Cleveland's Launcher line is built for affordable game improvement with plenty of forgiveness and, as the name suggest, easy launch for mid to high handicap golfers.
Replacing the Launcher UHX irons, the new Launcher XL is said to be the brand's most forgiving iron ever with a higher MOI than any other Cleveland iron.
Whilst virtually every brand offers a cavity-back game improvement iron, Cleveland's Launcher XL will set you back just £499 for a set. So can it compete with the bigger names in the market?
The Launcher XL irons feature what Cleveland are calling a Hollow Cavity Combo Design, which sees cavity back irons in the shorter irons for more control and a better feel, along with hollow longer irons which try to maximise distance and forgiveness.
The bigger head design has resulted in an MOI reading of 3,081 g-cm2 in the 7 iron, which in simple terms makes it Cleveland's most forgiving iron ever. A higher MOI means more forgiveness, making it easier to launch shots and hit them straight.
Like a number of brands these days, Cleveland have employed the use of Artificial Intelligence to create a MainFrame face, with variable thickness across the face to deliver the right blend of forgiveness and ball speed for each iron.
An 8g weight is placed inside the end of the grip, which is designed to provide better balance and help the club feel light and workable whilst swinging. Cleveland also say it helps to you maintain a more square path on the downswing, helping to lessen your slice.
A V-shaped sole features an elevated leading edge, which is there to cut through the turf more easily to give you better strikes and more speed through the ball, even if you don't get that ball-turf contact quite right.
Finally, Cleveland have added wider and flatter grooves to the long irons, and closely-spaced, deeper and higher spinning grooves to the short irons, which also feature laser milling, to achieve the best performance from each iron.
Cleveland Launcher XL Irons Review
Looks & Feel
I am a big fan of the brushed chrome finish on these irons and on irons in general, I think it looks really smart and it helps to stop any glare from the sun.
They replace the UHX irons, which to be honest probably look a little smarter than the Launcher XL in the bag as the colour scheme is a bit more understated, compared to these irons which reminded me more of the CBX irons.
Nevertheless it's still pretty smart looking and the finish is certainly premium.
Down by the ball there's a clean, uncomplicated look too. The topline was thinner than I was expecting at address, and there was also less offset too.
The blade lengths were long though, particularly as you move from mid-to-long irons and for some reason I actually found that it was harder to centre the ball in the face. Sometimes a smaller target can help to focus your mind a little more.
If you're someone who has used more compact irons and are looking at these for more forgiveness, it may take a little bit of getting used to.
Down on the sole you can see the v-shape quite clearly and this is reassuring as you know it is going to help you out with turf interaction on heavier shots, in the same way that different wedge sole grinds can.
With irons of this type and shape I wasn't expecting a buttery soft feel, but I thought there was a decent level of feedback when striking the ball, as well as a nice easy spring off the face which helped add to the feeling of easy launch.
I tested the irons on the Flightscope Mevo+ Launch Monitor on a sweltering day at Prestbury GC.
With stronger lofts such as these (29 degrees for a 7 iron) I did see a bit of a boost in distance through the air, although the additional launch and peak height offered probably meant that this wasn't quite optimal and I have seen faster ball speeds in other game improvement irons.
Barring a couple of misreads, the spin rates were about where you'd expect them to be for an iron of this type. They are a little on the low side but that helps with the distance and for higher handicappers who are just looking for more consistency in their strike and ball flight, I don't see it as a great issue.
I quite like the fact that the loft is displayed on the bottom next to the iron number – yes they’re strong but they aren’t trying to hide that. It won't add anything to your game but it's just a nice feature for me, and might help you when working out your gapping from the longest iron to your hybrid/fairway and from the shortest iron/wedge into your specialist wedges.
The main takeaway from these irons was that they were good fun to use. They were easy to hit, looked good in the bag and performed well.
These irons have Cleveland's highest ever MOI and the stability did feel great, with plenty of help even if you didn't catch it out of the screws every time.
It just felt really easy to get the ball up in the air and I found that I could really trust these irons, whilst the sole shape also encourages you to hit down into the ball which may help to improve some golfers' ball striking.
The straight lines and minimal offset were a bonus too as I didn't fear the left, overdraw miss. Not every higher handicap golfer slices the ball so it's nice to see a club like this with a relatively neutral profile.
This also meant that it was possible to work the ball both ways in the air if necessary, and as a result I think these irons could definitely be playable for mid handicappers in the teens, rather than just beginners and high handicappers.
Cleveland Launcher XL Irons Verdict
The Launcher XL irons are great fun to use and they make life easy, they're big and friendly without looking too bulky or offset, and they give you plenty of distance too.
The best thing about them in my opinion though is the price point - just £499 for 6-PW is fantastic value for money and I would strongly urge any golfer who is looking for irons in this category to consider the Launcher XL.
I could also see them pairing really nicely with Cleveland's CBX wedges as they are relatively similar in looks and shaping, and follow the same ethos of making life easier for the user.
Who Are They Aimed At?
Anyone from the mid-teens upwards, particularly those who are on a budget but want a new set of irons. They are ideal for golfers looking to improve their ball striking and get plenty of forgiveness.
Would I Use Them?
No, but they are not really aimed at me.
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