Two new Cleveland Launcher irons, the Launcher CBX and Launcher HB, continue a theme that started with its CBX wedges, introduced last month. That trend is focused on providing clubs that target meaningful technology to the specific needs of the clubs being used—and not incidentally to the needs of those using them.
“What we’re doing is trying to make easy-to-hit long irons blending into easy-to-control short irons,” said Cleveland’s senior product manager Brian Schielke.
The Launcher CBX irons are a traditional set of irons that mix face-flexing technology in the long and mid irons with spin control in the short irons. Meanwhile, the Launcher HB irons are reminiscent of Cleveland’s successful hollow irons of the past like the HiBore.
“They progress from more hybrid-like long irons to shorter irons that don’t look that much difference from the address view to normal cavity back irons,” Schielke said.
The Launcher CBX irons combine two kinds of irons in the same set based on the shots needed by each loft. So the long irons feature a low-profile shape to help keep the center of gravity low for higher launch. The narrow profile also gets extra power from a cupface design (4-iron through 7-iron), which provides better face flexing for more ballspeed and higher coefficient of restitution (COR) or spring-like effect.
“The bigger you make the face the less you need the cupface because you have a larger area to get more trampoline effect,” said John Rae, Cleveland’s vice president of research and development. “The smaller you make the face the more you need the cupface to bring in the perimeter flexing to get that kind of COR out of it.”
Another key element in the design is the V-shaped sole aimed at providing smoother interaction with the turf. Adopted from the idea first seen in the Z45 and Z65 series irons from Cleveland’s partner brand Srixon, the sole features more bounce toward the leading edge and less in the trailing edge. On the Launcher CBX irons, the long irons feature a shallower V-shape to better match up with the typical sweeping swing average golfers employ with these irons. The V-shape on the shorter irons gets a little more like those found on the company’s RTX-3 and CBX wedges to better match up with the naturally steeper swing used on short irons.
The Launcher CBX irons get progressively more compact from long irons to short irons to add playability. The short irons also feature a progressively narrower topline and less offset than in the long irons.
Throughout the set, the Launcher CBX irons feature the same grooves and surface roughness philosophy developed for the company’s wedges. The “tour zip” grooves are designed to maximize spin from the rough for more consistent distance control. Each face also features laser milled lines between each groove to maximize friction for more spin.
“We think this is by far the most aggressive iron face, grooves and surface roughness on the market so you get a much higher spin retention when you go from the fairway to the rough so you’re not hitting fliers and you can stop the ball even from the rough,” Schielke said.
The hollow design of the Launcher HB incorporates a wide sole, a sloping recessed crown and back and a high-strength HT1770 steel face insert. All those design and material technologies encourage higher flight and faster ball speeds through a more flexible face design.
“Irons like this full hollow, hybrid-like design can really make a drastic performance difference for someone who needs help getting the ball in the air and needs a little more forgiveness,” Schielke said.
Schielke also noted the shafts are an upgrade from past Cleveland hollow irons. Like the Launcher CBX irons, the Launcher HB irons will will benefit from a lighter, high-balance point steel shaft from True Temper, the Dynamic Gold 98 DST, as well as a lightweight Miyazaki C. Kua shaft in graphite.
“You don’t normally find that high a quality shaft in a super game improvement iron,” he said. “A lot of the time the shaft is an afterthought.”
The Launcher CBX irons will be offered as a 4-iron through pitching wedge seven-piece set ($700 steel, $800 graphite). The Launcher HB also is available in 4-iron through pitching wedge at the same prices. Both have optional 50-degree gap wedges available, while the Launcher HB adds a 56-degree sand wedge. Both will be offered in lighter swingweight womens’ versions, as well. Both will be in stores Sept. 15.