What we say...
Cleveland have brought back their Launcher Driver, with focus of design being to make a significant difference in a golfers performance.
It's been a long time since Cleveland have released a driver in to the equipment market, which had much to do with them stepping back to re-establish themselves as a short game brand with their wedges and putters.
They believe that there is a huge disconnect between how new equipment on the market just now balances prices and performance, and they believe that despite the increase in cost - golfers aren't seeing the significant improvement in performance that they should.
Cleveland Launcher engineers say that a huge part of the problem lies in excessive weight adjustability which positions quite large amounts of mass in less than ideal locations within new clubhead designs.
Video Review: Cleveland Launcher HB Driver
Cleveland Launcher HB Driver: You need to know
Cleveland reckon by freeing up mass which is usually taken up by adjustable hosels and weight tracks they create a longer more forgiving driver. Flex fins direct more energy to the ball, a cup face preserves ball speed on off centre hits and a HiBore crown promotes high launching low spinning drives.
Cleveland Launcher HB Driver: We say
It’s incredible to think the Launcher at £279 is one of the least expensive drivers available from a major brand in 2018. The price points due in part at least to the Cleveland’s complete lack of adjustability. We reckon the thinking behind the Launcher is sound, removing adjustability frees up weight which can be positioned to better influence forgiveness and spin. The only issue with a single fixed shaft (in regular or stiff flex) means taking a huge punt on where the “average” golfer needs weight positioned inside the head (for optimum spin and launch) and which single shaft suits the golfing masses.
With all that in mind its impressive Cleveland’s engineers have got the Launcher to perform admirably for all three testers. Our test pro generated his single fastest ball speed (159mph tied with Rogue, Rogue Sub Zero and the Ping G400), while both Simon and Chris were both above their test average carry distance using the Launcher.
Cleveland Launcher HB Driver: Verdict
Take nothing away from the Cleveland as the only non-adjustable driver in our test, it showed it could just about hold its own for all three testers without any fitting. Compared to some the shaft feels pretty long (probably because its white towards the tip) and because the lofts are true the Launcher looks a bit daunting at address. Overall though if you can’t be bothered to get fitted you could spend a lot more and get a worse fitting driver.
See our Best 2018 Driver Test here
But why they launched a new driver now? Jeff Brunski, Director of R&D at Srixon and Cleveland Golf, explains in the video below.
Cleveland Launcher HB Driver: Key Features
Cleveland say they've designed the HB woods by only focusing on technologies that impact performance. So they've created a low-deep CG driver capable of producing a high-launch, low-spin flight which combines speed, distance and control. But how did they do it?
Cleveland’s stepped HiBore crown was a massive feature on the original and they’ve brought it back on the new HB. Cleveland’s boffins reckon their new design allows the crown to flex more at impact promoting higher ball speeds, but it also means they’re able to position more mass to produce a high-launch low spin trajectory.
Jeff Brunksi, Director of R&D at Srixon and Cleveland Golf, says of the HiBore Crown: "Fundamentally this is a driver for real golfers, average golfers who struggle to hit the ball with consistency with a little draw bias. One of the key technologies that helps us achieve that type of performance is the hi-bore crown, which is a very innovative geometric shaping that takes the centre of gravity and moves it lower and deeper in the clubhead."
"There’s actually a step on the crown that helps a little bit with alignment and ball speed. Bottom line, we’ve built a driver with a more forgiving centre of gravity for averages golfers to hit the ball more consistently and to hit it farther.
WATCH: Cleveland Launcher HB Driver - Crown Video
Launcher Cup Face
Cup faces are nothing new to drivers but Cleveland reckon theirs creates higher COR (flex and rebound) across the entire face than the competition. For you when combined with all the other speed tech in the HB it means unmatched ball speed and carry distance.
Specially shaped fins on the sole towards the toe and heel compress at impact, transferring more energy back to the ball for extra ball speed and distance especially on shots impacted towards the heel or toe.
"There are two key technologies in the sole of the Cleveland HB driver. The first is the flex fin sole technology that produces really good ball speed. This essentially flexes at impact and returns energy to the ball. That combined with the cup face produces really good ball speed."
"The other thing you will notice is this signature low and deep shaping where we’ve extended the sole out in the rear and so we can put a lot of the mass in there."
"All that discretionary mass we save around with the light weight hosel and thin crown, we put that low and deep to give that a more forgiving stable club head – the result is longer drives and and more consistent, stable and forgiving ball flight."
WATCH: Cleveland Launcher HB Driver - Sole Tech Video
Cleveland reckon adjustable hosel drivers have plenty of inefficient weight housed in the hosel so they’ve done away with the idea. The HB’s glued hosel means their designers have freed up more weight to redistribute to create a higher more forgiving ball flight.
New Miyazaki shaft
Speed’s everything in golf and by going lighter it means golfers can increase head speeds. The HB’s new high balance point (counter balanced) 50g Miyazaki C shaft is super lightweight but because it’s low-torque you don’t lose stability, which Cleveland say makes it more accurate so you can expect to hit more fairways.