Review – Cleveland Golf Launcher CBX Irons

Cleveland Golf. The brand that was founded in 1979 by Roger Cleveland and owned by Sumitomo Rubber Industries Ltd has long been known mostly for their innovations in designing game-changing wedges. The 588 was a stalwart in many golfers bags and to this day is one of the top-selling golf clubs in history. But Cleveland Golf has been about much more than just wedges. They’ve also been a leader in innovation as far as metalwoods go. Did you know that Cleveland Golf was the first golf manufacturer to introduce the industry to the world of 460 cc drivers? Or the first to be involved in the craze that was geometrically based design (The Hi-Bore in 2006)?

ttb1.jpg

 

The Huntington Beach, California-based company has developed it’s fair share of terrific iron designs too. Models like the CG 16 Tour, an entirely hybrid-based set the Hi-Bore irons, the Tour Action series of irons (TA5, TA7 etc), CG 1 Tour and of course the infamous (for perhaps the wrong reason) VAS 792 irons that incidentally Corey Pavin played to win a Major at Shinnecock Hills in 1995. From the prettiest of blades to the penultimate in game-improvement irons. For some time a few years ago it nearly looked like that Cleveland Golf was all but out of the equipment game except for the wedge market. Then something happened last fall. The company announced the release of new metalwoods (Launcher HB) and irons… the Cleveland Golf CBX. I was amazed to see this news and I was excited to get down to the PGA Show to see these irons in person.

When discussing the Launcher CBX irons the first thing that I need to point out is that these irons are designed to compete in the ultra-competitive game-improvement corridor of the industry. Even though these irons look so unassuming the Launcher CBX irons are loaded with innovation and technology. Highlights of the technology are…

  • Cup Face design. Between a thinner face and a periphery constructed of high strength steel golfers can achieve greater distance by virtue of a face that flexes at impact. Better Energy Transfer = More Distance.
  • Used initially in wedge design the Launcher CBX irons feature Tour Zip Grooves. The laser milling employed allows for more friction between the face and golf ball. The end result is control like you would have with your wedges. I’d be remiss in saying that the grooves also “debris away from the ball so you get consistent spin and control in the fairway, rough, or sand.”
  • The long irons feature confidence inspiring thicker top lines while the shorter irons have a thinner top line and more compact shape for golfers that don’t like a thick top line or a “clunky heavy look” on their scoring irons.
  • The “Dual V Sole” grind allows for more versatility from a variety of lies while also allowing golfers to cut through the rough easier. The reward for their efforts is better distance contact and better distance control.
  • “Feel Balancing Technology” was something that I first encountered during my testing of review of the RTX-3 wedges “microcavity in the hosel moves the center of gravity closer to the middle of the face, enhancing feel and distance control.With a sweet spot closer to your ideal hitting location you get more forgiveness in every iron”.
  • PW loft is 44*.
  • Available in steel (True Temper Dynamic Gold DST 98 gram) and graphite (Miyazaki C. Kua). 
cbxiron-progressiveshape-address

A Progressive look. Photo Credit; Cleveland Golf

 

One of my first stops at the PGA Show Demo Day was in fact the Cleveland Golf/Srixon/XXIO location. The weather was overcast and there was at one point a brief light rain.

Looks – Not to keep going on about the aesthetics but these are an iron that look nearly “Plain Jane” which isn’t a bad thing at all. In fact, for my personal taste I’d rather see an iron clean and bare as opposed to any unnecessary graphics. As I pulled out the 4 iron and 8 iron I compared them side by side and while there was a noticeable difference between the profiles of both the “larger” 4 iron never struck me as being obtrusive or shovel-like. If anything it would instill confidence in my “mind’s eye”. As I flipped over the clubs to examine the soles the “V Sole” grind reminded of the RTX-3 that I had the opportunity to review long-term. Ultimately, that wedge became my gamer and to this day because of the V Sole I have the confidence to play the 52* from anywhere… including flops if I open it up setting it right flat. The sole comes in handy as I explain the performance.

