Cleveland Launcher DST Driver Review

Each year consumers are shown a lot of new technology that is promising to help each golfer hit the ball longer, straighter and more consistent. This year one of the innovators in golf equipment technology appears to be SRI Sports which is the parent company to Cleveland Golf as well as a few others. A couple of months ago THP had the opportunity to show you some of their lineup for 2010 when we reviewed perhaps the nicest looking irons out there in the CG7 BP irons and the CG15 wedges. In this review we are going to take a look at their new driver and put it through some testing with 14 different golfers.

Here is a THP Shot Video with Cleveland Golf Expert Talking DST

Technology
Weight
The Launcher DST driver is one of the lightest drivers on the market today because it is using Cleveland’s Sub 300g Technology. This seems to be a trend going around again to make clubs lighter but as we remember back a few years ago, this did not work to well. The overall club weight of this driver is 25-30 grams less than standard and Cleveland gets to this level by using a lighter grip and Mitsubishi Diamana shaft that weighs only 47 grams. The shaft is just short of 45.75 inches and with all this factored in Cleveland Golf is claiming increased distance because the golfer will naturally swing the club faster. Is lighter better? We will find out very soon.

Face Tech
-Variable face thickness allows higher C.O.R. on off center impacts
– Mis-hits benefit from a higher trampoline effect for more ballspeed and distance
– 9 grams of weight is removed from the face and repositioned low and deep in the clubhead
– Creates a deeper center of gravity for higher MOI and straighter drives

Models
As mentioned, the Launcher DST comes with the Mitsubishi Diamana shaft and plenty of other custom options are available for golfers out there to try. The driver itself does have 3 models, the DST, DST Tour, and the DST Draw with the lofts differing on the Tour model slightly. The lofts available for the regular and draw models are 9, 10.5, and 12 degrees and on the Tour model they are available in 8.5, 9.5, and 10.5. The Tour model does come standard with a shorter shaft by about half an inch as well as a couple of degrees open. All three models retail in price around $299.

Looks
As THP did last year, we will commend them again on their headcovers. They have the easy pull off “tab” and more importantly look great and fit great. Underneath the “mask”, you see a driver that is a throwback of sorts. The Launcher DST is traditional in looks almost all the way around. It features your classic shape with a bright black crown that has no alignment aid at all and the sole is virtually just chrome with a couple of marks on it in blue and white. Cleveland has listened to consumers we think and have really gone back to a classic look that people have been asking for, for quite some time. Both the draw and regular models are full 460cc drivers while the tour version comes in at 430cc.

Range Testing
Thanks to the recent 2010 DSO, finding testers to try out the Cleveland DST Launcher was not very hard to do, as we had 12 eager golfers ready to try out his new driver from Cleveland Golf. We set up range balls in front of each golfer and asked them to hit their regular driver as well as this one alternating every 2 balls to see what they thought of for distance, feel, etc…Each golfer began pounding golf balls on the range and the first thing that every single tester noticed was just how light the Cleveland Launcher DST is when alternating drivers. However this is the first “lighter” driver we have come across here at THP that seems to have gotten it right in regards to the weighting. Going light just for the sake of increasing speeds does not make sense without balance. Cleveland hit the nail on the head in terms of balance with the DST line. The is almost a perfect harmony or synergy between the two and it is the first time THP has seen that in the lighter driver technology.

After about 30-45 minutes of hitting balls we surveyed our testers to find out what they liked and didn’t like about the new Cleveland Launcher DST driver.

Looks – Surprisingly this was the only ting that people said that they wanted slightly changed. They almost universally wanted to see a little more color on the sole rather than the classic and plain style that I just spoke about liking so much.

Feel & Sound – None of the testers noticed a “better” feel, but most liked the sound quite a bit. The sound is a high pitched tone, but nothing like the extremely audible drivers out there today. This one almost seems muted in comparison.

Distance – 7 out of the 12 testers saw a small increase in distance. That is more than 50%, but the gain was on average less than 5 yards. However not a single golfer out of the 12 saw a decrease in distance, something we rarely see.

Accuracy – 8 out of the 12 testers were more accurate (according to them) with this driver than with their personal driver.

Course Testing
I have been eager to bring the DST driver line out on the course for a couple of months now since they arrived for the 2010 DSO, and my opportunity was finally here. I was able to put the driver in my bag during play for 9 rounds and countless range sessions and have come away pretty impressed. The first thing I want to discuss balance. As mentioned above this is the first driver that has gone light in weight and that has the right balance throughout the club. During testing it really never came up, but it seemed to work in regards to swing speed when put in play. I saw a slight increase to my swing speed which translated into a distance increase of about 3.5 yards during play. But the kicker for me, was that I lost no accuracy at all during my entire demo period of this driver.

One thing that Cleveland Golf got right with the Launcher DST was the feel. Far too many of the lighter weight clubs of today lack any feel whatsoever, but Cleveland matches the shaft and head so well that the feel is not lost. Something I was almost expecting and was a great surprise. Feedback is immediate and extremely thorough, no matter where you mishit it, you know immediately and it is not dampened, yet the forgiveness was keeping the ball extremely straight. The flight of the ball was slightly higher than expected but that comes in place because of the shaft that is high launch and low spin. By the time I was finished with my testing, I was pretty darn impressed with what Cleveland was putting out for golfers in 2010.

I want to touch on one more subject in this review and that is sound. So many drivers today sound absolutely terrible, even Cleveland was plagued by this very thing in their 2009 XLS Monster. A driver that worked tremendously, but was plagued by an extremely loud sound at impact that sounded similar to breaking glass. The Launcher DST has a nice high pitched tone, that is nothing like that and it was a welcome surprise.

Overall
Cleveland Golf is on quite a role in 2010 with their new equipment line and for consumers that is wonderful news as it creates more choices to find the ideal gear for your game. This driver definitely fits the old motto of do not judge a book by its cover! A classic and subtle looking piece of equipment like the Launcher DST is loaded with technology that could help just about any golfer. If you are in the market for a new driver for 2010, this one should be on your short list of clubs to try. For more information on this or any other Cleveland Golf products, check out their website at www.clevelandgolf.com.

Till Next Time

Josh B.

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