Instant Classic: Cleveland Golf Driver a Beautiful Behemoth

As a guy who grew up playing woods made of a strange substance called wood, I find many of today’s drivers unappealing to the eye. There’s only one form a driver should take, and that’s pear-shaped.

Cleveland Classic Driver

Drooling yet?

So my heart skipped a beat when I saw Cleveland Golf’s new Classic Driver, due out early next year. Mahogany finish. Brass-colored face “insert” and sole plate. The word “Classic” scrolled on the crown as an alignment aid. Even a black leather head cover in a shape the company calls “RetroBarrel.”

Cue Homer Simpson drooling sound.

In a word, this is one gorgeous golf club. But that’s the end of the Cleveland Classic’s similarities with its ancestors. (You know, the ones made from trees.) The Classic maxes out the USGA volume allowance at 460cc, about three times the size of a persimmon driver head. Its face is massive – the deepest on the market, according to Cleveland. And off-the-rack models are powered by an ultralight Miyazaki graphite shaft.

While it’s not yet for sale to the public, the Classic has already been tested on Tour. In fact, 2011 Rookie of the Year Keegan Bradley used it en route to winning (with Brendan Steele) the Franklin Templeton Shootout last weekend.

Bradley, who strikes me as the traditional type, instantly fell for the club’s old-school aesthetics. “When I looked at the new driver, honestly, I loved it,” he gushed. “I love the gold face on it… You look down at the face and the thing that you focus on is the sweet spot. I think it’s brilliant. I think it’s gonna change the way drivers are made.”

Of course, Callaway, Ping, TaylorMade et al will have something to say about that. In fact, TaylorMade just introduced its new wood lineup, which carries a decidedly non-traditional name: RocketBallz.

May the best club win.

 

 

Spy on Equipment: Long Putters, Snazzy Shoes and New Mizuno Irons

Golf gear manufacturers release a lot of new equipment during the year. While the vast majority of offerings are simply updated, tricked-out versions of existing models, interesting stuff does come down the pike every now and then.

Here are a few equipment items that caught our attention in recent weeks.

Bellying up – way up

TaylorMade Ghost Spider

TaylorMade's Ghost Spider putter.

Every golfer of a certain age remembers Jack Nicklaus’ stunning Masters triumph in 1986. Most have forgotten the explosion of putter sales that followed his win. Specifically, sales of the mammoth-headed MacGregor Response ZT putter Nicklaus used to make all those back-nine bombs.

In the 2 ½ years following Nicklaus’ sixth Masters victory, MacGregor sold an astounding 350,000 Response ZTs. A similar boom is mushrooming now in the belly and long putter market.

Late-season victories by Keegan Bradley, Adam Scott and Webb Simpson put extended flatsticks front and center in the public’s eye. TaylorMade recently tripled fourth-quarter sales expectations for long and belly putters, and accelerated the timeline for launching long versions of its popular Corza Ghost and Ghost Spider models.

Cleveland and Odyssey have reported similar success and product plans.

adidas joins street shoe brigade

Constant innovation is a key benefit of the free-market system. And whenever something original breaks through to a mass audience, copy-cats are sure to follow.

adidas adicross golf shoes

adidas' new adicross golf shoes

Hence, Nirvana begat Bush, the Android rode the iPhone’s coattails, and adidas joined the parade of companies mimicking Ecco’s Street Premiere golf shoes.

The adicross is adidas’ entry into this expanding category, which FootJoy, Nike and startups like Kikkor Golf have joined. (For the record, we consider TRUE Linkswear shoes a somewhat different breed.)

What does adicross offer? Lightweight, full-grain leather, five color combos and, of course, a spikeless sole.

Not to be confused with soul-less tripe. For that, we recommend listening to a Bush album.

Rejoice: Mizuno intros new irons

Few golf brands inspire the loyalty of Mizuno, specifically, the company’s forged irons. (You’ll get my Mizzies when you pry them from my cold, dead hands.)

Mizuno MP-59 irons

Mizuno's MP-59

There’s a new member of the esteemed MP family, the cavity-back MP-59. Like its forebear, the MP-58, the 59 features a hunk of titanium forged into the back of the blade. The company claims a 5-percent larger sweet spot on the MP-59s than the 58s.

Mizuno aims these irons at golfers in the plus-2 to 13 handicap range. In other words, you need to be a decent stick, but not a world-beater, to wield them properly.

Spy Review – Cleveland CG4 – Game Improvement Irons

The Cleveland CG4 Irons are definitely game improvement irons for the beginner golfer and the mid to high handicappers.

The clubheads have a progressive off-set, lower center of gravity and high moment of inertia which works well in getting the ball high and fast at impact.

