|Cleveland Launcher (2008)|
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.