Cleveland Launcher HB Driver

9.3
9.3 score
[Editors rating (9.3)] = (Hombre Golf Club) score (9.3)/10


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Editor rating: 9.3 / 10
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When a company that started with manufacturing replicas of classical golf clubs was able to get among the best few golf club manufacturers, you realize that it is the dedication and the investments that made it get there. Known by its 588 wedges, which have been remade and upgraded, and considered one of the best wedges ever made. In line with its contributions in the world of golf, Cleveland was the first company to produce wedges that offer multiple bounce options featured on the sole, and it was the first to introduce milled grooves into the faces of the wedges. Plus, it is the first among the manufacturers to produce an oversized 460cc driver. However, the company’s success was not once and for all, and they had gone through quite a turmoil before being able to stand on firm grounds.

So, after many ups and downs, the company was finally able to regain its status of a premium company, which was mostly restored with the great success it had with its wedges and putters. If you have been playing golf and watching some of the major tournaments, you must have noticed Cleveland clubs in the bags of many Tour players as they have been quite popular.

However, besides being associated with wedges, and having their attention to the short game, in 2017 they decided that the time was right to pay due attention to the long game. They had already had established their reputation of a company that produces forgiving drivers, so they decided to focus within this range. And that was the right thing to do as Cleveland Launcher HB, has seen incredible success, and has been considered one of the most forgiving and the most playable drivers in the range.

Editor's Pros & Cons
Pros

Large 460cc titanium head with low and deep CG for higher launching angles

Face Cup technology enables the face to flex more for more speed

High COR face and Fin-Flex sole maximize the speed of the ball

High ball trajectories with low spin and more speed and distance

Comes with ultralight, counterbalanced, graphite Miyazaki C shaft

Cons

The hosel is not adjustable

Overview

The driving idea for creating this driver was seen in the market offer discrepancies among the prices, the utilized technologies, and the rather insignificant improvement in golfers' performance opposite of what they expect to get. So, unlike most of the manufacturers that opt for weight adjustability that puts lots of mass in most unfavorable positions, they chose to approach the whole design rather differently. So what you’ll see in the construction of Cleveland HB is fixed hosel design, flex fins which deliver more energy, cup face that makes every off-center shot very forgiving and reintroduction of the HiBore crown from ten years ago. Actually, the name HB stands for HiBore, giving importance to the crown design and its function.

HiBore Crown

So, it is a big deal, you get it, but let’s just break down its function into pieces so that you get the idea why it matters so much. Firstly, the sole fact that when it was introduced in 2008 proved itself to be among the most successful crown designs, which helped to lower the center of gravity (CG) so that it created higher launches.

Similarly, they upgraded the crown design so that it flexes more at impact and delivers higher speeds. This HiBore crown allows a greater mass distribution down to the sole that leads to much higher launches with lower spin and further ball distances. The HiBore crown represents a highly innovative geometric shaping which repositions the center of gravity deeper and lower. Positioned like this means that it delivers plenty of forgiveness, so golfers can easily launch the ball. The crown actually features a step on it, designed to help golfers to align better and get more speed.

Cup Face Technology

If you just carefully read the designs of many modern-day drivers, you will notice that many of them boast cup face technology which is merely the same thing represented with a different name and a few things here and there that make the difference. So among the differences, the cup face designed by Cleveland increases the COR of the face which influences the face flex and the rebound and it is among the highest within the competition. The extra face flex in combination with the rest of the integrated speed technology in the HB translates into unsurpassed ball speed and immense carry distance.

Flex Fin Sole Technology

We might have seen (or heard) a lot about cup face, however, flex fin sole ''[is a rather new term and concept that Cleveland engineers created. These flex fins represent specially designed fins that are located on the sole towards the heel and toe which compress at impact, accumulating extra energy return to the ball, helping it to fly further especially when it comes to mishits impacted close to the toe and the heel.

Hosel Design

Remember when we mentioned at the beginning that the engineers from Cleveland decided to take a different approach and moved a great amount of weight from the lightweight hosel and the thin crown? For many average golfers, the sole fact that the hosel is not adjustable doesn’t come as an advantage since the ability to customize the driver in line with their preferences would be impossible, however, Cleveland emphasizes this information as one of the greatest benefits that you can get from the driver. The thing is, many recreational, average golfers never truly benefit from the adjustable hosels as every weight customization means different CG, whereas it is the low and deep CG that delivers maximum forgiveness, higher launches, and straighter ball flights.

Design

At address, Launcher HB looks classy and modern with a silver line located on the head which slightly curves away from the leading edge creating the effect of having the face open when it is actually square. The oversized 460cc head is made from titanium with a glossy black finish, and it has a rounded shape, while the sole, featuring the Flex-Fin Technology, is grey and thinner. With the cup face which gets the weld point behind the leading edge, golfers can easily launch the ball thanks to the greater sweet spot.

