In the latest instalment of Tech Talk, National Club Golfer equipment editor James Savage goes deep on the CNC milled face on Cobra’s King F8 driver.
A milled driver face? Yes, we’ve been introduced to a fair amount of technology as the top equipment manufacturers launched their new products for 2018.
It’s actually quite hard to believe that we are still seeing new things considering the USGA/R&A rules around gear – particularly drivers.
They can’t be too big or have faces which allow the ball to ‘trampoline’ too much so there is not a HUGE amount brands can do to make the ball go further.
Brands have to think about how they can make drivers more consistent, perform better on mis-hits or move faster through the air.
And often the end result of these things is that a driver will become longer because it it offering more distance, more often.
We’ve tested most of the new drivers which are coming to market in 2018 and while they do offer improvements, there’s not one which can guarantee a massive distance gain when struck out of the middle compare to the product it is replacing.
And in the milled driver face of their King F8 we see something completely new.
It’s something we have seen on wedges and putters but never on a driver.
So what is the theory behind a milled driver face? Why is it such a big deal? And how is it going to help us play better golf?
For the latest instalment of Tech Talk we caught up Tom Olsavsky Cobra’s VP of golf club R&D to get the lowdown.
Credit: National Club Golfer
When did the idea for a CNC milled driver face for the King F8 come about?
“Our R&D team was thinking about a milled driver face several years ago, and it took us over two-and-a-half years to perfect it before we could go into production.
“We knew that it would provide improvements in consistency and precisions, but would be costly to implement. So most of the effort was spent on improving processes to allow us to produce high volumes of clubheads.”
Why hadn’t a milled driver face been used before?
“Mostly due to the high cost. Additionally, the prices in the industry have risen slightly on drivers, but we worked really hard to improve our processes and be more efficient in everything we do.”
What was the main issue with welding and polishing the face of a driver?
“The main issues are always consistency of the structure since it affects everything from the weight, sound, feel, durability, face resilience as well as loft, face angle and face radii (bulge and roll).
“Since most casting processes have some variability, especially titanium drivers castings, we have to maintain a tight process control to fill all these needs.
“Everyone has a precision process to make the faceplate, but without milling it after being welded into a head, there is still lots of variability in the final steps to remove the weld.”
How and why is a milled driver face better?
“A CNC milled face is better because it improves the precision and consistency of the structure to a level than has never been achieved in a titanium driver.”
What sort of performance benefits might a handicap golfer notice?
“The CNC milling allows us to have tighter tolerances so we can make a thinner face and still be within the USGA and R&A limits.
“Most other manufacturers have to make a wider tolerance just to be legal, which lowers their average CT (elasticity of the clubface) slightly.”
Does the milled driver face have a direct impact on spin rates on off-centre hits?
“No, the USGA and R&A have very tight controls over surface roughness on all clubs, and due to the fairly low angles of driver impacts (under 20° impact loft), the tangential forces that produce spin changes are too low to affect spin rates.”
Does the milled driver face produce better sound and feel? If so, how?
“No changes here, and all of our driver structures are designed to sound great both with softer golf balls preferred by better players as well as the harder golf balls found on most ranges.”
Is the process longer from a production point of view?
“The CNC milling takes longer per head than the traditional grinding and polishing processes.”
There’s a circle in the middle – is that to show golfers where to hit the ball?
“Yes! We know that golfers need all the help they can get!”
The face seems to retain the ball imprint for a bit longer, how does that happen and was that intentional?
“One of the benefits of CNC milling is that it creates a much more consistent surface quality.
“Therefore a polished face, like our King F7, is slightly less reflective and diffuses the ball imprint slightly.
“With the King F8’s CNC milled face, the contrast between the slightly reflective face and the less reflective ball cover material debris is more apparent.
“Not intentional but a nice by-product of the more precise face.”