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Cleveland's CG irons: Two colors for a wide range of golfers

Kiel ChristiansonBy Kiel Christianson,
Equipment Editor and Senior Writer
Cleveland CG Gold irons
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Cleveland's new CG Gold irons are a rare breed: game-improvement irons that will appeal to mid-handicappers. (Courtesy Cleveland Golf)

Cleveland's new CG Gold irons are definitely "game-improvement" golf clubs, but they are geared more toward mid-handicappers than high-handicap players. A narrower sole and topline will be a hit with golfers seeking a degree of forgiveness combined with workability.

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - For too long, the division between "player" and "game-improvement" irons has been starker than that between "red" and "blue" states. And even more contrived.

Ever since Callaway Golf introduced the first dramatically altered irons for high-handicappers, other equipment companies have followed a similar - and undeniably popular - recipe: Wide soles to reduce digging on fat shots and to power though rough, large off-sets to help keep the hands behind the ball, oversized heads to lend forgiveness and confidence, and frying-pan-like toplines for ... well, I'm not sure what that feature is for. It sure is ugly, though.

A new bread of game-improvement irons is gaining a foothold in the market, though. Irons that might appeal more to mid-handicappers, who had previously found themselves between a blade and a fat place.

These irons are characterized by more classical lines and slightly smaller heads. Rather than oversize-induced perimeter weighting, forgiveness is provided by hollowed clubheads filled with lighter-than-metal materials. Thus, as much weight is kept at the edges proportionally as those older, bulkier models, but overall the look and, more importantly, workability is closer to "player" irons.

Cleveland Golf's new CG Gold irons (MSRP $599, steel shafts) epitomize this new breed. While the Gold's sister set, the CG Red (MSRP $699), is aimed at the low-handicap market (Steve Flesch recently won on the PGA Tour with the Reds), the CG Gold iron is decidedly "game-improvement," but in a more restrained way than usual.

How the CG Gold irons play

Irons are challenging to review. You have to hit all of them on the range and on the course several times to get a feeling for the coherence and consistency of the set. And getting the opinions of other golfers is time-consuming, too.

This said, Cleveland's new offerings were a relative breeze to get a feel for. The set moves smoothly from PW to 3-iron. The toplines of the entire set, and especially the long irons, look more like traditional irons than game-improvement clubs. Importantly, however, forgiveness is not sacrificed.

Granted, these irons are not as radically forgiving as some of the monster-headed irons on the market; a couple of serious mis-hits resulted in slightly irritating "stingers" in my hands, which I never felt with the big-headed set I last tested. Nevertheless, the yellow "visco-elastic vibration-dampening material" directly behind the clubface most certainly kept the stingers relatively painless.

On the other hand, I found myself starting to actually plan, attempt and actually pull off certain types of ball flights, rather than just picking a line and trying to hit it high and straight.

As an example, take a 170-yard approach on the first hole of Lake of the Woods Golf Course in Mahomet, Ill.. The wind was into me, so I pulled a 7-iron and put the ball well back in my stance. The result: a piercing baby-draw to five feet from the hole.

For comparison, I pulled a 7-iron from a more traditional, wide-soled game-improvement set and hit a second ball. And a third. And a fourth. Despite my best efforts, I could not keep the ball down with this other club. The shots all ballooned and landed on the front of the green, 25-plus feet below the pin.

The Cleveland CG Gold irons are clearly game-improvement irons, but they will find a more devoted following among mid-handicappers than high-handicappers.

The one suggestion I would make to create an even more aesthetically pleasing (and "player"-pleasing) set would be to incorporate a progressive offset. As currently realized, the CG Gold's offset is pretty consistent from PW to 3-iron. Many players who will find this set appealing will not require that level of offset in their short irons.

For more information, visit www.clevelandgolf.com.

Kiel Christianson has lived, worked, traveled and golfed extensively on three continents. As senior writer and equipment editor for WorldGolf.com, he has reviewed courses, resorts, and golf academies from California to Ireland, including his home course, Lake of the Woods G.C. in Mahomet, Illinois. Read his golf blog here.

 
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