2019 was a great year for Cobra. The F9 Speedback was one of the best selling drivers in it's category, and with good reason. It performed brilliantly well, went down well with the media, received tour validation and most importantly for you, sold at an RRP of around £150 cheaper than other leading manufacturers' offerings - the TaylorMade M5 and M6 and Callaway Epic Flash.
Rumours even circulated that the only reason it didn't then go on to become the best selling driver of 2020 was due to the fact that Cobra couldn't make them fast enough to meet the demand. Still, there are worse problems to have when producing golf clubs.
Fast forward to early 2020 and true to Cobra's consistent year-on-year release schedule, the evolution of the Speedback arrived. Losing the 'F9' name, keeping the 'Speed' and adding in the 'zone' (or should I say 'zones').
I don't think I'd be alone in saying that when I heard about the 2020 Speedzone driver, I thought to myself: “How can they improve on last year?” and “Due to their success, surely the price will go up?”
I got my hands on this driver a little later than I would have liked, however this meant that I had the perspective of testing other drivers it was going up against in the market: Mavrik, SIM, G410, and the Titleist TS drivers.
I had plenty to compare it to when hitting the Speedzone meaning I could answer two big questions: Should you be adding the Speedzone Drivers to your test lists and arguably more importantly, do you need to spend £500 on a driver for it to perform well in 2020?
What's It All About?
The first change that Cobra have made is by adding two drivers in the Speedzone family. Last year there was one model, but in 2020, golfers have the choice of two models: the Cobra King Speedzone and the Cobra King Speedzone Xtreme. Here's a mini synopsis on both of the drivers:
The Cobra King Speedzone features a traditional shape with front to back CG weight adjustability, and is aimed at those who like to work the ball as well as fine tune launch and spin without sacrificing forgiveness - hence the huge face on this driver. More on that later...
The Cobra King Speedzone Xtreme is designed for 'extreme speed', distance and forgiveness. It therefore features a larger shape head and a 6g interchangeable weight on the sole, along with a fixed 17g tungsten weight in the back to achieve Cobra's highest ever MOI.
As we reported on it's release, Speedzone is all about different 'zones' that come together in the form of this eye-catching Formula One-inspired design to create Cobra's highest performing driver ever. There are six different zones:
1. Power Zone - CNC Infinity Milled Face
An infinity milled face is referred to as the engine of the driver, crucial for generating ball speed. It is the only driver in golf to use a CNC Milled Face. Cobra has expanded the milled area by 95% compared to the F9 Speedback, to better control face and leading-edge thickness.
2. Strength Zone
The new drivers feature a new Titanium T-Bar Speed Chassis, where titanium is removed from the head to create surplus weight which is redistributed elsewhere for a lower CG and higher MOI, creating fast and forgiving performance. Despite this, the titanium frame maintains a strong structure which is designed to withstand high speed impact.
3. Light Zone
The new Speedzone chassis means that more carbon fibre than ever has been added to the driver head. There's a new 360 Carbon Wrap Crown design, which makes up half of the driver body to give it extra support whilst also saving 25 grams of weight. As you'd expect, this weight is then redistributed low and back in the head to provide optimal launch characteristics.
4. Low CG Zone
A low centre of gravity is vital in a good driver as it maximises ball speed, launch and spin. The Speedzone driver has placed 69 grams of mass, 29 grams more than last year's Speedback, low in the head for better launch conditions.
5. Aero Zone
The new Speedzone focuses on aerodynamics, harnessing airflow to reduce drag and increase clubhead speed, which you can see with the streamlined shape, milled perimeter leading edges that harnesses airflow for precision and hopefully maximum acceleration power.
6. Stability Zone
Finally, the high MOI design of the Speedzone driver positions weight away from the centre of the head, giving the club more stability on off-centre hits for longer and straighter drives.
So, six new 'zones' all meaning that you should hit the ball longer and straighter. Simple.
What Cobra Says
"Our new King Speedzone drivers emphatically answered the question we are always asked - can you really improve the driver any further and stay within the rules of golf? That answer is yes.
By approaching design the same way you would if you were trying to create the world's fastest cars, we left nothing on the table in terms of speed considerations. With our six zones of performance, Speedzone is the fastest driver that we have ever produced."
Tom Olsavsky, VP of R&D for Cobra Golf
Golfalot also caught up with Tom at this year's 2020 PGA Show to hear more about the process of designing the Speedzone drivers:
Again, I think the recurring question when Cobra release new drivers, should be: do you need to spend £500 on a driver? To find out, I deciphered which of the two Speedback models I preferred as well as seeing how they performed against the TaylorMade SIM Max - my favourite driver for 2020 out of the big four.
I also compared the Speedzone models next to the Mizuno ST200 drivers which sit in that 'less expensive' category behind the biggies.
I the hit drivers indoors at LSH Auto, Mercedes Benz Stockport using Trackman 4 and Titleist Pro V1x balls, as usual. To complete my testing and getting a real idea for what I liked in play, I headed out to Houldsworth Golf Club, trialling the drivers out in real life situations off the tee.
Is Cobra the Leicester City of the golfing world?
