Game-changing equipment doesn't come around very often but Cobra's new CobraCONNECT grip stands out as a potential game-changer.
CobraConnect was launched alongside the brand's 2017 product range and while shot tracking's been around for a few years, in the past to access shot data you've had to install expensive tags in the grips of your clubs.
Cobra have simplified the shot tracking process by teaming up with shot tracking experts Arccos to create the CobraConnect grip, which comes with an electronic chip that records every drive.
The device lets you review your stats post round to determine longest drive, average driving distance and number of fairways hit.
The grip is available on the new Cobra King F7+, King F7 and King LTD Black driver and everything comes integrated and installed, so all you need do is download the Arccos/Cobra app.
Cobra are so into the idea they are creating loads of their own content for the app too. As you play they'll monitor every drive hit and look for trends of where you most often hit your driver and offer tips of how to find the fairway more often.
They will also offer advice on how best to set your driver up for your particular shot pattern and swing speed etc.
A handful of lucky Today's Golfer readers were among the first golfers in the world to trial the CobraCONNECT grip and put its GPS, driver tracking and analytics to the test we caught up with them to find out how they are finding the revolutionary technology.
Our TG testers: Andy Hoskins (16 h'cap), Jason Grech (8 h'cp), Kieran Moody (8 h'cp), Matthew Evans (11 h'cap), Mike Pyett (13 h'cp), Simon Croft (12 h'cp), Simon Barnes (22 h'cap), Jack Bambridge (8 h'cap).
How easy did you find the installation of the grip and chip?
AH: My local American golf kindly fitted the grip and chip for me free of charge. They used a little bit of grease to get the clip slotted in correctly.
JB: I got my local pro to fit the grip and then fitting the chip with the instructions was easy and didn't take long at all.
JG: I had the grip fitted at my local American Golf and then followed the instructions to pop the chip in, which was really easy.
KM: The instructions were very clear and helped make it easy enough for anyone to fit the chip.
ME: The grip was very easy, I just took it to my local driving range and on it went but the chip was hard work. I finally managed to get it in with a lot of brute force.
MP: The grip was easy to fit but the chip was a little tricky at first, it is a tight fit.
SB: Very easy. My club's professional shop fitted the grip and it took me a few minutes to pop the chip in back at home.
SC: I got my local shop to put the grip on for me and was easily able to insert the chip myself.
Did the device pair easily with the App?
AH: Yes, it paired the first time I opened the app it had located my clubs chip and was ready to start the alignment process.
JB: Yes, they paired first time and the connection between the two was good, better than the connection between my phone and GPS watch.
JG: Yes, it paired with my phone fine and I was really impressed with how quickly it started working, my first drive of the day was picked up.
KM: Again this was a really simple and easy process, much easier than I thought it was going to be.
ME: The devise was very easy to pair and did so within seconds.
MP: Yes, no problem at all.
SB: Yes, very easily.
SC: I had some teething problems at first because my phone wasn't pairing and the app kept refreshing itself but once I had uninstalled and reinstalled the app it worked fine.
What happened when you took it out on to the course for the first time?
AH: Excitement, I was looking forward to hitting that 1st tee shot and even though I pushed it slightly right it still gave me an accurate reading.
JB: I had my phone in the buggie and it picked up my drives straight away, it didn't take long to get to grips with.
JG: I didn't hit my driver on the first four holes which confused the advice slightly as it thought I was still playing the 1st. It worked well but I had to manually tell the device to change hole and manually tell it where my ball finished.
KM: At first it took a little bit of getting used to while working out what buttons needed to be pressed but after a few holes I quickly got the hang of it.
ME: The first time I used it, it found the course I was on and the GPS seemed very accurate. It took a couple of holes to get the hang of it but after that it was pretty easy.
MP: I was really pleased with how it picked drives up straight away but it did fail to register on one hole. The course information on the app for the Bedford Golf Club could do with being updated though as the 8th Hole is now a par 3 not a par 4.
* After Mike's feedback Cobra have told us they are planning to have all coursed mapped and up-to-date when the app launches officially at the end of January as it was only in testing during our reader test.
SB: I was really excited to try this as it was my first experience with a golf gadget of any kind - I've never used a GPS or a rangefinder before. The app regisgtered all of my drives the first time I took it out on the golf course, and it was brilliant to get a birds eye view of my shots and learn just how far I hit my drives.
SC: When I first started using the app on the course I again had a few software glitches with the app shutting down but after restarting my phone it worked well.
Is the system easy to use?
AH: In all honesty if it wasn't for interest in how long the drivers were going you wouldn't need to touch the phone until after the round and they can you do your analysis. Very easy and system knew each time you had completed a hole.
JB: It took me a couple of holes to get used to what I was doing on the first round, but after that it was really simple to use on the course and easy to access the stats afterwards.
JG: I didn't like having an iPhone in my pocket all round and fiddling about entering details, if it could be kept in my bag that would be great.
KM: The system is really easy to use once you've got the hang of it. I seem to have to press drive on every hole, as hard to trust it picking up my drives, as first time round it missed a few belters.
ME: I thought the app was really easy to use and was confident using it after a couple of holes.
MP: The system is very easy to use; you just have to remember to advance the app to the hole you're playing.
SB: Very easy. Some holes auto-advanced to the next and some I had to do manually, but it's really simple.
SC: Once working it was very easy, I left my phone in my pocket and didn't have to do anything else.
Did you find the measured yardages accurate?
