When thinking about Cleveland, one of the words that come to mind is underrated.
The brand has produced some seriously good clubs in years gone by, yet it has rarely been referred to as one of the top club-makers like TaylorMade or Titleist.
It was founded by Roger Cleveland in 1979 as Cleveland Classics. However, many of the original products sold were replica clubs from the 1940s and 50s.
Wedges helped to make Cleveland’s name though and the 588 wedges became renowned in the world of golf.
In 1990, Skis Rossignol, a ski equipment manufacturer, purchased the company, changed the name to Cleveland Golf, and introduced woods and irons.
More recently, Cleveland Golf has explored a transition from players’ irons to game improvement. So, let’s take a look at how that came to be with each of the Cleveland irons by year.
Cleveland Iron Sets by Year: Full List
We took a trip down memory lane and into the Cleveland archive to find a full list of all of its irons including Cleveland Tour Action irons and its year made:
|Cleveland iron||Year released|
|VAS- Diamond 221I||1996|
|Tour Action TA3||1998|
|Tour Action TA5||1999|
|CG1 Black Pearl||2006|
|Hi-Bore Gold Combo||2008|
|CG7 Tour Black Pearl||2009|
|CG7 Black Pearl||2010|
|CG7 Tour Black Pearl||2010|
|CG16 Black Pearl||2011|
|CG16 Tour Black Pearl||2011|
|588 Forged MB||2012|
|588 Forged CB||2012|
|CG Black CB||2015|
|Launcher HB Turbo||2017|
|Launcher XL Halo||2022|
Read more: The Best Golf Irons This Year
Will There Be New Cleveland Irons in 2023?
Cleveland Golf is releasing wedges in 2023. The RTX 6 ZipCore Wedge were released early in 2023 and builds on the popular ZipCore Wedges offering plenty of bite and spin.
Cleveland Golf is also releasing CBX Full-Face 2 wedges with forgiving soles that will reduce chunky shots and help mid to high handicappers.
Top Cleveland Irons Over the Years
Cleveland Irons from the 2000s
The original Launcher irons date back to 2004. The forgiving irons came with great amounts of stability and a low and deep center of gravity.
Hi Bore Irons
In 2009, the Hi Bore XLI irons were released following on from a couple of irons before that. The irons offer more distance, forgiveness, and consistency too. They were hybrid irons with a fully hollow construction for a solid feel.
Cleveland Irons from the 2010s
Launcher CBX Irons
2017 saw the launch of the Launcher CBX version. A cavity back and the Launcher cup face aid distance and wedge spin technology provides control of the shots too.
588 Forged CB Irons
The Forged CB Cleveland irons were tailored towards a golfer of a lower handicap. They have been crafted with a softer, 1025 carbon steel metal for a better feel. The surface of the club face is rough to add extra spin too.
Cleveland Irons from the 2020s
There have actually only been two new irons this decade, but they are solid options. The Launcher XL is focused on forgiveness and control. It has a huge head with the most MOI in a Cleveland iron at the time – it is XL in every way.
Launcher XL Halo
The Launcher XL Halo comes with a hybrid-iron design. The focus of these irons is to enable you to produce a more consistent shot. This is thanks to the large face, decreased CG, and wide sole which means you can hit cleaner shots more often.
Read more: Titleist Irons By Year
Understanding the Evolution of Cleveland Irons over the Years
VAS irons were the first irons that Cleveland made. They were even in the bag of Corey Pavin, a world number two once, and he won the U.S. Open in 1995 with them.
They were actually quite innovative at the time with a hosel that was moved back, perimeter weighting, and progressive offset. It all pointed to a game improvement iron.
However, the VAS irons and the following VAS 792s weren’t the most aesthetically pleasing irons and never really took off.
Then came the Cleveland Tour Action irons with a release date in 1998. The Tour Action irons and variations of these regularly came out until 2004, and the Cleveland TA7 irons were released in the year of 2011, a little later.
Between this was the notable Cleveland CG4 irons made in the year 2005.
Back onto the Tour Action irons though, the hint is in the name – Tour. They were better-looking clubs but could be hard to hit and lacked forgiveness.
Though, from the TA-4s to the TA7s, they were dubbed as irons that were more forgiving and pretty solid game-improvement irons.
