Eldrick Woods once famously told us Father Time is undefeated. However, it was Dylan Thomas who implored golfers to rage, rage against the dying of the light.
It’s a battle aging golfers are destined to lose, but it doesn’t mean we have to go gently into that good night. Cobra’s F-MAX lineup gives golfers of advancing years and declining swing speed equipment that’s lighter, faster, and easier – and Cobra says its newest iteration, the F-MAX AIRSPEED, is its lightest, fastest, and easiest yet.
We’re never going to beat Father Time or his co-conspirator, the Grim Reaper, but we can keep those sons-of-bitches at bay for a while.
Light to the MAX
The F-MAX family – an evolution of Cobra’s Baffler XL line – debuted in 2017. AIRSPEED is the third iteration of F-MAX, and as you’d expect, Cobra says the irons and hybrids (along with the driver and fairways), are lighter, faster and easier than ever.
The theory, of course, is the lighter the club, the faster you should be able to swing it with the same overall effort, which should result in more distance. The AIRSPEED is unapologetically a Super Game Improvement iron aimed squarely at the growing demographic of golfers who are looking to find the distance Time Bandits stole.
“For golfers who love the game but just don’t swing it with the same speed they used to, F-MAX AIRSPEED irons are a great choice,” Tom Olsavsky, Cobra’s VP of R&D said in a press release. “The combination of easy launch, low spin, and increased clubhead speed…will make the game much more enjoyable.”
From a tech standpoint, it’s tempting to cut and paste last year’s article on AIRSPEED’s predecessor, the F-MAX Superlite: low and wide weighting increases stability (kind of essential when you’re going extreme lightweight), plus there’s extra heel weighting to create a bit of draw bias.
Like the Superlites, AIRSPEED irons feature a progressive hosel design. The hosels are shorter in the long irons, effectively lowering CG to make them easier to get up in the air, and gradually get longer through mid-irons and wedges for more control and flatter trajectory. And like the previous model, AIRSPEED features a progressive offset design – more offset in the long irons, and less as the irons get shorter.
And to continue the broken record – AIRSPEED features a low-profile shape with a deep undercut cavity for higher launch and balls speeds and, of course, distance. Oh, and the lofts are strong. But it’s an SGI iron, so you knew that.
So, what’s the big difference between AIRSPEED and last year’s Superlite? As best as we can tell, it’s a five-gram lighter shaft and a lighter grip.
The AIRSPEED hybrid story is pretty much the same thing only different: light, light and more light for the golfer who needs help getting the ball up in the air and in the general direction of the green. There’s back-heel CG weighting to push mass low, back and towards the heel along with some hosel offset.
Specs, Price & Availability
The men’s seven-piece stock set features a 5-iron through Gap Wedge and comes stock with a 97-gram AIRSPEED steel shaft from FST. If you want graphite, you’ll have to custom order it from Cobra, and it features a 50-gram AIRSPEED shaft in stiff and regular and a 45-gram shaft in lite flex. Both are available for lefties and righties.
Retail is $599 for steel, $649 for graphite.
Cobra is also offering two men’s combo sets, each with graphite shafts. The first features a 4- and 5-hybrid with a 6-iron through Pitching wedge in regular flex; the second is in lite flex, with a 5- and 6-hybrid, along with a 7-iron through Sand Wedge. Both sets come in right- and left-handed models and will retail for $699.
The women’s version of F-MAX AIRSPEED is available as a seven-piece combo set only, featuring the 5- and 6-hybrid and the 7-iron through Sand Wedge in both left- and right-handed models. It features the AIRSPEED 45-gram graphite shaft and will also retail for $699.
The men’s AIRSPEED hybrids will be available in 19-, 22-, 25-, 28- and 31-degree models (3H through 7H) in stiff, regular and lite flexes. The 3- through 6-hybrids will be available for both lefties and righties, the 7H will be in right-handed only.
The women’s version will be available in 23-, 25-, 29- and 32-degree lofts (4H through 7H) in ladies flex. Again, the 4- through 6-hybrids will be available in both left- and right-handed models, with the 7H available for righties only.
The AIRSPEED hybrids will retail for $199. The entire AIRSPEED lineup will be in stores January 10th, 2020.
Who is the F-MAX lineup for? Well, everyone – sooner or later. Look at F-MAX like you’d look at a coffin: like it or not, you’re going to need one eventually. Time robs from us all.
Demographics tell the tale. According to the National Golf Foundation, the number of golfers in the U.S. age 65 and older increased almost 17% last year, to over 4.2 million, and that number will only increase as the last of the Baby Boomers approach the big 6-0. No matter how you spin it, that’s a lot of golfers who can benefit from lighter, faster, and easier.
XXIO and, to a lesser extent, Callaway’s Epic Flash Star have carved out a solid niche in the higher-priced premium end of this market. For XXIO, this is its core business; its products are designed from grip to tip to perform as one unit specifically for the slower swing speed player. Epic Flash Star is, for the most part, the same as Epic Flash but with a lighter shaft, grip, and hosel.
With the F-MAX line, Cobra is somewhere in the middle. The brand’s focus is clearly on Bryson, Rickie, Lexi, and its mainline equipment, but the company is making an effort to create something more than just a lighter version of its standard offerings. The numbers say that’s smart business: there’s a sizable market out there for F-MAX, especially considering its relative bargain-pricing compared to XXIO and Epic Flash Star.
Are you in this target demographic? If so, what are you looking for from OEMs?