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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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Today from the Forums: “Favorite Miura iron of all time?”

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Today from the Forums, we take a look at a discussion on Miura irons. Asked by moorebaseball which Miura irons are their favorite, our members go into detail on just why they love the model they do, with a variety of the brand’s irons receiving some love.

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.

  • bvanlieu: “CB57 was a good looker when I hit them, but I like the CB1008 a tad more in the looks department and felt a smidge more forgiving to me. Never got to hit them but MC501’s seem to blend with the MBs nicely, great top line. I can’t stop hitting my CB’s this winter on range/sim just yummy. Baby Blades tend to get the vote for best looking from the many commenters I have seen. I agree they are good to look at and feel well, Miura like. I just like me some forgiveness for my low/mid cap game.”
  • speeder757: “Tournament Blade All Day Every Day.”
  • pearls24: “I don’t know about best ever, but the MB101 is awesome. Way better for me than the 501’s due to less offset. I loved everything about the 501’s except couldn’t get past the offset in the shorter irons. 101’s setup perfect behind the ball.”
  • EaglesGolf99: Baby Blades, CB•57s, CB•1008s, and CB•301s.That’s my personal Top 4. Interested to see what the TB Zero turns into in the Global Line!”
  • vmann: “I’ve played baby blades 5-p for the last year and a half. I absolutely love the look and feel. Just got the 3 and 4 iron to match. Can’t wait for the snow to clear to check them out. I haven’t played any other Miuras, so obviously, bb’s are my favorite. I highly recommend.”

Entire Thread: “Favorite Miura iron of all time?”

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Confessions of a gear junkie in Korea: My new Ballistic Golf irons

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As an avid golfer and a self-professed equipment junkie, few things in life are better than discovering a piece of shiny new golf gear that brings a smile to my face and a dent to my wallet. And in Korea, where outpacing the Joneses is a national pastime, one has to be vigilant to stay ahead of the crowd.

To onlookers, most Korean golfers might come across as posers who seem more interested in looking good than playing well. It is not unusual for a set of clubs and golf bag to exceed $10K, and the 500-plus custom golf fitting studios across the country are our playground.

The colorful world of Korean golf.

Searching for the latest and greatest

The equipment and fashion we use and wear here will probably make most golfers in the Western hemisphere question our masculinity. But as the saying goes, “When in Gangnam…”

Koreans have a word to describe this expensive affliction, called “Jang-bi-byung.: It translates into “equipment-itis.”

I’m sure that such an insatiable desire for the latest and greatest gear isn’t limited only to Koreans, but I’d wager it affects a lot more of us than in most golfing countries.

And our scope of search isn’t limited only to this side of the world either.

Ballistic Golf MB proto iron heads – bullets and ball not included.

Meet Ballistic Golf, a fledgling golf brand hailing out of Iowa. And if the initial reactions from my friends are any indication, it may well be the next “it” brand for many Korean golfers.

Love at first sight

Back in mid-December, I was scouring the internet, as usual, looking for that special something when I first came across the Ballistic Forged MB irons.

I was immediately won over by the universal language of the classic muscleback—the name and logo instantly resonated with me.

I’d like to say I did the due diligence and carefully weighed the pros and cons of owning these beauties. But the truth is, I didn’t.

Luckily, the price of the clubs was lower than initially expected, thanks to the DTC (direct-to-consumer) model, and I soon became a proud owner of a set of MB irons (5-PW) and two bad-ass looking Covert wedges (52, 56).

After arranging for the clubheads to be delivered to Korea, I reached out to chat with Kyle Carpenter, founder and CEO of Ballistic.

Here’s what he had to say about the brand

“Ballistic Golf launched in July 2019, but I’ve been focused on the idea of starting the company for quite a while. The name was chosen because one definition of ballistic is ‘of or relating to the science of the motion of projectiles in flight.’ And that fits golf so perfectly. My main goal was to design clubs that golfers could perform with, while also keeping a classic look and feel to them.

“Confidence is a major key to good play on the golf course. At Ballistic Golf, we feel that our clubs radiate that feeling right from when you open the package to when you take your first swings. Players irons require confidence and consistency to play well with them, and having irons with a sleek minimalist design and surprisingly good feel on slight mishits, gives you that confidence.

“Wage War on Par’ is our mantra. We really wanted people to have the feeling that they can go out and kick par’s ass. So we made a club that looks and feels great and build on the confidence it gives you to execute the shots you know in your mind that you can hit.”

The hard pelican case and the Ballistic Golf dog tag were a great touch!

A match made in fitting heaven

Long before they arrived, I was snooping around various fitting shops in anticipation, looking through the many options of shafts. My goal was to find shafts that would best suit my game, while at the same time, elicit oohs and aahs from those who have yet to discover the brand.

