The price range of the putter industry is immense, ranging from the typical off the rack models to the insanely boutique. When you take away fancy milling, flashy designs, and popular ‘tour’ stock, you’re left with the expectations of performance and resilience. Enter the Cleveland Classic 1i. A simple and impressively feasible take on a familiar head shape with a new-look charcoal grey finish and the popular copolymer insert featured in the Smart Square lineup.
From Cleveland Golf
Four different tour-proven designs now featuring a copolymer face insert for enhanced feel and sound gives any player an edge on the green. Now available in a sleek charcoal grey finish, these models suit everyone from beginners to the most discerning experts. Higher MOI improves off-center ball speed and consistency.
HIGH MOI HEAD DESIGN – Heel-Toe weighting maximizes MOI to deliver minimal distance loss and more consistent roll on off-center hits.
TOUR-PROVEN DESIGN – Now available in a sleek charcoal grey finish, these models suit everyone from beginners to the most discerning experts.
NEW FACE INSERT – Copolymer face insert enhances feel and sound at impact, while producing a consistent roll for more predictable distance control.
In hand, one of the first visual stimulants of the Cleveland Classic 1i putter is the charcoal grey finish. While the black and satin chrome Classic putters look attractive, the charcoal really offers a nice added element of attraction to the i series. There was a notable lack of wear over the course of testing, and it offers solid confidence that over time, the putter finish will be resilient to the elements.
The charcoal is matte in finish throughout the putter with the exception of the sole, which is a mixture of matte and shiny charcoal. It does a great job of separating the monotony of the finish and adds an extra dimension of aesthetics that stands out nicely. While this plays little into the performance of the head, it offers that ‘curb’ appeal for consumers.
The Cleveland Classic 1i putter features a plumbers neck, 3 degrees of face loft, 70* lie angle, and weighs 340 grams. This is all displayed on the base of the putter for clarity. Raised bumpers compliment a single line alignment aid on the flange, and the copolymer face insert is surrounded by shallow milling throughout the rest of the putter face.
The sound of the Classic 1i putter is not what was expected when considering a lot of the insert putters available on the market. Rather, it’s quite a bit more lively contact sound, but nothing high pitched. This does an excellent job of taking away some of that mindset milled users tend to have suggesting the ball gets lost on the face, and replaces it with audible confidence of a well struck putt.
Pure center contact strikes activate a clear lively sound and promote excellent roll. Moving away from the center of the insert does not take away from roll quality; however there is some notable loss of distance and reduction in feedback sound when striking a bit high or low on the putter face. This is not a negative takeaway from the putter, as it should be expected to lose distance when strikes are imperfect. The difference often leads to a near miss rather than a make, which again should be anticipated with a blade profile putter.
The Winn Pro Pistol grip pairing for the Cleveland Classic 1i putter worked well. Small in size and soft in the hands, it promoted response to contact in the hand and encouraged a lighter grip with limited wrist engagement. Aesthetically, the Winn Pro Pistol is black with darker grey Cleveland Golf branding, which compliments the charcoal grey finish nicely.
The Cleveland Classic 1i putter performed admirably throughout testing. Against milled and inserted competitors, the sound and quality of the Classic 1i at address and through the putts were on par in comparative results. Testing experiences found the Classic 1i to be a nice bridge between some of the more muted full insert putter iterations and a typical milled face putter. For consumers pursuing a Cleveland specific putter, the Classic 1i copolymer insert is going to offer a more flush feeling contact versus the sharper pitch of the milled offerings.
In on-course and putting green testing of the Cleveland Classic 1i, the learning curve was limited. As the style and weight of the head is very common in the putter industry, it took no time at all to feel comfortable in the hands. Because the insert is not on an extreme for audible feedback, the response to sound/feel was comforting and offered great feedback early in testing.
One of the advertising features of the Cleveland Classic 1i is the heel-toe weighting maximizing MOI, which is suggested to deliver better roll and reduced distance loss on strikes away from center. Testing showed a majority of putts roll adequately with minimal loss of distance, and this can easily be attributed to a larger sweet spot. Striking the ball with a grazing outside-in path or high and low on the insert had a far greater role on roll and distance quality. Specific to the ball roll off the face, the Classic 1i performed very well. End over end off the face was common, with little skidding throughout the testing. This representation of true roll was welcomed and allowed the accuracy to stay consistent with expectations.
On the lower end of the price spectrum (retailing at $99.99), the Cleveland Classic 1i proved to perform well above expectations. Consumers who decide to demo or purchase the Classic series with the copolymer insert can expect to have a putter that sounds and reacts much the same or better than putters double and triple their cost, with a resilient charcoal grey finish that looks great. For more information on the Cleveland Classic 1i, visit www.ClevelandGolf.com.