|Orka Kii SD (square) driver|
January 1, 2008 for most golfers is not only a day for a guaranteed hangover after ushering in the New Year, it could also signal the start of a further headache for those still considering using a non-conforming driver in club competitions.
From midnight on December 31, it's up to you to ensure that the driver in your bag conforms to the latest R&A rules of flexibility in the clubface by checking both the conforming and non-conforming lists published by the St Andrews-based golf law-makers. If you're still unsure, check-out the revealing FAQs (frequently asked questions).
Having been introduced to the King Cobra SS 430 Unlimited in January 2003 I have been reluctant to ignore its guaranteed resilience as part of my golf game.
From time to time, despite all the latest driver technology, I return to it in the darkest corner of my garage for the occasional competition outing, knowing it wouldn't let me down.
However, with its 0.83 COR (its unit of flexibility in the face) being outlawed from 2008 in favour of 0.81 maximum, it was headed for the scrap heap until club-maker John Whitehead gave it a new lease of life.
I was due to be fitted for the latest square-head Orka Kii SD driver for a club review and he asked me to bring a selection of other driver brands I felt comfortable with, so he could compare shafts which delivered the best performance for my swing.
But according to his ball-flight simulator, the distinctive maroon-coloured Graphite Design Tour 55 shaft in the original SS460, produced my optimum distance (averaging around 210 yards) and ball flight (15-16 degree trajectory).
He had no hesitation in suggesting he took out the Cobra shaft, trimmed it to just over 42.5 inches - it feels similar to a typical 3-wood - and fitted it to the Orka Kii SD head.
I have since used this new-style 'hybrid' in three rounds and it has delivered some of my most accurate driving performances on the past 12 months.
The combination of regular flex/mid kick point and forgiving Orka face/11 degree loft, has created a club I can rely on both from off the tee and even from the fairway.
It might not always hit the ball as far as some of the long-shafted modern drivers, but my comfort with it helps deliver and consistent ball strike into the fairway off the tee. It also enables me to reproduce my old Cobra party-piece of clipping the ball off the turf solidly with a fade into long par-4s.
Said John: "Your old Cobra shaft has been fitted for best performance and is now at a length best suited to your swing.
"While it's shorter than it was with the old Cobra head in place, I’ve not come down on length as much as I would normally, because I discovered on the simulator that you’ve got a very steady and constant swing and unlike many golfers, you can also handle the modern lengthier drivers.
"I have also fitted a new grip swing weighted to match that of the old Cobra."
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