Cobra King F7 ONE Length Irons Review

May 16, 2017Golfing Standard

At the 2016 Masters, Bryson DeChambeau took the golf world by storm as an amateur via his stellar play and unique set of irons… all the same length. Cobra clearly liked DeChambeau’s style, throwing a huge endorsement deal his way and doubling down by launching their own line of single length clubs – the King F7 ONE Length irons and the KING Forged ONE Length irons.

Cobra was kind enough to send me a set of the King F7 ONE Length irons (the more forgiving of the two), and I’ve been staring at them, ranging them, and gaming them for the past three months. Here’s my story:

I don’t do golf gimmicks. I don’t use brush tees, I’ve never purchased a miracle wedge, and I’ve certainly never bagged a squarehead driver (good grief). I know that any issues with my game are due to issues with my cranium and/or swing, of which there are plenty. Of course having the right equipment is important, as it can certainly make a difference at the top end, but instant cures are rarely found with a price tag stuck to them.

Anyway, guess who couldn’t resist the concept of single length irons? THIS GUY.

Aside from of a few of the most enlightened gearheads out there, I’m guessing most people first heard of the single length concept when it was bandied about by the media during DeChambeau’s glory run last year at the Masters. And yes, if you’re like me, you may have dry-heaved a bit when reading how DeChambeau was a real physics buff; so devoted to the science that he cracked the swing plane code like the golf world’s very own Doogie Howser. Just like Brad Pitt was basically an architect and Michael Jordan was basically a Tour-level golfer – sorry, just got nauseous again.

But nothing against DeChambeau, the dude was just doing his thing and the media ran with it. Fair enough. In fact, I’m always up for a new school of thought to come around the corner and kick any blueblood methodology in the teeth. Football coaches that refuse to punt? Game on. And actually, even a clubfitter’s idea of the perfect trajectory for a driver is in a continuous state of flux, so the golf world is always ripe to be turned on its ear.

With one length irons, it really doesn’t take all that much thought to grasp the logic behind the concept. With variable length clubs, my stance, posture, and swing plane changes with each iron I swing. With all the clubs being the same length, I can keep those things constant. Seems like a no-brainer on the one hand, but on the other I can’t help but think “sounds gimmicky”. So much for me being a progressive.

I had to really analyze what it was that made me skeptical. Was it that great golfers since the beginning of time have played with variable length irons and never complained? Or was it that yours truly had played so long with variable length irons that it would be ridiculous for me to try to make the switch? Probably a bit of both.

Ultimately, I realized my first and most pressing concern was: is it even possible that a shorter 5 iron can go as far as a ‘normal’ length 5 iron, or is this all a bunch of BS?

That one’s easy to answer on paper. The Cobra ONE Length irons are all at standard 7 iron length, so the 5 and 6 iron are shorter than ‘normal’, and the 8,9,PW, and GW are longer. Of course, the length of the club directly correlates to clubhead speed, so all else being equal, a shorter 5 iron would give you less clubhead speed and less distance. Cobra addresses this issue with weighting. The shorter 5 iron has more weight in the head to make up the difference, and the longer 9 iron has less weight than standard. Get it?

That’s boring. But does it work? Let me break this down into a few segments:

Distance and Gapping

Of course it’s weird as hell to step up to a 5 iron that is the length of a 7 iron, no way around it. And yes I hit the 5 iron first, in true meathead form. No real fancy way to say it – the 5 iron felt good and went far, like a 5 iron should. Same with the 6,7,8… ‘these clubs are weird and awesome!’.

Actually only the 5 iron was weird on that end of the spectrum – the 6 iron looked close enough to the length I am used to, same with the 8 iron, and they both traveled my usual distances. Cool. One noticeable difference – the trajectory. These buggers fly high. Nothing crazy, they just have a slightly higher flight than my incumbent set.

Now, if you really want to talk about high ball flight, then let’s get to the 9 iron, wedge, and gap wedge. These things hit high shots. Again, no way around it. As I stood on the range wondering who injected my body with Jason Day swing-oil (and hopefully not his immune system), I had to believe these shots were not going as far as my old short irons. It can’t be possible, the ball is going straight up into the air. I started messing around with the ball position in my stance, moving it back to see if I could trap one and maybe that’s what you’re supposed to do, etc.

