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Bag Drop: Cobra's Optica SL Putters: Star Wars on the Putting Green


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By Jack Waddell via TheSandTrap.com
With the introduction of its Optica SL putter, Cobra Golf hopes its future's so bright you'll have to wear shades.

bd_title.gifIt had to happen sooner or later. Golf design has advanced so far it has entered into the realm of science fiction. Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda have apparently conspired with Cobra Golf to design a putter that is half golf club, half light saber. Armed with the new Cobra Optica SL putter, you'll have to tell your foursome to stand back and watch out. You are a Jedi knight about to light it up on the putting green.



I've played golf an awful long time. And during that time I've seen some awfully strange putters. But Cobra's latest design just proves no matter how long you hang around, you ain't seen nothing yet. Where do I begin?

Long Ago in a Galaxy Far, Far Away
Luke Skywalker was a revolutionary and so, too, I guess, is Cobra Golf. Let's start with the most obvious innovation. This putter has lights. Not just any lights, but "TRUGLO Fiber Optics" that show up as a line of illuminated green dots on the sightline of the high MOI mallet head. Something like you'd find on the control panel of a rebel starfighter.



According to Jeff Harmet, Cobra's president, "we've addressed and improved every aspect of putter design and performance so that, coupled with the TRUGLO's fiber optic technology, golfers can line up and knock down more putts from anywhere on the green."



Cobra also claims that the lights "result in the brightest aiming points in the industry to deliver greater sight contrast for more accurate alignment." I guess they may be right as nobody else has thought to install lights in a putter.



Thinking lights must mean this thing also has batteries, I called Cobra to find out if this putter is USGA approved (it is) and where the batteries go. Turns out there aren't any.



cobra_optica_putters.jpg
With a Darth Vader helmet for a body and a Saturn ring, the Optica SL looks straight out of Lucasfilm Studios



What happens is the alignment dots soak up sunlight, amplify it, and transmit it through the fiber optics to reflect back a bright light. Apparently it's the same technology used in bow hunting sights. Night-time golfers are out of luck: no light in, no light out.



All in all, this design is pretty creative. I mean, what do you do to improve on the Odyssey Two-Ball putter alignment, a feature that made Two-Balls the hottest selling putter line in the last decade? All kidding aside, if you need an alignment aid, and you really pay attention to it, then the Cobra Optica SL putters may become your light saber of choice.



Personally, I can't wait for Cobra spokesman David Feherty to do a commercial promoting the Optica SL. Will he dress up as Darth Maul or Princess Leia?



Back to Earth
As innovative (or whacky) as the fiber optic lights are, there are some solid design features inherent in this putter. The Optica SL is a high moment of inertia (MOI) putter. The body is made of forged aluminum with a milled face that should yield a pleasingly soft feel. The matte black body cap is an injected urethane and the ring that outlines the back is forged stainless steel. All this moves the center of gravity low and back to produce high MOI, or resistance to twisting. In practical terms, high MOI yields a forgiving putter.



The Optica SL will be available in two models: a heel-shafted mallet (SL-01) and a center-shaft (SL-02). Both feature Winn V17 grips and True Temper shafts. It will be available in 34" and 35" for righties, 35" for lefties.



While both models will have 3° of loft, interestingly the heel-shafted version has a slightly flatter lie - 69° versus 71° for the center-shafted model. Based on the look, I'm guessing both are face balanced.



Cobra launched the Optica SL just last week and said it would begin shipping in May so you can expect to see the real thing in a store near you sometime soon. Suggested retail price is $199.



In the End
When first introduced, the Ping Anser was thought to be a pretty weird-looking putter. Forty years later the Anser and the putters it has inspired are still going strong. So who's to say that the current crop of big-MOI mallets won't one day rule the putting universe? And maybe, just maybe, the Cobra Optica is the start of a bunch of light-em-up putters that forever vanquishes the dark side of three putts.



May the Force be with you.

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