From the Baffler to today, Cobra Golf remains an industry presence

Mach One Golf Balls proves the game can have a lighthearted side; Loudmouth apparel as outlandish as ever

Everyone from PGA professionals to media members tried out the latest equipment releases, including Cobra's King Series and Aerojet line, at the PGA Show Demo and Fitting Day at Orange County National Golf Center in Winter Garden, Florida.

WINTER GARDEN, Florida — Cobra Golf is celebrating 50 years in the golf business in 2023.

"There are companies out there that aren’t in it to win it or in it to stay and we’re proud we’ve been around since 1973," Cobra spokesman Jose Miraflor says. "Most people will recognize one of the first clubs that Cobra put out was the Baffler, a utility wood with brass rails on the bottom of the club."

So as Cobra gets ready to launch two new series of clubs in February, Miraflor couldn’t help but remember the antics of Cobra founder Tom Crow at the PGA Show as he showcased his 1975 invention — the infamous Baffler utility club. Crow passed away in January 2020 at the age of 88.

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"Back in the day he took golfers outside to a parking lot and put a ball on the concrete and said ‘I dare you to hit this ball over these cars,'" Miraflor recalls while at the PGA Show's Demo and Fitting Day at Orange County National Golf Center. "Nobody took him up in it because they aren’t crazy, but he went ahead and hit the ball up over the cars and everybody was astonished."

To this day, some of Cobra’s golf lines still carry those "rails" along the bottom of the club to help golfers get through the ball in heavy rough.

The first set of new clubs being launched by Cobra is the King Series, which will be at retailers the first week of February.

"When we talk King it’s one of our upper franchises that focuses on the better players," Miraflor says of the three new iron forgings. "They have very little offsets, have a compact shape and thin top lines — it speaks to the best players in the world."

Former U.S. Open champion Gary Woodland uses this line of Cobra irons.

"If you are looking for the best soft-feeling irons you can find, these are it," Miraflor says. “We’re talking the ultimate in precision forging."

The launching of the Aerojet line is scheduled for Feb. 10.

"It’s an entire family of product lines and this is our mainstay, these are the three drivers that consumers and our Tour players choose from to play in their game," he said.  

Not everything in golf has to be serious, right?

Case in point is the Mach One, billed as the world’s loudest golf ball. 

There is that moment in golf when club hits ball just perfectly (more so for some than others), making that “sweet sound.” For Mach One Golf Balls' namesake product, it’s more like a shotgun blast.

While Mach One Golf Balls' prank golf ball won't win any tournaments, it will certainly grabs golfers' attention.

The Mach One is a prank novelty item that was quite the attention-getter. It can’t be used in a round of golf, but is used to stun your playing partners when you tee it up on the opening hole.

"It’s a single-use ball … tee it up when your buddies aren’t ready and it will definitely catch them off guard," says Brett Esslinger, Mach One Golf Balls company spokesman.

Esslinger’s grandfather, Dwaine, started designing the prototype of this prank ball in Orange County, California, some 20 years ago.

After all these years, Mach One was launched as a family-owned company nine months ago.

"We’ve just been having fun with it within the family for all these years and last year all of us here at the Show lost our jobs so we got the ball patented and we’ve been going ever since," says Esslinger, who notes that the ball flies the same distance as a regulation golf ball.

He refused to say what’s inside the ball to make the loud bang.

"It’s a secret family recipe," Esslinger said. "We manufacture all the balls by hand, do all the shipping ourselves — everything is family run." 

Mach One Golf Balls' website features a series of videos that show golfers' reaction after being pranked.

“All our sales are online right now, but after the PGA Show we’re hoping to get into some retailers or pro shops,” Esslinger says.

“It has been a lot of fun and the people love it," adds uncle Dan Esslinger. "We kind of wondered how serious golfers would be but we haven’t had much negative feedback at all."

From one loud bang to another.

Situated close in proximity to Mach One at the PGA Show Demo and Fitting Day was another “loud” product, the highly fashionable Loudmouth clothing line of John Daly fame.

Johnathan Freeman.

And stealing the fashion moment for the day was Jonathan Freeman, who billed himself as Loudmouth’s social media manager.

Freeman was dressed head-to-toe in one of the most colorful and brightest golfing outfits you will ever see.

"I love turkey and I would say this outfit is a turkey dinner," Freeman says. "I didn’t want Thanksgiving to end so I wore this. It’s a beautiful day and it makes me feel happy.

"Loudmouth is always a conversation starter and I get to meet so many people,” Freeman says. "Even though I’m not very good at golf I’m stylish. That counts for something."

Freeman, a San Diego surfer who is new to the game and only playing for about nine months, estimates he has 25 complete Loudmouth outfits.

“I love the pageantry of golf … and while I can’t play well I can always make people laugh,” he says. "I do a ton of work in the Loudmouth surf space, so they brought this kook to the golf world."