COBRA DARKSPEED Fairway Woods and Hybrids
First Look

COBRA DARKSPEED Fairway Woods and Hybrids

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COBRA DARKSPEED Fairway Woods and Hybrids

Once the testing dust has settled, it won’t be any surprise if the COBRA DARKSPEED fairway woods and hybrids stand comfortably alongside the best-performing gear in the industry. 

Performance (or lack thereof) isn’t the reason COBRA doesn’t end up in the bags of more golfers. 

The reality is slightly more complex, though it’s rooted in a simple premise—plenty of companies make high-quality equipment and, for better golfers, it feels at times as though they need a reason to justify a COBRA purchase. 

Put differently, the R&D team is doing its job. Now, the challenge is primarily a marketing (read: storytelling) one. 

All that aside, let’s take a look at how DARKSPEED differs from the 2023 AEROJET line.

COBRA DARKSPEED Key Technologies

COBRA DARKSPEED Fairway

PWR BRIDGE

PWR BRIDGE is a concentrated weighting structure that helps drive the CG low and forward in COBRA’s fairway woods and hybrids. In addition, it supports more efficient energy transfer to maintain top-end ball speeds.

CG location is a primary contributing factor to initial ball speed, launch and spin. Perhaps an oversimplification but, on balance, a lower CG generates less spin while one closer to the face (and thus impact) is beneficial for ball speed. 

That’s far from the whole story regarding mass properties but it’s a reasonable starting point to help understand what COBRA feels is an imperative characteristic of metalwood design.

PWRSHELL H.O.T. Face

COBRA DARKSPEED Fairway

As far as industry acronyms go, H.O.T. (Highly Optimized Topology) is one of my favorites. It’s COBRA’s take on computer-aided variable-face thickness where the intended outcome is better retention of ball speed on off-center strikes. 

What machine learning (yes, the computers again) determined is an ideal layout of 15 discrete pads throughout the face. If you want to think of each pad as a sort of mini-trampoline, that works, too. Beyond that, the PWRSHELL face insert helps increase launch and spin on shots struck low on the face.

Hello Darkness My Old Friend

COBRA DARKSPEED Fairway

I guess color isn’t technically a “technology” but the deft and sleek murdered-out, (*almost)  monochromatic aesthetic will be the first attribute many golfers notice. For the record, I think it looks exceptional. 

*Hints of black, blue and red on the DARKSPEED LS, X and MAX respectively give golfers a key to determine the stock launch and spin properties of each model. As first popularized by the golf shaft industry, black denotes low launch/low spin, blue is mid launch/mid spin and red is higher launch with high spin. Also note that for COBRA, the MAX is also the dedicated draw-biased model. 

COBRA DARKSPEED FAIRWAYS – 3 Models

The COBRA DARKSPEED fairway lineup includes three models: LS, X and MAX. And as is becoming the norm, that’s generally sufficient to cover the needs of most golfers. 

COBRA DARKSPEED LS

COBRA DARKSPEED LS

In COBRA’s lexicon “LS” stands for “low-spin.” It’s the model best suited for high swing speed golfers who can benefit from lower launch and spin from a fairway wood. 

In addition to the key technologies, it’s also the only model where COBRA pairs a titanium body (Ti-811) with a titanium face (again, Ti-811). The primary purpose of using titanium in a fairway wood is weight savings, not ball speed. It’s also more expensive than steel or aluminum. As a result, titanium fairway woods tend to offer more versatile weighting options. I should also mention the DARKSPEED LS has a carbon crown which, again as a lightweight material, allows for more discretionary weight to reallocate.

In this case, the DARKSPEED LS has three weight ports (rear, heel, toe). The stock moveable weights are 15 grams, 15 grams and three grams. Inside the cavity, 38 grams of tungsten are split between the heel and toe to maintain MOI/forgiveness and increase face stability on off-center strikes.

Compared to the TaylorMade Stealth2+ fairway, COBRA says the DARKSPEED LS has a CG that is 1.6 millimeters lower and three millimeters more forward. This translates as marginally higher ball speed with a bit less spin and several steps more distance. COBRA also puts the DARKSPEED LS MOI number at 40 points higher than Stealth2+.

The COBRA DARKSPEED LS is available in 3+/13°, 3/14.5° and 5/17.5°.

COBRA DARKSPEED X

COBRA DARKSPEED X

As with the DARKSPEED drivers, the “X” fairway model sits comfortably in the middle of the launch/spin continuum. Though it might seem counterintuitive to state that the overall weighting constitutes a “neutral bias”, the point is that everything about the mass properties and construction of the DARKSPEED X is balanced. 

As such, it’s most likely to appeal to the majority and should prove to be the best-selling of the three. If you’re unsure whether you have the speed to make use of the LS but don’t need the draw bias of the MAX, the DARKSPEED X is a safe bet.

In terms of materials, the construction features a 17-4 stainless steel body, carbon crown and 475 stainless steel face. 

In addition to the requisite key technologies (PWR BRIDGE and PWRSHELL H.O.T. Face), the DARKSPEED X weighting configuration is simple. It’s a single, three-gram weight in the extreme rear of the sole. That said, golfers can adjust loft (+/- 1.5°) and face angle using COBRA’s MyFly8 adjustable hosel.

