FIRST LOOK: Cleveland’s Launcher XL irons get the Artificial Intelligence treatment

cleveland launcher xl irons

Jonathan Wall

Don’t be deceived by the sleek look: Cleveland Golf’s Launcher XL irons are designed for the game-improvement golfer who needs an abundance of forgiveness and technology.

The hollow cavity construction features a new variable-thickness Mainframe face that was created using Artificial Intelligence. In recent years, AI has played a larger role in the club design process as manufacturers have continued to push the boundaries, particularly when it comes to face construction.

With AI taking the lead on face design, Cleveland’s engineering team focused on improving the common high-toe mishit for mid-to-high handicap golfers. Compared to the previous generation, Launcher XL offers a 15 percent increase in MOI (a measure of forgiveness) on high-toe strikes in an effort to tighten the distance loss delta.

Along with adding mishit protection, AI helped locate the optimal shape, weighting, and variable thickness pattern for each iron in the set, in an effort to increase distance and forgiveness across the entire face structure.

Loft-specific grooves were also added to each face to manage spin. The 4- through 7-iron have wide, flat grooves for moderate spin, while the 8-iron through wedge feature tightly-packed, deeper laser-milled grooves to generate additional spin and friction at impact.

In terms of impact improvements, a v-shaped sole with a raised leading edge was added to allow the sole to slide through the ground with less drag. According to Cleveland, the sole geometry should make it easier for golfers with a “heavy strike” to maintain speed and power as the head enters and exits the turf.

An 8-gram weight was also added to the butt end of the grip for a slight counterbalance to help consistently square up the face at impact. For golfers who don’t typically play counter-balanced products, the manufacturer also designed a custom configuration that’s a half-inch shorter without the extra mass in the grip.

Cleveland’s Launcher XL irons will be available Sept. 17 and retail for $800 (7-piece steel) and $900 (7-piece graphite).

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Jonathan Wall

Golf.com

Jonathan Wall is GOLF Magazine and GOLF.com’s Managing Editor for Equipment. Prior to joining the staff at the end of 2018, he spent 6 years covering equipment for the PGA Tour.