In April 2016 Cobra officially signed reigning NCAA and U.S. Amateur champion Bryson DeChambeau to a long-term sponsorship deal. Amongst other things, this move necessitated that Cobra develop a consumer-ready set of single-length (Cobra uses the term ONE Length) irons to approximate those in DeChambeau's bag.
Without the typical window for R&D, Cobra focused its efforts on two models, KING F7 ONE and KING FORGED ONE. That was 2017. This is 2018 and as Cobra is still the only major OEM to delve into the "One Length" concept of golf equipment with any level of fidelity. With that, Cobra is making it clear it intends to continue introducing new clubs throughout the line up with ONE length variants.
Enter KING Utility Black and King Utility Black ONE. Both clubs are virtually identical (same tech platform and general aesthetic) with the clear distinction being that the Black ONE is the same length as a stock 7-iron. The chief engineering challenge with single-length long irons is that most players don't have the requisite clubhead speed to swing a comparatively shorter club fast enough to generate the needed launch/spin requirements to hit anything other British Open worthy knee-high bullets. Cobra feels this iteration can help address that.
Both models feature a black PVD coating, hollow body construction, forged CNC milled faces, and grooves as well as Cobra's MyFly8 adjustable hosel. Specifically, Cobra's PWRSHELL Face Technology utilizes a forged 455 high-strength steel face on top of a completely hollow-body. The thinner face and multi-material construction increase the Sweet Zone which theoretically should mitigate the less desirable effects (lower launch, less distance, and increased dispersion) associated with mishits.
Also, of note is that the face is completely unsupported, meaning the body of the club is left hollow, whereas some OEM's fill this space with fancy goo or foam (PXG, TaylorMade) for structural support and to manage acoustics/feel of impact. In this case, the lack of material is what allows engineers to keep the CG low to help promote higher launch. Because Cobra doesn't use the hollow space for internal weighting, a tungsten toe weight (67-73 grams in the Variable iron and 90-94 grams in the ONE Length version) is necessary to reach the desired total weight and maintain a relatively neutral bias.
Everything being equal, KING Utility Black and KING Utility Black ONE are engineered to outperform a typical long iron, while still maintaining a similar footprint. Principally, better performance means increased ball speeds, more forgiveness and higher launch characteristics for players who need it.
Like all 2018 COBRA KING equipment introductions, both Utility Black irons offer golf performance tracking via the COBRA CONNECT platform (powered by Arccos). For those unfamiliar with Arccos, it uses sensors embedded in the butt end of the grip to track your performance in real-time.
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This is an important year for Cobra as it looks for opportunities to regain some retail momentum and while taking metalwood market share from either Callaway or TaylorMade feels like carving a tunnel out of granite, the single-length equipment space appears to be where Cobra feels it can make some serious headway. Admittedly, there was more buzz around the concept last year, and industry sales figures of single-length irons reflect this. What remains to be seen is whether the interest level has waned at all or perhaps if additional ONE Length offerings might stoke the proverbial fire a bit. Regardless, so long as other OEM's largely sit this one (length) out, any increased demand for single-length equipment in the short-term should disproportionality benefit Cobra. If the concept has lasting merit, however, I'd suspect it won't be long until we see one of the heavy hitters jump into this space as well.
The Utility Black ($219 graphite) is available as either a 3 iron (18°-21°) or 4 iron (21°-24°) and comes stock with the UST Recoil 760 (Lite flex) or 780 ES SmacWrap (Regular, Stiff and X-Stiff). It's ONE Length counterpart adds one additional club, a 5 iron (24°-27°) and drops the Recoil 760 Lite flex option.
The steel shaft option ($199 and custom only) is a True Temper AMT Tour White with black powder finish. Available only for right-handed players, both clubs will be available April 6th.
Is Cobra on to something or will single length be more of a sparkle and fade?