Steve Carroll found salvation with an off-the-shelf driver. Now he’s going down the rabbit hole to see if Cobra can bring some consistency to his game

Hank Haney – Tiger Woods’ famous coach – once wrote if you are a player that tends to hit a hook you could “count yourself fortunate”.

I honestly have no idea what he’s talking about. I’ve oscillated between curve and snap off the tee for years and it’s caused me little but misery.

I’ve had lessons. I’ve changed my grip. I’ve altered face and path. Occasionally, I’ve found relief. But it’s never lasted long. Habits are strong [much like that grip].

After finally reaching the promised land of single figures in 2018, I celebrated by failing to hit my handicap for two years.

There are only so many 22-point Stableford hauls you can take, and only so many ducks that don’t get more than a yard off the floor, before you just take the big dog out of the bag completely.

I wondered if I’d ever hit a straight drive again. Then I saw it, the Cobra Speedzone – a club that, for the hooker at least, is a revelation.

Maybe it’s illusory but, to my eyes, it seemed like it was slightly open at address. Manna from heaven.

Let me explain. If I grab a selection of drivers, they all look to me like they’re harbouring a bit of draw bias. Understandable really, a quick look at instruction videos will show you that many handicappers struggle with a slice.

But the last thing a player with a propensity to be crooked wants is to be looking down at address and seeing the clubface pointing left. It doesn’t fill the brain with confidence.

The Speedzone looked neutral, at worst, and in my hands – both on a launch monitor and on the course – it has been revelatory.

Look, do I still hook the ball from time to time? Yes. I wouldn’t insult your intelligence by passing any golf club off as some sort of magic wand and you wouldn’t believe me either.

However, these have become more aberrations rather than the norm. I can launch this driver and I can hit it straight.

Since I bought it last August, a standard 10.5 degrees with a regular shaft, I’ve won a board competition after 15 years of trying at my club and my WHS index has fallen from a high of 11.2 to 8.0.

All because I can finally get the ball in play.

So I was intrigued when Cobra launched their new range of clubs – Radspeed, Tour MIM and Forged TEC at the start of this year. Could I be greedy and get more out of their new Radspeed driver, and if that club could have such an impact would that be true across the range?

With Cobra’s help, we’re embarking on a little bit of an experiment. If I’m deficient in one area now it’s distance. We could all do with more yards, but I really could. I’m hitting a 5-iron where most of my peers are hitting 7 or 8.

Squeezing out extra yardage could be as impactful on my figures as hitting more fairways, and so I’m being fitted into the full Cobra family – driver through wedges – to see what kind of difference they can make.

I’ll bring you the results of the fitting in my next dispatch, and you can follow my progress throughout the season both in regular updates here and by following me on twitter at @SteveCarrollNCG

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Steve Carroll

A journalist for 23 years, Steve has been immersed in club golf for almost as long. A former captain and committee member, he has passed the Level 3 Rules of Golf exam with distinction having attended the national Tournament Administrators and Referee's Seminar. He has officiated at a host of high-profile tournaments, including Open Regional Qualifying and the PGA Fourball Championship. A member of NCG's Top 100s panel, Steve has a particular love of links golf and is frantically trying to restore his single-figure handicap.

Handicap: 10.9

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