Cleveland Launcher (2009) driver

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

By Nick Bayly on Fri, 24 Oct 2008 - 09:10

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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