Tuesday, May 28, 2013
Cleveland XL Custom Driver
The hot new adjustable driver from Cleveland Golf
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In an effort to help golfers like you and me find the perfect trajectory for our tee shots, virtually every major equipment manufacturer has hopped aboard the adjustability bandwagon. Here at Golf Tips, we think that's great news, since having an adjustable-head driver opens the door for more golfers to do a whole bunch of fun things off the tee—all without having to make drastic swing changes.
The latest driver we tried that features adjustability is the all-new Cleveland Classic XL Custom. Many of you may remember the retro-inspired Classic driver from last year, and the new Classic XL Custom is a later version of the same club, only this time with a slick new paint job, some design modifications and some really cool adjustability options.
On paper, the Classic XL Custom driver features an adjustable hosel that allows for up to 12 different face angles and loft and lie angle configurations. I tried a 9-degree base model (there are also 7.5- and 12-degree models) with Miyazaki's JDL graphite shaft, which happens to be designed specifically for adjustable drivers (more on that later). In addition to the adjustable hosel, this driver also has a removable weight port in the rear section of the sole that accommodates a 3-gram, 7-gram and 11-gram weight for different swing weight configurations. I tried the 7-gram weight.
At first glance, I missed the gold/crimson color of last year's Classic driver, but I quickly was swayed by the beautiful, polished black finish and gold markings on the face that helped make it easier to square the ball behind the sweet spot at address. There's also a very faint alignment dot above the sweet spot on the crown, which is a little hard to see, even in direct sunlight. Furthermore, Cleveland claims this driver to have the largest and deepest face in golf (actual face area is 7.32 inches), making it crazy easy to hit solid drives.
Finally, as mentioned, I tried the Miyazaki JDL graphite shaft that's specifically designed to perform consistently no matter how it's oriented in the clubhead. Like all Miyazaki shafts, it comes in a wide array of flex profiles to accommodate virtually every type of player looking for a mid-launch.
The first thing I did was swing the club in the "Square" position and get a feel for a base trajectory and face angle. Out of the box, I was relieved to find that the XL Custom retained the sound, feel and flight I loved so much about the original Classic driver from last year. That said, there were a few differences, however, none in the negative direction. When compared to the original Classic driver of the same loft, the XL Custom seemed to produce a more penetrating ballflight than last year's stick. So, by way of a practical, real-world comparison, I contend that the XL Custom is longer than the original Classic driver, thanks to a better weighting scheme and a shaft that really delivers a mid-height ballflight. And, that's all before even taking the torque wrench out of the bag.
Now, onto the really interesting part. The adjustability of the XL Custom driver allows up to 12 different configurations, which is probably more than any of us need, but it certainly helps in fitting more swing and player types. The 12 settings are arranged by face angle denotations and cleverly viewed by the "window" on the hosel. When the club is set to "Square" the face is square with the club's standard loft. As you adjust toward "L" the face closes, to "R" the face opens, and past "L" and "R" the face opens and closes relative to a more upright setting. (Upright settings are great for chronic slicers, by the way.)
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