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Cleveland Launcher (2009) driver

Review of the latest big stick (Loft:10.5 degrees)

Posted: 24 October 2008
by Nick Bayly

Cleveland Launcher (2008)
Contact:www.clevelandgolf.com
Technology:Boasts extreme low spin, a mid-trajectory and high MOI 'to be the longest and straightest big stick the company has ever produced.' Compared to the original Launcher and Launcher Comp, it claims a 21% larger, more forgiving face. A horseshoe-shaped weight pad included to improve launch conditions and stability by placing 17g of weight low and deep in the clubhead. Longer, lighter Fujikura Fit-On Flightspeed shafts lead to higher swing speeds and additional yardage, say Cleveland engineers. Available in lofts of 9, 10.5, and 12 degrees. .
Price: £189

cleveland driver
The sole and sleek line of the new Launcher

I'm still puzzled by Cleveland's decision to call their new driver for 2009 - The ‘Launcher’ - the same name given to one of its successful predecessors. Though clearly it's a new design, repetition makes it hard, surely, for casual consumers to understand that anything new is being presented here. I can’t think of another brand in recent years that has repeated a former a name for a new model.

Stacked up against the other new drivers in the market, the Launcher has a massive titanium footprint with the back portion elongated to offer that promised high MOI. It dwarfs the ball at address, but presents a very clean look, with none of the bulge and role found in the latest TaylorMade r7 Limited, for example. This encourages the golfer to think positively that the ball is heading ‘straight’ down the fairway.

The main point of difference with Cleveland’s previous XLS Launcher is the removal of the scooped out crown that has been a feature of the HiBore range. I didn’t have a problem with it but it was unconventional and gave it a reason for golfers not to like it, without even hitting it. Thus the scooped out look has been binned and replaced with a more traditional crown that offers universal appeal.

Performance-wise it was up there alongside anything else I’ve hit this year, with my best shots flying 250 yards, which is about my upper level with distance-limiting range balls. The sound off the face is inoffensive yet powerful and the ball flight neither ballooningly high nor skimming under the radar, which probably equates to 'medium trajectory'.

The mid-point flex gold shaft (a red shaft will offer a more penetrating trajectory) felt light and responsive.

cleveland driver
Launcher low profile and giant footprint

The killer feature is undoubtedly the price - at least £100 cheaper than new offerings including the TaylorMade r7 Limited, Callaway FTiQ or Ping Rapture V2, without a dramatic loss of performance or any reduction in the quality of the materials used in the head or shaft.

Following its recent purchase by Srixon Sports, Cleveland’s Launcher brand is clearly being taken in a new direction in terms of price, to challenge the likes of Ping’s G10, Callaway’s Big Bertha line and TaylorMade’s Burner series in mid-market. And with Cleveland shortly to announce another new driver in a premium price bracket, the company joins a growing list of brands producing clubs for all price points aiming to grab market share among golfers across all budget categories.

The Golfmagic Verdict
Rating: 8.5/10
Summary: I fear consumers could well be confused by the name but given the opportunity to try it, the new Cleveland Launcher will provide stiff competition to its rivals in the mid-range price bracket. The huge head will be a big confidence booster to those looking for solid dependability without the need to tweak weights, shafts and face angles in search of the optimum trajectory. Just stand up and smack it...it works! .

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Discuss this story

Did Taylor Made not drag the Burner name out of the cupboard in 2007? Why is Cleveland using the Launcher name again any different?

Posted: 24/10/2008 at 10:15

Yeah taylormade did re release the burner.

With cleveland i think they are going back to what people like. The hibore xls's (new ones) were awful and i believe didnt sell too well. Hence, moving back to what people like. 

Liam 

Posted: 24/10/2008 at 23:21

I guess the Launcher is being offered as a "conventional looking" alternative to the XLS, which some people find a bit extreme.

Can't really accuse Cleveland of going over-board with different models. Most manufacturers have a couple of driver models at any given time (Ping G10 & Rapture; Nike standard & square Sumo's; and as for Callaway and TM.....).

