Cleveland Classic Fairway Wood Review

Let’s face it. We are in a marketing driven world and the golf industry is a glaring example of that fact. Everywhere consumers look there are more promises and more claims. Well, almost everywhere. Enter the 2013 Cleveland Golf line, where the company truly appears to be letting the clubs do the talking. One such example of this is in the fairway wood segment, where it certainly seems that the marketing focus this year is on slots, flash, and all out length. Yet with the 2013 Classic XL fairway wood, Cleveland is walking the path of letting performance talk – and it’s working.

From the Company

Style and confidence are now available in a fairway wood. The Classic XL has a larger sweet spot for incredible distance even when you miss the sweet spot.


  • One of the largest fairway wood faces in golf means a large effective hitting area for incredible confidence over every shot.
  • Enhanced variable face thickness technology creates incredibly fast ball speed on off-center hits for unprecedented forgiveness.
    • Center of gravity moved deeper in the club head to promote higher launch and more penetrating flight.
    • Provides maximum performance and stable feel while promoting a high-launch low-spin flight.




  • 3W+ (14.5, 43.25”, D5)
  • 3W (15.5, 43.25”, D5)
  • 5W (18*, 42.75”, D5)
  • 7W (20.5*, 42.5”, D5)


When holding the Cleveland Classic XL fairway wood in hand, thoughts that come to mind are blacked out, mean, and clean. The look is not only a stark contrast to the rest of the market, where flashy colors and looks  are seemingly the current trend, but even from Cleveland’s own 2012 Mashie fairway line. It is a really good look.

To the eye, the 2013 Classic fairway wood could easily be seen as a mixture of Cleveland’s past Black and Mashie lines melded into one focused design that screams business. The Classic possesses a solid black finish with a single site dot and silver/gold accents that really make it stand out from the pack. It embraces its name by bringing a truly “classic” look.  The fairway wood also boasts a very deep face compared to many offerings out there, but it honestly isn’t much of a departure in size from last year’s Mashie line. However, a notable difference lies with the sole, as the Classic XL embraces a more “standard” looking sole like the Black had, with no pronounced “V” shape at its base.

It really is quite a good looking package that Cleveland has put together here. The blacked out look from head to toe alongside the simple silver/gold accents works really well. When you add into the mix that Cleveland has also changed up the head cover for 2013 to match the retro look the 2012 Classic driver had, it just works extremely well.


The shaft selection could easily be one of the most talked about parts of the Classic XL fairway wood. This year, Cleveland opted to go with the Matrix X-Con 6 rather than a Miyazaki selection like we have seen for the past two years. This move seems to have over concerned far too many people in my opinion and led to an underestimation of the Matrix selection.

It must be remembered that companies select shafts for their clubs based on what fits the club the best and also what fits the largest number of golfers. Honestly, after my time with this one, I am confident enough to say that all the concerns really should be put to bed, as the Matrix X-Con is a fantastic pairing for this particular head. The X-Con consistently provided a solid mid-high launch for me with no danger of losing the ball to ballooning due to the penetrating flight it brings to the table. The shaft is extremely stable in the hands and consistent through the zone of impact and I had no instances of the vaunted “shaft shudder” on extreme misses on the club head. The goal is to provide a shaft that fits well with the head’s characteristics and I believe Cleveland has succeeded there with the choice of the Matrix X-Con.

Sound and Feel

The Classic XL has one of the most addictive sounds from a fairway wood that I have hit in a very long time. I was a fan of the sound/feel that last year’s Mashie produced, but Cleveland somehow improved upon it with the XL. It almost seems like the Mashie and the Black combined to form the best of both worlds from a feedback standpoint. The ears get to hear an incredibly solid “crack” like sound and the feeling of the ball jumping off of the face, even without the compression channels or slots that so many fairways out there have today. The feeling is definitely that of a spring-like effect, but still with incredible feedback across the face that allows you to know exactly where you caught the ball on each strike.


All the other stuff is always nice, but it truly does come down to performance in the end. Does the Classic XL perform? Without a doubt.

For the purpose of this testing I put the 15.5° version into play and the thing that really stuck out the most to me was that the Classic practically begs to pound the golf ball from any lie. I know historically that deeper faced fairway woods can be difficult off the deck, but for me that really was not the case with the Classic. In fact, it ranks among the easier ones I’ve tried to play off the deck. A lot of that might be due to its more compact footprint compared to most offerings on the market today.

