Cobra King LTD Driver Review
Anyone remember this?
I remember it, and it was nasty. Watching the highlights when they first ran back in March, I couldn’t help but notice that the sole of his driver also looked pretty damn sharp. Good looks, 410 yard bombs… I had to have one.
Well, two months have passed and I’m here to tell you about my time with the Cobra King LTD driver. I’m tempted to make this review only two sentences longer, but I wouldn’t want to you to think I’m being lazy. So instead I’ll give you two bullet points for starters:
- This driver produces insanely long low-spin nukebombs that are averaging 15 yards longer than my existing driver, the Ping G20.
- The Spaceport comes loose sometimes and I might murder it.
So what is the King LTD driver? According to Cobra, it’s “the longest and straightest driver they have ever made”. Not shocking to hear them say this, but I must admit they do have some interesting features to support this claim, the primary one being that the King LTD is Cobra’s first driver to align the Center of Gravity with the Neutral Axis position – “Zero CG”. If you’ve been following the driver design race at all, you’ll know that this has been one of the white whales for quite some time. Theoretically the Zero CG should translate to a higher energy transfer and less spin, which in turn equals bombs.
The club rings up at a hefty $449 retail, which backs the idea that Cobra is shooting for the premium space in the driver marketplace.
I think I can spare you most of the tech-y details and instead go with this blanket statement: Cobra is quick to point out that their partnership with the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) allowed them to perform R&D on the International Space Station. Do with that what you will, but at the very least know that this is the theme behind the space-age materials that make up the lighter crown (helping the CG cause), the Spaceport, and, well… the Spaceport.
I don’t want you to think I’m giving Cobra the side-eye right off the bat, I just don’t want to waste your time with the newest term for a hot face or the specific type of anti-gravity dust from Mars that was used. Here on earth, my human eyeballs think this club looks fully badass. Eschewing the popular color wheel of their recent driver lines, Cobra went with a black club on black shaft scheme – nancyboys need not apply.
As you can see, the crown is all black with a small orange alignment aid, and the sole is basically black with those three tasteful orange/gray stripes running across. That’s important… to be tasteful…
What you cannot see on the crown is a cool little diamond pattern in the carbon-fiber composite, like a diagonal checkered flag. I’d say blame the cameraman, but the truth is I still haven’t figured out exactly how to make that pattern show itself… it’s worse than one of those 90’s mall kiosks daring you to see the sailboat. Honestly, I’ve been playing this driver for two months and I’ve probably seen that pattern all of two times, so I think it’s safe to call it a non-factor.
And of course, what you can see on the sole of the club is the Spaceport.
Looks cool enough to me. I can’t shake the feeling that I’ve seen something like this before.
And lastly we have the stock shaft, an Aldila Rogue Black that weighs in at a very light 68g in the Stiff version.
Here’s where I get a little corny. Per usual, my first few swings with this stick were a bit jarring, only because the feel was so much different than my Ping G20. While the G20 has that softball bat sound and a definite “metal” feel, the King LTD is decidedly muted with a feel that I at first equated to a pencil eraser. That sounds like an insult, and for the first few minutes that’s how I meant it. But of course, as I got used to the different feel I began to appreciate it’s understated badassery. When you hit this thing right it is super-satisfying; definitely gives you the “player” feeling the same way an old Titleist driver did back at the turn of the century.
Of course every driver feels decent when you hit it on the screws, but I still have to give the King LTD an edge on feel nonetheless… it’s addictive and better than any club I’ve swung in the past few years, in the bag or in the store. As a point of reference, I’d say the feel is of the same DNA as the BioCell+ driver that I reviewed a few years ago, but with a bit higher octane as if Cobra had finally nailed down what they were chasing after.
The club also just feels more like “precision” than the G20 – I hope that makes sense.
No launch monitor stats here, just one meathead swinging two clubs – the incumbent Ping G20 and the King LTD.
It only takes one half-decent swing to notice the lower spin, the difference is that significant. With the same swing that my 10.5 degree G20 sends a slightly ballooning drive down the fairway, the 10.5 degree King LTD delivers a mid-trajectory laser beam that looks like topspin instead of backspin. I say “looks like” topspin only because I struggle with turning the ball over- I tend to hit slightly down on the ball with the driver, so even when I smoke one it will usually spin up a bit and barely roll out.
With the King LTD I can immediately see that the flight is a whole different animal – the ball just sort of pummels forward and keeps rolling after it lands.
