Golf Humor and Stories

Cleveland Classic Driver – a rant

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Matt Murley

Original Three Guys Golf
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.

Latest posts by Matt Murley (see all)

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.

Hey, Lama, hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort? Just click one of these buttons and BOOM..total consciousness!

25 Comments

  1. Point taken, thanks for reading. Checked out the trailer for Battle of the Golf Blogs, looks like a good time.  I need a camera that can do the slow motion like that. 

  2. John F Duval says:

    With regards to your comments about the Classic Driver – I’ve put it in my bag! Not only does it perform well, with lower spin than my other Cleveland Driver – the more traditional, modern TL310 – but it does look slick. Unlike companies just taking an old driver and painting it white, Cleveland hit the nail on the head making a modern driver look like a classic persimmon head without sacrificing function. I think it’s a breath of fresh air in a stale driver market, and it is also one of the best performing drivers on the market! The Classic driver has already won on the PGA Tour (Keegan Bradley – Shark Shootout), and it also won the 2012 Battle of the Golf Blogs! :-)

  3. I must admit that I am a sucker for classics.  For example, I love the new Arnie Wear line of Classic clothes.  With that said, I do kind of agree with Matt that some things are better left in the past-like the PT Cruiser perhaps? 

    And while I am sure the Cleveland Driver is up to date in terms of performance, some things I prefer to look high tech.  Do I really want a throw-back Apple computer?

    Anyhow, I am glad someone digs them as I am pretty darn sure, Cleveland will never send these three guys one to try out.

  4. It’s funny, my first impression was “huh?” when I saw the driver for the first time. 

    I didn’t expect to really be into it but I ended really loving that club and loving the styling. I think Cleveland is one of the only companies that could pull it off, but I really do think they did a great job on the club.I still have that club in the bag and I doubt if I pull it out anytime soon – it really is an amazing club.

    I have to say that I do love the look of blades as well :)

    I do think that we are seeing an interesting mix of throwback styles and my guess is that it will continue. I’ve even found myself reading a lot of 1920′s books on golf architecture and philosophies. There’s something about the simplicity of those times that a lot of the companies seem to have lost – and it’s nice to see a return to some of that simplicity. 

    It’s sure a lot better than the latest gizmo to fix your slice :)

  5. I should let Matt fend for himself but since I enjoyed his post so much I will just say that I totally believe that the Cleveland Drivers look cool in person but Cleveland is more than welcome to send me one so I can confirm that :)  

    With that said, I found Matt’s rant a breath of fresh air.  Nearly all golf blogs, ours included, drool over the latest golf gear so if nothing else it was fun for me to read an emotional rant that had no factual basis so “please sir, may I have some more tungsten weighting?”

    • Wait, are you calling me emotional? Curse you. I’ll chill out on the driver for a bit, we’ll wait until the dust settles and the sales numbers come in. If the hipster club (trying hard to look old-school-and-not-trying) takes the world by storm, I will gladly admit defeat. With regard to irons, I guess I’m saying that the promoting of blades is a disservice to the golf community at large (dramatic), overstating their relevance to the game. More and more tour pros aren’t even hitting them anymore. Any guy I’ve ever played with that used blades was in way over his head and should be immediately scrambling to a store for new sticks. Amateurs that think they don’t like to look down and see anything bigger than a blade – try it for a few rounds, you’d be surprised at how quickly you can get over it when your shots aren’t as horrible. Blades used to be the ONLY choice. Then, for all but the 0.05% of golfers that should be playing blades, they started making better things.

  6. A little harsh on Cleveland don’t you think?

    I will be looking at these as I think they are way cool! Designs today can become quite boring, merging old school looks with todays technology…..Brilliant!

    • Harsh, maybe but that’s why it is called a rant. Which, by the way, is always more fun to read that a straight up boring review.  I am secretly hoping that Cleveland calls Matt out on his bluff and sends him a club to which Matt ditches his Titleist in favor of the Classic Cleveland and has to recant the entire rant.  

  7. I like this blog but have to agree with Mr Duval (1st poster) that this is a breath of fresh air compared to the ‘revolutionary’ white driver. What’s more, I don’t think I have ever seen greater hype than the RBZ. Their ad with all the pro’s drooling over it must have cost them a bomb, but I bet it works. You can just see the average 20 handicapper being drawn to the golf store and parting with $200 or whatever it costs with the dream of gaining 40 yards.

    Anyway, on the topic of blades, I do happen to like the look. My first clubs were blades, and whilst I couldn’t actually hit them, there was something in my subconscious which told me that a thin top line somehow meant that the club would make clean contact. When I tried the game improvement irons (as I was a 20 or so handicap), the thick topline put me off. It just felt clunky and I felt that I wouldn’t be able to nip the ball off the turf. Now I am a much better player (currently of 6). I still am not good enough to hit pure blades, but I like my clubs to look like blades but play with lots of forgiveness. I had some WIshon 560′s made and they are splendid.

