December 20, 2017
By Jonathan Wall, PGATOUR.COM
Rickie Fowler extended highlights | Round 4 | Hero
For Rickie Fowler, the months of November and December are usually reserved for equipment testing in preparation for the new year. Based on Fowler's results with new Cobra King F8+ woods he put in play for the first time at the Hero World Challenge, the recent testing he conducted recently with Cobra Tour rep Ben Schomin was a rousing success.
Staring at a seven-shot deficit at the start of the final round, Fowler opened with seven consecutive birdies en route to a final-round 61 and a four-shot victory in the Bahamas. With his new Cobra woods dialed in, the four-time PGA TOUR winner took time to chat with PGATOUR.COM's Equipment Report about driver testing and his involvement in Cobra's club design process.
What were your initial thoughts when you saw Cobra's King F8+ driver for the first time?
I saw it for the first time in early September during the (Dell Technologies Championship) and immediately noticed it had a good look at address, which is really important to me. I need something that looks slightly open at address for the cut I like to play. The early looks I got at Dell and again in Chicago were just getting an idea of what was coming.
I finally had one built up with my current shaft in November and went to work making sure it was ready for competition. That means making sure I'm hitting my numbers and everything is in the right spot to take to the course and test, which is the final step in the process before it goes into the bag.
You noticed something about the milled face on the driver that could be a benefit on the course. What was it that stuck out?
Seeing how wet conditions can affect the way a ball comes off the face, once I saw the milling pattern on the face of the driver, it just kind of hit me that it could have a benefit when conditions deteriorate. It looks cool, but it also serves a functional purpose dispersing water off the face. That's something I could see being a benefit down the road in a tournament.
What shots, launch monitor numbers do you need to see during testing to give a driver the green light?
Since I went to a shorter driver length and like hitting a little cut, I like that cut to not spin a whole lot. For that go-to shot, I'm looking for something in the 2200-2500 spin range with no left from the ball. I don't necessarily want it starting left, I want it starting on my line and then just cutting from there to produce that fade. As long as I'm hitting my window and can see it moving right, without feeling like I have to do anything, that's when I know we're good to go. I feel like we're in a good spot right now.
What time of the year do you prefer to do your testing?
For the most part, the testing I do with (Cobra Tour rep Ben Schomin) is November through December. There are a few exceptions like the shorter driver I went to at The Honda Classic. The first part of last season was pretty packed and then I had a two-week break from Phoenix to Honda, so we were able to get some testing done in that little block and ultimately get the driver in the bag. There was also the 2-iron I put in play for the U.S. Open that was initially designed for the British Open, but after I saw Erin Hills, I noticed it would be a good option there as well. Every once in a while there might be something simple we do midseason, but mostly driver and woods stuff is done during the winter months.
Have you become more involved in the product design process since you first joined Cobra?
Honestly, I feel like it’s stayed about the same. From Day One when I first came on, they basically milled me my irons out of blocks of steel. I was very involved and had a lot of input from the start of testing, in terms of feel and look, what I liked and didn't like. In a way, I almost think I do less now because they know my tendencies.
When they bring a product to me, I’m usually giving them less feedback because when the clubs get to me, they are basically ready to go in the bag. I like that testing is more about dialing things in instead of making big changes. That said, I really enjoy having the ability to add my own input and know they’ll take what I say to heart during the creation process.
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