Equipment Report

    First Look: Cobra's King F9 Speedback driver, fairway woods and hybrids

  • Cobra's new F9 Speedback driver will be available at retail in January, 2019.Cobra's new F9 Speedback driver will be available at retail in January, 2019.

With driver faces nearing the limits in terms of thickness, engineers have shifted the focus to other areas of the club head to pick up speed, boost forgiveness and decrease weight.

For Cobra's new F9 Speedback driver and fairway woods, that meant taking a different look at crown shaping — an integral piece of the design equation that not only dictates aerodynamic properties but the center of gravity position and Moment of Inertia (MOI) as well.

Aerodynamic heads typically designed for speed require the perimeter skirt, tail and leading edges to be rounded and raised to reduce drag. But those design alterations have historically come at a cost to overall forgiveness due to a center of gravity location that can't be positioned low and back in the head.

Cobra is attempting to break aerodynamic design constraints with the help of the company's new Speedback Technology. The design begins with an aerodynamic shape that comes from a raised perimeter skirt, aft, crown and rounded leading edges designed to reduce drag and improve overall stability and clubhead speed. The perimeter skirt on the back of the head is meant to mimic the diffusers found on the underbody of a car that redirect airflow upward, improving downforce.

With a similar design to that of an airplane wing, the new overall shaping is 17 percent more aerodynamically efficient than Cobra's King F7 driver from two years ago; it's 5 percent more efficient than last year's King F8.

Polymer trips were added to the front portion of the crown — similar to what's currently found on King F8 — to further improve airflow and overall efficiency. The trips are one-tenth the weight of titanium and allow the air to glide around the head.

Discussions regarding the aerodynamic shaping led to ideas about ways to lower the center of gravity position within the head to increase forgiveness. The first part of the equation is a carbon fiber crown that wraps around the perimeter of the head, further reducing the amount of titanium used in the overall design. By increasing the carbon fiber area by 12 percent, engineers were able to save 10 grams of discretionary weight.

Weight savings in the crown led to the addition of an adjustable port in the back of the head housing a 14-gram weight. The design of the port pushes the weight deeper in the head, lowering the club's overall center of gravity. For players who want to reduce launch and spin, the 14-gram weight can be positioned closer to the face.

The driver also features other technologies from previous versions, including strategically placed PWR Ridges designed to add rigidity to the carbon crown for a more efficient energy return. According to Rickie Fowler, the ridges serve another purpose, framing the ball at address.

"I realize that was not their intended purpose, but it's nice to be able to get some confirmation that I'm aligned correctly before I hit the shot," Fowler said.

Cobra's proprietary CNC milled face returns with King F9. The eight-step milling process, which takes roughly 25 minutes, produces a product that's more exact than what's been offered in the past.

The face is also 3 percent lighter and 10 percent thinner than its predecessor, which allows the face to flex more effectively at impact. The face also features, for the first time, an optimized bulge-and-roll curvature for different lofts and swing speeds.

With more roll on the top half of the face and less on the bottom half, launch conditions are improved, regardless of where the ball is struck at impact.

The driver will be offered in three standard lofts (9, 10.5 and 12 degrees) with an adjustable sleeve that can go up and down in loft by 1.5 degrees. Instead of offering standard and plus versions, Cobra will only offer a single F9 head; the 9-degree head is the best option for those looking to reduce launch and spin.

Cobra's Connect sensor is concealed in the butt-end of the grip. The sensor weighs 4.6 grams and doesn't affect the overall swing weight of the club. Once the sensor is paired with Arccos' app, golfers are able to log distance and statistics during their round.


Cobra King F9 Speedback fairway woods and hybrids

For the first time, Cobra's King F9 Speedback fairway woods will feature a CNC milled face insert (475 steel) designed to produce similar ball speed properties to that of the driver face. According to test results, the CNC face saw an increase in ball speed by 2.5 miles per hour, compared to traditional hand polished fairway wood faces.

Due to the fairway wood shaping, the bulge curvature tilts diagonally from the high heel to low toe to account for the slight tilt in the head at impact.

The same Baffler rail technology on the sole of King F8 can be found on King F9, however, the rails were re-engineered so the lower lofts have a shallower version and the higher lofts a steeper version for different attack angles and turf interaction.

Taking another page from the driver design, the fairway wood utilizes a low, back tungsten weight for higher launch characteristics and improved forgiveness in the standard model. Along with the standard head, a more compact TOUR model has the weight situated closer to the front of the sole for less spin and a penetrating ball flight.

The King F9 Speedback hybrids offer the same dual rail design in the sole with a progressive height design to account for attack angle and turf interaction. The head utilizes a 455 stainless steel face insert and tungsten weight positioned in the rear portion of the sole.

Cobra's King F9 Speedback driver will be available at retail January 18, 2019 and retails for $450. The two fairway woods go for $270 while the hybrid is priced at $220.