AH: It was very accurate I was comparing it with my shot saver GPS and they gave very similar readings. In reality you don't need to carry both, but do consider phone battery life.
JB: Yes, the distance measurements stacked up against my GPS watch and I always rely on that.
JG: Distance was measured well but the course map was out of date.
KM: I think so; it was hard to tell as the day we played was very windy but on the whole I trusted the readings.
ME: I thought the yardage was very accurate, I compared it to my current GPS device and it was within a couple of yards every time. I was really impressed by it.
MP: Very accurate data, was impressed.
SB: As I said earlier, as I've never used a GPS before I didn't actually know the yardages I was capable of hitting. So it was fantastic to be able to see them on the App.
SC: The measured yardages seemed accurate in line with my usual distances and the measurements on my GPS watch.
What sort of statistics does the app give you after your round and did you find them useful?
AH: It was very useful as it gave me further insight into my driving and really helped me understand some analysis of my good and bad shots. Ability to see fairway dispersion and shots to handicap was extremely interesting.
Plus, it is always good to have those longest drives saved for the man points and stories in the bar after a round.
JB: The app tracks every drive you hit and I like the way it flashes up with a bird's-eye view overlaid on a GPS image of the hole. It is a good guide to have while out on the course.
JG: The after round stats are very useful and I'm sure they could improve your game. The Smart Distance is a particularly useful stat.
KM: I think the stats are really useful and after a few more rounds when have more data to give a proper picture of your drives that will be really good to have.
ME: Unfortunately, the app destroyed my battery life before I completed my round. Will ensure I'm 100% charged next time.
MP: Very useful to know the % of drives that miss the fairway left or right. For instance, over a few rounds you learn to adjust your aim to the right if you constantly miss a certain fairway left.
SC: As well as yardage, I got stats to show if I hit the fairway or went left / right which are useful stats to know that other devices don't give you.
SB: I found the missed fairways statistic really handy. My bad shot is a push, and it will be really interesting to see if this shot creeps in on the sames holes each week.
Would you recommend the #CobraConnect to a friend?
AH: Yes, it adds some great competition to a round, especially for those long driver contests and it allows you to create a golf social network/competition and give golf that extra twist.
JB: There are so many gadgets around it is difficult to know which ones to take out, but I would definitely recommend this as to have both shot tracking and GPS is great.
JG: Yes I would recommend the chip and grip. It was a great piece of kit, fun to use and good to see the driving stats. It would certainly be good for a group of friends who are competitive about their golf. I just had a connection issue and the course map was very old and non representative of the course now. I'm sure this could be easily sorted.
KM: I would definitely recommend CobraConnect , it is a useful device that doesn't affect the swing or any part of your game and acts as a very good rangefinder.
ME: I would most definitely recommend this CobraConnect app to any golfer of any level, it was great to see some in game stars!
MP: Yes, lots of things to like about the device.
SB: Definitely. I've been really impressed with this.
SC: In terms of ease of use and feedback I would certainly recommend it.
Cobra say there will be an option to upload all your stats and scores to a worldwide database in the near future – how would you feel about uploading your data to this?
AH: I would happily be involved and would be good to benchmark vs the rest of the world.
JB: I would be happy to share my data and think it could work really well among groups of golfers who play together regularly, would be great to see everyone go head to head.
JG: I'm sure uploading my data would be a fun thing to do, especially to compare with other golfers.
KM: I wouldn't mind uploading my data but I am only really interested in myself so not sure how much I would personally use it.
ME: I would personally love to upload stats and see how I compare to my competitors. It would give me an incentive to work on any areas of weakness.
MP: Sharing my data wouldn't worry me but id only be interested in my own stats.
SB: I wouldn't mind uploading my stats at all.
SC: Every golfer has a competitive side so being able to compare and beat others is always going to be a desirable feature.
Finally, overall experience with the grip and Arccos App?
AH: Negatives: I found having to have my phone in my pocket slightly annoying and it took some getting used too, also if you're aggressive with your practice swing the device can sometimes think it's your actual swing.
Positives: The app is easy to use and there is nothing really you have to do while on the course, the GPs readings were accurate and the phone became a very handy GPA device.
The app also gives you some really interesting stats are lots of fun and very interesting, would be great to see it come as standard in all clubs.
JB: Overall, it is a really good development. It ticks a lot of boxes and I would like to see it developed to have chips for other clubs in the bag as well.
JG: I didn't get the best from mine but I'll persist with it for a while. I think when working properly it'd be a great tool to have in the bag on all clubs.
KM: I am very happy with the app so far, its great as a rangefinder and very good at holding your stats. To start with it takes a bit of getting used to but once you have got into the swing of it, it really is quite simple. I'd be tempted to add to all my clubs given the chance.
ME: I think this is a fantastic app and a step into the future for amateur golf. It is great to track how you are doing and pinpoint what you need to work on. I don't use my driver on every hole so would love an upgrade to get it on every club.
MP: Generally, a good and useful aid to gain stats on direction and length of drives. If I'm playing serious golf in a competition I wouldn't use it as I'm only interested in yardages, I feel that to some extent all the gadgets and gizmos available for golfers can take your concentration off the game and your scores will suffer.
SB: I really enjoy using this grip, and will be interested to see how it can help me improve in the coming months. If the grips were available individually I would certainly put them on all of my existing clubs.
SC: Overall I see the connect system as a useful tool for measuring drive distance and accuracy. At the right price I can see this becoming very popular. If the sensors can be introduced for all clubs, then it could well be a big hit.