A long rambling post in defense of Cobra’s sort of silly Long Tom Two Wood

May 21, 2012

When I was in high school, my favorite club to hit was a beat-up Hogan two wood. I used it off the tee and off the fairway and I probably hit it more often than any other non-putter club in my bag with the exception of my pitching wedge.

And when I came back to the game after a ten year layoff in 1996, the first wood I purchased was a Callaway Big Bertha two wood. I might never have bought a titanium driver had I not broke the shaft off at the hosel about six weeks later.

The truth is, I’ve always liked low lofted fairway woods — and I still occasionally have trouble with big headed titanium drivers. (I want to hit down on them ever so slightly — according to the Trackman my “natural” driver swing delivers the clubface on at an angle of minus 1.2 degrees on impact, which is great for most clubs but awfully spinny for a driver. While I know how to correct this — tee the ball higher and move it more forward in my stance and swing more around my body — it doesn’t really feel right to me. I’m always liable to slip back into my bad habits, which produces acceptable shots but costs me 20 yards or more in distance.)

For a while, I carried a 12 degree Callaway Steelhead driver as a quasi-fairway wood — I could hit it fairly easily off the deck, and off the tee it performed like a steel driver. It wasn’t as long or as forgiving as a Ti driver, but it worked in a pinch. I filled out the set with a 17-degree four wood.

More recently I’ve carried a Cleveland HiBore 13 degree with a driver shaft (a Grafalloy Pro Launch Red at 44.5 inches) and a TaylorMade RBZ 13 degree (a very nice club, btw). I like having a shot when I’ve got 270 to go to get home in two on a par five. I don’t often make it, but hey — even a blind pig sometimes.

But despite my preference for low lofted fairways, I was skeptical about Cobra’s Long Tom two wood. I’d tried the 48-inch driver. I didn’t like it. Far too light for me, and the “four foot of shaft” seemed ridiculous. Even when I connected with it , I didn’t feel like I gained much — I got better results with almost every other driver I tested.

And on paper, I hate the Long Tom two wood. Basically, it’s a 12.5 degree driver on a very lightweight 45-inch shaft, with a 240 cubic centimeter clubhead (which is about the size of the original Big Bertha driver head). The total clubweight is only about 270 grams. I figured I’d have the same sort of problems with it that I had with the driver.

But we don’t do these things on paper.

I’ve played 36 holes with the Long Tom two this weekend, and I’m not sending it back to Cobra.

I don’t want to get hung up on distance numbers, but I’ve tracked the shots I’ve hit with it this weekend — and I’m killing it. Off most appropriate tees I’ve hit two balls, one with the Cobra and the second with my Titleist 910 D3 (which actually has a slighter shorter shaft). And the Titlleist is longer — when I remember my cues and put my topspin forehand swing on it. But not by much.

As always, your results will vary, and I should say it’s been nice and hot and dry here, and the fairways are giving more roll than usual, but I’m averaging more than 270 yards off the tee with the Long Tom. I hit a couple in the 290 range, and according to the Garmin GPS, one sneaked just over 300 yards. With a two wood!

Well, not really. With a club that’s being marketed as a two wood. With a super lightweight, high-lofted, (relatively) small headed driver. That you really can hit off the deck.

I got within 20 yards of our 600 yard par five with two Long Tom shots today. Just saying. I smote a few more on the range. For whatever reason, Cobra’s engineering or my innate golf superpowers, I find it no harder to hit than your average fairway wood.

Not that this is a miracle club. It’s very easy for me to turn it over and hit a going hook, and I imagine if I step on it it could get away from me awfully fast. I do have to remember to keep my tempo smooth and to finish my backswing.

But the best thing about the club for me is that I can hit it with my “natural swing” — the one that doesn’t work so well for the driver. A slightly descending blow gives me about an 11-degree launch angle, and while I didn’t have a radar monitor on the course today (and I don’t really trust any of them other than the Trackman anyway) I’d guess that I pick up a couple of miles per hour of clubhead speed with the Long Tom. Anyway, I’ve picked up about 30 yards of distance over the three wood I was carrying.

No kidding. 30 yards. Ka-pow.

Which brings up an interesting question — I like the three wood I’m carrying. I feel pretty good hitting it off the deck. And I still want to carry a driver — though I’m thinking that I’ll trade out the reliable D3 for a monster that I’ll only hit occasionally — I used a TaylorMade RBZ with a telephone pole-stiff Oban in a recent scramble, it made me tired to swing it but I did manage a couple of huge drives. (We were ten feet off the front of the green on a 339-yard par four. And yes, we managed to make par. Barely.)

So what I’m thinking is that I’ll carry a driver, the Long Tom, a three wood, a four wood, a 19 degree hybrid, 4-PW, a 52 degree wedge and a 58 degree wedge. And the putter.

Dave Pelz and others will tell you that’s a sucky array, and they’d be right considering that there’s considerable overlap between the driver and the two, the two and the three, the three and the four, the four and the hybrid, and the hybrid and my four iron. I could very easily take out the three wood, and some would argue I should drop the driver too. Give me 208 yards to the hole and I’ll consider the hybrid, the four iron and the five iron. I agree that that complicates things.

But their advice would be to add some wedges. But I don’t want to. I can lay the 58 open and play the same shot as a 60 degree wedge, and I’ve basically used the same wedge set-up since I was a kid. (Only then, the 52-degree wasn’t a gap wedge, it was a pitching wedge.) I don’t need a 55 degree wedge or a 62 degree wedge. Sorry , Mr. Pelz, I just don’t.

What I need is to be able to hit a high cut like I used to.

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