Charles Schwab Challenge

Colonial Country Club

New irons

Cleveland Golf's new Launcher XL Halo irons provide a boost for those who need it most

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What you need to know: A hollow-body, hybrid-style iron designed to help golfers get the ball in the air. The irons borrow several technologies from Cleveland’s sister companies Srixon and XXIO.

Price: Available in graphite ($900 for a seven-piece set) starting Aug. 20 and in steel ($800 for a seven-piece set) Sept. 17.

The deep dive: Cleveland Golf’s Launcher line of irons has long been geared toward helping players that need a boost in both forgiveness and getting the ball airborne. Its latest offering, the hollow-body Launcher XL Halo, excels at both by using proven technologies from previous Cleveland products as well as from sister companies Srixon and XXIO.

Although the hybrid-style irons might not appeal to everyone’s eye, the technology can benefit almost anyone. Key to that is a head design that boosts the moment of inertia to help mitigate the effect of mis-hits. According to Cleveland, the increase in MOI is 17 percent compared to the previous iteration. The thought process on upping the MOI, however, was more than just getting to a number.

“High-low MOI is perhaps more important on hybrids than heel-toe because of the way the club is used often out of the rough and the variability of where the ball is struck on the face up and down,” said Jacob Lambeth, senior research engineer for Cleveland/Srixon. “The gains in high-low MOI can be greater than heel-toe at times.” Helping achieve the MOI increase is a longer blade length and a longer hosel.

The irons also borrow a key technology employed in some of its sister company Srixon’s irons, the “MainFrame” iron face.

Driven by artificial intelligence design, a process that produces far more potential clubhead designs than humans are capable of in any given time period, MainFrame is a face where the backside of each iron face is milled in a variable-thickness pattern made up of various indentations to provide added ball speed while removing mass. It is a process the company previously used in Srixon’s Z4 irons and some utility irons.

“This is a variable-thickness pattern that is not necessarily intuitive,” said Lambeth. “Basically, we have something where our simulation model is capable of automatically adjusting these channels in thickness, depth, location, along with the thickness of these different regions in the center of the face.”

Rails on the soles of the long irons assist turf interaction while also placing weight low to enhance launch. The mid-to-short irons use a V-shaped sole similar to that seen on some Srixon irons. Borrowing from XXIO’s penchant for counterbalanced shafts, the Launcher XL Halo irons have an 8-gram weight in the butt end of each grip to help promote a smoother swing that better squares the club at impact. For those seeking even more control, the company is offering what it calls an “Accuracy Build” that is a half-inch shorter than standard, but without the counterbalancing weight.

The groove configuration has also been given attention. On the 4- through 7-irons, wider, flatter grooves are employed to reduce distance-robbing spin while in the 8-iron through sand wedge, deeper, higher-spinning grooves more closely spaced are employed to boost grab.

The Launcher XL Halo Irons are available in graphite ($900 for a seven-piece set) starting Aug. 20 and in steel ($800 for a seven-piece set) Sept. 17.