  8. And sorry I forgot to add that I think Cleveland have got it right with this driver. I do like retro and the combination of this design with 2012 performance is nice. I don’t think it would find it’s way into my bag as I have just bought a new driver, but if I hadn’t then it would tempt me.

  9. Hmmmm, just for fun – so far in the comments only John F Duval has actually put the driver in his bag and his was a freebie that’s been worked on more than Joan Rivers. I still say it’s a gimmick – if you don’t buy a new driver every 6 months, you ain’t buying this one.

  10. I just went to a demo day and bought a Classic 290 stiff, 9.0 deg. I could care less about the looks. I like drivers that don’t shout “LOOK AT ME” on the course with their gaudy paint job but there are a lot of drivers that fit that bill.

    I do like the fact it is not adjustable. I wouldn’t use the adjustments and for me that is one more thing to go long after time, and one more thing to pay for now. I prefer to make adjustments with my swing. My irons aren’t adjustable, so I might as well learn to swing right.

    I also like the fact that the money they saved on adjustment features they put into a high-quality lightweight shaft. This driver seemed like less work to swing than the other drivers at demo day–except for one of the Cobra drivers. The things that made me choose Cleveland, is that Cobra had some adjustments, and I believe the Cleveland went a little farther for my swing.

    I can’t wait to try it on the course. I will add another post after I do.

  11. I have to take issue with Matt’s “I can’t use them so no one else should bother” attitude towards traditional blades. While I agree they are not for everyone, I do think that any serious golfer who gives them a chance will find that they ultimately become a better ball striker. Blades do a lousy job of covering up poor technique. Getting direct feedback on every shot, good or bad, is a great way to learn the game and I’ll give up game correction all day long to retain the ability to manipulate ball flight. The club companies are doing just fine in their efforts to flood the racks with ever more forgiving irons that have looks only a mother could love. They certainly need no additional encouragement to make more. Golf is hard and I think I like it for the suffering that comes with the territory. Feel free to buy all the forgiveness you think you need, I’ll keep hitting the ball better because I have no choice.

  12. Scott, I’ll take the bait and continue my tailspin into jackass-land. If you are a 4 handicap or less, understood . . . although even in that case I would point to the increasing number of pros that are playing cavity backs (Ben Curtis just won with AP1s). If you are above a 4 handicap, every golfer that has ever played with you would like to respectfully request that you ditch the blades.

    Second, this argument where playing blades forces you to hit the ball better is a myth. Amateurs have days when they struggle to hit the ball consistently with nerf clubs for crying out loud, it’s the nature of the game. I have cavity back AP1s, and I have plenty of days when I am hitting it like crap, and trust me, I can feel it. As much as I’d like to boot-camp myself into hitting pure shots, it doesn’t take. What a BS concept – thankfully the only person being harmed is the stubborn golfer himself, although I’ve played with enough blade-wielding hacks that it can sometimes bother the rest of the group as well as they continue to be shocked by how poorly they are playing (hint – you suck!).

    I’ll close by saying that a) I sincerely appreciate you reading the post and commenting, and b) just for fun, I’ll return to my jackass tone – have fun “working the ball” from behind that tree, I hope that works out.

    • At the risk of reeking of Summers Eve for spouting off my handicap, I suppose my current 4.2 will get me kicked out of the thin top line club. However, I’d wager it is my Michell Wie and Vijay Singh love child of a putting stroke that has caused it to creep above the 4.0 cutoff for competence rather than my iron play. I’ve worked more balls out of the woods than I’d care to remember but those have also been some of my most satisfying shots and, in most cases, it was my super-modern driver that put me there. I’ve considered moving to more forgiving irons but can’t get past the Duplo top line on most of the current offerings – purely a matter of personal taste. Pros making the switch to perimeter weighted irons are likely doing that to get a higher ball flight from the lower spin rate balls put in play to gain length off the tee. I don’t think a dedicated golfer has to be “good enough” to play with blades and thus should not automatically discount them as a choice when considering a new set of irons. What is lost in forgiveness may ultimately be returned in the form of a more varied arsenal of shots and, if all else fails, a built in excuse for hitting bad ones. After all, no one can hit those things anyway.

      • Fair enough Scott, your reply makes sense. I’m annoying at this juncture, but my initial point was simply that traditional blades should no longer get a head start on cavity backs in the decision-making process or get any kind of special cool credit- there are plenty of “players” cavity backs that offer a good amount of feedback and workability, and for that reason blades do seem to be fading in relevance. You’re a better golfer than I, which in my mind ultimately decides the winner in any argument regarding game.

  13. It certainly makes me laugh when I see so many wxrs on here using 9.5 and 9.0 driver heads when they dont have a clue that 10.5 and up is really what they should be gaiming, but there too embarresed to use a club with 10.5 written on it. They dont know that every good player would use 10.5 if they knew it would help there game, but these wrxers think there too good fr it, tells me they must be hacks. food fr thought.