Just after 2010, the CG16 irons came out. These were aimed at mid-handicappers. The clubs focused on optimizing forgiveness, control, and distance for each shot with a large, thin face and milled face grooves.
Cleveland then flirted with players’ irons again as the 588 Forged irons came out. These irons came with a great feel, minimal offset, and a rough face for maximized spin.
In 2017, the Launcher CBX irons came out. All of Cleveland’s irons since then have been Launcher-driven and concentrated on maximizing distance and precision. The Launcher cup face and a thicker top line on the long irons helped achieve this.
Its most recent irons in 2022 saw XL versions of the Launcher club. They are very forgiving and stable thanks to, you guessed it, a bigger head. Additionally, there is the highest-ever MOI in the 7-iron for a game-improvement iron.
It is actually one of the best irons around for newer golfers.
Cleveland has tailored its offering to higher handicappers and does not offer the golfers with a lower handicap much of a choice now. But, that’s the way the cookie crumbles sometimes. Better golfers will not be short of options across other brands.
Read more: TaylorMade Irons By Year
Tips for Choosing the Right Cleveland Iron Set for Your Game
Be Mindful of Your Handicap
Your handicap can be a good indication of which Cleveland iron. Higher handicappers will be better off using game improvement irons that are designed for distance and forgiveness. The Launcher XL and Launcher XL irons should suit you.
If you are of a lower handicap and looking to improve the finer details in your game then players irons will probably be for you.
Cleveland flirted with players irons with the 588 Forged CB irons. That was thanks to the softer metal, rough surface face, and minimal offset.
It is important to note that if you are of a higher handicap that doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to look at irons to suit better-quality golfers or aspire to play with them. With your current ability, you would probably find it tougher to get the best out of them so you should suit game improvement irons more.
Don’t Go Over Budget
You need to consider how much you are going to spend on new irons. You could have found a set of irons that, on paper, look and read like they will enhance your game ten folds but they cost $800 and that may be out of your budget. It’s never worth breaking the bank for some new irons. Don’t force it.
There will be cheaper alternatives that you can buy that can be very similar. Additionally, if you really wanted a specific club but didn’t want to pay the premium price, it may be worth looking at where you can get used Cleveland irons instead.
They Need to Look the Part in Your Eyes
If your new Cleveland irons look the part, you will probably feel the part too. What I mean by that is if you are very pleased with the look and design of your new irons, it will bring about confidence that you are going to play well in them and enjoy using them.
For example, if you are a high handicapper and have a thick topline in your club or a large club head, it may provide some comfort knowing that it is more forgiving than other clubs. This will only contribute positively to your game.
Otherwise, if you just have some irons you aren’t encouraged by with a design you aren’t very keen on, you may lack confidence in your setup and which could impact your swing and connection with the ball. Before you know it, you are heading for a poor game.
Now you know all there is to know about Cleveland irons by year. The only person that can decide if they are underrated is you though, so if you are of a higher handicap it may be worth giving some of Cleveland’s recent irons a go.
Whether the brand’s irons will return to the full market in the future, who knows? But for now, it’s been an interesting journey, that’s for sure…
When Did Cleveland Stop Making Irons?
Cleveland’s last iron was the Launcher XL back in March 2022. It is reported by DNA Sports that Cleveland Golf won’t produce irons, drivers, fairway woods, or hybrids for the full market anymore. Instead, it is focusing on wedges and small parts of the metalwoods and irons market.
Do Any Pros Use Cleveland Irons?
A lot of Pros would tend to associate Cleveland with wedges rather than its irons as they are made for higher handicappers. In terms of wedges though, Hideki Matsuyama has used the RTX 4 Forged Prototype clubs before. Keegan Bradley, Shane Lowry, Sepp Straka, and Matt Kuchar have all used the RTX ZipCore Raw wedges too.
When Did the Cleveland RTX 4 Come Out?
Across the USA and Europe, Cleveland’s RTX 4 wedge came out on September 14, 2018. At the time, it would cost golfers $139.99. Since its release, it has been used by PGA Tour Pros like Shane Lowry and Graeme McDowell.
Jack was inspired by his Grandad Ron's golfing and grew up playing this great game. Now, he enjoys both playing and writing about it. He is also a big sports fan too. Jack is always looking for ways to find the edge on the course to share with readers.