By Dominic Choma, Club Fitter
At first glance, the new F8 and F8+ drivers from Cobra look different from just about any other driver on the market. This is due to the CNC milling grooves that are on the clubface of both the F8 and F8+. This CNC milling process that every F8 and F8+ driver goes through is different from the hand polishing process that just about every other driver on the market goes through. This process is done for more than just to make the club look cool, as this process has multiple benefits in both performance and manufacturing tolerances that make the F8 line unique from its competitors.
In terms of performance, the CNC milling allows Cobra to make the clubface thinner. A thinner clubface will deflect more at impact, which will provide faster ball speeds to the golfer, especially on mishits. What this means is that the golfer will see more distance on shots hit on different parts of the clubface, whether it be off the toe, heel, high, and low. Seeing that even the best players in the world do not hit the center of the clubface every time, gaining ball speed on shots that are not hit perfectly is a benefit that every golfer will see on the course. Another benefit in having a thinner clubface is that a thinner clubface will weigh less than a thicker clubface. When you can remove weight from the clubface, that weight can be moved to different areas of the clubhead in order to boost forgiveness and performance. In most cases that weight will be placed lower and near the back of the clubhead, which will make the clubhead more stable and therefore more forgiving on mis-hits.
When it comes to manufacturing tolerances, CNC Milling done by a machine is more precise than hand polishing done by a human. What this allows for is tighter manufacturing tolerances on the F8 series compared to drivers from another brand. In other words, this means that different clubheads from the F8 series will be more alike than different clubheads from another brand. This will allow for more consistency, and peace of mind for the golfer who purchases an F8 driver.
All of this sounds great, but I am sure most of you just want to see the numbers on how this club actually performs. For this test, I used both the F8 and F8+ clubheads set at the 9.5 degree setting, with the Mitsubishi Chemical Tensei Blue 70 X Flex Shaft that I use in my current gamer. I tested both clubheads in both weight settings that are offered in order to see the differences between the settings. One quick note: if you read any of my driver reviews from last year, due to a swing change and recently starting the SuperSpeed Speed training system, my swing speed is faster than it was last year. Also, in terms of my launch conditions, I launch the ball lower on average, with a slightly higher spin rate. So if you compare the numbers from this test to my numbers from last year, the increase in clubhead speed and ball speed is not just from the F8 driver itself, although it does help.
|Clubhead||Clubhead Speed||Ball Speed||Launch Angle||Spin Rate||Carry||Total||Launch Direction||Spin Axis|
First looking at the F8, we can see the differences between the two weight settings in the Launch Direction and Spin Axis. With the weight in the heel, the ball started 3.7 degrees left of the target with a draw spin axis of 1.3 degrees. Essentially a straight pull with a slight draw. The back setting started about a degree left of the target with a right spin axis of 1.7 degrees, which is a slight fade. The heel setting helped (or hurt depending on how you look at it) me hit the ball more to the left than the back setting, which is the goal of moving the weight to the heel. In terms of ball speed, the back setting was faster for me than the heel setting by 2.8 miles per hour, but I attribute that to me being uncomfortable with heel setting as my big miss tends to be left, which can show the importance of having a driver that is properly set up for you. For the Launch Conditions, the heel setting launched at 10.1 degrees and had an average spin rate of 2675 rpms, while the back setting launched at 9.1 degrees with an average spin rate of 3051 rpms.
Now looking at the F8+, the main differences are going to be in the spin rate and ball speed. For the back setting, the launch angle averaged 8.2 degrees with an average spin rate of 2946 rpms, while the front setting averaged 9.1 degrees with a spin rate of 2523 rpms. The front weight setting knocked off just over 400 rpms of spin in my test which took me from an average that is slightly high, to an average that is perfect for my launch angle and ball speed. For ball speed, the back setting averaged 176.9 miles per hour while the front setting averaged 178.6 miles per hour, an increase of 1.7 miles per hour. There are a couple of factors leading to this, one being that a more forward center of gravity tends to produce more ball speed when compared to a center of gravity that is farther back, and also again my confidence level. I was able to hit my preferred cut a little easier with the weight forward, which gave me more confidence which in turn increased my swing speed slightly. This again is a benefit of having the club set up properly for my swing, as my best results overall were with the F8+ with the weight forward.
New for 2018, the Cobra F8 series of drivers is bringing a unique manufacturing process in CNC Milling to the market. This provides multiple benefits, both in the design of the clubhead and the manufacturing tolerances. From my testing this driver is putting up ball speeds that are among the fastest I have seen for myself, and we have been seeing that for our customers as well in the Cluboratory. With a retail price of $399.99 and multiple no upcharge aftermarket shaft options available, the F8 series is a great value as well for golfers of all abilities.