Cobra irons latest in game-improvement arena

Podcast episode

Toy Box

Inside the new Cobra S2 irons

James Achenbach talks about the new Cobra S2 irons, which work well for average players by using modern technology to produce a high ball flight.

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When golf clubs are labeled, there is a large category reserved for game-improvement clubs. It is easy to detest this term, because it is terribly misleading.

Some people think game-improvement clubs are for hacks, while other people think they are cheap golf implements. Both notions are untrue.

In the 1970s and 1980s, Karsten Solheim turned golf upside down by designing Ping irons with large cavities in the back. If game improvement had been part of the golf vocabulary back then, all Karsten’s creations would have fallen in that category.

Yet Ping irons were successful across all segments of golf. Touring pros loved them, and everyday amateurs loved them. Nobody loved them more than ordinary hacks, because for the first time they could get the ball in the air.

Game improvement doesn’t do justice to the influence of Karsten and his Ping irons.

In the 1990s, along came Ely Callaway with a similar formula for selling golf clubs. Callaway clubs appealed to amateurs because they were oversized and easy to hit, yet touring pros quickly realized their benefits as well.

Another figure should not be overlooked in any discussion of golf clubs whose influence reached across the width and breadth of the game. Tom Crow founded Cobra Golf in 1973 and watched patiently as amateurs and pros eventually raved about his clubs.

Long before Titleist acquired Cobra under the Acushnet Co. umbrella, Crow’s King Cobra irons became, for a time, the largest selling irons in golf. They had exceptionally strong lofts, allowing golfers to hit longer shots than ever before.

Game improvement? Hardly. These were revolutionary clubs that would help transform the future of golf. All irons, including those used by touring pros, would become much stronger in loft.

Cobra recently has introduced a new iron, the S2, and it could emerge as Cobra’s most influential golf club since the King Cobra. Why? Because the S2 offers soft feel and superior distance, yet also has a shape that will not offend golf traditionalists.

The club heads, particularly the short irons, are not too large, and the offsets are not too pronounced. These are great-looking irons, yet some people will be tempted to call them game-improvement clubs.

So be it, because the golfers who play them will know the S2 is something special that defies categorizing.

This is a multimaterial design. The S2 features a 431 stainless steel clubhead, polymer topline and toe insert, urethane sole insert, and aluminum vibration-dampening back plate.

Through the use of these materials, Cobra has been able to provide trajectories that match the strength of the lofts. In other words, the ball doesn’t fly too low without a chance of stopping on the putting surface. The S2 will get the ball up in the air, and distances may exceed norms. If a weekend warrior suddenly finds himself hitting 160-yard 8-irons, well, he’ll just have to live with it.

The multimaterial design does its job, with discretionary weight pushed low in the heel and toe for increased stability and a higher trajectory. During an informal testing session, amateurs were able to hit the S2 4-iron as high as comparable hybrids.

Tom Preece, Cobra’s vice president of research and development, played a major role in the creation of this iron, which has a nifty stepped sole. This means that overall the sole is a mid-width design, although the back of the sole is beveled so that it acts like a narrow-sole iron when striking the turf.

The irons have a buttery feel, and the Cobra/Nippon NS Pro 1130 steel shaft, which weighs about 113 grams, will be well-received by golfers who have played steel much of their lives.

The street price of the S2 (eight irons) is $599 with steel shafts and $699 with graphite shafts. The S2 irons will replace the S9 irons in the Cobra line.

Cobra also is introducing an iron called S2 Forged, although it is very different from the multimaterial S2.

The forged version, with a cost of $799 (eight irons), features a cavity back along with a vibration-dampening cavity insert. It is designed to provide additional forgiveness for players seeking the distinctive feel of forged irons. These irons will appeal to golfers who love forged blades but are looking for some help with trajectory and carry on off-center hits.

The S2 and S2 Forged are scheduled to reach golf shops early this month.

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