I tried an an XLS and liked it except for the looks. The standard shafts in the XLS are superb - far better than most OEM stock shafts (I put a Fuji Gold from an XLS in my Ping Rapture). So if the same shaft options are available in the new Launcher, it could be a real gem.

Posted: 25/10/2008 at 12:22

to say the XLS was awful is plain rubbish. It may be your opinion, but not a fact.

I had one and loved it's performance. It was straighter and longer (in the correct loft anyway) than my current nike SQ 5000. The ONLY downside i could find was the noise. It was simply too loud and resulted in literally deafening my left ear on mishits....sheltered driving ranges were painful. The looks however, were no problem and, put frankly those who can't see past this (in my humble opinion) need their head checked!

That launcher looks lovely though! - shame i cant justify getting shot of my Nike.

Posted: 25/10/2008 at 12:44

Whens this bad boy hitting the shops.. i have the hibore xl at the moment and im looking to get custom fit soon.

Think if this driver looks the buisniss at address i may purchase

Posted: 25/10/2008 at 13:01

Nick Bayly the author of the report said

"I'm still puzzled by Cleveland's decision to call their new driver for 2009 - The 'Launcher' - the same name given to one of its successful predecessors. Though clearly it's a new design, repetition makes it hard, surely, for casual consumers to understand that anything new is being presented here. I can't think of another brand in recent years that has repeated a former a name for a new model. "

As James said, Taylor Made reused the Burner tag. When a supposed expert has such little knowledge and then goes on to give an opinion it makes me laugh.

Is GM getting that desperate. I do hope this report wasn't written by a GM member of staff.

Come on Bob, get you lads to do their research !

Posted: 25/10/2008 at 14:28

Pengwyn 10.7 ^ wrote (see)

When a supposed expert has such little knowledge and then goes on to give an opinion it makes me laugh.

Is GM getting that desperate. I do hope this report wasn't written by a GM member of staff.

Come on Bob, get you lads to do their research !


While I wouldn't have used the same language as Pengwyn, I'd offer the same general view. TM indeed reused the Burner tag - as I would have expected just about anyone with more than a passing interest in golf equipment to know.While anybody can make a mistake, if the reviewer is GM's equipment editor, or equivalent, that kind of error is alarming. If he is an amateur, then that begs the question of how he got the task.

Given the above, I am entirely confident I could write a review which is more informed, detailed and useful than the one discussed above. If any of the GM staff want to put me to the test, I'll happily submit a full, detailed review of any club they care to send me (or indeed of any club in my bag) - then the forum can judge.

PS - Nick should also probably be told that Cobra reused the Baffler name, Macgregor via Bobby Grace rereleased 'The Fat Lady swings' putter, and this year Nike used the old 'Ignite' name (a 2004/05 driver) for a set of irons. I could give more examples, but the point is, I hope, clear.

Posted: 28/10/2008 at 22:26

Surely we're missing a sense of irony here? Is the reviewer not commenting on the lack of progress in technology in recent years and highlighting the copy cat nature of the equipment industry?

Maybe I'm giving too much credit, but as I read the review it came across pretty clear to me that the shorthand version was - "It's a driver much like any other, don't expect any surprises, but it's priced in the right ball park"

This whole forum seems to be getting a bit of a chip on it's shoulder recently? Are we all getting grumpy because as the cold spell has ruined our courses?

Posted: 29/10/2008 at 07:53

Yes, I'm massively grumpy at the min.

Posted: 29/10/2008 at 13:36

I have the Halo XLS and it's a great driver. Unfortunately the person holding the other end is crap at driving so it's effectiveness is being reduced. Still on the rare occasion I pull off a decent swing with it, it performs well.

Might have it shortened though, as it's a bit unwieldy. I don't mind the look of the head at all - it's the least of my worries.

Posted: 29/10/2008 at 17:26

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