The large head has a huge sweet spot, and the cavity back design and CMM (Carbon Matrix Material) should help reduce the vibration by absorbing the shock when you hit the ball.

Greg Hopkins, president and CEO of Cleveland Golf said, "These new CG4 irons will now give players of all abilities the same opportunity to enjoy the benefits experienced by our tour staff." He should know, with Cleveland being one of the top producers of golf clubs and accessories on the professional tour.

Pros

  • High moment of inertia – good elevation and speed at impact
  • Improved distance and feel for the player
  • True Temper shafts
  • Wider sole, larger sweet spot

Cons

  • Carbon metal mix (CCM) doesn’t absorb vibration for misaligned shots
  • Like many other brands, beware of knockoffs/fake

What players are saying about the Cleveland CG4 Irons

  •  “The feel of the head is buttery soft at impact, mushy with softer balls, harder balls improve distance.”
  • “I’m not seeing the distance benefits, possibly it’s the shaft not my correct fit.”
  • “I like the small club head, not clunky oversized.”
  • “These are fairly forgiving, make for a good swing.”
  • “Consistent, slightly longer, more game improvement than traditional blades.”
  • “Felt the vibration when I miss-hit, but the distance and direction of the ball doesn’t suffer
  • “I don’t hook the ball anymore. These are relatively easy to shoot.”
  • “My shots now seem laser guided with the CG4s.”
  • “They hit unbelievably soft even on most off-center hits. The feeling of a dead center hit is the best of any game improving iron. They hit straight if you want and, curve when you need it to.”
  • “I usually shoot mid 80's to mid 90's. These are 10+ yards longer than my present clubs.”
  • “I've been looking to upgrade my beginner set to a set that I can grow into as I get better…this is the best priced, best feeling, best forgiving and best distance all around irons.”

Cost

Complete previously owned sets can be found online from golf retailers like Golfsmith for $228 to eBay for $150 plus shipping.

Additional Features:

Head: Carbon Metal Matrix
Grip color: Standard Black
Shaft: Graphite or Steel
Dexterity: Right and Left Handed
Player type: Men
Shaft Flex: Regular or Stiff
Originally Retailed $799.99

Spy Review – Cleveland Launcher Ultra Lite Series Driver

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Cleveland's 2nd generation of lightweight drivers has come on the scene with excellent feedback and results. The brand new Cleveland Launcher Ultra Lite Series driver provides the TL, SL, and XL, SL Series sure to fit nearly any kind of swing and golfer... which includes Cleveland's objective.

Technology

To provide you a thought of how light this new Launcher is, the newer 2011' 270 g version includes a complete 25 g lighter than the previous year's Launcher DST. Lighter shafts and drivers are absolutely a hot concept and technology right now. As you could create the technology needed to withstand the power and torque of the average swing as well as still produce lighter materials, the final result is a rise in ball speed, distance, power, and eventually control is an extra bonus.

The Launcher XL270

This is thought to be the lightest driver today in golf. This XL270 was engineered with a single thought in mind - optimal head speed when sustaining the forgiveness attribute that Cleveland will be well-known for. This XL270 will come with the hottest golf shafts upon the PGA Tour, Miyazaki Kua 39 Series.

The Launcher XL 270 Draw

The exact same characteristics of XL270 Draw will apply as XL270, just with a draw bias of two degrees closed. It offers the average player a straighter ball flight for an unwarranted slice or fade.

The Launcher SL 290

It’s similar to XL270 with a shorter stock shaft than XL, as well as twenty grams heavier. Nonetheless, this SL290 comes twenty-five grams lighter than many of the drivers upon the marketplace today. It additionally comes with a Miyazaki C. Kua forty-three gram shaft.

The Launcher TL 310

It’s designed more for the tour-caliber golfers. It’s the lightest driver on tour with the intention of delivering quicker ball speeds as it still allows a workability feature, mandatory on tour.

The Pros/Cons

The lightweight drivers are absolutely coming of age, as the lighter weights produce a lot quicker ball speeds as well as longer results. Miyazaki shaft as the stock option will be an absolute plus! Alongside the lighter weight driver concept comes the longer driver shaft that I disagree with. The average golfer ought to be utilizing shorter shafts, not the longer ones. Of course, it’s only an opinion, yet the longer shaft negates the power gained and replaces it with a harder swing to manage, that’s counter intuitive to Cleveland's objective with the release... Cleveland pushes the limit with this over 46” shaft.

Final Thoughts

In summary, I liked the brand new Cleveland Launcher Ultra Lite Series Driver. Many golfers will discover the lesser weight will eventually raise distance. The sole issue I have includes adding length toward the stock shaft that I hope players decide against.

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