Cobra drivers through the years – Rick Shiels roundup

Thomas Tanner
Feb 11, 2021
4 minutes

The Premise

Golfbidder teamed up with Rick Shiels, to investigate the progress made by Cobra, over the last 5 years. In this time span Cobra have released 5 new families of driver, with 20+ models within these families! A prolific releaser of clubs, indeed! Rick selected 5 of the most comparable models, opting for the more forgiving options within these options. So, have Cobra managed to live up to their claims of improved distance and forgiveness across the years? Let’s find out.

How does the test work?

These driver tests across the years are all performed in the same manner. Rick performed 2 rounds of tests, hitting each driver 5 times each round totalling 10 shots for each club. The 5 best of the these 10 shots, that hit the fairway, are selected and an average data set is created to show the performance of each driver across the years. Finding a fairway, one of the criteria for selection, means that the forgiveness and accuracy of the drivers, becomes a vital element within the test. The more fairways found, the more qualifying shots to choose from.

The 2013 model from Cobra, the AMP Cell, utilises a unique, smaller screw within the driver head meaning a different shaft was required, but aside from that model, the shaft was the same across all the drivers. This ensures that any gains or losses are caused by the design and performance of the head, rather than a certain shaft suiting Rick’s swing better. Rick’s clubhead speed was once again within 2mph across the whole test, meaning any ball speed gains are created by improvements in the driver heads and strike, rather than increased head speed. Across the Cobra ranges, there are multiple options when it comes to lofts and adjustable weights. All the weights were placed in the backwards position, and all lofts were set to 9.5° in order to keep the launch characteristics the same.

The data

What the results say

The Cobra set of data is the most inconsistent of any of these tests Rick has performed. The under performers are abundantly clear, with the AMP Cell and the Fly Z, offering up sub-par numbers. Rick noted that the spin meant the drivers were very straight, but they did not provide much distance or feel. There were big steps forward for the Bio Cell and F6 where the backspin dropped to optimal numbers in the mid-2000s.

Another notable data point is the is the jumps in ball speed offered by the better performing driver heads (Bio Cell, F6 and F7), however when compared to the data points provided by Titleist for example, where a consistent 3-yard gain in distance was seen, the performance of each driver head was more sporadic.

Rick’s conclusions

Rick’s conclusions were mixed. Although, he noted that Cobra drivers across the years provide an incredibly straight ball flight, the distance gains, and losses, meant that Rick struggled to conclude with Cobra making progress across the years. The worst performing drivers, the Amp Cell and Fly Z really soured Rick’s opinion of the range. However, he did note that there is potential seen from the gains in ball speed from the last couple of models, which are seemingly taking the progress made by the Bio Cell and being applied to the newer models.

Further reading

Rick Shiels came to Golfbidder with a question. How much difference is there between each of Callaway’s 24 driver releases in the last 5 years? We did not know, so we teamed up with Rick, providing every driver from the period, ready for a test.

Golfbidder, once again teamed up with Rick Shiels to look into the progress made by PING drivers in the last 5 years. A relatively modest releaser of clubs, PING generally only release a new driver every 2 years, with 4 drivers to choose from in the time frame.