Not all that long ago, I was what you might call a COBRA driver guy. The flirtation started when COBRA started making blue drivers. AMP and BIO Cell made me COBRA-curious and by FLY-Z, I was all in. LTD (not blue), F6 and F7 were all mainstays. After that … Yeah, not so much, but with the launch of the LTDx family of drivers, I could see myself being a COBRA driver guy again.
Not that you asked but my amicable breakup with COBRA started with F8. There was nothing particularly wrong with the driver but, by the time F8 and its CNC-milled face launched, the PING G400 LST had captured my heart. SpeedBack, SpeedZone and RADSPEED all followed and, despite COBRA innovating every step of the way, nothing took.
I’ll level with you. I think the sound of everything after F7 left something to be desired but, in hindsight, I think the thing is that I just wanted another LTD. I think a lot of us did.
And so here we go.
I’m feeling warm and tingly.
Nostalgia plays (recycling old names for new products) aren’t exactly new for the golf industry. Most everyone has done it (though I’m still waiting for Jetspeed II, Jetspeed-IER). Hell, COBRA has done it. KING and Baffler—those are both reboots—and I suppose there’s nothing wrong with that.
In my estimation, the key to a good sequel is to take everything that was special about the original and build on it in such a way that the follow-up is every bit as compelling.
That’s not easy to do which is why sequels usually suck.
For its part in this increasingly complex metaphor, COBRA hopes LTDx proves more Empire Strikes Back and not so much Caddyshack 2.
Remembering the Original LTD
The story of the LTD was basically that COBRA went to space and came back with a ground-breaking driver with a porthole in the bottom and graffiti splattered across the inside of the head. The intent was to call attention to what you couldn’t see: a center of gravity located on the neutral axis.
Admittedly, I’m playing fast and loose with the space-related facts but the center-of-gravity thing is absolutely true (so are the porthole and graffiti bits). If you’re not sure what that center-of-gravity stuff means, we’ve got plenty of good reading material on the subject but the simplest way to say it is that, with the KING LTD, COBRA managed to put the sweet spot dead-nuts center in the club face.
Golfers may assume that’s how it always is but, typically, the “center of gravity” is a few millimeters above center. In the case of super-niche designs (I’d be inclined to call them bad designs), the CG can creep 7mm or more above center face. If you’re looking for excessively high spin, that’s the recipe.
From a performance standpoint, when the center of gravity is on the neutral axis (the imaginary line projected from the center of the club face, perpendicular to the loft, through the rear of the club), it’s quite a thing for optimizing efficiency. Ball speed, high launch, low spin. Man, it’s the trifecta.
It’s a design spec COBRA calls Zero CGna (a center of gravity located zero millimeters from the neutral axis). Zero CGna was the thing that made the KING LTD special and it’s part of the reason the LTDx could prove to be the rare sequel that’s actually better than the original.
Cobra LTDx Drivers (AKA: LTD 2.0)
Let’s start with the name. With the original LTD, I think most of us just assumed it was short for LIMITED and didn’t ask many questions. With the new generation of LTDx, COBRA wants you to think of LTD explicitly in terms of Longest Total Distance.
It’s a bit campy, perhaps, but the idea is that when you factor in carry yards and total yards and the extra distance you get from the increased forgiveness offered by the LTDx driver family, COBRA believes its drivers will produce the … well … the longest total distance of any drivers on the market in 2022.
Before we hop into a discussion of the three different models that make up the COBRA LTDx driver family, we need to outline some of the key technologies common to all.
To some degree, PWR-CORE is the evolution of last season’s RAD (radial) weighting story. Let’s pause to thank COBRA for bringing “radius of gyration” into the vernacular.
Moving on …
The idea is that weight doesn’t always have to be placed low and back to be effective. On a player-for-player basis, “back” is forgiving but “forward” is often faster and with lower spin. Pushing weight to the heel is awesome for the guy who fights a slice and toe weighting can be great for golfers who fight a hook. Nearly everyone benefits from pushing weight low.
The idea behind the radius of gyration story is that mass doesn’t always have to go low and back. So long as you take it out of the middle of the club and push it towards the perimeter, you’re probably helping somebody.
It’s the reason why every manufacturer offers several models and why you should probably spend some time with a qualified fitter before parting with your money.
