IT'S not just the 40th birthday of (Sir) Ryan Joseph Giggs that is being celebrated at Golfmagic HQ today - for a golf club honouring the same anniversary is rightfully being heaped with praise.
Just as we've seen in the past from the world's greatest No.11 at the world's greatest football club - for many years the driver of Manchester United's midfield - the Cobra Baffler XL driver is also fast, accurate and always in control. It will even make you dribble and will see you tear the fairways apart again, and again.
The Baffler was first introduced to the game in 1974 and 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. The Baffler XL driver is therefore named for the 40th anniversary of the iconic name.
Over the years, Baffler has taken on several different shapes and sizes. Never before, though, has Cobra staged a coming-out party as grandiose as the one for the Baffler XL. Rightfully so. As Cobra say themselves, the Baffler XL is making golf easy - and from a recent testing session on the range and out on the course I'd have to say I agree.
On first look of the Baffler XL driver, the offset becomes noticeable - the whole Baffler XL family all falls into the game-improvement category and an offset design runs throughout the set to help correct slices. It's not too off-putting so there are no problems there. I've seen more appealing drivers on the shelves ahead of the 2014 season but it's certainly not one of the worst. I guess much of it depends on whether you're a fan of a Legion Blue colour.
In true Cobra Baffler style, there is also a pronounced sole rail to help get the ball in the air. Decent alignment aid on offer too with a lighter shade of blue in the middle of the Legion Blue crown.
But it's the ridiculously large face that will appeal most to the game improver. It's the largest face the company has ever designed - offset or non-offset. This e8 face is 5,000 sq mm to be precise and is 17% larger than the AMP Cell Offset driver, in addition to occupying a 21% increase effective face area.
The e9 face is by far the biggest asset of the Baffler XL driver because it helps get the ball airborne and creates those ideal high-launching, low-spinning flights. More of the face is also located above the low centre of gravity and this helps to project levels of optimised spin, consistent launch conditions and most importantly, greater distance.
This face also generates an extra bit of kick off the tee with an enhanced trampoline effect through impact. The standard 65g Baffler shaft in stiff was also doing the business, feeling stable throughout the swing and generally just working well for an average swing speed of just under the 100 mark like myself.
Sound of driver crashing against dimples isn't the best I've ever heard as it's quite loud but it's by no means off-putting or as tinny as I thought it would be.
Many high cappers among you will also be pleased to know this club is almost impossible to slice. A new high MOI sole combined with the offset design makes this driver incredibly easy to hit down the line by correcting slices, increasing stability and maintaining distance on those squiffy hits.
Of the 20 balls I hit on the range, two went right of my target line and six went left. The remaining 12 flew straight over my intended 200-yard marker.
Overall the Baffler XL driver was delivering me with above-average distance, around the 225-yard mark for carry and 245 yard total distance and effortless accuracy. Not the most pleasing sound at impact but who really cares when balls are flying high, long and straight. It's a high launching, low spinning driver at a very reasonable price point of £200.
Click here for Cobra Baffler XL driver owner reviews.