#MGSCobra2020 #CobraConnect SpeedZone Iron Review - edingc, a.k.a. #TeamCalvesLikePhil
An all-new carbon fiber topline on the long and mid-irons is the big story headlining Cobra’s 2020 SpeedZone irons. The weight savings from use of carbon fiber allowed Cobra’s engineers to push the head’s center of gravity lower than in previous models.
Cobra hooked me up with the conventional length SpeedZone irons (1/2 inch short, 2 degrees flat), 4 iron to gap wedge, with KBS C-Taper Lite x-stiff shafts and Lamkin Sonar grips. Previously, I played Maltby PTM Forged irons, which although are “game improvement” irons, are a forged head and offer a more traditional appearance than the SpeedZones.
Looks - 3.5/5 Stars
I’ve read several comments on the Internet that say the worst thing about the SpeedZone design is the carbon fiber topline. I wholeheartedly disagree! Sure, at first glance it sticks out because it’s different from any other iron. After hitting a few shots, however, it blends in and isn’t distracting at all. From the 8 iron down to the gap wedge, Cobra removed the carbon fiber, leaving a pleasing and not-too-thick topline for the precision scoring clubs. Offset is minimal throughout the set and not off putting in the least bit.
My biggest complaint concerning the looks of the SpeedZone irons stems from how much the backside is visible at address, especially in the 6 and 7 irons (the 7 iron is pictured above). Ideally, I would prefer those mid-irons to look less like a driving iron and blend more toward the scoring clubs.
These are big clubheads; nobody is mistaking these for a player’s iron. The perimeter weighting, sole design, cavity badging and topline are uniquely game improvement. That doesn’t mean they are bad looking clubs, and I applaud Cobra for pushing the envelope. But, you’ll need to look elsewhere if you’re wanting a traditional look in your irons.
Sound & Feel - 3.5/5 Stars
Well-struck balls offer a very solid sound, both with the carbon fiber long irons and the more traditional short irons. It’s a satisfying thwack, I have no issues with it at all.
Coming from a fully forged head, the feel of the SpeedZones is obviously a bit lacking in comparison, but likely similar to other irons in its category. It’s fairly easy to determine where the ball is struck horizontally, but I’ve struggled to know where the strike is vertically on the face. With exception to extremely thin shots, a few grooves high or low all seem to feel the same to me.
I was originally fit into stiff flex KBS C-Taper Lites and not x-stiff. Stiff flex was unavailable due to COVID-19 supply chain issues, so we bumped up to x-stiff. They are definitely different animals than the stiff flex, and right now I’m still struggling a bit to adjust to the feel of them. The x-stiffs don’t have the same swift kick at impact I experience with the stiff flex CTLs, and I think that is partially influencing my feel of the head.
Basic Characteristics - 4/5 Stars
Unlike my woods, I do get creative with iron shots. My desired stock iron shot is a push draw, with my miss being a straight draw or overcooked pull draw/hook. The video above is a slight pull draw. However, I often need to hit a low stinger under tree branches, and I also like to club up some and play softer finesse shots into greens. It’s not often that I’m taking a full cut with an iron.
I am impressed at my ability to do all of those things with the SpeedZone irons. By default they want to launch high and stay straight, but by manipulating ball position and/or gripping down, I’ve been able to hit low or more feathery shots when required.
(As a quick aside, the reduced taper shape on the Lamkin Sonars has been very helpful with gripping down on the club.)
The sole design is unique with the smaller “effective” sole. We have had hot and dry conditions since I received the clubs, but with the way the sole glides through heavy rough I doubt I’d have much trouble in wet conditions. Turf interaction is great, nice small divots without digging much.
Obviously, the SpeedZones are loft-jacked (see: my six iron ball speeds above - with a range ball!). They generate a lot of distance as a result, but they provide adequate height and spin to stop the ball, especially in the shorter irons. I would definitely recommend pairing a more “spinny” ball with them to optimize spin as much as possible (I’ve alternated between Snell MTB-X and Srixon Z-Star XV during the challenge).
On Course Performance - 4/5 Stars
The SpeedZone irons are outstanding at what they are designed to do - get the ball airborne with serious distance, while being extremely forgiving of mishits.
