Cleveland Classic Driver – a rant

For the record.

Cleveland Classic Driver: As you may already know, Cleveland has just come out with a new “Cleveland Classic Driver, packaging all of today’s modern technology into an old-school, persimmon wood look. By all accounts (eg. Fresh Golf Review’s writeup) the club performs quite well, so far be it from me to poke fun at anyone who puts the Classic in their bag. But I do have to ask – who is going to put this club in their bag?!?!?

Last time I checked, nobody was turned off by the modern look of today’s drivers. Anyone under the age of 30 doesn’t even know what a persimoon wood is unless they saw it on display at their local sports-themed McDonald’s, and any kid who simply wants one based on merit should be immediately cast in a Harold and Maude sequel. Those of us older than 30 may have had the pleasure of swinging a wooden driver, and if so, will also remember what it’s like to hit it 30 yards shorter than we do now. I started with persimmon woods – nice ones – Bob Toski’s that were previously used by a club professional. I have absolutely ZERO desire to get back behind the wheel of one of those clunkers. Nor do I yearn for the looks, they are too heavily linked to inferior performance in the ol’ cranium. Oh, and also . . . those looks aren’t as cool as modern looks! We are evolving! My prediction for Cleveland Classic Driver- they will sell 17 of these drivers in 2012, just edging out MacGregor.

Free with club purchase.
Now that I’m on a roll, I’d like to add a similar two cents to the world of irons. I’ve been serenaded for 20 years by golf experts professing the ultimate, peerless beauty of blade irons. In fact, just last night I watched Golf Channel’s recap of the 2012 PGA Merchandise Show, and guess what happened (besides Adam inviting Ian Poulter to “come play the home course anytime”)? They had two surprisingly talented and entertaining guys roaming through the exhibits, giving quick run-downs on each new club offering that the big companies have rolled out. So there’s Taylor Made’s RocketBallZ (still can’t believe this is really happening) technology, Titleist’s new AP1’s and AP2’s, Callaway’s new big thing, yadda yadda. Then we cut to the Mizuno booth, and our guy is so creepily smitten with the artistic beauty of the Mizuno blades that one of the pit bosses had to ask them to get a room.
As an everyday amateur I have to ask – what’s so great looking about traditional blades? To me they look like bad shots, awful sensations in my hands, and zero confidence. And they’re boring, each company’s blades looking much like the other’s. I’m not saying that King Cobra’s neon yellow spazzsticks are a superior aesthetic, but for my generation there is nothing “wrong” with a good looking cavity back club. In fact, some of them are downright gorgeous. I’m tired of the purist take on irons, it is no longer relevant.
The way it’s beaten over our heads that blades are superior is one of the final remaining bastions of old-world golf. If you truly think blades are superior, then you are probably a much better player than 99% of the golfing population. So pipe down, your opinion does not represent the masses, and it certainly does not represent the target demographic of club manufacturers. Wait, is this the seedling of an “Occupy Golf” movement? For golf’s sake, I hope not, but I do think it’s time that the powers that be let this one go. The world needs less, not more, amateur dorks wielding blades on golf courses. Luke Donald isn’t even hitting Mizuno’s traditional blades anymore, and that guy was born in a Charles Dickens novel.

“Please, sir, I want some tungsten weighting”

Believe it or not, I do think blades can be good looking. I do not, however, think they stand on any higher ground than a cavity back club. The only time my brain is even reminded of the “great traditional look” concept is when I see the clubtester comments on a Hot List or when I slice a drive into a BINGO tournament. If I was in the clubmaking business, I’d tell my designers to climb out of their attics and start preparing for an even sharper decline in loyalty to the traditional look. If the golf shoe and apparel industries are any indication, it’s happening as we speak.

Written by Matt Murley
I’ve been playing golf for a long time, but every year brings new adventures with my game. I pay zero attention to statistics, refuse to register any playing partner’s GPS readings that get barked out from the cart, and generally shave .8 strokes off my game with each beer that goes down the gullet.