Performance/Feel – Okay I’m not going to mince words. The performance of these Launcher CBX irons are fantastic. Have you ever had the feeling that you were playing an iron that was confused with its genetic make-up? This was the case for the Launcher CBX irons. It’s very much a game-improvement iron but it’s like it thinks it’s a players club. From the inspiring looks at address to the feel at impact. This is a golf club that easily launches the golf ball into the air (living up to the moniker) and as you make impact you really have a strong sense of knowing where the golf club is. What’s more? The feedback is great… well struck golf shots allow you to feel those shots. The sensation is crisp yet soft. There is a true sense of “heat” off of the face and the Cup Face is something that I feel truly works. Of course, I’d love to be on a launch monitor at the show but based on my organic vibes and roots I knew the club (8 iron) was landing some 160 yards away… into the wind. Yes the lofts are bumped but much can be said of the technology that’s packed into the Launcher CBX irons. Shots were repeatable with repeatable high(ish) draws being the “norm”. However, shaping shots was easy as pie. The longer irons produced a more aggressive, penetrating ballflight. Again, elevating the ball easy.

DSC_0012 (2).JPG

Specialty shots like a punch or “stinger” was a snap but the versatility of the V Sole was very much a winning technology here. Have you ever been in a situation where a 47*-58* lofted club was just too much loft to escape trouble? So instead you need to go to a 6 or 7 iron to escape with a rescue shot (stroke saver”)? The V Sole allows the shot by virtue of its versatility. Huge bonus marks here!!!

Forgiveness – Forgiveness in my opinion is more important than distance. Golf is not about that perfect shot that we pulled off. It’s about how good our misses were. I was really “on” with the CBX Launcher irons in my hands and maybe that was because of the confidence inspiring look. However, I happen to be good enough (at times bad enough) to purposely hit shots off of the toe. Any shots that were struck towards the toe were punished from a distance aspect (as they ought to be). However, misses didn’t flail weakly out to the right. Instead they were straight and never wandered off of their intended line. If you’re going to miss… miss straight.

Conclusion –  The Cleveland Golf Launcher CBX irons are a fantastic golf club that very much deserves to live up to the Cleveland Golf branding that they bare. Not flashy… and that’s alright by me. These are an unassuming that would be dangerous in the hands of a golfer that an easy single digit to something in the 20 range. High performing, forgiveness with tremendous versatility. A lot of golf club with a very reasonable price tag ($700 USD Steel)

***Coupled with the Launcher HB driver, fairway wood, hybrid and CBX wedges Cleveland Golf won the Teezy Award for ‘Most Forgiving Product Range” at the 2018 PGA Merchandise Show. A point that I made known to Communications Manager Noelle Zavaleta on the show floor Wednesday.

Until The Next Tee!!

Review – Loudmouth Golf StretchTech

Over the past several years I’ve had the pleasure to test and review some exciting golf apparel brands. While some of the brands could be defined as a bit more mainstream others have not. One of the brands that I’ve really enjoyed testing and reviewing has been none other than Loudmouth Golf. These fashions are not a part of your grandfather’s wardrobe collection. Then again… maybe they are as I’m a grandfather.

Every year that I’ve attended the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, Florida I always look forward to swinging by their booth to see what new patterns Woody (Owner Scott “Woody” Woodworth) and the crew have come up with. This year was a total surprise and it wasn’t for the patterns that the brand released for 2018. Don’t get me wrong there is a stunning array of new patterns like Castaway, Midnight Lagoon and Flamingo Bay just to name a few. However, what really caught my attention was the development of a new fabric. As much as I loved pants and shorts collections of the past I always felt that there was one flaw. The weight of the fabric. On hot summer days in particular when it came to pants I felt they wore… too hot. This issue has been addressed by Loudmouth Golf with the introduction of a new fabric called StretchTech.

IMG_20180223_220727

 

I had the privilege of discussing the new fabric with Brooke WIndatt (Global Public Relations and Social Media for Loudmouth Golf) at the Loudmouth Golf booth this past January. What I learned about their new fabric was quite significant. Below is a rundown of what I learned about this blend of fabric.

