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New 2020 Cleveland Launcher HB Turbo driver

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The all-new-for-2020 Cleveland Launcher driver has been designed to hit the ball higher, straighter, and—thanks to a redesigned cup face, and higher balance point shaft—faster, too.

The Cleveland Launcher name is synonymous with distance. Multiple versions of the flagship Launcher driver found their way into players bags dating back to pre-400cc drivers, through composite products (Cleveland Comp, anyone?). It’s not an understatement to say the club transformed Cleveland’s metal wood segment.

2020 cleveland launcher

2020 Cleveland Launcher crown detail.

After a bit of a hiatus, the Launcher name was relaunched (sorry, had to do it) two years ago to glowing reviews and positive player feedback. The engineers at Cleveland decided 2020 was the time to turbocharge the new Cleveland driver.

 “(With the Launcher HB Turbo) We’ve squeezed discretionary weight out of every corner of the head in order to produce one of the most forgiving drivers we’ve ever made.”

-Vice President of Research and Development at Cleveland Golf Jeff Brunski

2020 cleveland driver face

2020 Cleveland Launcher HB Turbo: Details

When talking about discretionary mass, every single gram matters. In a 200g driver head, every two grams saved is one percent more mass to move around. When talking about a driver head and collisions taking place at over 100 mph, every percentage point matters. One of the most wasteful parts of any clubhead is the hosel—whether it be because of adjustability or just a traditional glue in a non-adjustable head.

The original Cleveland Launcher HB was not adjustable, which meant it was already saving some mass, but the engineers at Cleveland went a step further with the new HB Turbo and implemented more than just one technology beyond the hosel to make this new Cleveland driver even faster.

2020 cleveland launcher hb turbo crown

  • Ultralight hosel: By redesigning the hosel both inside and outside of the head, more mass was able to be distributed low and further away from the face to increase forgiveness.
  • Turbocharged CupFace: OEMs cant make the center of the head faster— it’s the rules—but it doesn’t mean they cant speed up more of the face. The new Turbocharged CupFace, has been enhanced with a new variable face thickness to provide higher CT (characteristic time) over a larger area for increased ball speeds and more distance—because nobody hits the middle every time.
  • HiBore Crown: The newly shaped crown on the Launcher HB Turbo lowers the CG (center of gravity) by a full 2.2mm when compared to the Launcher HB. This improves overall forgiveness and helps to better optimize launch parameters for shots hit all over the face.

When it comes to improvements, Cleveland isn’t stopping with the clubhead either. The new Launcher HB Turbo is being paired with a new proprietary high-balance point Miyazaki C. Kua shaft. By raising the center of gravity closer to the grip end of the club, players have the ability to swing the driver faster, even though more mass has been added to the head to give the Launcher HB Turbo an MOI boost.

This is where club designers are looking beyond just the driver head and analyzing the club as a whole system. The better the whole system works together, the better you are going to hit the ball. It’s also beneficial that Cleveland is under the SRI Sports Umbrella, which also includes Srixon and Miyazaki. Miyazaki shafts are extremely high quality and are all proprietary to SRI products.

New Cleveland driver: Options and availability

The Cleveland Launcher HB Turbo driver is available in two different models

Standard/neutral weighting will be available in lofts of 9, 10.5, and 12 degrees.

There will also be a Launcher HB Turbo Draw model with more discretionary weight placed towards the heel. It will come in a 10.5-degree loft.

cleveland-launcher-hb-turbo-driver-specs

The suggested retail price of both models will be $349.99, and the drivers will be available starting October 4.

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Ryan Barath is part of the Digital Content Creation Team for GolfWRX. He hosts the "On Spec" Podcast on the GolfWRX Radio Network which focuses on discussing everything golf, including gear, technology, fitting, and course architecture. He is a club-fitter & master club builder with more than 17 years of experience working with golfers of all skill levels, including PGA Tour players. He is the former Build Shop Manager & Social Media Coordinator for Modern Golf. He now works independently from his home shop and is a member of advisory panels to a select number of golf equipment manufacturers. You can find Ryan on Twitter and Instagram where he's always willing to chat golf, and share his passion for club building, course architecture and wedge grinding.

14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. Carolina Golfer

    Sep 10, 2019 at 7:54 am

    Another WRX article with negative replies. Do you guys like anything or just like to complain?

    • JP

      Sep 11, 2019 at 3:16 am

      I like to complain about poor golf design ideas.

