By James Achenbach, Golfweek
The name Baffler goes back nearly 40 years. Tom Crow, founder of Cobra Golf, envisioned a utility club that could be hit from virtually any kind of lie – including heavy grass, thin grass, tight lies, sand or mud.
The Baffler, introduced in 1974, featured a clubhead with oversized dual rails and an extraordinary amount of weight in the sole. It was designed first and foremost to get the ball up in the air.
In his amateur days, future PGA Champion and Ryder Cup captain Paul Azinger liked to entertain his fellow players by placing a ball on a cart path and taking a full swing with a Baffler. Azinger’s shot, of course, would achieve a perfect trajectory.
Over the years, Baffler took several different shapes. Never before, though, has Cobra staged a coming-out party as grandiose as the one scheduled for the 2014 Baffler XL.
What will be offered with the Baffler XL name? Just about everything: an iron and hybrid Combo Set, a full set of irons, an array of fairway woods and hybrids, plus a driver. These clubs could fit nicely in the game-enhancement category, although such a description does not do justice to the versatility behind the Baffler XL family.
The centerpiece of the XL line is the Combo Set, according to Jose Miraflor, Cobra’s director of product marketing.
“We did three consumer focus groups, and the older golfers didn’t want a transition set with hybrid irons that look goofy," he said. "They wanted real hybrids. A hybrid is better than a goofy looking iron every time.”
The irons have an oversized face with moderate offset. They also have flexible faces, helping to create more ball velocity off the clubhead, according to Cobra.
One of the watch words here is forgiveness, which is created through the use of a deep undercut cavity that is designed to significantly raise the MOI (resistance to twisting).
A progressive offset design is intended to help most golfers correct their slices and high fades. Furthermore, the original Baffler twin rails are carried over to the irons as well as the fairway woods and hybrids.
With the exception of the irons, all the new Baffler products (Combo Set, fairway woods, hybrids and driver) will be sold in men’s and women’s versions. The availability date at retail is Nov. 15.
The Baffler XL iron set will be available with steel ($499) or graphite ($599) shafts and will be sold with eight clubs (4-GW).
The XL Combo Set will sell for $599 with steel shafts and $699 with graphite shafts. The set will include 4 through 6 hybrids, 7-PW irons, plus a gap wedge.
The Baffler XL fairway woods and hybrids contain thin, high-strength steel faces, aimed at generating more ball speed. In addition, a generous amount of tungsten can be found in the perimeter of the clubhead – lowering the center of gravity and adding to the forgiveness.
Four fairway woods will be sold (3+, 3, 5, 7). The price is $179 each. Six Baffler XL hybrids are included in the line (2-7) at $159 apiece.
Graphite shafts for all the new XL clubs are slightly heavier in stiff flexes and lighter in regular and lite flexes. Grips are Cobra Lamkin R.E.L.
Recognized for its considerable experience designing offset drivers, Cobra continues that heritage with the new Baffler XL model. It has a bigger face than any Cobra before it – offset or non-offset.
“The new driver has a larger area for more trampoline effect,” Miraflor said. “We designed it so that the largest part of the area is above the center of gravity. What this means is that you have a better opportunity to make contact above the CG, which should give you more launch, less spin and more speed.”
Driver lofts are 9.5, 10.5 and 11.5 degree. The cost is $249.
The distinctive finish on all the Baffler XL clubs is called Legion Blue. Add it all together – cosmetics and performance – and Baffler XL is a comprehensive addition to the venerable Baffler name.