According to Cobra, the "ZL" in the name of the Cobra ZL driver signifies "Zero Limits." When Cobra decided to develop a new driver for 2010, it set out with the express purpose of building a club that would be the longest in the company's 36-year history. Cobra wanted a game-changer, and its design engineers approached their task with a "zero limits" attitude. According to Cobra's Principal Design Lead Engineer, the design team "set out to design the best-performing and sounding driver without regard to arbitrary trends or design constraints that exist in the current golf market." Zero Limits indeed.
The engineers built several design features into the Cobra ZL driver in order to help the club accomplish its lofty goal. The titanium face is thinner than that of the company's previous drivers and the sweet spot has been enlarged. Removable swing weight screws allow a competent club fitter to custom-reposition the club head's weighting so that it suits the individual golfer. A user-adjustable hosel permits the owner to use a closed, open or neutral setting to change the face angle in order to promote a draw, fade, or straight ball flight.
Designed to benefit avid recreational golfers who are seeking maximum distance, the Cobra ZL driver uses what Cobra calls "Advanced Multi-Material Construction" and "Adjustable Flight Technology." The company claims that this driver is the most innovative, best-performing driver it has ever made.
It's available in 8.5-, 9.5-, 10.5- and 11.5-degree lofts. I tested the 10.5-degree version with a regular flex Aldila VooDoo shaft, which is designed to promote a low to mid launch angle and reduce driver spin.
The first thing I noticed about the club was its looks. I thought the Cobra ZL driver was a great-looking club: black-on-black has always appealed to the traditionalist in me.
If you've owned a Cobra driver from the last ten years or so (or you've played with someone who used one), you'll understand my next concern. Previous Cobra drivers - even my own King Cobra Speed LD is guilty to a certain extent - have had a loud, funky sound on impact. In some cases the sound is odd enough to put me right off, even if the driver produced great hits. Fortunately, the company seems to have figured out the solution to the sound problem with the Cobra ZL driver. Its sound on impact is a lot more subdued, solid and satisfying than the loud ringing sound Cobra drivers used to have. It's a huge improvement.
Moving on to performance, the Cobra ZL driver uses what Cobra calls "Multi-Material Construction" - a titanium body and face, a carbon-fiber crown and sole, and a swing weight screw. The combination is intended to provide the optimal center of gravity, a high Moment of Inertia and the optimal amount of spin for enhanced control, a higher ball launch and maximum distance. I thought the club head felt solid and stable throughout the swing. Overall, the ball flight was pleasingly high but not excessively so.
Cobra says the driver's "9 Point Face Technology"TM creates 9 points spread across the club face to create a huge sweet spot for higher ball velocities, even on off-center hits. I thought the face did feel pretty "hot" at impact, and I did see some significant distance improvement over my older King Cobra Speed LD driver.
To me, the most interesting aspect of the Cobra ZL driver was its "Adjustable Face Technology." I'm something of a purist, and I've never really taken to adjustable golf clubs. After all, once you start a round you're not allowed to make any adjustments anyway. But, I wanted to see how well this one worked, so I played around with the different settings of the adjustable hosel. Turns out it was pretty easy to use, and it works. If you're playing a course with a lot of dogleg-lefts (or you constantly fight a slice), just set the hosel closed to promote a draw. You can also adjust the face to for a fade or a straight ball flight.
The Bottom Line: The Cobra ZL driver is a state-of-the-art adjustable driver that looks good at address, doesn't give you that awful "ting" at impact, has nice distance and allows you to set the face angle according to the ball flight you want. Is it the longest-ever Cobra driver? I don't know. But it seemed long enough to me.