Wilson Staff Cortex Driver Review

50 Words or Less

The Wilson Staff Cortex driver features plenty of adjustability and fitting options.  A strong performer with great looks.

Introduction

As the star of its own reality show, Driver vs. Driver, the Wilson Staff Cortex needs little introduction.  Most of you are probably familiar with many of its features, having seen its design refined over the course of the show.  The only question left is whether or not the Cortex can compete with the leaders in golf’s prestige category.

Looks

The Cortex is, without question, the best looking driver that Wilson has put out in years.  Recent offerings have been solid, but the minute I pulled the head cover off the Cortex I thought to myself, “This is a big step up.”

As you can see above, the crown features a large section of carbon fiber, but it’s gloss black near the ball.  The silhouette of the Cortex is symmetrical, round, and medium sized.  Players of all levels should find it appealing.

The sole of the Cortex is what looks really sharp.  The red finish on the carbon fiber pops against the gloss black components.  This driver is a great example of using a limited color palette to bold effect.

Sound & Feel

With a body made largely of carbon fiber, the sound of the Wilson Staff Cortex is slightly louder than average.  I’d describe the sound as a “pop” without much in the way of metallic notes.

The Cortex provides good feedback through the hands, but I had a hard time hearing mishits.  Personally, I like this combination as I’d prefer my playing partners to think I flushed every drive.

Performance

A quick glance at the Wilson Staff Cortex reveals that this is a driver designed for customization.  Most noticeable is the sliding weight track – the longest Wilson has ever employed.  The 8 gram sliding weight allows you to dial up the launch and spin you prefer.  In my testing, I saw a significant change in spin and a slight change in launch angle.  What was more striking was the difference in feel and feedback.  The Cortex feels much more stable and forgiving with the weight in the back of the head.

Additionally, there are two weights – 8 grams and 2 grams – that can be positioned in the toe and heel to promote a draw or neutral ball flight.  I found this change to be noticeable but not dramatic.  If you’re fighting a banana ball, this won’t fix it.  If your drives occasionally leak a little bit right, this can help.

The final method of adjustment is at the hosel.  There are six different loft settings that you can use to dial up the face angle and launch/spin numbers that suit you best.

Beyond the adjustability, the Cortex’s main feature is that its head is 44% carbon fiber.  This gives Wilson more discretionary weight to boost forgiveness.  As I mentioned earlier, I found that the Cortex does feel very stable with the weight back.  With the weight forward, big misses do feel like they twist the head.  Overall, the launch monitor numbers showed that the Cortex does a good job retaining ball speed.

Finally, Wilson Staff is offering the Cortex with a trio of Fujikura shafts.  The ATMOS (full review HERE) is available in Red, Blue, and Black.  There are noticeable feel and performance differences between the three, so it’s important to get fit if you want to get the most out of the Cortex.

Conclusion

There are few drivers that offer as many customization options at the Wilson Staff Cortex.  This driver is a solid performer at its core, and when you dial in the loft, weights, and shaft to fit your game, it can be among the elite.

Wilson Staff Cortex Driver Price & Specs

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Matt Saternus

Founder, Editor In Chief at PluggedInGolf.com
Matt is the Founder and Editor in Chief of Plugged In Golf. He's worked in nearly every job in the golf industry from club fitting to instruction to writing and speaking. Matt lives in the northwest suburbs of Chicago with his wife and two daughters.

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12 Comments

  1. Eric Hutchens

    I agree with your review of the Driver. I’ve played Wilson Staff products in the past and have liked them but this one may compete with the leaders in the industry. Good job Wilson.

  2. Andrew Recob

    I am excited to test this one. I for one love the atmos shaft line so Wilson offering this shaft as stock really calls to me.

    • I have been playing with year one winner Triton for a couple of years. My driving accuracy has been better in that stretch than any other years. Just got Cortex a week ago. I am hitting it even better than Triton. I see about 10 yards gain with a better accuracy. Great job Wilson staff.

  3. Wilson has grabbed my attention over the last couple years, starting with the 1st Driver v. Driver winner the Triton, then their forged irons revamp and finally their low compression golf balls. I did end up playing the Triton regularly, which I still slip into the bag for a change from my Rogue and Epic, and I do enjoy playing the Wilson Staff Duo for another fun change from the Titleist AVX. I have also been sneaking out with the club pro’s Wilson FG Tour irons for a round or two (which play incredibly well). I am now entertaining the notion of trying the Cortex. I’m waiting for the club pro to get his so I can take it out for a whirl.

    It is so much fun watching these companies duel it out for top equipment position. Whether or not they actually make that much of a difference in the game is generally more relevant to the skill of the player, but there is some degree of forgiveness that keeps slipping into each of the successive equipment generations. I truly enjoy scoping out the creative engineering and craftsmanship the companies put out every year.

    I do go back each season and play my vintage Hogan blades and persimmon woods along with my Wilson 8802 putter just to keep my game honest. It is very clear, the equipment has come a very long way from when I first picked up the game.

    Kudos to Wilson for their continued interest in the game of golf and exploring novel ways of finding their next design and for their recent club challenger.

    Thanks for your column. I am such an equipment junkie and having your reviews gives me another perspective on the latest equipment. I envy your job. I would be insanely ecstatic testing new equipment and reviewing courses. Ah well, next life. I love this game.

  4. It is really an elite Driver. It is not junk, but a very competitive Driver. I have put mine up against Callaway, Taylor Made, and Ping, the Drivers my usual group plays and it is right there with the longest and very straight. Wilson has scored with this one. You have to realize that Cortex is a result of taking the original design and making it better. It is quite different from the original design with still keeping the idea the same, just better. I played Wilson in the old days and have been playing Wilson since their comeback and they just get better and better. The C300 forged Irons are in my bag also, great irons.

  5. This club was designed by my son’s friend Evan Hoffman and Wilson. Watching the Driver vs. Driver 2 on Golf Channel really well described what tweaks were made along the way as well as how it performed for all kinds of golfers. I bought it to replace my Callaway Epic. What a difference it has made! My drives are longer and straighter with my swing speed increasing significantly. It is really a terrific addition to my bag. Thanks Evan!!

  6. Arturo Chargualaf

    Just got the Wilson Staff Cortex Driver and I am very pleased with the customization I can apply to the driver. I do have the Callaway Epic and Flash drivers that are now in my locker. Wilson Staff has really got me back, fantastic results on day one. More to follow. I may move back to Wilson Staff irons.

  7. I’m worried the 45 inch shaft won’t get the distance most top line drivers are 45-3/4 or 46 inch

  8. Rich Battenberg

    My wilson cortex driver is set at 10.5 degree + 1.0 degree and I am hitting Tee shots very high; my playing partner said I’m robbing myself of distance with such high ball flight. How should I adjust the club to hit lower, longer drives.

    • Matt Saternus

      Rich,

      Have you hit your driver on a launch monitor? Most people have no idea how high optimal actually is – it’s much higher than they think. I would check that out before making any adjustments.

      Best,

      Matt

  9. Harry C White

    I played with a single set of WilsonStaff Tour Blades for many years – I went from a 15 handicap to a 3 handicap with those clubs. Wilson is not known for their drivers, but their Irons and putters. I bought the WilsonStaff D200 irons and driver – love them. When the cortex came out, I made the purchase. After a neck surgery and a shoulder replacement, I am just getting back into the game. The Cortex is not as easy to hit as the D200, but if I hit it correctly, it is longer. I am not convinced I should abandon my D200 Driver for the Cortex. I will just have to work on it.

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