  14. Wrx’r-that’s hilarious! I am only allowed to creep around their forum since they won’t take my application since my requested username was “Three Guys Golf Blog”.

    Glad to have you on our humble blog!

  15. I’ve been a big fan of Cleveland drivers since their original Launcher series…still use the 3 wood. I use the original Hi-Bore and I just haven’t found a driver that is worth replacing it. Cleveland’s are very light and and doesn’t feel bulky like Taylormade drivers….just my preference. I think the classic styling is kind of cool but it doesn’t sell it for me. I took a few swings with it and it is a great driver and does set up for me really well. I’d buy it but it just wasn’t worth trading in my Hi-Bore.

    I love the blade commentary Matt. I did buy a used set of Ben Hogan Apex blades and I don’t hit them great, but when you do hit one flush..it is an amazing feeling. I basically practice with them more and more to groove my swing because of the feedback they give. Ive become a better iron player for it. My current iron set is the original Adams Idea so practicing with blades is quite a change up, but I’m now used to both but still hit the Adams more consistently and further club for club.

  16. I read the rant, eh… 
    But I played the club. To answer their desire for George Jetson styling, I’m 55 and HATE the new “style”.  They look hideous.  Sound worse.  Just my rant. 

    Good friend of mine picked up the 290 and had it in his bag yesterday. He was proud of the look, not yet enthralled with the performance. But, I noticed he’s driving with me, around 250. I’m an 11.1 and avg 100 rounds a year (refuse to take a lesson until I’m a 10, yeah, i know) and still play an R7 Quad. I demo everything that’s “hot” and can’t keep them in the fairway.  I figure 250 down the middle is better than 275 in the woods. 

    Anyway, he doesn’t usually hit with me so I asked to hit it, after the required drooling period. Bang (or “thwack”), dead straight, 290 on a little downhill 562 par 5.  I measure everything. Ex-CPA thing. Two more drives, shortest was 275. All pure. 

    Technology is a wonderful thing, but I need to be able to use it without messing with my swing. This club is the first ever to be perfect off the rack. Why screw with screws if you dont have to?

    Going to demo Sunday and Monday. If it keeps it up, in my bag. It is beautiful, sounds perfect, and the club head hits the ball square, even off center. What more can you ask?  If you’re over 30. 

  17. I’m somewhat disappointed with a review like this that serves absolutely no purpose but quench the self-satisfying desires of the author. There is absolutely zero information on the performance of the driver in question, just a rant about the the appearance of the club. This write-up was a waste of time.

    • Duke, to be fair, this post was never meant to be a review hence the title “RANT”. You may have not noticed but Cleveland actually sent us their Cleveland Classic Driver to see what we actually thought. While we are still not overly technical in our reviews, Matt did write an actual review here. http://threeguysgolfblog.com/cleveland-classic-driver-revisit/

    • Dook, thanks for reading. You are dumb as balz. This was not intended to give you any specs, and while I do regret that you were mistakenly led to this post in your search for club specs, you need to calm down a bit for sure. Take it slow, Dook!

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  19. Ok, I’m way LATE on this but…

    Who’s a Cleveland Classic Driver jihadist? This guy. I’ve never played a single Cleveland club in my 30 years with the game. I had always heard they made great wedges but, I just never considered them. Did the look hook me? Of course…had they made this club with modern styling, I would’ve passed it by. But, then I put it on the launch monitor last week, it became very clear to me that this was the right club for my swing. And at the end of the day, that is the ONLY thing that should factor into ANY club purchase. Is it straighter, longer, and giving me more workability without losing forgiveness than what’s currently in my bag? I’m 41 now…I don’t swing the same as I did as when I was 11 nor when I will be 91. Right now…this is the best club for me. Admittedly, the fact that it was $129 was an attraction, too.

    I’m the youngest guy at my club with this driver in his or her bag so, that always gets talked about and then…they see me hit it off the tee and the conversation changes. I’m 230 – 250 and always on the short grass. And apparently, even Cleveland agrees with everyone regarding the look because the club has been subdued going forward and I’m guessing it won’t be made for very much longer. And that’s just fine by me…

    Regarding blades…I totally agree. Again, the game is about putting the ball in the hole with as few strokes as possible. You don’t get ANY points for playing blades because they allegedly look better. I last played blades in 1997. A set of Hogans that my Grandfather willed to me from 1941. They were a wedding present from my Grandmother. Honestly, I don’t know how he or Hogan himself EVER hit the ball with them. I pull them out of the closet once a year just to play one round with them and then I don’t touch them again. What’s best for my game…is CB irons. I go and try new irons all the time to include blades and I don’t have the same confidence I do with blades that I do with CB. In fact, in a few years, I’ll probably be playing one of those full-hybrid iron sets that are starting to get traction now. My uncle who is 53 plays a set of those and is an 8 handicap. Great blog here, guys.

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