Long gone are the days when the only junior golf clubs available were old adult-sized heads jammed onto the ends of sawed off shafts. The drive to make golf more accessible and more fun for juniors has attained a new degree of sophistication with the 2017 release of the Cobra KING F7 Junior Driver. Not only does this driver match its grown-up counterpart F7 and F7+ drivers in terms of club design, it also shares a little space-aged secret in the grip.
More on that shortly.
Cobra's KING series of clubs, named after the one and only Arnold Palmer, has been a huge success on professional tours and at local municipal courses alike. The 2017 KING F7+ driver, tested here ($399), features a 340cc head with a matte black finish, three interchangeable sole weights, and adjustability from 8 to 11 degrees, with three different lofts of draw options (eight total adjustment options). The F7 Driver has all the same bells and whistles in a larger 360cc clubhead.
But it's the COBRA CONNECT feature that sets the new KING line of drivers apart, including the Junior Driver. COBRA CONNECT, an ultra light-weight sensor powered by Arccos Golf, is embedded in the butt-end of the grip and syncs with your smartphone (via a free app) to track the distance and accuracy of every drive. The Arccos app contains GPS information on 40,000 golf courses to allow you to compare performance with your past rounds as well as other users of the app.
This is where the possibilities really explode for parents and kids who want to golf together. I've yet to find a kid who isn't enamored of his or her phone. Tell kids they can track their drives on their phones, and they'll be sold. Take the entire family out, armed with KING F7, KING F7 Junior, and Ladies F7 ($349) Drivers (all with COBRA CONNECT technology), and you might just have your best day ever on the links, no matter how you shoot.
Playing the Cobra KING F7+ and KING Junior drivers
The KING Junior Drivers ($249) come in three different lofts and shaft lengths, depending on the age and height of your child. Because kids tend to keep growing, Cobra also allows for one free shaft upgrade as length and flex requirements change.
Just like the F7 and F7+ Drivers, the Junior Driver has three interchangeable weights in the sole. In both the junior and adult models, the heavier weight can be put in the front to promote lower ball flight and more roll, in the back to promote more spin and higher ball flight, or in the heel to promote a draw.
My son and I took our matching drivers to the practice tee to test out. Immediately I saw for myself that the KING F7+ is, in the words of PGA Professional Dave Huber (Lake of the Woods Golf Course, Mahomet, Illinois), "a better mousetrap." By this, Huber was referring to the overall feel and power of the new F7+. The F6+ model I tested and played for a while last year was very good, and very long, but lacked the exquisite feedback of the F7+. The power of the F7+ also seemed to be amped up: several swings that caught the ball directly on the sweetspot sent the practice balls out in to the brush beyond the end of the range (approximately 285 yards away).
My son's F7 Junior delivered solid power for him, too, though after a winter of not playing much, he struggled to make solid contact. And this is where the F7 Junior could use a little fine-tuning: on the second swing, my son clanked one off the toe of the club, which resulted in a fairly significant chipping of the paint job. A few minutes later, a swing at a ball teed a bit too high left a permanent scuff on the crown of the club. (There were some tears of frustration at this point.)
And, in fact, a couple of my own swings with the F7+ resulted in contact high on the face, and a couple of corresponding small nicks in the paint where the face meets the crown. It seems like I haven't tested a driver so susceptible to "idiot marks" for quite some time now, so one worries about the long-term durability of the paint job. (Of course, if you consistently hit the ball in the center of the clubface, you won't have to worry.)
Cobra KING F7+ and Junior Drivers: The verdict
My son was indescribably excited when his "mini-me" version of the King F7 arrived, and he immediately downloaded the Arccos app onto his phone. We haven't had a chance to take both clubs out to the course to play a round yet, but he is chomping on the bit to do so, despite his troubles on the range.
I'm not sure what you call this technology-aided enthusiasm for golf. But I'm going to call it "priceless."
For more information, visit cobragolf.com