  2. SV

    Sep 9, 2019 at 4:51 pm

    I don’t see the lack of adjustability as a problem. As a whole most people are probably better off without it. Find the right loft and leave it alone (says the guy always adjusting). But come on Cleveland, only one option for lefties? At least give us two (9* & 12* or 10.5* & 12*).

  3. George Steer

    Sep 9, 2019 at 2:52 pm

    All of the writing on the clubhead comes off as cheap. If they feel the need to explain the features, utilize peel of stickers.

    • Donn

      Sep 14, 2019 at 7:27 pm

      peel off stickers seem cheapo to me. I prefer them writing on the clubhead. a few years down the line and you are shopping used, the info written on the clubhead helps you to know what’s the important design stuff.

  4. JP

    Sep 9, 2019 at 2:10 pm

    Turbo? Why? Why? Why?

    Do they actually know what a turbo is?

  5. DukeOfChinoHills

    Sep 9, 2019 at 12:32 pm

    I had a Launcher back around 2004-05ish and really liked it. This new one looks cool, but I’m not in the market now.

  6. Getemgoose

    Sep 9, 2019 at 12:24 pm

    So the Cleveland Turbo threw on some Ping turbulators. Cool story.

  7. Jarnio Bubly

    Sep 9, 2019 at 11:49 am

    It’s always faster than last year! The faster we say it is the more consumers will get over how hideous it looks. Get out your pocket book! ????

  8. 15th Club

    Sep 9, 2019 at 11:21 am

    Wait just a minute. Is this a non-adjustable hosel? If so; uh, yeah it will be lighter. A lot lighter. At the cost of any adjustability. If I am wrong about this, somebody please correct me ASAP.

    Also; this is just me talking but how many players who are GolfWRX readers want and need a higher-launching driver? For my part, a driver head that launches LOWER is usually better, all other things being equal. I would love to own a driver with 10.5 degrees of loft. But I would hit it way too high. More static loft = more control and more straight. Like a 7-iron. But that kind of loft produces balloon drives. I want the highest loft possible, in the lowest-hitting driver possible.

  9. PI

    Sep 9, 2019 at 10:05 am

    I’ve been testing this driver out for the last year or so and I have to say it is right up there with the best drivers. I have the TS3 in play now and this club in testing was just as good if not better than the TS3.

  10. JP

    Sep 9, 2019 at 9:47 am

    Seriously?!? Writing on the crown?!? And why do they all have to copy each other with raised fins on top? It’s busy and ugly.

    • Angus

      Sep 9, 2019 at 3:11 pm

      What on earth has the writing got to do with anything, you can’t even see it when using the club, how it performs is what is important

      • JP

        Sep 12, 2019 at 3:55 am

        You’re blind if you can’t read all about the hibore tech on the crown at address…

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What GolfWRXers are saying about the best “5-woods under $125”

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@golfexchangeapp

In our forums, our members have been discussing 5-woods, with WRXer ‘gary3aces’ looking for a 5-wood for between $100 and $125. He’s looking to replace his current “M2 5 wood with something a little easier to hit”, and our members have been discussing the best options in our forum.

Here are a few posts from the thread, but make sure to check out the entire discussion and have your say at the link below.

  • C6 Snowboarder: “Take a look at a used Callaway Heavenwood in the Epic Flash model = pretty Friggen sweet. It is Heaven!”
  • Golf64: “Bang for the buck, hard to beat Cobra, but find Ping one of the easiest to hit off the deck. Since you are limited in the funds dept., maybe an older model Ping 5W would do the trick?!”
  • tilasan1: “G400 7 wood turned down or just use it as is.”
  • jbandalo: “Fusion fairways. Highly underrated, cheap, easy to hit and go for miles.”
  • RyanBarathWRX: “PING G fairway would be hard to beat and easily in price range:
  • Nelson.br.1515: “Another vote for the Callaway Big Bertha Fusion. Great stick!”

Entire Thread: Best 5-woods under $125″

 

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What GolfWRXers are saying about “blending Ping i500 irons with Blueprints”

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In our forums, WRXer ‘ballywho27’ has asked for thoughts on combining his current Ping i500 irons with the brand’s Blueprint irons. ‘Ballywho27’ is considering going “i500 in 3-4 iron and blueprint 5-W” and has asked for fellow member’s thoughts on the idea – who have been sharing their takes in our forum.

Here are a few posts from the thread, but make sure to check out the entire discussion and have your say at the link below.