PWR-CORE is a multi-layered weight cartridge that helps to optimize the distribution of mass (the radius of gyration) for each of the three models. We’ll dig into the numbers a bit more as we cover the individual models but the idea is that with the LTDx LS, a heavier PWR-CORE pushes weight forward for more speed and lower spin while in the LTDx MAX, a lighter PWR-CORE allows for more weight to be concentrated at the rear to increase the moment of inertia (MOI).
The part of PWR-CORE that’s visible is a stainless-steel badge anchored to the sole. Under the hood is a piece of metal injection-molded (MIM-d) steel and a pair of screws that hold it all in place.
Boiled down to simple terms, PWR-CORE is COBRA-speak for a consolidated chunk of weight in the front of the club.
CNC Infinity Face
We’re several generations deep into COBRA’s CNC milled-face design. At this point, it’s just one of those things you should expect to see every year. The idea is that milling the face eliminates a good bit of the inconsistency that comes from traditional finishing methods—which basically amounts to grinding away welds and hoping you don’t screw up the bulge and roll radii or otherwise compromise the face design.
The latest iteration rolls back a portion of the infinity face along the topline. Logically, I’m not sure how it can be simultaneously less infinite than before and still infinite but, anyway, Tour players didn’t love the way the pattern wrapped around to the crown so COBRA ditched it.
It looks cleaner (better) at address but if you’re prone to clanking balls off the leading edge of the crown every now and again, I should warn you that the new design is less resistant to what are often affectionally referred to as “idiot marks.”
H.O.T. Face Technology
More subtle branding … H.O.T. is short for Highly Optimized Topology and it speaks to under-the-hood improvements to COBRA’s face design. H.O.T. Face is the evolution of E9 which was COBRA’s take on a variable-thickness design. E9 was optimized, to the extent possible around the idea that golfers miss in an elliptical pattern that runs from high toe to low heel.
E9 worked pretty well but was limited in that it had only three discrete thickness zones which made it difficult to speed up the face in slow areas without also speeding up the adjacent fast areas and making the driver non-conforming.
Using AI, super-computers, machine learning and all the stuff that not so long ago was exclusive to Callaway stories, COBRA redesigned the face of the driver with 15 discrete thickness pads that can be individually sized, moved, thickened, thinned or otherwise tuned to maximize CT in each region without overcooking it or sacrificing durability.
The result is a driver that’s faster across more of the face than RADSPEED.
The last few iterations of COBRA’s flagship driver lineup have featured a Joe Dirt-inspired T-Bar chassis. The design allowed for a larger weight-saving carbon-fiber skirt to wrap around the club and form the SpeedBack shape. The LTDx driver’s new Speed Chassis ditches the T-top design in favor of more traditional construction. That’s not to say it’s unrefined. COBRA has upped the surface area of carbon fiber by 20 to 30 percent depending on the model. The total weight of the chassis is 8.3-grams lighter, which freed up enough weight to make PWR-CORE and H.O.T. Face possible.
Dramatically Improved Aerodynamics
This year’s version of the improved aero story is made possible by a raised crown and aft sections paired with a softer leading edge. To its credit, COBRA is acknowledging that only the fastest swingers are likely to benefit from the improvements but if you’re already fast or willing to grab the Stack System and get to work, there are opportunities to benefit from the refinements.
With that out of the way, let’s take a look at the three models that make up the COBRA LTDx driver family.
COBRA LTDx LS Driver
By now, you guys know how names work so you’re likely already pieced together that the LTDx LS is the low-spinning model within the LTDx driver family.
It’s cut from the same cloth as the RADSPEED which is to say it’s legitimately, maybe even aggressively, low spin. Based on my preliminary experience, I’m confident that, loft for loft, it will prove to be among the lowest-spinning on the market this season. I wouldn’t be shocked if it’s THE lowest-spinning.
The COBRA LTDx LS driver features two forwardly placed weights. As you can plainly see, the two weights are reasonably close together so you’re not getting a ton of CG movement or shot-shape variation. The effect is meant to be subtle.
With the 10-gram weight in the heel, COBRA bills the LTDx LS as offering neutral ball flight. Moved to the toe, the heavier weight provides a slight (and only slight) fade bias.
The 19-gram PWR-CORE weight paired with a 1.5-gram back weight gives the LTDx a low center of gravity that’s significantly more forward than the other LTDx models.
LTDx LS Shaping
As noted, the LTDx LS is the most aerodynamic of the three LTDx models and has the highest trailing edge (least SpeedBack-like shape) and the shallowest face.
At 457cc, the LTDx isn’t undersized enough to matter. COBRA describes the shape as “traditional.” I suppose that’s a fair description.