On more than one occasion, I’ve hit a completely disgusting shot only to watch the ball end up near my target line and distance. I’ve also had the pleasure or puring a few irons and watching how the ball rockets off of the face.
Don’t expect to suck a ball back on the green with these clubs. But, if I strike the ball well (not a groove low), I can expect the ball to fly high enough to land softly and stop within a few feet.
I haven’t experienced any major distance inconsistencies, but I have hit a few low-spin fliers from the rough that kept on going and going and going and wouldn’t stop. I don’t think that’s exclusive to these irons, but perhaps is made worse by the naturally lower spin rates of the design.
I often hit mid and long irons from the tee at my home course and the forgiveness has helped me be in better positions than with my Maltby PTMs. The amount of distance I retain on mishits is impressive. Extra distance off the tee combined with longer carry distances from my scoring clubs means I hit shorter clubs into greens, which puts less pressure on my swing to be perfect.
My scoring hasn’t changed dramatically for better or for worse since putting the SpeedZones into play. However, I am finding my iron striking to be more inconsistent with the SpeedZones in the bag. My hook miss has gotten worse, and I’m struggling with a tendency to pull across the ball from the top a lot more often. This is resulting in a lot of strikes toward the toe of the club. I’m not a fantastic golfer, but as my Arccos baseline showed, iron striking was one of the better parts of my game. I’m not sure if these exaggerations of my existing misses are to be blamed on the irons or something in my swing, but I can say sometimes I feel like I’m working too hard trying to get the x-stiff C-Taper Lites to do what I want. If I take a nice relaxed cut at the ball, I feel like I’m getting desirable results more often.
All in all, the SpeedZone irons are producing predictable ball flight and predictable distances when I’m swinging well, and that’s all I can ask of them to do.
Miscellaneous - 4/5 Stars
These irons are not ones I’d want to buy stock off the rack. I understand distance is king of sales, but the stock specifications for these irons are very upright and very long.
I doubt a low-spin, two-piece surlyn/ionomer ball would stop well with these either, and I’m certain that is the type of ball most played by recreational golfers.
Play It or Trade It - 3/5 Stars
I’m conflicted. On one hand, I love the forgiveness of the SpeedZones, specifically in the long irons. The clubs are rockets! On the other hand, I’ve tested forgiveness so much because I’ve struggled to find the center of the club face. That wasn’t the case during my baseline with my Maltby PTMs.
I’ve thought of multiple scenarios for how these irons might stay in the bag:
Do I try soft-stepping the shafts once or twice to see if that returns some of the feel I enjoy with the stiff C-Taper Lites? I’ve considered making the 19 degree 4 iron a true driving iron by putting a graphite shaft into it, so this could be done with just a little basement club work.
Do I reshaft a test club with a stiff C-Taper Lite, and, if I like the results, bite the bullet and do the rest of the set?
Should I play a split set with my Maltby PTMs? The lofts and lengths are setup in a way I could split my set at the 7 iron, and play SpeedZone long irons (5, 6, 7) and Maltby PTM mid-to-short irons (7, 8, 9, PW, GW) without messing up gapping to the wedges.
Do I just practice more and try to sort out my issues with the x-stiff C-Taper Lites? When struck well they do feel effortless, but I think the difference in flex or weight may be partially responsible for the issues I’m having with my iron swing.
#CobraConnect will take me to the end of my primary golf season, but over the fall and winter I will have some testing to do to answer these questions.
Overall Score - 3.5/5 Stars
Going strictly by handicap, I’m probably on the lower end of the target range for the SpeedZone irons, but I wouldn’t say only high handicappers should play these irons.
The long irons are excellent - easy to launch, forgiving and crazy fast in regards to ball speeds. Short irons have a good look and generally stop the ball when needed. For the price ($799 USD off the rack), I’m not sure there is a better value out there among the major OEMs in the game improvement/super game improvement category.
I’m just struggling a bit adjusting to them.
Since we still have a lot of time remaining in the challenge, I’m hoping with more practice I can get a good understanding of what I need to do to play my best golf with these irons.