  • jblough99: “I had a combo set for a minute, 3-5 I500 and 6-PW Blueprint. I could not get used to the transition, HUGE difference in looks at address. If I had it to do over I would just go 4-PW Blueprint and maybe a 3 I500 with graphite shaft as a driving, iron.”
  • animalgolfs: “iBlade{5i} – BP{6i-pw}. That’s my combo.”
  • Chunky: “I have i500 4-5 and Blueprints 6-PW. As mentioned above, there is a significantly different look at address. More importantly for me, the i500s are 1/2 to 1 club longer than the BPs (they fly much higher, too). Make sure you account for that added i500 distance when blending lofts or you’ll have a large gap.”
  • howeber: “I’ve done that exact set — 3 and 4 i500 and 5-PW Blueprint. It’s perfect for me since the 3 and 4 are more like a traditional 2 and 3.5. 4 is usually the longest iron I carry, so I like a little extra oomph out of it. At the end of the day though, when I finally tested them vs my MP4s, the Blueprints performed identically, while the i500 launched a little higher (same specs same shafts). Mizzys are still in the bag.”

Entire Thread: “Blending Ping i500 irons with Blueprints”

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GolfWRX Vault: Avoid these 5 club building disasters

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It’s never too late to go back to basics, especially when it comes to club building.

Even with modern new club release cycles the do’s and don’ts of building clubs haven’t changed much in the last few decades except for clubs with adapter sleeves and greater amounts of multi-materials incorporated into the design.

With that in mind its time to revisit an article from the GolfWRX Vault from June 2016.

——————

I’ve been fitting and building golf clubs for more than 15 years, and in that time I’ve seen a lot of really poor workmanship—stuff that would make most GolfWRXers cringe. But like anyone who ever did anything new, I didn’t start being naturally good at putting together clubs. It took a lot of time, ruined components, and trial and error to get where I am today.

I believe my attention to detail now stems from the fact that my dad was a machinist by trade, and anytime we ever worked on something together his attitude was to take your time and do it right the first time. My dad’s approach always had an impact on me, because I feel that if you do something right — even when it takes a bit longer — the job is not only more satisfying but also makes things work better and last longer.

The goal with this article is to help WRXers avoid the most common mistakes and assumptions in club building that lead to broken or ruined clubs, as well as real danger.

Over-prepping a graphite shaft

The shaft on the left has been prepped properly. The one of the right, which has noticeable taper, shows signs that layers of graphite have been removed.

This happens far more than it should, and can ruin an expensive new shaft purchase. To prepare a shaft properly for installation, you only need to remove enough of the paint to make sure that the epoxy adheres to the graphite. This is also true for the inside of the hosel.

Be careful to remove residual epoxy, dirt or rust (common with forged carbon steel club heads that have been sitting around for a while), or some type or solvent like the one used to put on grips, as it can cause of bond to break down very quickly. A proper reaming tool, a wire brush and some compressed air (either a small can or a large air compressor) can make cleaning simple, and prevent a golf club from falling apart.

UPDATE: Over prepping specifically applies to shafts that are designed to go into parallel heads and is especially important for 335 shafts with less material at the tip going into drivers and fairway woods. For information on how to properly taper a shaft to go into a tapered head, check out the video below:

Overheating a Shaft When Pulling it

This is what happens to a graphite shaft when overheated.

This is what happens to a graphite shaft when overheated, and the resin holding the graphite sheets together breaks down. It’s not always as noticeable, but if the shaft starts to fray it means the bonds have been compromised and it’s more likely to fail. 

Overheating a shaft when pulling it is another common mistake that can result in ruining a golf shaft. It also highly increases the chance of breakage. There are quite a few methods I’ve learned over the years to remove a shaft from a club head, from heat guns to large propane torches, but personally I find that using a small butane torch with a regulator for graphite offers the best results. It allows a club builder to easily control and focus the heat only where it’s needed. Bigger torches are fine for iron heads, as long as you don’t damage any plastic badges in the cavity or materials in slots around the head.

One of the best advances in club technology has been the invention and mass adoption of adjustable hosels. They not only help golfers adjust the loft, lie and face angle of club heads, but have also greatly decreased the need to pull shafts. So as long as a golfer is staying with the same metal wood manufacturer, they can usually test several different clubs heads with the same shaft, or vice versa — several different shafts with the same clubhead.

That being said, one of the most important tools that any hobbyist club builder should have or have access to is a high-quality shaft puller. It’s a necessary tool for anyone who wants to do repairs and helps prevent damage to a shaft while pulling it. The more linear pressure that can be applied to the clubhead, and the less heat used to break down the epoxy, the better. It makes sure both the shaft and the head are reusable in the future. For steel shafts, you can use a bit more heat, and twisting isn’t a problem. Again, with increased heat, be careful not to damage any of the badging, or permanently discolor an iron head.