Really low spin and forgiveness don’t exactly go hand in hand and so there is a bit of a forgiveness penalty with the LTDx LS.
With modern drivers, I’d draw the line between forgiving and not forgiving at about 5,000 MOI. COBRA says the LTDx LS in the 4,300 ballpark. That’s a long way from PING G425 MAX territory but as far as forward center-of-gravity, low-spin designs are concerned, it’s not terrible. Mostly, it is what it is—and what it is is the cost of doing business in the legitimately low-spin category.
It’s worth mentioning that the LTDx LS is the model most likely to be played by higher swing-speed players (like Bryson and Kyle Berkshire). With that in mind, it’s the most aerodynamically efficient of the three.
The COBRA LTDx driver is available in nine and 10.5 degrees.
COBRA LTDx MAX Driver
COBRA is positioning the LTDx MAX driver as the amalgamation of the RADSPEED Xtreme and RADSPEED Xtreme Draw. With LTDx MAX, you get the best of what both drivers have to offer without compromising on either. Even at its absolute spiniest, it’s likely mid-spin relative to the market as a whole.
The strength of the RADSPEED Xtreme was its forgiveness and that’s true for the LTDx MAX as well. With the 10-gram weight in the back position, COBRA puts the MOI number at 5,400 and while that’s not challenging the USGA limit, it’s on the higher end of the market and, perhaps more importantly, it’s where COBRA feels its take on a MAX driver can strike the right balance between exceptional forgiveness and exceptional ball speed.
COBRA says the center of gravity sits less than 1mm above the neutral axis, which is rare in the marketplace. Among the competition, even the lowest-CG drivers hover around the 2mm mark though I’d be remiss to mention the G425 MAX which sits only about 1.5mm above the neutral axis.
The PWR-CORE weight in the LTDx MAX is 10 grams. That’s paired with a five-gram back weight along with 13-grams’ (10 grams and 3 grams) worth of movable weight.
With the 10-gram weight in the heel position, COBRA’s LTDx MAX effectively becomes the LTDx MAX Draw. MOI dips by a couple of hundred points, the center of gravity drops just a tick, and you get a considerable amount of anti-slice shot-shape correction.
Again, with the heavier weight in the heel, the LTDx MAX isn’t going to be the most anti-slice driver on the market. That’s not the intent. COBRA wants to maintain what it sees as really good center-of-gravity locations (low and back), give you a some help with a slice, and still maintain a shape that doesn’t hurt to look at.
LTDx MAX Shaping
Of the three COBRA LTDx drivers, the LTDx MAX has the lowest skirt height. It offers COBRA’s oversized Xtreme shape (similar to RADSPEED Xtreme) and while that certainly makes for an elongated design with the largest footprint of the LTDx family, it’s by no means wonky or intrusive.
The COBRA LTDx MAX driver is available in nine, 10.5 and 12 degrees. Women’s versions feature a pink-ish Elderberry colorway and are available in 10.5 and 12.
A 12-degree junior version, which allows for one free shaft upgrade as your child grows, is available for $399.
COBRA LTDx Driver
In nearly every way, the COBRA LTDx driver (no suffix) sits between the LTDx LS and the LTDx MAX. Like the LS, the front PWR-CORE weight is 19 grams. At five grams, the back weight matches that of the LTDx.
The ripple is that, unlike the other two drivers, there are no movable weights in play. The 10-gram sole weight is for swing-weighting purposes only. As we’ve said numerous times before, adjustability carries with it a weight penalty and, while manufacturers have reduced that penalty over the years, the rock stars of the driver world are often the ones with fewer shiny things that move.
The COBRA LTDx driver has the distinction of being the second driver this season to be described as a “unicorn.”
On one hand, I think we all more or less know what that means. On the other, it’s a little weird to use a mythical (i.e., imaginary) creature as your point of reference for quantifying the performance of a golf club. To its credit, COBRA provided a checklist of sorts to help us better understand what it takes to be a unicorn.
It needs to have an MOI over 5,000.
COBRA puts the MOI number for the LTDx at around 5,300. Solidly forgiving.
It has the best combo of speed and launch
Obviously, there’s some room for interpretation here but COBRA further clarifies that as Zero CGna.
Paired with our previous qualification, we’ve arrived at the explanation for why COBRA believes the sequel (the LTDx) is better than the original LTD.
