By Shawn Zawodni, Club Fitter
Cleveland Golf is known for making some of the most iconic wedges in the history of golf. In 1988, the company released one of the top selling golf clubs of all time, the legendary 588 wedge. The 588 quickly became the most popular wedge on tour. After riding the success of the 588 for over two decades, Cleveland has released one of the deepest, most complete collections in the history of wedges. They currently offer 4 wedges: RTX Zip Core, CBX Full Face, CBX 2, and the Smart Sole. I will not be reviewing the Smart Sole because we do not have demos but they are huge wedges with massive soles designed to make the game as close to idiot proof as possible.
RTX Zip Core
The RTX Zip Core wedge is Cleveland’s flagship tour wedge. It is available in 3 different finishes: Tour Black, Tour Satin (which is like a matte chrome), and Tour Rack Raw (which will rust). The Tour Rack wedge also offers 3 standard sole grinds (Fig. 1) with 5 different custom grind options (Fig. 2), and 3 different leading-edge grinds for varying turf interactions (Fig. 3).
Fig. 1, RTX ZipCore standard sole grinds*
Fig. 2, Tour Rack Raw custom sole grinds*
Fig.3, Tour Rack Raw Custom leading-edge grinds*
The big technological breakthrough in the Zip Core comes from a low density core which allows the engineers to move the center of gravity to enhance spin and control, and increase moment of inertia – a measurement of stability and forgiveness. Other technological advances include Ultizip grooves that are narrower, deeper, and more numerous helping to remove debris and creating increased groove interaction with the ball. They also go through a heat treatment process increasing the durability of the grooves for longer lasting wedges. Lofts range from 46° to 62° in two-degree increments.
As gorgeous as the RTX Zip Core wedge is with its traditional blade shape and size, from a forgiveness standpoint it’s still a tour style wedge. In the realm of forgiveness, as they say, there ain’t no replacement for displacement. The CBX 2 (Fig. 4) has a significantly larger head with more surface area on the face making contact with the ball easier.
Fig. 4 CBX 2 Wedge*
Cleveland targets this wedge to the golfer that is playing game improvement irons, or anyone who wants some forgiveness around the greens. They feature a Hollow-Cavity Design which greatly increases the moment of inertia (MOI, which is a measure of stability). This helps off center shots perform more like center face shots. They also feature a Dynamic Sole that features more bounce on the leading edge with lots of trailing edge relief. The Dynamic Sole fits a majority of swing types and attack angles and performs well in almost all conditions. They have a thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) insert in the cavity that dampens the vibration of the impact for a soft feel. They top it off with their 4th gen Rotex Face which offers sharp grooves and aggressive face milling. Lofts are available from 46° to 60° in two-degree increments and are offered in tour satin and black satin finishes.
The most recent and unique wedge in the lineup is the CBX Full-Face wedge (Fig 5). Almost every company is offering a “high toe” design wedge that offers more real estate on the impact surface making the wedge easier to hit and more forgiving from a variety of conditions.
Fig. 5, CBX Full Face, cavity and face profile*
The Full-Face features the same Rotex face that’s found on the CBX 2 for maximum spin and control. It also has a half cavity design that positions the center of gravity exactly where it is needed for higher lofted wedges. The Full-Face sports Cleveland’s Low C-Shaped Sole. This makes it easy to lay the face open to hit the most delicate shots around the green. It is offered in 56°, 58°, 60°, and 64° lofts. The finish is black satin for reduced glare.
OK, enough about all the boring crap that you can just look up on the Cleveland website. More than likely the reason you are reading this is to see how the wedges perform and possibly get an opinion on them. A couple of co-workers and I tested the different wedges side by side to see how they stack up with each other. Each tester hit each wedge 50 yards and then 100 yards and the data was averaged (Table 1). I focused on the launch angle, spin rate, and descent angle of the ball because that’s how we are going to be able to tell if a ball has a chance of staying anywhere close to where it lands on a green. I also showed carry distance to prove that the ball went somewhere close to the yardage we were trying to hit it.
|AVG||Launch Angle (deg)||Spin Rate (rpm)||Landing Angle (deg)||Carry (yds)|
|CBX Full Face 50||30.45||6708.5||39.75||50.85|
|RTX Zip Core 50||30.85||6647.5||40.6||55.05|
|CBX Full Face 100||30.8||9920||52.35||97.9|
|RTX Zip Core 100||29.7||9830||50.7||97|
Table 1, 50 & 100 yard data for Zip Core, CBX2, and CBX Full Face Wedges
Graph 1, 50 yard spin rates
Graph 2, 100 yard spin rates
The CBX 2 launched the highest and spun the lowest of the 3 wedges in both the 50 and 100 yard tests (Graph 1 & 2). The reason it launched the highest and spun the lowest is due to the low center of gravity. Even though the CBX 2 had the lowest spin rates, it also had the steepest descent angle at both yardages indicating the ball won’t have any issue stopping. The Zip Core launched the lowest at 100 yards, and the Full Face launched the lowest (albeit by a 0.40° vs the Zip Core) at 50 yards. The CBX Full Face had the highest spin rate at both distances (Graph 1 & 2). The CBX Full Face and the Zip Core had similar launch and spin rates due to the center of gravity position.
Final Thoughts & Recommendations
Cleveland has done an amazing job positioning themselves in multiple wedge genres. Spanning from a traditional tour blade with updated technology to super game improvement and almost mindlessly easy to hit wedges. Not everything is rainbows and unicorns however; there are a couple of things I would like to see from Cleveland. First, the CBX Full Face line of wedges is not offered in a 54° loft. Due to the strengthening of iron lofts over time, the wedges have needed to get a little stronger as well to keep up. A traditional sand wedge has always been 56° but we are commonly fitting 54°degree wedges in place of the 56° for more appropriate loft gaps. I wish Cleveland would offer the Full Face in a 54° loft. The second issue is the finish options on the CBX 2 and the CBX Full Face. The CBX Full Face is only available in a black satin finish, and the CBX 2 is available in a black satin finish and a satin chrome finish. For example, It is very common for us to fit the CBX 2 in a 50° or a 52° and then go to the CBX Full Face in 56° and 60°. It would be nice to match the finishes on all of the wedges.
So, which one is right for you? Hopefully, this will help:
RTX Zip Core: The Zip Core is for the player who is looking for a smaller traditional tour style blade wedge. It is also best for the player looking for maximum spin and trajectory control. If you like to flight your wedges high and low and control spin rate based on how you want the ball to react when it hits the green, then the RTX Zip Core will be your best option.
CBX 2: The CBX 2 is for the higher handicap or less consistent player. Or any player who just doesn’t want to work too hard to hit a wedge. Oh, you missed it on the toe? No problem. Missed it on the heel? No problem. Missed it high on the face? You get the idea. It is extremely easy to hit and has a sole grind that works for almost any swing and turf condition.
CBX Full Face: The CBX Full Face is a great blend between forgiveness and workability. The larger face completely covered with grooves is best suited for hitting out of adverse conditions such as rough and bunkers. The higher spin rates and lower launch angles are also conducive to controlling trajectory and spin. They’re the best of both worlds as long as you don’t mind how they look (compared to other larger faced wedges in the industry they actually have a more traditional look).
Bottom line is they are all awesome for somebody. The best way to figure out which one suits you best is to hit them all and of course, GET FIT!
*Wedge images were taken from the Cleveland Golf website