Cobra King Speedzone Driver
This is a more traditional looking driver shape with a noticeable difference at address from the F9 Speedback. Cobra has taken things one step further with the CNC Infinity Milled Face as now it wraps over the top of the crown making it visible at address. When you look at the sole of the club and from behind, the Titanium T-Bar Speed Chassis is shown, it reminds me a little of the TaylorMade SIM drivers as it is a similar idea, but not as prominent.
Colour-wise, the model I tested was in the standard colourway: the shiny black, yellow and red head. It's what I would call classic Cobra styling and I have to say it looks good, especially with the carbon crown and Cobra logo as an alignment aid. It's definitely got that racing car feel too, and it looks mean and fast. I thought it was a clear step up from the F9 Speedback.
There is also a matte black and white head available to suit all types of preference, this may suit golfers who prefer less glare and more contemporary styling over the ball.
There was great response at impact with this driver. I enjoyed the feeling of the head on the ball and it therefore performed exactly how I would expect for the way I hit any given shot. Better players will love this level of feedback. For example: closed face - left, open face - right, it was a simple as that. It was also consistent and this gave me confidence standing over the ball, as I felt I knew where the ball was going every time which is a great feeling to have on the tee.
The noise at impact was also strong and forceful, which again I liked. It wasn't too loud, but you knew when you'd hit it - put it that way.
Cobra King Speedzone Xtreme Driver
Although the the size of the two Speedzone drivers is the same at 460cc - the Xtreme model no doubt has a slightly larger crown than the standard version, it therefore looks bigger. You'd been forgiven for thinking that the standard model is a 440cc head for example.
The sole only has one weight at the back of the head which means aesthetically the design is a lot more simple on the eye. It is less adjustable than the Speedzone with more of a focus on confidence-inducing, larger looks to suit players between that 10-28 handicap range.
The feel off the face was similar and I have to say it was also as impressive as the Speedzone driver. It did however feel slightly more stable and more forgiving through the hitting zone than the SZ, it was slightly louder too. I preferred the sound of the SZ in that respect.
Speedzone Drivers Indoor Performance
As you can see the difference between the two Speedzone drivers models is minimal, I liked hitting them both. I missed more to the left with the SZ and seemed to miss a few right with the Xtreme, but there was nothing too alarming to take from the Trackman data.
As you can see, there was also hardly any difference in carry except for one which reached 230 yards with the Xtreme model. That's something I can be pleased about as I know there is a long one in there with this club, if I go after it and really catch one. But the average between both Cobra and TaylorMade SIM Max was not enough to say if one was better than the other performance wise - £150 difference?
I found no difference in height between the two drivers which I thought I would have due to the weight distribution and by putting the heavy weight to the front of the head. This is something I would have to do further testing on down the line to really get my optimal peak height if I were to put either of these drivers in the bag.
Cobra King Speedzone Drivers On The Course
On the course I could have thrown a blanket over all three of the drivers I tried, which I think put in context, shows how well these drivers performed in terms of consistency, especially when you consider the price difference when compared to the TaylorMade SIM Max. These are all quality golf clubs that I have a lot of confidence with. It was such a nice feeling to be able to see consistent ball flight and distance out on the course.
One thing worth mentioning however is that into the wind I felt like the TaylorMade SIM Max flew better to the naked eye and I did gain 4-5 yards more due to this.
I felt very comfortable with all the drivers I took out during this test, but if I had to decide, the Xtreme had an even more consistent flight and shape. It was so neutral in shape and height, which suited my game.
Cobra King Speedzone Drivers Verdict
I enjoyed hitting both Speedzone models but in the end favoured the Xtreme due to its forgiveness and stability through the strike. I never missed a shot with it both indoor or outdoor. But if you see the numbers they are so very similar, it really is hard to tell them apart performance-wise.
I may look to use the Cobra Speedzone if I played in windy conditions so I could change the weights and lofts around a little more to my preference on the day. But as I tried these inside and in very little wind outside, I have to go with the Xtreme based on the conditions I played in. You will have to be the judge as to which model suits the golf course, game and the conditions you play in.
Another great thing that Cobra have added to the Speedzone family of clubs is Arccos embedded grip sensors. They pair with the Arccos Caddie app that golfers can download to their mobile device. This gives golfers the ability to analyse a huge amount of data which Arccos say will help players make smarter shot-making decisions.
There was very little between these drivers, they performed very highly in terms of spin, carry and dispersion.
I began this review thinking that "Leicester City of the golfing world right now", and look what happened to The Foxes in 2016, they out performed every other team and won the Premier League. So it just goes to show, price doesn't always mean more performance.
Would I Use It?
Absolutely, these drivers are awesome! They prove that you can save £150 and still get the ultimate performance for your game. I understand if you have brand loyalty or may prefer the looks of other drivers, but if your choice is simply based on price and performance based then you can’t go wrong with Cobra again in 2020.
Cobra has built on the F9 Speedback and the addition of the Xtreme model will help a lot of golfers hit longer, straighter drives. After all, Bryson isn't doing too bad in the driver stats either department at the moment is he...
Plenty of forgiveness
Very competitive price point
Dispersion was unbelievable
Stability through the hitting zone meant long, straight drives
- Very hard to find them if I'm totally honest.
If you liked this review, you may also like:
TaylorMade SIM Drivers Review
Callaway MAVRIK Drivers Review
Ping Heppler Putters Review