Well, I never figured it out on that first that day, but I’ve come to learn that they do travel just as far as my old standbys. (I do think you need to move the ball around in the stance a bit, btw). Still takes me by surprise sometimes, but then I remind myself that if a clubhead is moving that much faster, then the higher flight is probably partly what’s keeping my 9 iron from air-mailing the green by 20 yards.

Bottom line with distance and gapping – it’s all legit. Your eyes will play a few tricks on you, but the ball gets to where it’s supposed to.

Feel

This subject threw me for a bit of a loop as well. I have the more forgiving F7 version of these irons, as opposed to the more player-y Forged sticks, yet somehow these things feel as crisp as any player’s iron I’ve hit. No chunkiness whatsoever. Even the 5 iron, which is a little bulked up for obvious reasons, feels rock solid and as though there isn’t any game-improvement trickery going on whatsoever. Move up through the bag and, well, fuhgeddaboutit. Each iron is more crisp than the next. For what it’s worth, the gap wedge doesn’t even have a cavity, so it seems as though they progress towards player through the set. Anyway, ball launches off the face like it’s been nuked, and that’s exactly how it feels. Throwing long, narrow darts. Somehow the overriding feedback is simply that you just ripped a ball like a grown ass man, and needed no help in doing so.

Keep in mind that I loved my old irons, had them for years and figured the only way I would upgrade would be to pick up a newer iteration of the same line. After that first range session, while I was still on shaky ground about the one length concept in general, I was all in on the feel of these irons. Maybe they’re just making clubs that much better these days? Maybe, but I’ve hit newer clubs before and never had this vibe. Maybe I’m just excited about new clubs? Well of course, I’m not dead inside, but please note that the novelty has yet to wear off on feel and we are well past the usual half-life of a new club buzz.

On The Course

Let’s get to the moral of the story, cuz I can see you nodding off. The only way to wrap this up into one package is to throw all the ingredients into the on-course experience, which is what I’ve been doing for the past three months.

Like many things in life, what you first expect to struggle with turns out to be a piece of cake, and what you think will be easy street is a swift kick in the nuts. That’s a bit dramatic for a set of irons, but bear with me:

  • First swing with the 5 iron had me saying “holy bejeezus this is the biggest no brainer in the history of golf. I have a roided up 5 iron that is the same length as my 7 iron. This is only goodness.”
  • First swing with the pitching wedge had me saying “why in the flying f-ckdom would anyone want a wedge to be as long as a 7 iron? Isn’t the whole reason everyone hits their short irons better because they’re short? Someone dies tonight.”
  • All swings in the first round besides the 6,7, and 8 are weird, because the club sets up so strange to the eye.
  • Only a few setups/swings in the second round are weird, and now it’s only 9 through gap wedge that cause slight seizure-like symptoms. Oddly enough, however, I’m more excited to lash away with the high irons, they feel so damn sweet at impact when done properly. The 5 is just a normal club now, just a worker bee. The 8, 9, and PW are rockstars, can’t wait to lace one into the green. Beautiful high flight, tons of spin when they land (maybe fresh clubface plays a role in that), feel like an artist when it all clicks. Gap wedge still a bit of a different beast, not sure how I’m feeling there.
  • Third round – copacetic. Nothing’s weird in full-swing land. I’m absolutely comfortable over each shot and excited as hell to hit every one. In fact, this level of excitement is a new thing – it’s new club buzz paired with “this is sick” buzz. I don’t know jack about my swing plane, but I do know that now I just get up to every shot with the exact same stance and I never would have guessed how money that is. Again, don’t worry about the swing plane noise, I’m talking about just simplifying the brain when you get over the ball. I just setup the exact same way every damn time, maybe move the ball back or forward in the stance a smidge. I was never feeling belabored doing it the old way, but man what a difference it is now.
  • I said full-swing land. Half shots are still weird, because it’s real hard to convince yourself that a long-ass wedge isn’t gonna blast a ball 100 yards on a 50 yard shot. Well, it isn’t, and a few times you’ll hit the correct shot and know that it’s still the same game, but by far my biggest number of mishaps have been from 100 and in.
  • Oy, chipping with longer clubs seems like a weird call. Oddly enough, the sensation is less odd than with the aforementioned half shots, and it doesn’t take long at all to get comfortable with it. Once comfortable after a round or two, it quickly escalates to a revelation: I can chip with any club I want, based on desired trajectory, and absolutely nothing else changes. Holy shit! Let that sink in.
  • After some great rounds with these clubs that feel like ninja player’s irons, in hindsight I have to acknowledge that the performance definitely has game-improvement DNA all over it. I haven’t really tried to ‘work’ the ball with them, but that’s because every damn shot I hit goes straight and that’s fun enough. When I find myself under a tree, I can still pull off the hooded 5 or 6 iron, but it does fly a bit higher than my old one. More importantly, when I wince a bit at impact, wondering where that ball might be headed, it always seems to be flying on its basic intended path. I’ve had my share of cool tiny draws and a few more not-as-cool tiny fades, but when I look back I can’t remember any complete wacko shots on the course. Perhaps my concept of game-improvement “feel” is outdated – I just know that these things feel so much more crisp than any other GI club I’ve hit so I’m surprised to realize this.

