In the last few years, Cobra has made a move from being one of the 'alternative' equipment manufacturers, to one of the major brands worth considering every time you look to upgrade your clubs.
This was particularly evident last year with the release of the F9 Speedback range, with the Driver receiving rave reviews from both ourselves and plenty of other golf media outlets.
Moving into the 2020 season and the latest enhancement comes in the form of the new Speedzone range, which is again based on giving golfers greater distance, feel and forgiveness.
The big challenge for Cobra is to try and eat into the huge majority of golfers who are loyal to brands such as Ping, Callaway, TaylorMade and Titleist when it comes to irons. Can the new Speedzone range be the one to do it?
What's It All About?
The Speedzone irons build upon 2019's F9 Speedback range - at first glance, the looks and style are pretty similar but with the addition of new technology to make them faster and launch higher and longer.
The main talking point this year is the five unique 'zones' of performance, which come together to provide distance, consistency and forgiveness.
Two strips of carbon fibre are in place of steel on the topline of the longer irons and underneath the topline, which saves weight to be repositioned lower in the head for increased ball speed and better launch.
Speedback shaping, as seen in last year's model, creates a 'wide body' design at the perimeter of the golf club, which should add MOI and therefore make the irons a little more forgiving when you don't quite catch it out of the middle. The centre of gravity is also a little lower, meaning that the ball gets up and going with ease.
A new forged Pwrshell face has an updated E9 structure, which again lowers the CG and produces better energy return thanks to a speed channel in the sole.
A common complaint with 'game-improvement' irons like these is that they can produce an undesirable sound at impact. Cobra has attempted to address this by adding a co-molded medallion system which quickly dampens vibrations for a better sound and feel across the face.
Progressive spin technology allows for trajectory and flight to be controlled more consistently, and this is 100% CNC milled throughout the set.
V-grooves are used in the 4-6 iron to reduce spin for extra carry distance, U-grooves from 7-PW optimise spin, and wedge grooves add extra spin in the Gap and Sand wedge add-ons.
“When designing irons, there is a delicate balance of delivering playability, feel and distance, and the Speedzone Irons in both traditional and ONE length make-ups provide all three attributes in spades. Our innovative Speedzone technology has allowed us to maximise distance without giving up any feel or forgiveness.“
Tom Olsavsky, VP of R&D for Cobra Puma Golf
I took the Speedzone irons down to The Range in Manchester, as the British winter weather had finally taken its toll on most of our local golf courses. I put both sets of irons through a rigorous test to see whether the promised enhancements in ball speed and forgiveness really did pay off.
Having read through the club specs before testing these irons I knew that distance would be no problem, but I was a little concerned how this would actually translate when hitting shots into greens and in more realistic environments. Let's see how they got on...
Cobra King Speedzone Irons Review
The Speedzone irons are chunky, without being too silly. But I found it immediately noticeable how square the iron head is, particularly on the topline. It's a boxy shape which reminds me of iron shapes from the mid-90s. This may be a nice throwback to the good old days for some golfers, whilst others may find it takes a bit of getting used to.
There's a slight bit of offset, particularly in the longer irons, whilst the 7 iron upwards feature an eye-catching strip of carbon fibre on the topline, perhaps explaining the squared design. This is said to save weight for even faster club head speed as I mentioned earlier. I found this a little distracting initially but after a few hits it starts to blend in a little more and by the end of my testing I was used to it.
One thing that would be worth checking is whether this is likely to pick up glare when in direct sunlight, which could be very distracting.
Like most game-improvement irons, I wasn't really expecting great levels of feel in comparison to a forged iron, for example, so it was no surprise that the ball did seem to come off a little 'dead'. When you use a blade iron, you immediately know when you haven't hit it out of the middle, particularly if you catch it a little thin on a cold winter's morning. Ouch.
With the Speedzone iron it was harder to discern immediately how you'd struck the ball, as the head shape promoted a pretty similar feel across the face, although it was a pleasant soft thud from the face rather than a tinny 'clink', which I liked. The co-molded medallion system was clearly doing its job to produce that lower, 'better-player' thud at impact. Ok, no one is going to mistake you for Henrik Stenson when you strike a mid-iron but it's progress nonetheless.
Cobra are promising speed and distance with these irons, and they certainly deliver in this area. The lofts are very strong, but I would say they are among the longest irons I have ever used. The 6 iron frequently provided me carry distances of over 180 yards during range testing! It comes in at around 24 degrees of loft which is more like a traditional 4 iron, and probably explains the hike in distance however...