Specifications

Even though the hosel is not adjustable, Cleveland offers three loft degrees so that golfers still have at least some adjustability to match their performance and style. This is actually an important point to make since the loft degrees of 9, 10.5 and 12 offer versatility in golfers' performance and various launch angles and speeds.

Cleveland Launcher HB driver has been a subject of many tests and trials and most of the experts agree that even though the company claims that it is engineered to meet the needs of average golfers with 10-20 handicap, different lofts have proven to deliver different playability and the span expands to lower and higher handicappers.

Therefore, the clubheads that come with 12 degrees loft are actually suitable for higher handicappers and golfers with very low swing speeds as higher -lofted club heads allow easier launch and more playability. The clubheads featuring 10.5 degrees loft are practically designed for mid-handicappers, while the 9 degrees lofted club head can suit well even the low handicappers. These drivers are able to deliver the straightest and the most distant ball flights with very low spin, making them a good appeal even for better players.

Shaft Type

I don’t know if it's just a superstition or psychological element, but for many golfers, the way you start the game will influence your performance and it will probably be the way you’ll finish the game. Since the driver is the first club that golfers use off the tee box, its performance will dictate the tempo of your game (based on the majority of golfers). So what you’d need from a driver is speed which will result in more distance, forgiveness and excellent sound and feel.

We have talked a lot about what makes a ball fly further and longer, but what we didn’t mention is the impact of the shaft on the playability of the driver. There’s another common notion about the shafts that they represent the engine of the clubhead and if the shaft isn’t solid enough then you won’t be able to generate as much power as necessary to launch the ball into a low spin, straight ball flight.

To make sure that the shaft will be able to complement and enhance the overall playability of Cleveland Launcher HB performance, its engineers included one of the latest, counterbalanced Miyazaki C shaft which weighs only 50 grams. It is one of the most lightweights graphite shafts ever found on a driver and thanks to its low-torque, it maintains stability and balance. It comes in three flex points, regular, senior and stiff to meet various golfers’ needs.

Performance

We hinted a lot about the performance features of Cleveland Launcher HB since it is impossible to discuss technology and design without mentioning the playability of the club. What you could already understand is that this is a very forgiving driver that is designed to increase the performance level of average golfers who need a tech-packed driver designed with the use of the advanced technology. Even though we can’t really say that it features all the bells and whistles, it is definitely the driver that every mid or high handicapper would love to have in its bag.

The driver delivers high launching ball flights with low spin and very straight trajectories. As a support of this claim, there have been several golfers’ reviews that claim that this driver has helped them cure slices and hooks and gain 10 to 15 more yardages, which is quite a lot.

One thing that comes as a concern is the slightly unpleasant, crushing sound at impact that might deliver completely different feedback. However, once you get used to the club you'll be able to communicate quite well with it and enjoy its performance.

Key Features

This section is usually reserved for a summary of what we have discussed in parts so far so that you get the whole picture of how this driver functions. The main points of discussion are the Cup Face and the Flex-Fin sole and the HiBore technologies that all work in synchronization to make this driver one of the fastest and more forgiving drivers at the same time. The oversized titanium head and the weighting positioned low and deep help golfers easily launch the ball higher, straighter and with a low spin. Much of the weight was saved from the fixed hosel design and positioned low in the sole, so even though you won’t be able to custom-fit the driver to match your swing type, it is a guarantee for better playability and maximized performance. Equipped with the most lightweight, counterbalanced graphite shaft, it will serve as a speed booster and help you maintain stability and balance. So, generally speaking, it is one of the most forgiving and speed enhancing drivers ever made.

Key Features

  • Oversized, 460cc titanium head with low and deep CG for higher launching angles

  • Fixed hosel design that saves weight which is relocated deep and low in the sole

  • Face Cup technology makes the sweet spot larger and enables the face to flex more for more speed

  • High COR face in combination with the Fin-Flex sole maximize the speed of the ball

  • High ball trajectories with low spin and more speed and distance

  • Three available lofts of 9, 10.5 and 12 degrees

  • Engineered for mid to high handicappers

  • Comes with ultralight, counterbalanced, graphite Miyazaki C shaft

Bottom Line

When Cleveland set to make this driver, they said that they only focused on those technologies that boost performance on average level. They didn’t overburden the driver with unnecessary bits and pieces that find almost no purpose in the performance of an average golfer and kept the low profile so that they make it more playable. The ultra-lightweight shaft and the game-improvement concept are a guarantee for optimal speed and distance.

On the plus side, we need to mention its fairly low price point which comes due to the fact that it doesn’t feature an adjustable hosel is usually the reason for a high price. So, if you are a golfer who is transiting from high to low handicap and looking for a speed-enhancing driver that delivers the longest and the straightest ball flights, Cleveland Launcher HB is one of the best options to consider.