Off the tee, the deep face shines by allowing you to truly feel like you can get after the golf ball with confidence due to the ample vertical forgiveness that is there to work with.  However, the Classic showed an impressive amount of forgiveness not only vertically, but also laterally, which is my personal miss. As with most heel-toe misses, some distance is obviously going to be lost, but with the variable thickness face, it really appeared that there was not only less ball speed lost on the miss, but the ball at least stayed in play quite well.

The Classic XL fairway wood may not possess any of the currently popular slot/channel technology that claims to make clubs longer than ever, but don’t let that fool you. The Classic is a true sleeper in the distance department. Not only did I see more distance out of this 15.5 degree 3W compared to my 14 degree Mashie TF3, I also saw just as much against the other new fairways on the market, and in some cases more. This just reaffirms that the tech on the inside of the club head is just as important as that on the outside and Cleveland seems to understand that.

Parting Thoughts

With the year that Cleveland had in 2012 it is strange to think of them as possibly flying under the radar just one year later, but the Classic XL fairway really seems to validate that thought a bit. All of the focus in the fairway wood market seems to be on color, flash, and marketing hype, but Cleveland’s Classic XL fairway wood doesn’t stick out as any of those, at least not at first glance. Cleveland is letting their equipment do the talking and for good reason, as the Classic XL can go toe to toe with any offering on the market. If you are in the market for a fairway wood in 2013, I honestly believe this is one that should not be overlooked by any golfer, because it will open eyes if given a chance, just like it did mine.

The 2013 Cleveland Classic XL fairway wood also boasts a rather impressive price point in today’s market with its MSRP of 179.00. For more information be sure to check out

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  • I picked this club up a little over a month ago, and it’s pretty much my favorite club in my bag. My driver is getting dusty.

  • Great review James. Really not sure why people still question the Matrix shaft.

  • Cleveland seems to have found the right formula for FWs. Just the right amount of flash mixed with a ton of substance. This article shows both of those aspect and more, gods job James.

  • Another well done review James.

  • Very nice job on this one Jman! I liked how you touched on the versatility and not only being able to hit it well off both the tee and the deck, but also from virtually any lie off of the deck. It definitely has a different look than many of the “flashier” FW woods out there but the performance seems to be there at a GREAT price point as well. Nice review!

  • Great review Jman! Love what they have done here with the almost blending of the Black + Mashie line. Could be the club I am most excited to get in the bag!

  • Well done on the review James. I love the looks of this club. Not sure why they went away from the Miyazaki in the FW but if it performs, it performs.

  • I’ll admit to being a little lukewarm on this one, primarily due to success I’ve seen with the slotted clubs. You definitely succeeded in changing that for me James. I really want to get my hands on one of these things. I think I’d probably look at it more as a club for off the tee, but knowing that it performed off the turf is a good thing too. Well done!

  • Great write up James! I thought the 3 wood was a sleeper too when I hit it against this years competition. Think I need to give the 5W a run. Could this be the club that unseats my F5? Maybe!

  • Great review Jman. I think this will put a lot of doubters concerns to rest once they read this review.

  • A pure classic in a sea of flash — Great review James, your efforts to validate the Matrix and talk about accuracy were fun to read.

  • Great review James, I had such success with the mashie FW and am a bit nervous to go another route. You made me feel at ease about getting this fwy wood

  • Such a great looking wood and I’m sure it’s just as good as it’s sibling driver. Thanks for the insite James!

  • I’m disappointed that they dropped the 16.5 or 17* option like they had with the FL series.

  • Until my Mashie breaks in half, I am not switching 3woods, but this sure is a pretty club

  • solid review buddy. I was one that was curious about the shaft change from Miyazaki. I think I was more excited about last years offerings, but this one looks and sounds like it needs to be demoed.

  • Nice review James, am struggling off the tee at the moment so on the look out for a decent fairway wood to use on those tighter tee shots. Like the sound of this one so will have to give it a try!

  • I just recently put the Cleveland Classic XL 5W in my bag and right now, without a doubt, it is my favorite club. Dead straight even on mishits and 230-240 every single time. I haven’t played a 5W in a long time, but this makes me happy I put one in the bag. Had a great round with it first time out.

  • how does the matrix xcon shaft compare with the miyazaki c kua in a stiff flex?..considering clevelands move to matrix,i wandered how this seemed to affect the flight etc!

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  • Looks a great club. I’m after a 3 & 5 wood so the XL looks perfect and a decent price too.
    Great review!!

  • I love the Cleveland Classic XL 3 Wood and Driver(s). Sound, Feel and Distance!!! I’m so more accurate with Cleveland Woods!!!

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