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Cobra S3 and S3 Max Drivers Review

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating

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Cobra S3 Driver

The Cobra S3 Driver.

© Cobra Golf; used with permission
The Bottom Line: The Cobra S3 and S3 Max drivers are aimed at golfers looking for maximum distance enhancement with trajectory control. An elliptical face and beveled perimeter produce a sweet spot that the company claims more closely reflects the hit/miss pattern produced by average golfers. The S3 is aimed at a more accomplished golfer while the intended audience for the S3 Max is the mid-high handicap player who likes the help an offset driver head provides.
Pros
  • Taller, elliptical face results in 30-percent larger sweet spot
  • Face design results in longer, straighter shots
  • Traditional looking head hides size well
Cons
  • Shaft graphics somewhat distracting
  • Stock shaft offering felt whippy
Keypoints
  • Cobra S3 has adjustable face angle and available in 8.5, 9.5, 10.5, 11.5 lofts.
  • Cobra S3 Max has fixed offset clubhead and available in 9.5, 10.5, 11.5 degrees.
  • Lightweight with Fujikura Blur 65-gram shaft, custom shafts available.
  • Drivers available at retail as of Feb. 11, 2011, with an MSRP of $299.

Review: Cobra S3 Driver and S3 Max Driver

A view of the Cobra S3 Driver's clubface

The face of the Cobra S3 Driver.

© Cobra Golf; used with permission
Jan. 17, 2011 - When Puma announced it was buying Cobra Golf, some golfer chatter suggested there might be revolution in the air. With Tour players like Rickie Fowler in the Puma fold, could that indicate that Puma's forward-thinking fashion sense might result in wilder, more outrageous club designs from Cobra? Maybe someday, who knows. But for right now, the new owners of Cobra Golf are content to build on the solid reputation developed by Cobra over its lifetime. Cobra has had lots of success in the driver market with its strong offerings such as the S9-1, ZL and the S2. Gone are the "Volkswagen on a stick" look and the "tink" sound at impact that characterized some of the company's earliest offerings. The new Cobra S3 drivers represent more evolution that revolution.

So, what's different? The changes are subtle, but they do make a difference. The Cobra S3 driver is aimed at the lower handicapper, and the Cobra S3 Max driver is targeted at the mid-high handicap golfer. The S3 has a traditional-looking driver head that conceals its 460cc size. The S3 has an adjustable Neutral-Open-Closed face setting. The S3 Max is a fixed, offset head with a handsome dark-tinged color scheme and a useful crown alignment device.

Minimizing Sidespin

The S3 Max tested had a loft listed as 10.5, but my eyes and a launch monitor would seem to support an effective loft of more like 11.5. That's a good thing. Higher handicappers tend to have slower swing speeds and can benefit with more loft and also less sidespin. Let's focus on that lack of sidespin. Even wild slicers loved the trajectory correction of the S3 Max. It's very solid sounding at impact, and these golfers gained distance and (straighter) direction. As one of them said, "What's not to love?" I found the stock Fujikura Blur regular-flex shaft to be a little whippier than I'd like, and the graphics a little too busy. But, again, this driver was splitting the fairway.

Digging deeper, the explanation to straighter drives may be in what Cobra calls its "E9 face technology," which is a beveled, elliptical-shaped face designed to help on off-center hits. Try as they might, hackers attempted to produce really squirrely shots off the S3 Max we tested, but they were as frustrated as Superman looking for a phone booth these days in New York City.

Low Spin, Big Distance

The Cobra S3 Driver viewed from the address position

The Cobra S3 Driver viewed from the address position.

© Cobra Golf; used with permission
Lower handicappers loved the solid feel and sound of the S3 and the simple 1-2-3 aluminum hosel, adjustable head. With a 3-degree range between open and closed positions, the options of "open-neutral-closed" produced meaningful directional changes in drives. Distance was as long as or longer than clubs being currently used by our test group, eliciting several "Wow!" responses. The stiff flex Blur also had a little more whip to it than testers liked or expected, but none were disappointed in the results. Lower handicappers also were originally puzzled by the lack of traditional scoring lines on the driver face, but loved the low-spin numbers on the course and on the launch monitor. Several good, not great, players looked at spin numbers in the 2100-2300 range – that's low!

So while maybe some were expecting a flaming-orange head driver, Puma-esque graphics or a sound off the driver akin to a Civil War re-enactment, be content in knowing that the new stewards of Cobra Golf are happy to let the straight-shooting, long-hitting advanced technology in the Cobra S3 and S3 Max drivers do all the talking.

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