Fabric

The fabric is made from 100% StretchTech Polyester. This blend features great qualities such as being wrinkle free (100%), shrink free and fade free which means that the bold colours used by Loudmouth Golf will not fade. There is a degree of moisture control which ultimately means that the pants won’t cling to you during the dog days of summer thus taking away from your enjoyment on the golf course.

Product Highlights

As most might expect the waistline is detailed by several belt loops ensuring a clean look. The enclosure itself is that of a 2 button-tabbed front closure with zip fly design. Two front pockets and two back pockets make it convenient for sliding a golf glove and scorecard into your back pockets. The right pocket features a “pocket in a pocket” to hold your tee and/or ball marker in between holes. Adding to the comfort is the “Tour Slit” at the bottom hem. Just over the left rear pocket on the hip is the trademark “LM” just for added pop and branding recognition.

I should add that the fit is described as being “modern” and washing in cold water and hanging to dry is highly recommended.

Testing

When I was talking to Brooke at the booth we arranged a review opportunity. I was asked to select any of the new designs. After careful deliberation and narrowing it down to two patterns I opted to go with the new Tahiti StretchTech pants. These pants are bright, bold and 100%… ME! When these pants arrived during the winter I could not wait to put them on. They feature amazing and varying shades of blue, green, pink, orange (coral) and yellow. Flowers and palm fronds are abound. If you want to feel tropical… then these pants are quite simply for you. One thing that I have to add is the ease of scripting an outfit together for your morning round. Because there are so many colours there are always options for a polo to wear just make sure to wear a solid colour with any pants from Loudmouth Golf (or any patterned bottom for that matter).

IMG_20180604_110258

The trademarked “LM”.

 

I wore these pants early in the year (first day of Spring) to an appointment with one of my specialists. The nurses loved these pants and they said and I quote “You make it feel like spring”. These pants are eye-catching and the comments that I’ve received about them have been extremely positive. Whether it’s been the GM at the course, the ladies that play in the Scenic Woods Golf Course Ladies league or in one case while shopping at a local grocery store. As a matter of fact, I’ve been asked on several occasions where I got the pants from. Always with a toothy grin I tell people Loudmouth Golf. unfortunately, when you wear fashions from Loudmouth Golf comes pressure. Pressure from a group od ladies that peer over the counter every Monday looking to see what you’re wearing. This week, I wasn’t wearing any Loudmouth Golf and the women walked away disappointed. Apparently, I’ve set the bar too high… too soon. Thanks Woody!!!

Alright so the pants are eye-catching and “aesthetically amazeballs” but how do they perform. Right off of the bat I can tell all of you that these StretchTech Poly pants wear way better than their earlier iterations. This fabric wears “light” and when you get sweaty the new StretchTech fabric does not cling to your body like its predecessor. I think this speaks highly of their moisture management characteristics and I’ve worn these pants in some pretty oppressive heat already this year (33*C or 91*F) plus humidity. Not only are they comfortable to wear but they are also very comfortable to play golf in. Basically, whether you’re going to a social function or the golf course you have a pair of pants that looks great, feels better and performs.

 

As stated earlier the fit is modern and I would classify the fit as somewhere in between traditional and Euro (Slim Fit). That said, the waist sizing is true and when in doubt err on the side of a size up. I ordered a 34″ and they were absolutely perfect. No discomfort ,tightness or bunching in front. I’ve lost more weight where I’m now somewhere between a 32″ and a 33″ waist. That said… the 34’s are still a really good fit.

8166nI0r-6L._SX342_

This Skort for the Ladies is called Flamigo Bay. I’d wear this pattern in a “NY Second”.

Loudmouth Golf claims that they are “The most fun you can have with your pants on”. You know what? They are! Even the names are witty like a new pattern called “Bull & Cork” which is a darts pattern. I actually would have used “Cork and Bulls”. Not to mention they look amazing and perform. This new StretchTech fabric is tremendous. Patterns are available in pants and shorts for men and for the ladies there are even more options. Women’s apparel feature Bermuda Shorts, Mini Shorts, Skorts. For more information please visit the Loudmouth Golf website.

