ClubTest 2022: The inside story behind Cobra’s new LTDx driver line (plus reviews!)
This year’s ClubTest is bigger and better than ever. To help you make sense of the mountain of high-tech new clubs on the market, we put all of the latest offerings from the top golf club manufacturers to the ultimate test, making use of a state-of-the-art swing robot to put each club through its paces. Below you will our deep dive into Cobra’s newest drivers, including full reviews and test results toward the bottom of the page.
You can find the full list of ClubTest driver reviews here.
Want to overhaul your bag for 2022? Find a fitting location near you at GOLF’s affiliate company True Spec Golf.
When golf equipment manufacturers talk about their work, they can sound a lot like golf instructors discussing the swing in that they’ll tell you every element is interconnected — a complex tangle of cause and effect. Want to build a hotter clubface?
You might need to change the weighting in the clubhead. Out for more forgiveness? Sure, but that could cost you feel.
In their quest to send shots higher, straighter, farther and faster, engineers and designers play a game of give-and-take, often gaining ground on one front while losing on another. There’s no negotiating with the laws of physics. Throw in cost constraints—not to mention USGA regulations—and compromise is common.
But just because you can’t always have it all doesn’t mean that you stop trying.
“What you’re out to do is minimize the tradeoffs,” says Mike Yagley, vice president of innovation and artificial intelligence at Cobra Puma Golf. Sometimes, you succeed. With its new LTDx driver, Cobra’s trade-offs were next to none.
A “unicorn” is what Yagley calls the first-of-itskind design, a magical term for a breakthrough born from science. With the outgrowth of advances in material, weight placement and aerodynamics, along with input from A.I., the LTDx is a rare creature, one that maximizes speed and stability without sacrificing almost anything else.
“I’ve been in this industry a while,” says Yagley, who worked on bombs and missiles before switching industries in 1994. “This isn’t something you see every day.”
It’s also not technology you sum up in a sentence. One way to start is by discussing shape. The LTDx is streamlined and symmetrical, twin pillars of optimized aerodynamics. “You can see that it’s smoother and rounder, with a raised trailing edge,” Yagley says. “All of those things make it more symmetric through the air. And symmetry lends itself to low drag and greater speed.”
But, as Yagley and his colleagues were aware, the cool configuration was going to work only if they could put the mass in an optimal location. They needed to be able to move some things around without having to meddle with the structure. That was easier said than done. The solution came in a burst of innovation: a multi-material weighting system that Cobra bills as PWR-COR technology.
Composed of titanium, aluminum and steel, the system is essentially a metal bar inside the head with a wing-like attachment along the sole. In its positioning and weighting, it performs two crucial functions: freeing up the sole to create more flex in the face while allowing mass to be shifted front and low.
“And we could do that without having to monkey with the inner structure,” Yagley says. Like its predecessor, the LTD (which hit the market in 2016), the LTDx is a “zero CG” driver, which means its center of gravity is at the neutral axis, directly behind the center of the face, well-positioned to impart extra oomph. But thanks to a stabilizing lightweight carbon crown and sole, the LTDx also has a much higher MOI than the LTD. Translation: It twists less at impact, giving you the opportunity to land more of your drives on the short grass. Also, there’s no mistaking when you catch one flush.
“It’s like hitting a baseball,” Yagley says. “When you barrel it, you know it.”
Not that there isn’t any room for error. Designed with insights from artificial intelligence and machine learning, the LTDx features a face of varied thickness, with 15 strategically placed pads behind it that increase smash factor and expand the sweet spot.
“Using that optimized topology allowed us to make the center of the face as hot as we could,” Yagley says. “And the outside of the face as hot as we could too.”
As springy as it is, the face isn’t the only part of the LTDx that flexes. The entire body does, especially the front half of the head. If you capture impact on a high-speed camera, then play it back in slo-mo, you’ll see the club deform ever so slightly, Yagley says, “just enough to give the ball more kick.”
At the same time, the head is stiff enough to take a licking and keep on ticking. That’s another balance the LTDx strikes, with stable underpinnings from its sole and crown.
