After seven weeks of eliminations on TV episodes and an even longer process for the Wilson Golf team and their prospective designers, the winner of “Driver vs. Driver 2” was revealed to be the Cortex driver.
Evan Hoffman’s design proved to be the best of the lot, besting Tim Slama’s Rozwell design to win the $250,000 first-place prize and the right to have his driver design manufactured and sold by Wilson Golf in stores nationwide.
The question now is, with a seven-episode build-up arc on Golf Channel and their promotional power behind the immediate launch of the Cortex, will golfers be buyers?
Wilson Golf is betting so, pricing the Cortex at the $500 premium price point, pegging it at the same figure as drivers from Callaway, TaylorMade and their peers. The price is a risk for Wilson. After all, Wilson isn’t the first name that jumps to mind when thinking about high-performing, long-flying drivers. (Irons are a different story.) That means consumers tend to think of Wilson as a company that makes drivers at a lower price point.
However, throughout the “Driver vs. Driver 2” series, it was evident the Cortex design produced ball speeds and a launch profile competitive with more expensive drivers.
Wilson has literally shown its (and Evan Hoffman’s) work from a performance standpoint, just as much as they’ve documented the journey from a concept, to a 3D-printed prototype, through testing and reshaping into a final, polished product.
If golfers buy into products that make them feel something almost as much as it shows them something (better launch monitor numbers), then “Driver vs. Driver 2” viewers may well buy into the Cortex.
From a technology standpoint, the Cortex isn’t necessarily doing anything groundbreaking in the broader driver category. The Cortex driver is a built on the foundation of what’s called Fast Cage Technology, which is a titanium internal structure (cage), with 44 percent of it covered with carbon fiber panels, including on the crown and heel. The decision to add more carbon fiber was one of the fundamental changes to the design in the next-to-last episode of the series, eschewing a prior design utilizing more titanium.
The Cortex has two elements of adjustability on the sole, with a front-to-back weight track to dial in center of gravity/spin characteristics, as well adjustable heel and toe weights (2g and 8g) to introduce draw or fade bias as desired.
Wilson went in with a premium stock shaft offering, too, going with the Fujikura Atmos Tour Spec, utilizing the Red for high launch, the Blue for mid-height launch and the Black for a low-launch profile. Other shafts are available for no upcharge, including the EvenFlow Black or Blue, as well Project X’s HZRDUS Black or Red and the UST Mamiya Recoil. Most popular grip options are available, too, for no additional fee.
“Driver vs. Driver 2” was heads-and-shoulders better than the first season. The winning driver is better in most every way — look, performance, sound — and the journey to the end was more compelling for a golf or engineering fan with going perhaps too far down the rabbit hole in a way that would lose the broader point of the show: selling the winning driver and Wilson Golf as an innovating challenger brand looking to do something different. As the show and its winning products evolved, Wilson appears to be achieving their goals.
So, do they do it all again?