Until The Next Tee!!

Review – Ben Hogan Golf VKTR

Three years ago marked the return of a beloved name to the game of golf and in particular golf equipment. Ben Hogan Golf Equipment Company launched their initial products at the 2015 PGA Merchandise Show – Demo Day under the watchful eye of then CEO Terry Koehler. The launch of the Ft. Worth irons and TK 15 wedges were met by attendees with enthusiasm. For a good reason too… the products were beautiful. I wondered how Ben Hogan would step it up the following year building on the success of their initial entries and golfers in 2016 were met by the classy and lavish PTx irons. I wrote a review at alexandertothgolf.com earlier this year. The irons were stunning only bested by their performance. At the same time, Ben Hogan also released their Ft. Worth hi irons as a more forgiving option to the original lower lofted Ft. Worth irons. The hollow forged design yielded great feel and a pleasantly aggressive ball flight. There was one more void that needed to be filled and that was a club for golfers who thought of long irons as “taboo”. The VKTR Hybrid would be the answer.

vktr3

The VKTR Hybrid is designed with aesthetics and performance clearly at the forefront. Mr. Hogan was an innovator and had designs for a “hybrid” (as we now know it) dating back to the 1960’s. Clearly ahead of his time. When the “new” Ben Hogan Golf Equipment Company designed their first hybrid they wanted to present golfers a piece of art that would inspire confidence. Part of my problem in the past with hybrids was how they presented a large footprint at address. For this reason I was a long iron guy. The VKTR Hybrids come in five separate profiles and lofts start at 17* and progressing to 27*. Sticking with the theme of footprint size it’s important to note at this time that as the loft increases the volume (club head size) decreases (110 cc to 96 cc). The reason is twofold as the hybrids in the higher lofts are more pleasant to look at and it allowed the engineers at Hogan to move weight forward.

Engineers at Hogan also added a degree of adjustability to the VKTR Hybrids. Although there is no hosel adjustments Hogan through their Perimeter Shot Shape Technology (PSST) allows for 24 grams of movable weights around the perimeter of the head. The head is designed with a neutral bias but you can move the weights around to suit your needs. This means that you can adjust for left to right and high or low trajectories. Through research, Hogan (and other brands) found that most misses with hybrids occur low on the face. Personally speaking, my misses with hybrids are thin and left and Hogan addressed the “thins” by creating a “larger more effective impact zone along the bottom”. Also adding to the forgiveness is their V-SOLE technology found in their irons which improves turf interaction.

vktr1 (1)

At Demo Day, I immediately went for one of their 18* models. This particular club was shafted with a UST Mamiya ReCoil 660 shaft. This shaft was a regular flex and as expected from a shaft like this the result was a smooth-swinging piece of equipment. As much as I loved the clean, classic look at address it was the feel that won me over. The acoustics were crisp and the resulting strikes emitted a sharp sound. A feeling that gave me the impression that the face was very responsive… which it was. I never did adjust the weights but the resulting flights were of a consistent and penetrating trajectory. I think predictable would be a suitable adjective. My focus shifted towards the 23* and it’s hard not to talk about how precise the “gapping” in your set can be with Hogan. The VKTR Hybrids seemingly meld into the iron offerings which creates a “flow” to your set. Designers made the VKTR Hybrids to have a steeper landing angle and when compared to other hybrids I would say that engineers succeeded. However, it would be more telling to see these in action on the course. Going back to the aesthetics the VKTR is a handsome club and I love the red paintfill and ferrules with the red stripes. Also, designers of the VKTR were a little cheeky. If you look closely at the adjustable weight screws you will notice that there is a resemblance to the old Hogan “medallion”. All of it is a retro throwback to yesteryear.

vktr4

As the calendar turns to 2017 it’s fun to think about what Ben Hogan will come out with next. One would be led to believe that it would be fairway metals or maybe even a driver. Or will Ben Hogan stick with their bread and butter and stay out of that game? In the interim they have the VKTR Hybrids to compliment the beautiful irons in their stable. Folks… Mr. Hogan would be proud. Check them out at benhogangolf.com