After about 600 swings on the range and 20 rounds, I can honestly say that my drives are anywhere from 10 – 20 yards longer with the King LTD than with my G20, and I’ve got to attribute most of that to the low spin. I’m no scientist (shocking), but I have to assume that the lower spin is a result of the Zero CG, and I am officially a believer. I know 10-20 yards sounds like an awful lot in real golf terms, but it just keeps proving itself over and over.
The King LTD does have Cobra’s MyFly adjustability feature, something I toyed with briefly but ultimately the neutral 10.5 was where I needed to be. But the adjustability on my 10.5 degree driver gives me the following options: Neutral – 9.0°, 9.5°, 10.5°; 11.5°, 12.0°; Draw – 9.5°, 10.5°, 11.5°.
One thing I have noted is that the club feels lighter than average, which can have different repercussions for different people. I’m sure more distance is one of those results, but it can also be tempting (and easy) to overswing this sucker. Overswinging is another hallmark of my game btw, so keep that in mind, but I will sometimes get extra greedy with my newfound King LTD power and feel the clubhead get away from me.
Ah, the Spaceport. As I mentioned before, I think it looks cool, but alas, I am not a fan of the Spaceport. First of all, let me point out that the Spaceport is not just good Tie Fighter looks, it actually does serve a function as well: it is the final piece of weighting that keeps the club at the Zero CG. Furthermore, it can be screwed in and out so you can… wait for it… LOOK INSIDE TO SEE WHAT YOUR DRIVER LOOKS LIKE INSIDE!
If that’s not moving the needle for you, well then get in line right behind yours truly. As you can see, Cobra actually took the time to point out the various features of the driver on the inside, I guess just reaffirming to the owner that the club did indeed have some awesome space-y technology in it.
That’s fine – it’s a cute idea and I will gladly chalk it up to good intentions, especially since I love smashing away with this driver. The problem is, the Spaceport comes loose every once in a while – say, every 2.5 rounds, or every 1.5 rounds if you pepper in a driver-heavy range session (are there any other kind?).
Cobra provides you with a torque wrench and key, of course, so the problem is easily fixed. But ultimately my somewhat-shaky golf mind just does not need this kind of worry floating around in a dark corner. I’m not worried about it flying off… at worst you just hear a slight rattle if you ground the club during your pre-shot routine, but it just feels like an achilles heel that simply does not need to exist. Okay I got that off my chest.
To be fair to Cobra, though, I spoke with their Customer Service Department (as an anonymous consumer, not a titan of the golf journalism industry) and they immediately acknowledged the possibility of it coming loose, chalking it up to a physical inevitability when a club is being swung at repeatedly high speeds/impacts. They recommended that I just tighten the Spaceport before every round, eliminating any potential of it coming loose. Fair enough – so that’s what I do now.
If I really didn’t want to deal with the Spaceport any longer, Cobra even mentioned that I could bring the club to a retailer and ask that they send it back to have the Spaceport “locktite-ed” into place.
“But wouldn’t that throw off the weighting?” I asked. “You, sir, are an idiot” they undoubtedly thought to themselves…
Problem solved by just tightening before each round, but my money is on Cobra doing away with the removable aspect of the Spaceport in the next generation.
Make Up Talk
Don’t let my Archie Bunker rant about Spaceports discourage you, this driver is a thoroughbred for sure. I think of it as a cut above the rest of the pack, definitely in the top 3 or 4 drivers out there right now. I’ve been more excited than usual to hit tee balls ever since I put it in my bag, and I have no trouble understanding why Rickie Fowler deems it worthy. Somehow, even with a gimmick like the Spaceport in play, this driver is just a solid looking, non-gimmicky, top-tier performing club that I don’t expect to replace for a few seasons. I think Cobra fans have finally gotten that Tour-caliber stick they have been waiting for, and any Cobra skeptics will have no choice but to let the brand into their inner circle after hitting this driver.
As far as the price tag goes – yes, it is high, but I think by now we should all be able to do the amortization game where you realize that golf clubs are actually some of the cheapest/most valuable things we own, and the driver is no place to pinch pennies. Don’t bother questioning me, just go hit one and let us know what you think.
The folks at Cobra Customer Service were Grade A nice, which I think is true for most golf companies. Anyhow, our conversation veered into this little tidbit – different companies’ torque wrenches are not necessarily interchangeable. Yes, they all use the same star bit so it seems like you can use any old one to adjust your club, but it’s very possible that a manufacturer has a specific level of torque dialed in to match their specific club, so using your old Ping wrench for your new Cobra stick can be a risky proposition. Maybe everybody already knows that, but I think I’ve seen enough yascos hand their wrench to someone else to know that I’m not the only clueless one on this front.