“You need acceptable durability so that it doesn’t fail when you or I hit it 1,000 times,” Yagley says. “Or when Bryson [DeChambeau] or Kyle [Berkshire] hit it 20 times at 140 mph!”
The LTDx is part of a family of drivers that consists of three distinct models for different styles of play. The LTDx LS has front-biased weighting for a combo of low spin and workability, while the LTDx Max has a back and heel weight option for a draw bias. — Josh Sens
COBRA DRIVER REVIEWS
Cobra King LTDx
We tested: 9.5°, 10.5°, 11°, 12°
Our take: With its look, feel and forgiveness, Cobra’s LTDx appealed to our testers on multiple fronts. “Great off the toe,” one GOLF tester said. “The face felt really hot,” noted another. Still others singled out the “neutral-sitting face angle” and sleek aesthetics of a driver that was designed with insights from artificial intelligence.
Cobra King LTDx
Robot’s take: Shots fired away from the sweet spot performed well, with low levels of distance loss. Shots hit squarely on the face delivered big yardages—a testament to the club’s 5,000-plus MOI.
The details: Drawing on innovations in materials, weight placement and aerodynamics, Cobra has produced what it bills as its first-ever “zero CG” driver, meaning that its center of gravity is at the neutral line, not above it. Key features include a multi-material weighting system that shifts mass downward; a lightweight carbon crown to further optimize weight distribution and boost stability; and an AI-generated face of varied thickness that gets the most of every shot, no matter the contact. For golfers, the company says, it all adds up to a “breakthrough” in speed and forgiveness.
Cobra King LTDx Max
We tested: 9°, 10.5°, 12°
Our take: Everything that makes the stock LTDx great can be found in the LTDx Max, only this time it comes with extra weight in the heel to once and for all put an end to the dreaded banana ball. We found it to be a long and forgiving bomber with a noticeable draw bias even though it’s not a high-spin driver. Shots fired flew with a mid-highish launch, which for us meant our draws flew with more ballspeed and landed with forward roll for extra yards. That’s a win in our book.
Cobra King LTDx Max driver
Robot’s take: The draw-biased LTDx Max has the biggest sweetspot of the family for best-in-class forgiveness with the smallest distance drop-offs on all nine points of the clubface.
The details: Built for maximum ballspeed, forgiveness and slice control, the extra-forgiving LTDx Max comes with a multi-material chassis (mixing carbon with titanium), internal PWR-COR weighting (to keep spin rates under control), and H.O.T. Face Tech that includes 15 zones made with differing thicknesses for more distance and forgiveness across a wider area of the CNC-milled clubface. Comes with adjustable weights and an adjustable hosel for a tweakable ballflight.
Cobra LTDx LS
We tested: 9°, 10.5°
Our take: Our testers quickly noted the “neutral sitting face angle” and raved about the aesthetics—something we agree is a huge improvement in not just this model, but the whole LTDx line. It’s a forgiving headshape and the internal workings make it long but make no bones about it—this is a player’s driver, made for those who want a boring trajectory with low spin, that’s also workable come time to hit butter fades and baby draws.
Cobra LTDx LS driver
The details: Built in the same vein as the rest of the LTDx line, the LS is tuned for a lower launch and less spin for players who want workability and control over sheer distance and ballspeed. That doesn’t mean it’s not long and forgiving—it is, thanks to PWR-COR internal weighting for a forward/low CG, and H.O.T. Face Technology made with artificial intelligence and machine learning for a design that produces a faster ballspeed across more points on the clubface. It too has a multi-material chassis, a CNC-milled clubface and comes with adjustable weighting and an adjustable hosel sleeve for a precise ballflight condition.
We tested: 9.5°, 10.5°, 11.5°
Our Take: The lightest construction in the Cobra family, Air-X is designed for beginners and players with smooth tempos in need of extra pop. Other game-improvement features include heel weighting and a large, fast sweet spot that imparts greater speed no matter where you make contact.
Cobra Air-X Offset driver
The Details: Made from premium lightweight carbon, the Air-X tips the scales at just 277 grams. That feathery makeup, Cobra says, is meant to promote feel and effortless speed. The club is also available in an offset version for golfers who fight a slice.