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  1. I know everyone wants to see the new stuff from COBRA. Since we can't post that yet, here are a few pics you might find interesting meanwhile. These are the steps in the process of machining a prototype head. Starting with a block of steel, they machine what they can from the top. They leave the block on the face so they can fasten it upside down to machine the back. Once they do the back, they cast it in epoxy so it can be held in place to machine the block off the face and mill grooves. On a mass produced piece, they would build a jig to hold it in place. But for one at a time prototype, this is how they do it. Driver face. OK, now this was interesting. The USGA has a maximum roughness allowed for wedges measured from the peaks to the valleys on the face. This doesn't include the groove areas, just the surface. They also have a maximum average roughness measured across the whole face. It's fairly easy to approach the maximum on one or the other of the two, but very difficult to get close to the maximum for both. COBRA came up with a simple, but ingenious way to approach both maximums and get the best friction coefficient allowed. They do a variable feed rate milling pattern on the face. When you're machining a part, be it on a lathe or mill, the feed rate will determine the surface roughness. A slow feed rate will create a smoother finish than a faster rate which creates grooves or lines. COBRA programs the mill to feed it fast for a few hundredths then slow for a few, then fast again, alternating like this across the entire face. This gives them close to the max on the peak to valley measurement as well as the average across the face as a whole. Here is a picture of the machine used to measure the face. It has a very fine diamond tip similar to a needle on an old record player. As the stylus is dragged across the face, it measures the variations in micro inches. Here is the graph generated at different scale factors. They do a tremendous amount of testing to maximize performance and durability. Here is a pic of a testing machine that launches a ball at a club. They can use this to hit a club thousands and thousands of times to check durability of the face. It will also measure the ball speed into the face and the rebound which is how to measure C.O.R.. As you can see, this machine is not a portable device which is why they are now measuring C.T. (Characteristic Time). They have a C.T. tester too. Unfortunately I did not grab a picture of it. But it is a small, portable machine that drops a steel ball on an arm into a club face and it measures the time the ball is in contact with the face before the rebound. This machine was blasting ball after ball at the club mounted in it. Now, here's the really cool one! The robot. Yea, that's a bad word at MGS for club testing and rightly so. However, they have their place. They are invaluable for R & D. This one doesn't just hinge the club like some of the first such as Iron Byrons. This one actually rotates the club open in the backswing and rotates it to square and shut through impact and follow through like a real swing. They can set up different clubs and do what they call "carpet bombing" them. Once they get the club to release exactly square, (which can take anywhere from a few hours to a couple of days due to variations in shafts!), they can make it come into impact across a grid covering the entire face. This let's them measure exactly how performance drops as impact is moved away from perfect. They can measure the area that provides very close to 100% of the performance of a perfect strike. The new drivers we can't show pics of yet have a much larger area that provides close to optimum ball speed on the not-so-optimum strikes. Here's the robot. And here's the GCS2 with the HMT (Head Measurement Technology) addition. A side note: Radar units, while very good at tracking the ball, cannot actually measure the face angle and all of the club data they provide at impact. The units are behind the club and have no view of the face. So they calculate it based on what they do see the club doing as well as the ball flight. The HMT seen here has full view of the face to provide actual measurements of it at impact making it more accurate for this application. Now, this was REALLY cool! I could have spent all day in here, but we were running out of time. Here is a simulator with another GCS2. However, it was more than that. See what looks like track lighting that Jose is pointing to in the second picture? That is a 3D tracking system. There are a few more pics I'm kicking myself for not getting here, but I was swinging a club and didn't stop to grab them. They have clubs with special reflective spheres attached to the club head and the shaft that these sensors mounted around the room track in addition to to ball itself. It tracks the club through the entire swing, including how the clubhead moves in relation to shaft flex. They also have a suit they can put you in with reflectors in strategic places that then models how your body moves through the swing as well. We didn't have time to get me suited up, but I was able to take a number of swings with the club and see the results on the screen. Sorry for not having more pics of this. Here's one of the "Wedge Wizard" Jose Miraflor working on my wedge. Here's a few more random pics of the event and La Costa. Catching T giving me the "eye" on day 1 Haha! A cool bridge across the water on the course. A couple more pics of the main building at La Costa from the course. Rickie pulling a club and getting ready to hit a pitch shot to the green with us. (I have that ball he's about to hit in the last one BTW. Haha!) Tony visiting after the tournament, before dinner, and in his room DOING HIS JOB!!!! OK, that's about it for now. We'll have pics of the new clubs before long. Most of it in November and some of it in January.
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