REVIEW: Wilson Staff Cortex Driver
Wilson Staff Cortex
The BEST Wilson driver ever
With the conclusion of the second season of Driver vs Driver, the world was introduced to the Wilson Staff Cortex driver. Having attended the Wilson Launch Party last week at Cantigny Golf in Wheaton, I had the opportunity to try the Cortex along with others in the industry who were chomping at the bit.
Needless to say, my first impression was very, very positive.
Amid hearing rumblings from friends in the industry that the Cortex was selling very well, I knew that I needed a second look, this time with a launch monitor. Despite not being fit for the demo I tested, I went with my best guess on what would fit me best and went for it.
But first, a note about brand perception
Immediate reaction to the Wilson Staff Cortex was mixed, to say the least. Early impressions about the driver’s performance were extremely positive (more on that in a minute), but the $499 price point was met with raised eyebrows, sneers, and outright disdain.
Wilson was called everything from “crazy” to “stupid” on social media, primarily from people who hadn’t even touched the Cortex let alone hit it. Their rationale centered around the brand perception of Wilson, suggesting the company is second-tier and has no business pricing a driver alongside the likes of Titleist, Callaway, Taylormade, and PING.
One Twitter follower went so far as to say Wilson is viewed as a “cheap” brand. Nothing could be further from the truth.
To suggest that a brand as well-established, longstanding and respected as Wilson Golf is somehow lesser than any of the largest OEMs is downright laughable. While their play on Tour is lower than others, the craftsmanship, R&D and attention to detail in their products is just as impressive as any brand you can name. Any thought, opinion, or stance that Wilson somehow cuts corners or falls short in terms of technology is ludacris if not flat out stupid.
One need not look farther than the Cortex for proof of their innovation and development capabilities, especially since they filmed a damn reality show explaining how their engineers evolved the final design.
Speaking of the final product, you’ll be pleased to hear that not only does the Cortex live up to its higher-end price tag, it also hangs with the “best” drivers on the market.
Feel and Appearance
The Wilson Staff Cortex driver is a bit muted in terms of its original prototype, which featured two adjustable weight tracks at the time. Wilson’s engineers fine-tuned the design to redistribute weight more efficiently in the club’s sole, eliminating the need for one of the weight tracks around the back perimeter of the head.
The track that remains — which allows you to adjust launch from “high” to “low” settings — looks like a feature that belongs on a modern-day driver. The slide track can also be fine-tuned to adjust spin rate and decent angle. Two stationary weights of 8g and 2g brace the sole and can be interchanged to favor a draw or neutral shot bias. Wilson’s familiar red coloring is pleasing to the eye and adds to the high-quality appearance of the club’s tech.
The crown of the Cortex is also impressive as the design features a carbon fiber composite material many brands are using. A minimal alignment aid is helpful with squaring the driver to the ball at address, and the overall head shape appears deep and confidence-boosting.
In terms of feel, the Cortex is one of the best feeling drivers I’ve ever hit. The sound is crisp yet solid at impact, which I absolutely love. The white Atmos stock shaft looks fantastic against the darker clubhead, and overall weight of the club feels light without feeling flimsy. The Cortex is a driver that feels like you can rip the hell out of your drive.
The Cortex surprised me in terms of distance and control. I’ll be honest: I have never hit Wilson Staff drivers all that well, especially when compared to my gamer. The Cortex was not only easy to control in terms of accuracy, but distance, launch and spin numbers were also impressive.
While my demo club featured the Atmos Red shaft (high launch, high spin), which is likely not ideal for my swing tendencies, ball launch monitor data was still solid. Ball speed averaged 150 mph in my test session, which is slightly lower than my gamer but still playable. Launch was a bit higher than I needed thanks to the aforementioned shaft (19 degrees on average), spin hovered around 2700 rpm in my sample that controlled any ballooning.
I averaged roughly 265 yards on the launch monitor with the Cortex, which is slightly shorter than my gamer, but not by much. At the end of the day, I could easily game the Cortex and not miss a beat with my play tendencies.
There is no doubt in my mind that the Wilson Staff Cortex is the best driver the brand has made in a long, long time… possibly ever. There’s also no question the tech and design warrants the $499 price tag, especially since the Cortex holds its own against competitors in its class.
For me, if I were looking to switch to the Cortex full-time, I would base that decision on its incredible feel, sound, and accuracy. If you’re gaming a driver that’s a few years old and are willing to give Wilson a chance, rest assured you’ll experience the same benefits of modern tech in the Cortex as you would with any other brand. With a proper fitting, I’d wager the Cortex could outperform many of its competitors.