Botching a Grip Installation

Using calipers and two-sided tape, you can replicate the taper of shafts to makes every grip feel exactly the same size in your set.

Using calipers and two-sided tape, you can replicate the taper of shafts to makes every grip feel exactly the same size in your set.

This one seems simple, but when really getting down to professional level detail, it is quite important. We ALL have a preference and different opinion of what feels good in a golf grip, as well as different sensitivities. For example, we all have the ability to figure out what apple is bigger, even if blindfolded because over time we all develop brain function to understand shapes and sizes. This also applies to grips. If you use the same grips on your 13 clubs, you could potentially have 4-5 different final sizes depending on how many different types of shafts you use, because many shafts have different butt diameters.

Some shafts have larger butt diameters, while others taper faster than others. That’s why it’s very important to own a quality set of vernier calipers, and know how to properly use them. It’s also the same for putters, since many putter shafts are smaller in diameter. I have lost count of how many times I’ve had people bring me, putters, where the bottom half of the grip is twisting and turning because the installer never paid attention to the interior diameter of the grip, the exterior diameter of the shaft, and how it changed from top to bottom.

Using epoxy that’s doomed to fail

An example of epoxy that although not completely set, is no longer safe for assembling clubs.

An example of epoxy that although not completely set, is no longer safe for assembling clubs.

I’m a bit of a physics nerd and garage engineer, so this is one of those topics that goes beyond just the physical aspects of club building and into the realm of chemistry.

Here comes my nerd-out moment: In the simplest of explanations for a 0.335-inch driver hosel with an insertion depth of 1.25 inches, the amount of calculated surface area the epoxy can bond between the shaft and the head using the internal dimensions of the head is 1.49 square inches. That’s not a whole lot of area when you consider the centrifugal force being applied to a driver head traveling at 100 mph, and then the forces of torque that also come into play when a shot is struck.

In a PERFECT world, almost zero torque is applied to a shaft when a shot is hit on the center of gravity (CG) of the club head, perfectly aligned with the center mass of the ball, while traveling in the intended direction. This is vectors 101 of physics. Unfortunately, almost every single shot is NOT hit like that, and this is where the epoxy bond is put under the most amount of stress. Lap shear strength of epoxy goes beyond me, but it proves that building a golf club is not just cut and glue after all.

Note: For those of you curious, the most popular epoxies are rated for 4500 psi. 

As far are actually working with epoxy, first things first. Always check to see if the epoxy has a best-before date (yep, just like milk). Also, never store epoxy in direct sunlight. If you are using epoxy from a tube in a dispensing gun, you are using what is an almost foolproof method. Plunge out the necessary amount, mix for about a minute (mix! don’t whip), and remember, the less air that gets into the epoxy the better. If air gets in and the epoxy cures with bubbles in it, then you end up with a club that will often “creak.”

For those using two parts in larger bottles, the best way to ensure proper ratios is to pay attention to the weight ratio rather than volume. This isn’t arts and crafts; it’s chemistry, so by using the weight to calculate the ratio you will get the right amount of each part every time, and help decrease the risk of failure down the road. If you have mixed a larger batch and plan on building quite a few clubs at a time, you really have to pay attention to the consistency and viscosity as time goes on. You don’t want to glue a club head with epoxy that has started to set.

Turning an Extension into a Shank

The difference between a good shaft extension (bottom) and a bad one.

The difference between a good shaft extension (bottom) and a bad one.

This is one of those subjects I don’t even like to talk about. I very much dislike using extensions when building clubs, especially clubs with graphite shafts. Going back to my “do-it-right-the-first-time” mentality, extensions are a Band-Aid fix to a problem that requires surgery. They also counter-balance the club, and by their very nature create a weak point because of the small wall thickness at the butt end of a shaft. The only clubs I don’t mind extending on a regular basis are putters since they are never put under the same level of stress as a club being swung at full speed. I also never extend a club more than 1 inch, because I have been witness to horror stories of clubs that have been overextended that not only break but rip through the grip and cut people’s hands very badly.

If you are going to extend a club, it’s important to make sure the fit is very snug and doesn’t cause the extension to lean in any direction. It’s also best to have the epoxied extension cure with the club on its side to avoid an excess epoxy from running down the shaft and breaking off and causing a rattle.

 

 

 

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