The COBRA DARKSPEED X is available in 3/15°, 3HF/16.5°, 5/18° and 7/21°.

COBRA DARKSPEED MAX

COBRA DARKSPEED MAX

At address, it might be difficult to differentiate between the DARKSPEED MAX and X. But flip them over and it becomes much easier. As the dedicated draw-biased model, the MAX features a two-weight system (one in the rear and one in the heel). And, yes, the dead giveaway of any draw-enabled club is additional weight/mass in the heel.

The standard weight configuration places a heavier 15-gram in the rear port and three-gram weight in the heel. If that doesn’t completely fix your slice, swap the weights and put the 15-gram in the heel for maximum draw bias.

All things being equal, the DARKSPEED MAX should offer the highest trajectory of the three models and provide the most benefit for slower swingers. 

The COBRA DARKSPEED MAX is available in 3/15.5°, 5/18.5° and 7/21.5°.

Women’s and junior versions are available.

COBRA DARKSPEED HYBRIDS

COBRA DARKSPEED Hybrid

We will keep this section relatively brief because the DARKSPEED hybrid (it’s technically two models if we keep ONE Length separate) is essentially a middle-of-the-road offering that features the same key technologies and materials as the DARKSPEED MAX and X fairways.

The primary difference with the hybrids is that each model is offered in a discrete (non-adjustable) loft. And, of course, the ONE Length hybrid is a single length in all available lofts. Compared to AEROJET, COBRA says DARKSPEED launches 1.3 degrees higher, again with a step or two of additional distance. 

My sense is that the DARKSPEED hybrids will be most attractive to golfers looking for long-iron replacements to pair with the DARKSPEED irons. For golfers looking for an adjustable hybrid with more versatility, COBRA has its KING TEC model.

The COBRA DARKSPEED variable-length hybrid is available in 2/17°, 3/19°, 4/21°, 5/24° and 6/28°.

The COBRA DARKSPEED ONE length hybrid is available in 3/19°, 4/21°, and 5/24°, degrees.

Stock Shafts

Stock shaft offerings for the COBRA DARKSPEED LS are the UST Mamiya LIN-Q M40X White and Project X HZRDUS Matte Black.

Shafts for the DARKSPEED X include the UST Mamiya LIN-Q M40X White and Mitsubishi Kai’li blue.

The DARKSPEED MAX is offered with the Project X HZRDUS CB Red, UST Mamiya LIN-Q M40X Red.

The stock grip across the lineup is a Lamkin Crossline.

FINAL THOUGHTS

COBRA DARKSPEED Fairway

If you peruse the DARKSPEED driver article, it’s clear COBRA continues to push the aerodynamic envelope as it works to find a bit more ball speed, particularly for golfers with higher swing speed. Well, good news, folks—given that fairway woods and hybrids are smaller than drivers, the aerodynamic efficiency is already baked into the design.

This isn’t exclusive to COBRA but internal tests have inherent limitations, as every company is testing its new product against previous generations of competitive products. That said, even if we take the numbers as directional and not absolute, it supports my initial hypothesis and personal stance: COBRA makes damn fine metalwoods.

Collaborations have become a fun way to reinvigorate product lines throughout a two-year life cycle. With that, the two I’d like to see from COBRA are:

  1. Rick Moranis’ exclusive “DARK HELMET” limited-edition Spaceballs fairway wood
  2. I have no idea if he ever played or liked golf but every time I type “DARKSPEED X” it makes me think of the late New York rapper Earl Simmons aka DMX (Dark Man X). There has to be something we can do with that, right?

It’s a competitive landscape and, unlike footwear or polos, golfers don’t often buy several fairway woods throughout a season. So how does COBRA get into the consideration set? That’s the million-dollar question.

COBRA DARKSPEED Drivers Pricing and Availability

The retail price for the COBRA DARKSPEED MAX and X fairways is $329. The DARKSPEED Titanium LS is $429.

The retail price for the COBRA DARKSPEED hybrid family is $279. 

Pre-sale begins Jan. 11 with full retail availability Jan. 19.

For more information, visit COBRAGOLF.com.

PS: Last year’s Aerojet Fairways still provide incredible value. They’re on sale right now for $249.

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Chris Nickel

Chris Nickel

Chris Nickel

Chris is a self-diagnosed equipment and golf junkie with a penchant for top-shelf ice cream. When he's not coaching the local high school team, he's probably on the range or trying to keep up with his wife and seven beautiful daughters. Chris is based out of Fort Collins, CO and his neighbors believe long brown boxes are simply part of his porch decor. "Isn't it funny? The truth just sounds different."

Chris Nickel

Chris Nickel

Chris Nickel

Chris Nickel

Chris Nickel

Chris Nickel

Chris Nickel

Chris Nickel

Chris Nickel





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      ROB PERSON

      3 months ago

      I liked their clubs look when my uncle played them years and years ago. I’ve never tried them. But, this setup looks like a decent offering to the golf gods for slower swingers. One things for sure, that murdered look is appealing!
      I’d go for hybrids over woods.
      Oh, ans I need everyone to forget about testing the new Cobra Darkspeed lineup please. Yes that’s right, forget about it…

      Forget about it….

      Forget about it….

      (I’m attempting hypnosis, did it work?)

      Reply

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