The word Niblick refers to the old fashioned golf club that was used up until about the 1940’s when the standardized numbers that we all know now became the way to build an iron set. Once numbered iron sets came to be, the Niblick was lost at sea. Then two way chippers became fairly common and made for easy chipping and pitching around the green. These clubs faded away because many felt as though they were not conforming to the USGA rules. However that is not the case. The chipper does conform to the rules as long as it does not have two faces and has a regular iron grip. But nonetheless, the chipper has been mostly forgotten. Then we got word a while back that Cleveland Golf was introducing a club called the Cleveland Niblick. We had no idea what to think, but curiosity got the best of us and we had to find out quickly.
The best way to describe the Cleveland Niblick is to say it is part hybrid, iron, wedge, and putter all rolled up into one club. It combines the loft of an 8 or 9 iron and looks similar to some of those super game improvement hybrid/irons that people are playing right now. It is a classic piece of technology with an extremely modern twist. I will say this throughout this review, this club is NOT just a chipper. At setup it looks a bit odd at first, but you quickly become used to it. It sets up like a hybrid but has a much different feel. The weighting is much heavier which is great around the greens, however did take a few swings to get used on full shots. Once you get used to the looks (took me 10 minutes) you are all set. This is NOT just a chipper.
The Hackers Paradise recently reviewed the Cleveland Bloom ladies set and it came with the Niblick for ladies. While Golfergal and the rest of the ladies were putting the irons to task, I found myself messing around with this little club and hitting it really well. The women that were able to try out the Niblick for that review came away really impressed and at that time I figured I would have to get in touch with Cleveland to see about reviewing the men’s version of this club. They were kind enough to agree to send one over and before I get into the review, THP wants to congratulate Mr. Cleveland Golf Guy for getting a hole in one. We found this out while pleading our case for reviewing the Niblick and that deserves some press of course. After just a few short days, the men’s version of the Niblick arrived at our offices and once we got the box opened, I did not wait five minutes before heading to the course.
One thing we learned while playing with the Niblick is that ego plays more of a role in club selection than lower scores for some people. The thought to some of the testers of hitting this club was like admitting they were bad golfers. I was always under the impression that the goal in this game was to lower your score. Nobody ever had a problem with bigger drivers that you can alter for your own swing, sharper grooves in wedges, or tricked out putters, yet you show them this club and all you hear is “not for me, I know how to chip”. We put their game to the test and we will have those results later in the review. Speaking of sharper grooves in wedges, the Cleveland Niblick has some of the best out there in the Zip Grooves that many people love in their CG line of wedges.
On our first day out testing the Niblick we lined up 5 people to work on their short games. Each golfer on this day had a handicap higher than 15 and lower than 24. Each person was armed with the Niblick first and then their normal club they use in the particular situation second. We setup 6 stations around the green to work from with each one having 6 balls. 3 balls for their club and 3 balls for the Niblick. Not one player did better with their club of choice compared to the Niblick. In fact to take it a step further, the players were over 60% closer to the hole in combined totals with the Niblick than their club. What we noticed was that with the Cleveland Niblick, nobody had the issue of the “fat” or “thin” shots that were happening a few times as they made their way around the green with their own clubs.
The next day we did the same test with 5 more players all that had a handicap index of less than 10. The results were a little different as only 4 out of the 5 golfers finished closer to the hole with the Niblick compared to their current club of choice. Yet the difference was only about 24% with the lower handicap players. One thing was the same though. Not one player in either group thought the club did not work after trying it out.
Over the course of the next couple weeks myself and a few other golfers around my club took the Niblick out on the course and played with it. One thing we found out about this club while playing is that it was the most versatile club in our bag. Around the green? Grab the Niblick. Need to pitch out off the fairway? Grab the Niblick. In between irons on your approach shot? Grab the Niblick. Have we mentioned that this is not just a chipper? Deep rough? The Niblick blew away the competition. With the exception of our putters, each player reported using it more than any other club in their bag.
About the only shot that most of the testers did not have success with was bunkers around the green where opening up the club is what is needed to be done to be successful. Yet at the end of the trial we asked everybody that tried one out, if they would play it full time and the answer was “no” for all but two testers. Why? The answers were all similar, because they felt as though it was “not right” or “their playing partners would make fun of them”. The Hackers Paradise is all about putting the fun back in golf, but at the same time lowering your score and becoming a better player. My ego was put to rest the first time I used the Cleveland Golf Niblick. I chipped in from 15 yards off the green. Nobody in my group says a word anymore. THP fully endorses the use of the Niblick and it is not just a chipper. You can read all about the Cleveland Niblick at Cleveland Golf Niblick. It is available in either 37 or 42 degrees (we tested the 42* version which is available in lefty as well) with a retail price of about $109.
Till Next Time