (FedExCup Playoffs), Ben took my wedge back home, and they fully scanned it and created basically a CAD file.

    …And then there's a full image of it, and just press print. And there’s still a little bit of touch-up because I think they left some room in the leading edge to round it off. I don't like a sharp leading edge underneath, I like having that initial bounce, so it doesn't want to dig. So there's a little room there that gives room to kind of tighten in (on the leading edge) if we want to.

    Rickie Fowler's 3D-printed wedge. (Courtesy: GolfWRX)

    Rickie Fowler's 3D-printed wedge. (Courtesy: GolfWRX)

    It’s made it a lot easier to duplicate the sole and the grind that I like. Good enough that Gary has it in the bag.

    Tursky: Does it feel any different [than a forged wedge]?

    Fowler: You're not going to really tell the difference.

    Tursky: Really?

    Fowler: I really don't think so. Sitting there hitting shots and going back and forth, you know, blind testing, I don't think you're going to feel more of a difference than if you're switching balls back and forth. The metal is a little bit different. It's interesting because I have…a magnetic phone that sticks to all my irons. It's a different stainless that has a very low amount of iron in it so it's not magnetic, but you will not tell the difference between the two.

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