Like the KING LTD, the LTDx has a center-of-gravity location on the neutral axis (+/- reasonable manufacturing tolerances). The improvement is that the MOI of the new version is substantially higher. For reference, the original was around 4,600 MOI. While that wasn’t bad for the time, by today’s standards, I’d call it unforgiving.
So, yeah, check.
Forgiving face design (more speed away from center)
It’s starting to look like COBRA’s definition of a unicorn might be self-serving but, with the addition of H.O.T. face, I suppose I have to play along.
This is where you guys come in. “Amazing.” I don’t know. It looks good. I wasn’t big on SpeedZone or RADSPEED so it’s certainly an improvement. Whether or not it gets the check is totally up to the individual golfer.
You tell me.
Real talk guys. COBRA driver sound over the past few generations hasn’t been great … or even good. To be fair, RADSPEED wasn’t the worst-sounding driver ever or even the worst-sounding COBRA driver ever but, in my opinion, it was COBRA’s worst acoustic effort since F6+.
For some, I’d wager it was deal-breaking-ly bad.
So does LTDx sound amazing? Again, that’s totally up to you. What I will say is that this is as good as I’ve felt about the sound of a COBRA driver since the KING LTD.
Cue the Imperial March.
Regardless of whether that amounts to “amazing” or just “really not bad,” it’s the win COBRA needed. So, with allowances for the heavily subjective nature of sound, I’m awarding the check.
Incidentally, it’s not just the LTDx. The sound is good across the entire LTDx driver lineup.
Cobra LTDx Driver Shaping
Surprise, surprise! From a shaping perspective, the COBRA LTDx driver sits in the middle of the lineup. There’s still some SpeedZone shape in it but the tail doesn’t sit as low as the LTDx MAX. Likewise, while it’s not nearly as elongated as the LTDx MAX, COBRA describes the shape as undersized XTREME—which I guess isn’t exactly XTREME.
Battle of the Pointy-Headed Horses
You may be wondering how the LTDx stacks up to the Callaway Rogue ST MAX LS, the other “unicorn” in the 2022 driver market.
The truth is that, as of right now, we don’t know. That said, if we work off what we know about Callaway designs, my expectation is that Rogue ST MAX LS will be similarly forgiving (as least in terms of MOI) but the center of gravity will be significantly higher.
The EPIC MAX LS was a relatively high CG design and, despite the occasional Sub-Zero moniker, Callaway hasn’t dabbled in super-low CG in a number of years. With the Rogue take on MAX LS, CG may be down a bit but it’s unlikely to be anywhere near Zero CGna.
While we contemplate whether we need to add a battle of the unicorns to our testing calendar, it’s worth a mention that the 5,000-5,400 MOI range where drivers like PING’s LST series, Callaway’s MAX LS and even the Titleist TSI2 live tends to be the sweet spot for a healthy percentage of golfers.
When centers of gravity are low, you can still get some low-ish spin benefit and, while not the absolute most forgiving on the market, they’re solidly forgiving enough for most golfers. It’s a range where we typically find well-balanced designs and, with the super-low center of gravity and I suspect what will prove to be a low- to mid-low spin profile, the LTDx could prove to be the best of the bunch.
A unicorn among horses, perhaps?
As far as the market is concerned, the LTDx could prove to be a bit like the EPIC MAX LS. It’s not the driver that COBRA expects will fit the highest percentage of golfers but, for a majority of MyGolfSpy readers, it may prove to be the best of the lot.
Much to my surprise, I was fitted into the LTDx over the LTDx LS. I picked up a couple of hundred more rpm and went from dangerously low spin on mis-hits on the LTDx to inside the optimal range on just about everything.
Bottom line: Don’t assume you fit into one COBRA LTDx driver without trying the other two. You’d be foolish to leave the demo bay without trying them all anyway.
Stock shafts for the COBRA LTDx driver family include the lightweight UST Helium Nanocore (high launch, high spin), HZRDUS Smoke iM10 (mid launch and spin), HXRDUS Smoke RDX Blue (low/mid launch, low spin) and the Mitsubishi Tensei AVI RAW White (low launch, low spin).
Men’s colorways include Gold Fusion (black with matte satin black crown) and Peacoat Blue/White (red accents, gloss crown). The women’s version is available in Elderberry with a gloss black crown.
Men’s versions are available in standard and Tour (44.5-inch length).
Pricing and Availability
Retail price for the COBRA LTDx driver family is $499 ($399/junior).
Retail availability begins Feb. 11. Available for Pre-Order now.
For more information, visit CobraGolf.com.
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