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Review: Cleveland Classic XL Custom Driver

Can't Miss the Face, Won't Miss the Fairway!

While every new driver claims to offer more yards, the truth is if you hit the center of the face, any driver that is properly fit will give you about the same distance.  I think that the real benefits of current drivers are how well they do on off-center hits.  Basically how big is the sweet spot?  If you look at the Cleveland  Classic XL you will see the biggest black face on the market.  It is huge, especially tall.  It seems like it is impossible to miss the sweet spot of this driver.  What that translates into is not missing the fairway very often either.

Cleveland created their second version of the Classic driver, this time they went with the giant black persimmon looking head.  The XL Custom also has an adjustable hosel and rear weight.  I loved the retro look of the original Classic, and I think the Classic XL Custom looks just as good, not as pure retro, but still cool.  It has a contrast face like an old wooden driver, yet is 10x the size of an old driver.  The gold paint and trim looks great. It is finished with a leather-like retro barrel headcover.  It is one of my favorite stock headcovers.

The stock shaft options for this club are some of the best too.  You can get it was an authentic aftermarket Miyazaki shaft, an original Fubuki or a real deal Matrix shaft.  Mine came with a Matrix Radix 6s shaft which has been great for me in a hybrid and a previous driver.  The blue looks great with the black head.  The results of the pair offered great feel and lower spin yet great control.  While Cleveland didn’t do a “one” head set-up like some of the other companies, the XL custom offers ample adjustment in 12 different settings.

I have been a fan of deep faced drivers for many years because of my high spin issues and my misses tend to be vertical compared to horizontal.   This looked like a great fit for my eye: big, all black and deep faced, but for some reason initially we didn’t get along.  I couldn’t get it anywhere near my normal distance.  I was bummed.  I checked the specs, the weight, the length, everything seemed right, but I couldn’t hit it worth a darn.  So I put it back in the bag and didn’t hit it for a couple weeks.  I knew I needed to work on this review so I took it out again and with not a single change to the club, I just started bombing this driver.  Obviously it was my swing, but what a change.  My next couple rounds were really great.  It was just a rinse and repeat driver; fairway after fairway.  I can’t say I found any new distance, but I hit some fairways I virtually never hit.  A couple of tight driving holes that always get me, were no match for the Cleveland XL Custom.  It is for this reason alone it will get significantly more playing time.

The Cleveland XL Custom has a great sound/feel.  It is deep faced, but feels really solid at impact.  It offers a really solid whack behind the ball.  Since the face is so big, it has a pretty large sweet spots so hitting it “on the screws” is a sometimes hard to know for certain.  Then again, even if you miss the dead center, you won’t tell from your results. 

The ability to adjust this driver is great.  It has 12 settings for the owner to go up or down and left or right.  I spend most of my time at neutral, but did try a couple other settings and found them to be good at tweaking the ball flight.  The one thing that is different with the Cleveland Classic XL Custom is the screw type.  It is a square head, while all the other companies have a star head.  Not really a big deal, it comes with the wrench, but if you lose it, you can’t just use one from another company.

I think the Cleveland Classic XL Custom is flying under the radar this year because everyone is talking about speed or distance gains, which are minimal at best.  This driver is great because the giant face is incredibly forgiving and keeps the ball in the fairway.  I think this is what more golfers should be worried about, not 5 more yards in the rough.  Sure it can’t solve every bad swing, it is not a magic wand, but for me it kept the ball closest to the desired target line.  Don’t worry it holds its own distance wise, I was still in my average landing zones.  It is plenty long, but keeping it in the short grass is key to lower scores.  It’s like you can’t miss the face, and won’t miss the fairway with the Cleveland Classic XL Custom Driver.

Check the price online here

For more information:

Quick Hits
+Very tall forgiving face
+Great all black retro look
+Excellent solid feel
+Fairway finder and plenty long
+Excellent real stock shafts

–No additional tips available

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