Last week Cobra announced the latest iteration of its King Forged Tec line. As we said at the time, the new Forged TEC was an iron Cobra absolutely needed to make if it hopes to stay relevant in the evolving players distance category.
Today’s release – the T-RAIL Iron Hybrid set, doesn’t bring with it the same degree of urgency. It’s more of a because we can, because it’s what we do offering that creates an opportunity for Cobra to take control of the hybrid-iron conversation in much the same way it has with ONE (single) Length.
Put your torches and pitchforks down. It’s not lost on me that Cobra isn’t the first to market with a full set of large hollow body Super Game Improvement irons. Whether you call them hybrid irons or iron woods, it’s been done a time or few before. Tour Edge did it with Bazooka more than a decade ago (and more recently with Hot Launch Iron Woods), Cleveland has its Launcher HBs, and there’s a case to be made that PXG’s 0311 GEN2 SGI are similar enough to include in the discussion. I bet some of you can name a few more.
I’d also wager that many of you have already forgotten that Cobra wasn’t first to market with a single length iron, or that it’s not the only one playing in the space. Those details barely matter because Cobra’s category ownership position is so strong that the combined market share of its competitors isn’t much above zero.
A similar opportunity exists here, though likely not to the same degree. Cobra’s competitors in the iron-hybrid/iron-wood market are names most golfers know and many golfers trust. What separates Cobra from the pack, I believe, is the right blend of features, cost, and cosmetics. That last one, in my opinion, is what Cobra did right and where the other guys continue to struggle.
As a brand caught in the middle between the big guys (Callaway, TaylorMade, Titleist, and PING) and everyone else, Cobra has the freedom to operate a little outside of the box with enough horsepower to avoid sacrificing on the details.
T-RAIL: The Same but Different
According to Cobra, the T-Rail Iron Hybrid is for “anyone looking for a better game.” That’s likely all of us, so it’s worth narrowing a bit and suggesting it’s a spec that’s damn near ideal for beginners, seniors, and anyone else who wants more forgiveness or struggles to put a little bit of air under the golf ball.
Fundamentally, Cobra isn’t doing anything significantly different from its competitors in the big bulbous hollow body super game improvement iron category. Wide soles and deep bodies are a requirement for a design that prioritizes maximum forgiveness and easy high launch. Like everyone else, Cobra’s got that. What separates the T-RAIL from the rest of the pack are three key details.
Baffler Rails – Cobra’s signature fairway wood and hybrid technology, Baffler rails allow the club to glide through the turf with ease while providing a bit of added forgiveness on shots that otherwise might be a little bit chunky.
Combo Set by Design – The T-Rail is a combo set by design. That doesn’t mean your scoring clubs are muscelbacks. Those are still full hollow body designs. T-Rail is a combo set insomuch as the longest club in the set is a hybrid. Deeper and bigger in a general sort of way than the rest of the set, a hybrid can be expected to launch higher still. Given that the target market for this set includes those looking for easy launch, it just makes sense. It’s a little odd that others don’t do it the same way.
Improved Cosmetics – Aesthetics are inherently subjective, but at the risk of offending, Cobra’s competitors in this space have whiffed on the details. Pick a brand and you’ll invariably find a design where the back cavity looks unfinished, or at the very least, overlooked – as if the designers ran out of both time and ideas. It’s fair to say that hybrid iron designs aren’t going to appeal to every golfer, but shelf appeal is never inconsequential, and it could be Cobra’s biggest advantage in the category.
It’s hard not to notice, but it’s still worth pointing out that over the last few years, Cobra has carved out a niche as a brand dedicated to and succeeded at simplifying the game. FMAX was our 2019 Most Wanted SGI iron, and F9 Speedback wasn’t far off. ONE Length is entirely about success through simplicity.
There’s clearly a pattern here.
None of that should suggest that Cobra’s mainstream stuff – including its metalwoods – isn’t good. It is. In fact, Cobra’s entire catalog is full of strong offerings, but the company has been particularly strong in categories where helping average guys play better golf is the focus. Expect that continue with T-RAIL.
Among golfers, and particularly our readers, T-RAIL won’t be for everyone. I know that. There are still plenty of golfers who aren’t willing to look beyond one-piece forgings and who will only play what the pros play. I get it. If, however, your goal is to play better and have more fun on the golf course, T-RAIL is almost certainly worth a look.
Specs, Pricing, and Availability
The Men’s T-RAIL Graphite 7-piece Combo Set ($899), in a black/blue colorway, offers a 4-hybrid and 5-PW irons in RH or LH options, with COBRA ULTRALITE 50g graphite shafts (Stiff, Regular and Lite) and COBRA Lamkin REL midsize grips. A 5-hybrid and 6-hybrid is also available through custom for the ultimate combo set with T-RAIL performance.
The Women’s T-RAIL Graphite Combo Set ($899), in a black/lilac colorway, comes with a 5-hybrid and 6-PW, SW irons that utilize COBRA ULTRALITE 50g graphite (Ladies flex) shafts and COBRA Lamkin REL grips in midsize.
The Men’s & Women’s T-RAIL irons are also available in steel shafts as a custom option with COBRA ULTRALITE (97g) shafts.
Interestingly, T -RAIL isn’t available in ONE Length, though it’s worth noting that ONE Length SGI offerings haven’t been nearly as popular as Cobra’s other ONE Length offerings.
Both the Men’s and Women’s T-RAIL sets will be available beginning November 1, 2019.