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New irons

Cleveland ZipCore XL, Halo XL Full-Face irons: What you need to know

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What you need to know: Golfers that fall into the game-improvement iron category approach the game—and their equipment purchases—based more on minimizing their bad shots rather than optimizing their good ones (although they will certainly take that as well). Cleveland Golf has long geared their club designs just to this kind of golfer and continues down that path with the introduction of its game-improvement ZipCore XL irons and, for those needing even more help, its Halo XL Full-Face irons.

Pricing: The ZipCore XL and Halo XL Full-Face irons are each available for $899 (seven-piece set, steel) and $999 (seven-piece set, graphite)

Cleveland ZipCore XL
$128 per iron | Golf Galaxy
4.5
GD SCORE GD HOT LIST SCORE
Hot List Gold
$128 per iron

On the surface this iron looks standard, but the real improvements are on the inside. The face in the 4- through 7-irons is similar to that of affiliated company Srixon’s irons with channels and cavities on the back of the face to save mass and increase ball speed. This iron goes a step further, borrowing the groundbreaking ZipCore technology from Cleveland’s wedge line in the 8-iron through the wedges. ZipCore takes steel out of the hosel and replaces it with a lighter material, allowing for optimal CG placement and greater forgiveness.

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Cleveland Halo XL Full Face
$128 per iron | Golf Galaxy
4.5
GD SCORE GD HOT LIST SCORE
Hot List Gold
$128 per iron

Cleveland believes helping players achieve more distance, forgiveness and launch starts with the face, specifically making it lighter and more flexible to produce maximum yards. The face here underwent a proprietary face blast and laser-mill-line process to enhance surface roughness to optimize spin. The grooves that stretch all the way across the face are purposeful, too: They increase consistency and reduce the chance of flyers.

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3 Cool Things

1. Expanding on a great idea. Golf Digest’s academic panel has seen a lot of interesting technology over the years and is not easily impressed. Cleveland’s ZipCore technology, where a lightweight aluminum silicate compound replaces steel in the hosel, allowing for better center-of-gravity position, is an exception. That material, previously restricted to use in the company’s wedges, is now employed in the low heel area of the 8-iron through sand wedge of the ZipCore XL irons.

At a quarter of the density of the steel it replaces, it creates a significant amount of weight savings that be used elsewhere. In these irons, nearly 15 grams of weight is saved that is re-distributed to not only optimize the CG location, but up moment of inertia to mitigate ball speed loss on off-center strikes.

2. The case for face. One of the cool things about having sister companies is that you can borrow their technologies and not end up spending all year in a legal battle over patents. For the face, the ZipCore XL went into Srixon’s playbook and employed its “MainFrame” face tech in the 4- through 7-irons.

MainFrame is a system of channels and cavities milled into the backside of the face of the hollow-bodied irons to max out face flex at impact. More than just chasing more yards, it also creates weight savings that help improve other mass properties.

“The face is very similar to the Srixon ZX5 Mk II,” said Jacob Lambeth, senior research engineer for Srixon/Cleveland Golf/XXIO. “In fact, the goal is very much the same as for our drivers that use MainFrame. We want to save mass and increase ball speed. We’ve been able to do both here.”

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 sand wedge.

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3. Hybrid helper. 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 Halo XL Full-Face, excels at both.

A hollow-body, hybrid-style iron designed to help golfers get the ball in the air. The Halo XL Full-Face irons feature a variable-thickness face and oversize heads along with three technologies that deliver a noticeable assist to golfers.

On the face, grooves that stretch across the entire face are helpful for a player type that tends to hit the ball in pretty much all parts of the face. These help improve launch conditions for shots hit outside the typical groove area. “The primary benefit of full-face grooves on the Halo XL irons is that the spin consistency results in a tighter stat area, mainly from preventing fliers,” said Lambeth.

Also on the face is a blast called “HydraZip” and laser-milled-line system designed to create additional roughness to enhance friction. “HydraZip would seem to be counterintuitive for this player type, but the increase of launch angle benefits this player type that needs it while adding 1.6 yards,” said Lambeth.

For higher-handicappers turf interaction is almost always an issue and the Halo XL Full-Face irons address that with rails on the bottom of the 4-iron through 7-iron to prevent digging on shots where distance is needed.