Cleveland Frontline Elite Putter Review

50 Words or Less

The Cleveland Frontline Elite putter line has a different – and effective – approach to CG placement.  Two shaft options and removable sole weights allow for meaningful customization.  Fitting options extend from the head to the grip.

Introduction

For the last several years, Cleveland has focused their putter lines on value.  The Huntington Beach Soft Premier, for example, is a fully milled putter at under $200 [review HERE].  With Frontline Elite, Cleveland is stepping up a class and taking aim at the biggest names on the green.  Will golfers be willing to get onboard with their radically different design philosophy?

Cleveland Frontline Elite Putter headcovers

Looks

Each of the five models in the Cleveland Frontline Elite putter line utilizes a premium matte black finish.   It’s durable, looks great, doesn’t smudge, and kills glare.  That’s a strong combination.  The back of the putters has a simple white “Cleveland” logo in the cavity.  The sole and face, however, are much busier with a silver tungsten face insert and removable weights on the sole.

Cleveland Frontline Elite Putter elevado address

The two models I reviewed are the Elevado (above) and the Frontline Elite 1.0 (below).  I’m a fan of fang-style putters, and I like Cleveland’s take on this modern classic.  The head looks compact, and the shape is simple and clean without extraneous ornamentation.  The gap between the fangs frames the ball well, and the focus sits squarely on the white top line.

Cleveland Frontline Elite Putter 1.0 address

It’s said that black is a slimming color, and that’s certainly the case with the 1.0.  The top line is fairly thick, but the putter looks slimmer front-to-back than a standard Anser (in reality, it’s not).  This is a boxier take on the classic blade, more Anser 2 than Anser.  The white alignment line has tremendous contrast against the black finish, providing plenty of alignment help.

Sound & Feel

Cleveland’s Tungsten SOFT Face provides some of the sharpest audio feedback of any putter I’ve tested recently.  On perfect strikes, both putters produce a premium, full “tock.”  When you get just a little bit off center, the sound turns to a thin “click.”

Through the hands, the Frontline Elite putters feel soft, balanced with a touch of springy.  The ball doesn’t melt into the face, but it’s a very gentle collision.  Feedback through the hands is noticeable, but it’s not nearly as stark as the audio.

To give the Frontline Elite putters more premium appeal, Cleveland is offering a graphite shaft – the UST All In – for a $50 up-charge.  The Elevado that I tested had the All In; the 1.0 had a stepless steel shaft.  While this isn’t a perfect apples-to-apples comparison, I can report that the All In had the effect of muting the sound and feel slightly.  It doesn’t change the character of either element, but it turns their volume down noticeably.

Performance

The Frontline Elite putters represent Cleveland’s second iteration of a radically different putter design philosophy.  Since the original Frontline putters [review HERE] were released, Cleveland has promoted the idea that a more forward CG is the key to straighter putts.  This runs in direct contrast to most OEMs which are trying to pull the CG back to make the putter more stable.  You can find a well-illustrated explanation on Cleveland’s website HERE.

To bring the CG forward, Cleveland did two major things.  First, they placed the removable weights closer to the face.  Second, they made the face insert from tungsten.  Additionally, in their mallets Cleveland used multi-material construction to keep the CG forward.

The question is, does it work as promised?  I tested the 1.0 against a conventional, milled Anser-style putter and did see better horizontal launch direction.  Just as in my review of the CBX Full-Face 2 wedges [review HERE], the launch monitor was crucial to appreciating the difference.  The gap between putters was slim, but so is the difference between making and missing putts.

Forward CG is not the only technology that Cleveland incorporated into these putters.  Another key element is the Tungsten SOFT Face.  SOFT is an acronym for Speed Optimized Face Technology.  This tech is actually visible – you can see above that the grooves are more tightly packed in the center of the face.  It’s designed to balance the energy transfer of pure and off-center strikes so that they all roll the same distance.

Finally, I want to give Cleveland a lot of credit for taking fitting seriously from grip to putter head.  Across this line, there are four “Slight Arc” models and five “Straight” putters.  The first part of this is toe hang – the “Straight” putters are going to be face balanced or close to it.  What’s unique is that Cleveland is also pairing each putter type with its own grip.  The “Straight” putters come with a Lamkin Pistol grip.  The “Slight Arc” putters come with a Skinny Pistol, meant to allow the hands more freedom to rotate.

Cleveland Frontline Elite Putter 1.0 sole

Conclusion

When Cleveland decided to step up a tier in the putter market, they brought a full bag of tricks.  From forward CG to removable weights to complete fitting options, each Cleveland Frontline Elite putter delivers really good value.  Only time will tell if that will be enough to make a dent in the popularity of the more established names.

Visit Cleveland Golf HERE

Matt Saternus
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3 Comments

  1. I am always rooting for Cleveland… I like their approach. If they can get these into the hands of major champions, they might gain a stronger foothold…

  2. Why users still use to read news papers when in this technological globe
    all is existing on net?

    • I bought the mallet style putter straight swing because it felt the best compared to all the other putters I tested (Scotty, TM, Odyssey, etc). I didn’t know anything about their new tech. All I can say is I vastly prefer this putter over my old Odyssey.

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