Cleveland's Launcher XL irons build on forgiveness heritage with a distance boost added in
What you need to know: This game-improvement set uses two different constructions, featuring a hollow-body iron construction driven by artificial intelligence in the long irons (4- through 7-iron) and a more traditional cavity-back iron design in the 8-iron through gap wedge.
Pricing: The Launcher XL Irons officially launch in North America on Sept. 17 at a price of $800 in steel and $900 in graphite.
The deep dive: Golfers that fall into the game-improvement iron category approach the game—and their equipment purchases—based more on mitigating their disasters as opposed to maximizing their good shots (although they want that, too). Cleveland Golf has understood that mindset for several years now and has taken that into consideration with the creation of its new Launcher XL irons.
The Launcher XL iron set takes a traditional approach in terms of look, but the mission is about providing forgiveness and speed where these players need it. Toward that end, the set uses two different constructions, featuring a hollow-body iron construction in the long irons (4- through 7-iron) and a more traditional cavity-back iron design in the 8-iron through gap wedge.
The hollow-body construction was driven by artificial-intelligent design, a process that produces far more potential clubhead designs than humans are capable of in any given time period. The end result here is a technology the company refers to as “MainFrame,” 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 technology the company has previously used in its Launcher XL Halo iron as well as in several iron models from sister company Srixon. The Launcher XL irons also utilize an 8-gram weight in the butt end of each grip to counterbalance the iron and help promote a smoother swing that better squares the club at impact.
“MainFrame technology faces are optimized with A.I. to guarantee shots all over the face maintain distance and precision, while Action Mass CB, with a counterbalance weight in the grip end, helps players get on the correct swing plane while increasing head speed for distance,” said Dustin Brekke, director of engineering for Cleveland Golf, while noting the irons have a 15 percent increase in moment of inertia over the previous generation to help mitigate the effects of mis-hits.
The Launcher XL irons also borrow some groove design ideas from Cleveland’s wedges, including laser milled grooves in between each main groove for increased surface friction in the higher lofts. The 4- through 7-irons have wider, flatter grooves while the 8-iron through gap wedge have grooves that are more closely spaced, deeper and higher spinning.
Like past Cleveland and Srixon irons, the Launcher XL set uses a V-shaped sole with an elevated leading edge to enhance turf interaction. “We see far less drag than a typical flat sole,” Brekke said. “That means it will still get through the ground even if you hit a shot a bit heavy.”
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