Whilst this is a common criticism of modern-day game improvement irons, there's no doubt that this club is far easier to launch and more forgiving than a standard 4-iron, so it's helping golfers out in that regard.
They aren't the most workable irons I have ever used, but that's not necessarily a drawback. Considering these irons are predominantly aimed at mid-to-high handicappers, having a solid, straight flight is going to be pretty desirable, as it leaves the golfer free to focus on starting the ball on line and letting the tech do the rest.
Moving into the shorter irons, you get a nice high ball flight with plenty of distance, but the spin rates were a lot lower than I'd expect from the so-called 'scoring clubs'. 5269 rpm for an 8 iron is alarmingly low, meaning that if you're playing on firm greens and hoping to get the ball stopping quickly then you could be struggling.
Whilst the average peak height of 30 yards will help with this, it still proves why some golfers are put off by irons like these because out on the course they aren't always quite as usable as the original numbers suggest.
Cobra King Speedzone One Length Irons Review
As is becoming the tradition with Cobra iron releases, you also have the choice of getting their latest and greatest gear in the ONE Length setup, which helps to promote a simple, repeatable setup and swing regardless of the iron you are hitting.
In the past, Golfalot has reviewed the F8 ONE Length irons and the original Cobra King Forged ONE Length irons which Bryson DeChambeau famously took to the course with.
Looks-wise these irons are almost identical to the standard Speedzone, although Cobra's distinctive yellow colourway has been replaced by a blue which always signifies that the model is of the ONE Length variety, and I actually think it looks a little better.
They utilise 'progressive shaft weighting', which gets steadily heavier as the irons get shorter to help control swing speed and ball flights.
As always, each of the irons is 37.5 inches long, and as the only major equipment manufacturer who offer an iron set like this, the fact that around half of Cobra's iron sales do come through ONE Length suggests that they are doing something right.
As I have used variable length irons throughout my time playing golf I actually found the shorter irons harder to control in the ONE Length variation as opposed to the standard Speedzone. This is probably to be expected - the longer the club, the more inconsistent you're likely to be.
The range numbers supported this. Whilst the ONE Length 8 iron did carry 3 yards further than the standard model, the dispersion between the longest and shortest hits from the 10 shots was much wider. A slight mishit dropped back to 146 yards carry, whilst the longest shot carried 164 yards.
An 18 yard front-to-back dispersion is far too high for an 8 iron and indicates one of the issues with strong-lofted irons and the ONE Length theory. It's great for a consistent setup and swing, but I've found that this is not always reflected with consistent results.
Of course, the ONE Length ideal is not going to suit everyone so it is vital that you go and give these clubs a thorough testing, and undergo a proper fitting, if you are interested.
Cobra King Speedzone Irons Verdict
Whilst strong-lofted irons can be useful in some ways I actually think that they can also be a hindrance too. Although you do gain yardage compared to what you'd expect from the number on the bottom of the club, you're only hitting it the correct distance for that loft.
The main issue with this is that at the bottom end of the bag, the gains you make in the short irons means that the gap between your pitching wedge and specialist wedges gets larger and larger. Nobody wants a 25 yard gap between their gap wedge and pitching wedge, and I doubt many of you want to have to reconfigure your wedge setup just to accommodate for your irons.
The other issue which I always seem to find with these clubs is that the consistency in distance is a lot wider than I'd want. Whilst we'd all like to gain a few yards through club technology, having the odd shot that suddenly flies 15 yards further than you expected it to is not that helpful.
Having said that, I found these irons extremely easy to hit and launch, and they did feel pretty good too considering that they are really aimed at higher handicappers. I was also impressed with the overall forgiveness of the irons, particularly the long irons, and I could definitely feel that the technology within the head was helping me out on off-centre strikes when compared with my own slimmer iron set.
If you're finding that consistent ball-striking is an issue, or you're looking to gain a little more distance than your existing iron set, then Cobra's latest iron offering may just do the job. I enjoyed hitting them and I think you will too.
If you're a 'better player' then adding in a couple of the longer irons to an existing iron set may just give you a bit of a boost at the top end of the bag, and help you get into the zone for better scoring.
Longer carry distances will attract plenty of golfers
Forgiving on off-centre strikes
Very easy to launch
ONE Length irons could be excellent for beginners
Having lofts this strong could cause gapping issues at the bottom end of the bag
Dispersion in distance was a little high
Spin rates need to be higher to hold the green consistently with shorter irons
Chunky look and carbon fibre topline won't suit all golfers