Cobra ZL Encore Review

Cobra ZL Encore (21)

50 Word or Less

Very solid driver. Built like a tank, but well balanced. Forgiving and responsive. Dark horse of the driver world.

Recommended For:

Average to above average golfer. Limited adjustability may take this club out of higher-handicap players’ hands if that is something they need.

Cobra ZL Encore (35)

Look

I always found Cobra gear to look very simple, plain, and traditional in the past. Generally, this is perfectly fine as long as the clubs work, right? Well insert Puma into Cobra Golf. With Puma’s integration into Cobra came a shot of flair that golfers were not used to seeing in their clubs. Though we had seen white drivers and putters out of Taylormade already, we had not seen what Cobra would offer in the Cobra ZL Encore.

The Cobra ZL Encore is offered in three main colors: black, white, and RED! Aside from the main color on the crown, the biggest attention grabber on the club is the carbon fiber sole. Let’s face it, carbon fiber looks sick on everything, right?! As far as the colors, the white is pretty basic, but definitely beautiful and grabs your attention. The black is more traditional but has the signature Cobra neon yellow complimenting it. The red version of the driver was released well after the original release date, which is unfortunate because I think it’s the best looking of the color options. The red carbon fiber sole plate is impressive and hard not to stare at.

More importantly to me, the Cobra ZL Encore looks pleasing at address. It sits on the ground nicely and the shape of the head is fairly basic so your eye doesn’t have to adjust to looking at a new shape. It’s also nice that the crown doesn’t have some goofy graphic all over the top of it.

The red and black versions of the Encore both have a black face that looks really nice, but if you’ve had a black face on a golf club before, you know that it wears.  I haven’t put the red one through its paces enough to see how much it will wear, but I anticipate it will…which is fine because it’s a golf club and it’s made to be used!

Cobra ZL Encore (10)

Sound & Feel

I love the sounds of the ZL Encore. A lot of drivers can be heard from miles away and sound like a ball peen hammer hitting a bell. This is not for me. I don’t need everyone on the range to know that I’m hitting my driver. Thankfully, the ZL Encore doesn’t do this. Cobra has had a unique sound in the Speed Series and the previous ZL, and the sound of the ZL Encore is somewhat similar, but not identical.  I imagine the big reason for this is the implementation of the E9 Face Technology with Dual Roll (to be discussed in the Performance section). This face technology had previously been seen in the Cobra S3, but was not in the original ZL.  The marrying of the carbon fiber crown and the new face gives the ZL Encore a confident sound of its own.

The feel is perfect on the ZL Encore.  I’ve noticed that a lot of drivers either A) feel like everything off the face is perfect (forgiveness), B) have no feel or response whatsoever, or C) have tremendous feel and response but it feels like you’re hitting a rock with a block of steel.  Personally, I’d like a nice blend of forgiveness and feel in a driver.  If I played 5 days a week, I might like that rock/sheet metal combo for the great feel and response, but the fact is that I don’t and I need something that feels good when I hit the ball.  This helps build confidence knowing that it will feel good at impact, but I will still be able to feel enough of what’s happening with the ball on the face of the club. I think more mid-handicaps would benefit from this blend of feel and forgiveness.

The club head is well balanced throughout the entire swing and the face feels very solid at impact. You will experience a little bit of the spring effect, but not so much that it feels like there is a loss of energy. I often felt the original ZL felt like the face could get a little spongy at impact, but the ZL Encore does not have that same feeling.

Cobra ZL Encore (24)

Performance

Prior to bagging the Cobra ZL Encore I was hitting the original ZL.  The original ZL felt great to me and I had better control than I had ever experienced with a driver.  When the ZL Encore was released, I had to give it a shot to see if it could outplay my original ZL.  Long story short, it did.

After hitting the ZL Encore, I noticed I was finding a lot more fairways and could shape my shots exactly as I wanted to. The new E9 face on the ZL Encore is an interesting “twist” on the usual larger sweet spot mentioned in drivers today: Cobra took the larger sweet spot and rotated it slightly clockwise. The theory behind this is that if you hit the ball off the heel, you will hit it lower on the face. If you hit the ball off the toe, you will hit it higher up the face. By rotating this sweet spot with the E9 face, Cobra has made the loss of distance on these shots much smaller.  I wasn’t sure what to think of this, but I have definitely noticed a difference on the rare occasion I don’t hit a perfect shot in the dead center of the face.