After an in-depth fitting session with Jay Chung, a master club fitter with over 20 years’ experience, I had decided on Fujikura MCI graphite shafts. I was looking to try something lighter than my usual True Temper Dynamic Gold steel shafts, as I have struggled with elbow pain over the summer.

Jay Chung, master fitter at Fujikura center in Gangnam, Seoul.

During the club-making process, the first thing I noticed was how meticulous he was in preparation. After measuring every component from clubhead, to shaft, and grip, he proceeded to walk me through various factors and that can affect a club from performing at its optimum. He left nothing to chance and wrote everything down on a spec sheet that would be saved on file for my future fittings.

In the end, I was holding one of the finest-looking set of clubs I have ever owned.

The first Ballistic Golf irons in Korea—mission accomplished!

Ballistic performance

My efforts were rewarded with the appropriate amount of praise from friends and begrudging envy from the Joneses. But now it was time to put these beauties to the test.

The clean club head looks great at address, checking all the requisite boxes for a traditional muscle-back blade. Made from forged 1020 carbon steel, the heads are compact with a thin top line and sole. The progressive blade length is optimized throughout the set, and the reduced offset and classic loft make these clubs a true player’s iron.

I am by no means a superb ballstriker, but it wasn’t difficult to find the sweet spot with the new irons. Even for off-center strikes, the ball traveled farther than expected with immediate feedback. The MCI 80 stiff graphite shaft complimented the head and helped to absorb the vibrations from off-center hits.

7-irons comparison on indoor screen golf simulator

The numbers from the first simulator trials were quite comparable to my current gamer (Yonex N1MB with Matrix Ozik 70R graphite shaft), which is fitted with regular flex shafts a 1/2 inch longer.

The look and feel of any club are subjective, but the Ballistic irons felt great in my hands. At impact, it felt as if the ball stayed a fraction longer on the face, then rocket off with a soft yet firm feel and a pleasing sound.

I later compared both clubs on a TrackMan, and although I don’t have the pictures, the launch numbers and overall distance were much closer to my gamer. I attributed the improved performance to becoming more familiar with the new irons and shafts.

The Covert wedges performed as well as they looked. The cast head is made from 8620 carbon steel and framed the ball squarely at address. The sole design is designed for a variety of shot-making options around the green, and the laser-etched micro-grooves reminded me of Cleveland’s RTX-4 wedge.

The Patriot wedge has the same specs as the black Covert wedge and features a satin finish with an American flag etched on the back of the head.

Specs and price

So far, the design and presentation of the clubs were more than enough to draw the attention of everyone who saw them. The pairing of the club heads with the graphite MCI shafts continue to produce good numbers, and I can see them being in my bag for the start of the season.

The best feature aside from the eye-catching design was the price. A set of MB proto irons (4-PW) with KBS Tour steel shafts and Golf Pride Tour Velvet grips is priced at $749, and each wedge is available at $109.

When I inquired about his plans to add new club models, Kyle said he will focus only on the MB irons and the two types of wedges (RH only) for the time being; to keep things simple and traditional.

For more information, visit Ballistic.golf

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Today from the Forums: “Best sand-specific wedge?”

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Today from the Forums, we take a look at a discussion on sand-specific wedges. Alpha3 is on the hunt for a forgiving wedge for bunker play, and our members have been talking about what they have found to be the most effective wedges from the sand.

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.

  • harricli: “I play mostly desert golf with terrible sand; however, I have an old 64 degree sm5 Vokey that is about as automatic as possible out of a bunker. It goes in the bag if I’m playing anywhere that has real bunkers.”
  • nphillips0613: “Hi-Toe is great out of sand. I haven’t tried it but look into the Bigfoot hi Toe. 15° of bounce has to make it easier to get out of sand.”
  • Lepatrique: “The best place to start is a high bounce wedge. They tend to be much more forgiving from most bunkers, for most players. Low bounce wedges are great if you’re trying to nip a high shot off of a firm lie in the fairway, but tend to dig a bit in bunkers. I would recommend finding a couple high bounce wedges and seeing what you like the look/feel of best.”
  • uglande: “Depends on conditions. I like a low bounce, high loft club for firm sand (mostly what I play) and have a Vokey 62 in an M grind (8 bounce) for that. But for versatility, I would say take more bounce and keep loft high — like a 56-58 degree D grind Vokey (12 degrees bounce). That’s a great club from bunkers and plenty of bounce for full shots as well.”
  • BCULAW: “K Grind was easiest for me out of the sand. I used a little different technique with it, where, instead of splashing the ball out, I would turn the leading edge down a little almost like a chip. Ball came out fluffy and soft. Easy as pie.”

Entire Thread: “Best sand-specific wedge?”

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