Okay, enough of the dreamy stuff. These clubs have a lot going for them, and so far I’ve only come across two items worth noting from the dark side:

  • These irons all perform great when struck well, and pretty damn good when struck “meh”. The 5 iron, however – if I put a really pisspoor swing on it, it can have a nasty slice. I’ve only done this on the range for whatever reason, maybe my attention span gets even shorter (if that’s possible). Anyway, completely different category of shot than the other six irons in the set. I bet there’s a reason for it, like trying to get the distance out of a shorter club is really pushing the envelope of launch conditions, etc. at the 5 iron’s place in the spectrum, so a swing that is not up to snuff is going to be punished. I should say that this banana ball is rare, but it is one that I have not seen/felt even anything close to with the other clubs in the set.
  • I told you the high irons hit it high, and I’ve grown to dig the trajectory. However, there does seem to be a fine line. I’ve had a few times where I’ve gotten a little scoopy on an approach shot with the gap wedge and a straight up skyball has been the result, one that lands 20 yards short and seems almost laughable. Again, keep in mind that I can suck with the best of them, so I’m not blaming the club, I’m just saying that I’ve never hit a shot as straight-in-the-air-high as this shot I’m describing. So it remains that the gap wedge is a bit of a different beast for me, so much so that I do most of my half shots with the pitching wedge (used to be a gap wedge guy). I’m still wondering if I need to move the ball way back in my stance, or if that is incorrect because they are all the same length, etc. I need a doctor.

*To be fair to the gap wedge, I now use it out of the sand and my SW is permanently retired… it’s too damn short!

Bottom Line

If you can’t tell, I love these irons. I seem to be sold on the single length concept, because I am committed to playing these irons from here on out. That’s saying a lot, because we all know that messing around with your gear setup to this degree is serious business; I am essentially blowing up my whole deal. But I am all in.

The transition to single length is just not as big of a deal as you might expect, and the upside is significant. The length differential is only an inch or two, so it doesn’t take long to digest once you’ve embraced your new reality. Regarding my game, the quality of shots I am hitting as a result of the switch is far outweighing any misgivings I may still harbor about the half-shot situation. Furthermore, I think with more play I will only get more locked in with these clubs – full swing, half swing, what have you, so really I don’t see any potential pitfalls in making the switch. It’s worth noting – I’ve tried to hit my old 9 iron a few times and it’s skull city… club’s too short, I’m used to that one length now. I’m sure if I were to switch back to variable length I would adjust in no time – ultimately I’d bet a transition in either direction is easier than you might think. But stepping up to the ball and making the same swing every time… gotdamned lovely.

Anyway, while I think the single length concept is a legitimate one, the particular feel of these Cobra ONE Length irons has me hooked regardless. These things rock. Cobra has definitely executed on the concept. If you are adventurous enough to give them a try, just keep in mind that your old assumptions and your first impressions ain’t worth jack.

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