I use an 8.5° Cobra ZL Encore head shafted with a 60g X-Flex Fujikura Fuel. It is also important to note that unlike the Amp Cell drivers, the ZL Encore does not have adjustable loft and has only three settings (Neutral, Open and Closed).

Cobra ZL Encore (6)

Conclusion

Before you go grab one of the most marketed drivers of the month, be fair to yourself first and check out the Cobra line. People often brush off Cobra before even giving their clubs a fair try and this is a huge mistake. The Cobra ZL Encore can perform with any driver on the market.  True, it only has three adjustable shaft settings, but I don’t feel that’s a good enough reason to pass up this club.

I had a conversation with a Cobra rep at a demo day and he explained to me that Cobra is interested in having their clubs in golfers’ hands based on the merit of the equipment and not because they spend a fortune on marketing to brainwash players into using their gear.  They want the player to try their equipment and realize for themselves how good it is.  Yes, Cobra does have marketing campaigns to draw you in, but it’s to convince you to go try their clubs and give them a fair shake.  Based on previous experience with Cobra equipment, I took a chance on the ZL Encore and I was not disappointed.

Options

RH: 8.5°, 9.5°, 10.5°, 11.5°
LH: 9.5°, 10.5°

Model Flex Weight Kick Spin
F1 55 X* 55g Mid Mid
F1 55 S 55g Mid Mid
F3 55 R 55g Mid Mid
F3 55 Lite 55g Mid Mid

*Custom Offerings only (no upcharge)

 

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Bill Bush

Co-Founder
Bill is a true golf gear nerd by definition who loves making custom club creations in his garage with tools like sledge hammers, blow torches, and his bare hands. By day, Bill is a technology manager living in the Chicago suburbs with his wife and kids. Bill plays Scott Readman Concepts putters and accessories.

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14 Comments

  1. How does the zl encore compare to the amp cell driver? Did you hit the encore farther? More forgiving? Thanks

  2. It’s hard for me to really comment from a “data” perspective because I don’t really have any written down for either driver. What I can tell you is that I liked the ZL Encore better in just about every way except adjustability than the Amp Cell and Amp Cell Pro. I think it had way better feel, and because of that, it was a no-brainer for me. I can’t really comment on forgiveness because I never put an Amp Cell in play. The biggest take away for me with the Amp Cell drivers was how much I didn’t like the stock shafts. That said, I also use an aftermarket Fuji Fuel in my ZLE.

    What I will tell you is that it’s a whole different set of rules with the new Cobra drivers. Keep an eye out on the site for the BiO CELL driver review later this week and then the BiO CELL+ review in the coming weeks. Long story short, it’s a new ball game with these drivers.

  3. I have the amp cell with a blueboard 73.. I just picked up a zl encore and I’m going to put a blueboard 73 in it and compare the two side by side..

  4. I recently purchased the ZL Encore after hitting every driver that was released this year. I kept coming back to the ZL. I love the club, but have a question…while playing my first round I noticed there is a small black plug on the bottom of the club, located right under the r in Cobra. That plug actually moves around (slightly patrudes in and out). What is it? is it supposed to move in and out?

    • If it’s the spot I think you’re talking about, that’s the “hot melt port.” A quick Google search will tell you more than you ever needed to know about hot melt if you don’t already know about it.

      Ultimately, you should be fine. If you want to play it safe and not lose it, just hit with a very light dab of a strong glue. That’s what I would do.

  5. martin buckland

    couldnt agree more with your review i have tried every driver brand and model out there and the zl encore is by far has the best feel and sound of the face easy to hit all the other drivers have that horrible tinny ping sound and feel that makes it feel like you cant feel the ball hit the face . why has cobra abandoned this in the bio cell fly z and the new ltd

    Martin

    nd works for a

    • While I think we both agree the ZL Encore was a good driver, I’m not sure what you’re saying was abandoned by future Cobra drivers. I had the BiO CELL+ in the bag for awhile, and I’m curious if you’ve hit the LTD outdoors multiple times yet? I hardly found either driver to have sacrificed anything to the ZL Encore.

  6. Ross Burrows

    Can you order for me a Cobra Encore ZL Red driver (right hand, reg. shaft ) ? Let me know please

    • We are not a vendor. Our site is an informational site with reviews, news, etc…

      I suggest clicking one of the links in the review and visiting Cobra’s website for ordering if the driver is still available.

  7. may i know if the ZLE will have any loft-up when you adjust the settings to CLOSED position? and how do you compared ZL Enore with S3 Max driver?

  8. So did Taylormade get/steal their “Twist Face” Technology from this 9 year old Cobra Driver???

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