Last year during the 2009 THP Hybrid Shoot Out, THP got their hands on the Launcher hybrid from Cleveland Golf and came away pretty impressed. The 2009 Launcher offered great distance and good control, but for many of our testers, it was lacking something. Nobody could quite put their finger on it, but it just felt as though it was missing one little piece to the puzzle. It was still a top notch piece of equipment, we just felt as though Cleveland left a little something on the table with this one and could not wait to see what they put out for 2010. While at the 2010 PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando, FL THP got a 1st look at the 2010 Cleveland Launcher DST Hybrid and could not wait to get our hands on them for review.
Cleveland Golf has been calling 2010 the Year Of The Wedge, and with our recent review of the CG15 line of wedges, we certainly know why. However what we found out in this testing, is that Cleveland should definitely be known for more than just their wedges.
What is DST?
From the Company
The major theme of the Launcher DST series is a design variable that is seldom discussed in the North American golf market, but shows a very strong correlation to clubhead speed. This variable is Total weight, which is quite simply the sum weight of all of the components of a built golf club. In fact, much of the recent research and testing that has been done by our RND teams here in Huntington Beach, CA and by our sister team in Kobe City Japan suggests that this variable may be as powerful of a performance variable as C.O.R., MOI, aerodynamics, shaft length, or other widely discussed design themes.
Our parent company SRI Sports has lead the Japanese Metalwood market for several years with their XXIO brand of metalwoods, and they arguably have more detailed knowledge and experience than any other R&D group with regard to ultra-lightweight designs. What our joint research has demonstrated is that in creating a lightweight design, the balance of the club must be maintained relative to a club of standard weight for the target player type. The most common way to measure and state the balance properties of a club is swingweight. Our research shows that generally speaking, golfers feel swingweight and launch monitors notice total weight. What this means is that if we can design a lighter total weight golf club while maintaining swingweight, the lighter total weight will create more swingspeed without feeling abnormal to the golfer.
The first thing you notice about the Launcher DST hybrid is the white headcover that matches up with the rest of the line of woods and hybrids. It features the classic “CG” logo in red and outlined in blue and “Launcher DST” on both sides. Bad headcovers are far too common in todays clubs, so to find one that works well and looks good right from the get go was a definite plus. Once the club is “undressed” you see a very traditional look and that is something that most of the testers here really liked. More iron shaped than that of a fairway wood and crown of the club is a solid glossy black with a thin strip of silver from the face showing (more on this later). The sole of the hybrid is also very subdued with a chrome finish and just the name “Cleveland Launcher DST” done in white, black, and gold. Both the heel and the toe have recessed areas in black and blue to add some color. The sole also shows off the “Dual Rail Sole Design” that is in place to assist in turf interaction. Cleveland continues to give us all of the information on each club which is something we just love as they not only have the “3i” but also the loft which comes in at “20.5*” written on the hosel.
When buying drivers, most golfers pay very close attention to the shaft that is in their club of choice. Unfortunately what we see is that it is not always the same case when choosing hybrids. Well, Cleveland has taken the guess work out of the equation for you and partnered up with Mitsubishi Rayon for the stock shafts in the DST line of clubs. The result in the DST hybrid we reviewed is a perfect combination of shaft and club head technology that really help the ball get up in the air, stay up in the air, and come down for a soft landing and incredible distance. The shaft tested in this club was the Diamana Red 74v SL Hybrid shaft. We could not be happier with the result and did not even think once about making a shaft change.
This club has been thoroughly tested and put in play for 15 rounds of golf and countless range sessions. It was also featured as a Demo Product in our last FL Golf Outing, where another 20-30 golfers had a chance to try it out and see what their thoughts were. It seems that every tester that has tried the DST Launcher hybrid from Cleveland Golf has come away with the same thoughts and feelings. Incredible Distance, Perfect Ball Flight, Maximum Forgiveness, and Wonderful Overall Performance. What THP thought was missing from the 2009 version was definitely found for the new DST version because this club is an incredible package of everything you should look for in a hybrid.
As mentioned before the crown of the club has a small amount of the metal showing from the face and many of our testers at first said “I prefer the top of the club to be all black”. Yet after spending time with the Cleveland DST Launcher hybrid they changed their tune for one reason. Unlike drivers, many still struggle with hitting hybrids “fat” or “heavy” once or twice a round, because they are more iron like and get hit from more troublesome places than off the tee or a tight lie in the case of FW woods. Well with this thin line of silver here, you have no worries about damaging the overall looks of the club with a “sky mark” or scratching that glossy black paint at all. Something that by the time testing was done, everybody was very much glad about. The leading edge of the club has been changed as well, and now has a slight bevel that adds forgiveness by allowing clubhead to slide across the turf instead of digging into the ground. Between the two features, the club should look and perform great for quite some time.
Outside of the range, the DST Launcher hybrid was put in play by myself and 5 other golfers for actual rounds of golf. THP does their testing in real golf environments and not into a net, simulator, or other areas where you will not get to experience real life lies and trouble shots. So we handed off the club to some testers for actual rounds and the results did not lie. Each tester raved about it more than the last and not a single person was not finding a combination of more distance and more forgiveness compared to the 2009 Launcher that we were testing it against.
During the testing we finally found a negative about this club. It took a while, but there is one there. With the lofts set at what they are and the distances that all the testers were achieving, we found that the DST Launcher hybrid could in fact bring some gap issues to one’s golf bag. So make sure when testing this one, you find the right lofts for your game that match up with the rest of your golf bag.
Cleveland Golf has something special in the DST Launcher line of hybrids and woods. As mentioned before, this hybrid has everything you should look for in this type of club; Incredible Distance, Perfect Ball Flight, Maximum Forgiveness, and Wonderful Overall Performance! The new technology that has gone into this club is both noticeable and appreciated by everybody that was able to test it out. The rail technology used on the sole and the slight bevel in the leading edge both made the club more enjoyable for all handicap levels that came into contact with this one. For more information on this hybrid or any other Cleveland Golf products, check out their website at www.clevelandgolf.com.