Back in March of this year we had the opportunity to review the Cleveland Niblick and whether or not the club worked. What we found was a club that was both versatile and performance driven and worked better than advertised. Something we rarely see in the world of golf equipment, however one thing that kept coming up was “Would you use it?” and the answers were across the board. It seems that ego plays a big part in the game of golf and many people just refused to give it a try. Those that did jump into the Niblick pool have found a club that is unanimously liked and something that in most cases has changed their game for the better.
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Versatility is something that comes up a lot in both answers and questions when it comes to the Niblick and our review. Players that use one love how the club can be used for so many shots from around the green, full shots from the short grass, and of course saving our bacon when the ball is in trouble. Players that do not use the club, or are against the club, argue that it is no more versatile than a wedge and the face cannot be opened up. Our THP forum has friendly debates on this all the time and here is just an example of one that has both sides of the fence discussing it. One question that constantly came up after our last review was whether or not the Niblick we tested could help people that struggled out of the sand. The short answer was no, but Cleveland Golf did not leave golfers out in the cold for too long as they have come out with 2 more Niblick models to fit into player’s bags, one of which could be a sand saver.
The growing Cleveland Niblick line now has 4 different options available and seems to have something for just about everybody that is looking to jump on board with some trouble shot assistance. In our last review of the Niblick, we covered the questions “What is a Niblick?”, “Who needs a Niblick?”, and “What a Niblick is used for?”, we will focus this review on the new models and how they can help our game and who might need them. Cleveland Golf has added both the 49* and the 56* Niblick to the line and we got a chance to put each one through range testing and on the course testing to see how they performed. For those still craving the technical specs or where they should use them should revert back to our older review listed above or check out the Cleveland Golf Website at the bottom of this page. Both links will have all of the technical background as well as the specs of each club.
49* Niblick Testing
The 49* Niblick was one item that we felt as though was a necessity in this golf line. I loved the 42* and still do, but some of the courses and shots that I play regularly have smaller greens and when missing them or when missing a green short sided, the extra loft of the 49* was a pleasant thing to have. The club plays very similar to that of the 42*, in that both pitching and approach shots were absolutely a joy to work with. Chipping works quite well also, but the extra loft made it a little harder to chip with than that of the lower lofted models. The 49* shined over and over again in two areas for our testers. The pitch shot around the green and the full shot. The pitch shot came out nice and high and landed softly. We think amateurs that struggle around the greens could really pick one of these up and shave strokes off their game immediately. What this model of the Niblick does, is help golfers around the green get the ball up in the air and land more softly than that of the 42* we tested previously. The other part of the game that this model excelled at was with playing full shots. Once our testers got used to the shorter (35″) shaft of the 49* Niblick, they were hitting full shots that were perfect. Extremely high trajectory and the ball lands very soft and has a huge amount of spin. Something our testers very much liked. Out of the 9 people that tried this model out, 7 of them reported back that they could easily replace their GW with this model and have far more versatility for troubleshooting.
This is the club that we got more questions on when we showed these off in the forum than any of the other Niblicks. The big question that everybody wants to know is “does it work out of the sand, and how?”. The answer is “Yes” and “Any number of ways” which was a huge and pleasant surprise that we were thrilled to death with. The 56* can also be used for trouble shots around the green when a little more loft is needed. Going over a sand trap or small hazard and still having a soft landing in the past was only reserved for flop shots, but with the 56* Niblick, all of the testers had little trouble with this shot and the results were phenomenal. We took 9 golfers and set up 6 balls each near a green going over a sand trap. They were to hit 6 balls with the Niblick 56* and then the same 6 balls with their wedge of choice, with the end result being ease of use and getting the ball closer to the hole. 8 out of 9 golfers found the Niblick easier to use for this shot than their wedge and 8 out of 9 were closer to the hole on average with the Niblick compared to that of their wedge. The reason was quite simple, there was no opening up and because of that catching the ball thin or “blading it’ never took place. 6 out of the 9 golfers involved in this drill bladed at least 1 ball in this drill with their wedge and it did not happen with the Niblick once. Once they got the hang of simply letting the weight of the club do the work, the rest was similar to autopilot.
For people that really struggle out of the bunkers on the course, the 56* Niblick will work at getting the ball out without having to do much work. You can treat it like a putter, or like you are chipping and the ball comes out, over any lip and lands softly. The Zip Grooves that Cleveland Golf uses in their Niblick provide great spin and stopping power and it can and will save strokes for those that struggle out of the sand traps. However there is more than one way to skin a cat and the next bunker segment is something that caught us by surprise and left us quite thrilled.
The second part that delighted us so much about the bunker shots was that we found that you can play the shot with a full swing rather than just “Niblick Style” as we like to call it. The extra weight of the club head drives through the sand and what we found is that the weighting is absolutely perfectly proportioned for this shot. Once you remember that you do not need to open the club face for it, the ball jumps out perfectly and lands as soft as anything we have used before. It was nice to see that both techniques worked well and we found it to be slightly training in that aspect. Someone can use it on the course in the putter form, while training themselves to hit it with the full swing, if they decide to go that route in the future.
We felt strongly about the first round of Niblicks that Cleveland Golf put out, and we feel even better about the entire line now. There really is something in this line to help every golfer better their scores with short game help. Both the 49* and the 56* will help golfers struggling around the green with different shots. You can read about the entire Cleveland Niblick line and all of the other products that they offer at their website at www.clevelandgolf.com.
Till Next Time