February 17, 2023
I met Tom Olavsky, a vice-president for Research & Development based in Carlsbad, CA. He has been with Cobra for nine years, following 23 years’ prior experience with Titleist and TaylorMade.
The big takeaway from our conversation was that with the distance and other equipment rules that govern golf, Cobra and its competitors focus on making marginal gains among several distinct aspects of their products. The combination of these small gains can produce notable improvements between product cycles.
We first discussed the new Aerojet drivers, fairway woods, and hybrids. Olavsky said the new LS model is “the most aerodynamic model in our lineup.”
Drivers present the largest hurdle for improvements in airflow, with their massive size and blunt face.
For maximum ball speed off any club, the best results come from hitting the central sweet spot – a worthy and sometimes achieved goal, but not the norm for most of us. Olavsky said to produce comparable length from mishits, the new heads use a combination of an L-cup face, an internal bridge structure just above the club’s bottom, and what he called a “hot face”.
“We developed a highly optimized structure on the back side of the face that creates 15 points for contact. Using our AI system, we located raised pads and the dips between them to produce a controlled trampoline effect. A golf ball’s impact is about the size of a quarter, so on any hit that ball will contact 4 or 5 of these pads,” he said.
Olavsky said the carbon fiber top for the Aerojet created opportunities to shift weight elsewhere on the club. There is also a Power Bridge inside the driver, fairway woods, and hybrids. Cast with the shell, this Bridge moves 40 grams of weight forward while adding stability. The new weight locations affect the ball’s spin at impact.
He also described changes to the roll and bridge radii for the club face. Driver faces are never fully flat, with curves that run on the vertical and horizontal axes. Balls react to the curvature by spinning in ways that effectively return them to the intended path, which is called the “gear effect.”
“By reducing the roll radius on the bottom half of the club face, loft is preserved and spin is reduced, improving the results of mishits,” he said.
Olavsky showed me how Cobra’s new AeroJet irons also use the Power Bridge concept. Suspended behind the club face, the Bridge is held in place with a polymer medallion. According to Cobra, the Bridge permits a bit more flexibility for better launch and speed results.
“Those medallions [on the back of the irons] are not simply decorative. They are integral to obtain the sound and feel desired by players. We use a mix of materials that are located where they need to be to create what we’re looking for,” Olavsky said.
We also looked at the King CB/MB and King Tour forged irons. The MB (muscle back) designs are typically ordered for the 7-iron through pitching wedge for precision shot makers. The CB (Cavity Back) model provides a bit more forgiveness for mishits in the long irons (4-6). Olavsky said the King Tour are “players blades” but are still cavity backed. They also come with a TPU insert on the back side medallion that creates a nice feel on impact.
Olavsky also noted the range of stock shaft options available for all Cobra products. He stressed again the company’s recommendation to go through a fitting process for the best results.
Being fitted for your golf equipment was a common theme expressed by every club company I spoke with at this year’s Show. Perhaps it also explains why the Show changed the first day’s title to include Fitting, given its increasing importance to enhancing customer satisfaction with these often-pricey investments.
Time to register for Rookery golf clinics
The Rookery’s annual golf clinics are now on the calendar and ready for enrollment.
The first Ladies Clinic begins April 10, with six one-hour lessons each week. The sessions cover the full swing, short game, course management, and club fitting, for up to eight students for the $199 course.
The April 10 clinic begins at 5:00 p.m., with similar evening clinics set to start April 12, May 25, Sept. 6, and Sept. 7. The morning clinics begin April 11 at 10:00 a.m., with others beginning April 13 and May 22.
The Junior Golf Camps are three-day, two-hour sessions, beginning June 12, July 10, and Aug. 7. The registration fee is $125 per student.
The Men’s Refresher School takes place March 28 from 10:00 a.m. to noon, covering full swing and short game fundamentals. The fee is $75 per person.
Registration for all classes is available online at rookerygolf.com or by calling 302-684-3000.