50 Words or Less
With a hybrid-like look and progressive shaping, the Launcher HB Irons from Cleveland Golf offer tremendous forgiveness while achieving high, straight ball flights in the super game improvement category.
The Launcher HB Irons bring us full circle in Cleveland Golf’s re-entry into the woods and irons market. As you’ve surely already noted from the pictures, the Launcher HB irons are an amalgamation of all the new Cleveland clubs we’ve reviewed this fall. Staying true to the Launcher HB branding, these clubs are designed for forgiveness and high, straight shots.
Let’s not dance around this, the looks of the Launcher HB Irons may be a hurdle for a lot of golfers. The first time I set up to hit a ball, I said out loud “I’m not sure I could get used to this.” But that’s just a reflex response to an image that doesn’t match what we’ve been programmed to see. If the club pictured above was called a magical 6 hybrid, you’d probably not react the same way as when it’s called a 6 iron.
From the face view, the Launcher HB looks like an iron – although the profile is noticeably different than its CBX cousin. But there end the similarities to a traditional iron. From address, the topline is thick and there’s no missing the curve and black finish of the Hibore crown until you get down to the 9 iron. Branding on the sole has clean lines and breaks up an otherwise large surface. Overall, the colors and finishes look nice together, but missing is the blue accent that the rest of the Launcher HB line possess.
Sound & Feel
Even with their hollow bodies, the Cleveland Launcher HB Irons have a deep sounding whack at impact that’s not unlike many cavity back irons. The designers seemed aware of the fact these clubs shouldn’t have the sound of hybrids and added ribs in the chamber to tune the acoustics.
By design, the Launcher HB Irons don’t offer a lot of feedback to your hands or ears. Every strike felt solid and stable. The shaft and head are both lightweight, but seemed well balanced throughout my swings.
One word – hot. As often happens when testing a new club, I swing a little easier, and the launch monitor at Club Champion confirmed that when I captured data on the 6 iron. My club head speed was down 2 mph compared to my gamer, yet my ball speed went up and produced a smash factor of 1.43. The ball came off the face 2° higher and with 800 rpm more spin. The loft is 1° higher on the 4, 5 and 6 irons than the Launcher CBX Irons, so that’s not totally unexpected, but having similar carry sure was.
My results also brought to light two other points with the Launcher HB Irons. First, I was hitting every shot left – bad for me, but good for the golfer who tends to miss right. Second, I had some issues with turf interaction – bouncing the club head into the strike. I attribute this to the wide sole and my shallow swing path. Again, bad for me, but good for golfers with steep swings.
I commend Cleveland Golf for producing irons that can really help golfers with slower swing speeds enjoy the game. The Launcher HB Irons feel powerful with little effort and deliver high, straight shots. The consistency of my results was an amazing testament to their forgiveness.