The New Cleveland ZIPCore Wedge Review

Cleveland is one of the club manufacturers that have concentrated their efforts on the development of wedges through the years.

Recently they have increased their focus on a full range of clubs and their drivers are definitely worth a look, in the medium to low, price range.

Grooves

Maybe it’s a good idea to give some background to all the talk around grooves.

Groove technology has been the concentrated area over many years as each manufacturer seeks to offer the ultimate spin and control option to the tour players.

Success on the tour results in sales to the mass of golf enthusiasts.

Grooves were initially introduced in 1908 when it became obvious that spin on the ball created lift, which in turn produced carry and distance.

First came the V-grooves, then the U-shape followed by the so-called Square-grooves, which put an incredible amount of spin on the ball from the fairway and more importantly from the rough.

There is still constant debate about grooves.

In 2010 the USGA brought in new rules to control the type, width, and depth of grooves on clubs with 25 degrees loft or higher.

Below is a simplified version of the groove rules:

1. Grooves must be straight, parallel, and consistent on the face layout.

2. The cross-section of the groove must be symmetrical and not converge.

3. No sharp edges or raised edges.

4. Dimensions of each groove are limited to 0.035 inches wide and 0.020 inches deep.

5. Minimum spacing is 3 times the groove width and not less than 0.75 inches.

6. Deeper and wider grooves must be further apart than those which are shallower and narrower.

7. Lofts of 25 degrees and higher must have round grooves.

The main impact of these rules affects the amount of spin that can be generated from the rough and wet grass.

The theory is that the deeper the grooves, the more disbursement of debris and water occurs at the point of impact.

A simple comparison is a tread on car tires: Tread disperses water and allows more rubber at the point of contact.

Drivers are not affected.

The Wedges

In the beginning, Cleveland developed the 588 wedge range which was possibly one of the best known and used wedges in golf.

The traditional design and different sole and bounce options, allowed golfers of all calibers to appreciate the impact these wedges could have on their short game.

Then followed the RTX range of wedges which were very successful and each model provided a new design or face technology dating back to 2012.

Rotex Face-Milling was the buzz word from Cleveland and they offered a full range of bounce, loft, and grind options to suit all types of turf and bunker sand conditions.

The previous RTX 4 Tour Satin model featured new face technology, the most popular components used by tour professionals, and expanded grind offerings.

The shape, looks, and performance provided all the aspiring golfer’s requirements.

Another clever marketing ploy from Cleveland was offering a “trade-in” on any wedge that the golfer had and could be replaced with the newest version at a discounted opening price.

The RTX 4 is a magnificent wedge and until this radical change from Cleveland, was a favorite with many golfers.

Cleveland marketing described it as “the most tour authentic wedge ever made by the company”.

RTX ZipCore

rtxzipcore

This new model has just been launched and Cleveland claims it to be one of their biggest manufacturing achievements in their history.

Having developed the new shape head with all the pro features on the RTX 4 model, no re-shaping was required (tour authentic).

Wedge technology starts with the face of the club and Cleveland took some radical decisions.

They dismantled the RTX technology and started again.

Cleveland came up with a new idea in the manufacturing technique and made the Zipcore insert first and then encased it within the cast carbon steel head.

With the new process, this low-density compound is placed in the hosel and the heel of the wedge.

By removing weight from the hosel with the lighter Zipcore material, the center of gravity (CG)  is moved closer to the center of the clubface.

Some weight is also moved to high on the rear of the clubface, which improves MOI on both the high and the low points of the face.

Consistent “sweet spot” strikes and stability are the benefits.

All these innovations often require a complete process change during manufacture and special care is needed in the follow-up processes like nickel-plating.

The end -product still has the look of a tour blade wedge and is very good on the eye.

The new Ulti-Zip grooves are both 7.4 percent closer and deeper than previous models and are the deepest in Cleveland’s history.

Being closer to each other has allowed Cleveland to add an extra 2 grooves to the face.

The addition of 2 extra grooves can be likened to adding a turbocharger to a car engine.

Cleveland’s data indicates that most wedge shots are played from 20 to 50 yards and with limited compression on these shots, the addition of the 2 grooves provides more bite on the ball.

The grooves are 11 percent sharper and allow for greater disbursement of water and grass from the point of impact.

They are more durable, less brittle, and retain their sharpness for a longer period due to a new heat treatment process during manufacture.

A 9 percent increase to the twist-resistance claimed by Cleveland, in comparison to the previous RTX 4 design, is another improvement offering better control.

With all this new technology Cleveland has positioned the center of gravity 1.4 mm from the “sweet spot” or center of the face.

The previous RTX 4 model was about 2.8mm.

Overall results are better feedback, distance control, feel, and more spin.

Keeping the traditional look of the wedges encourages confidence at address.

Models Available

Low, Medium, and Full sole options.

Lofts from 46 to 62 degrees with 2-degree increments.

Shafts:

Standard Shafts are True Temper Dynamic Gold Spinner Tour Issue.

This is a newly developed shaft in collaboration with True Temper and weight has been removed to lighten it.

The tip is slightly softer with more kick for half-shots and provides more spin on the green.

Contrary to belief, It is not the same as the DG Spinner.

The shaft will be released for aftermarket sales later in the year.

Grips:

Standard Grips are Golf Pride Tour Velvet 360 and weigh 52 grams.

Grind and Loft Options:

All  3 models are similar to the previous RTX4, but Cleveland has dropped the X-low grind which had 3 degrees of loft.

Reasons given are the pros could not cope with the very low bounce, and so amateurs will fail to master it.

Wedge grinds are always tour driven.

Loft increments are 2 degrees through the range.

Low – This has 6 degrees of bounce and a classic C-shaped grind with toe, heel, and trailing edge assistance.

Available in 56 to 62 degrees loft.

Mid – The most versatile wedge with a V-sole grind and 10 degrees bounce.

It offers good trailing edge relief on full shots.

Available in 46 to 60 degrees loft.

Full – The full sole offers 12 degrees of bounce and is the highest available.

If you spend plenty of time in the rough and sand, this is the model for you.

Available in 54 to 60 degrees loft.

Finishes:

Tour Satin Finish will be available at launch, with Black Satin and Tour Rack Raw available later.

Summary

Cleveland continues to battle with Callaway for the No 2 spot in market share with wedges, after Titleist Vokey.

These new models are a must for Cleveland fans and offer a great range for any class of golfer, seeking short game improvement.

The full range of lofts available makes these wedges very easy to fit into your current set.

Independent reviews claim an increase in revolutions (spin) on full shots.

All grooves cannot be the best under all conditions but Cleveland has improved spin from the rough and 20 to 50 yards out.  Naturally, this depends on the shot and loft of the club.

Mid-Grind is the best seller with the other 2 grinds fairly even.

Cleveland’s data indicates that golfers with a handicap of 10 plus, tend to hit their wedges toe-side of the center, and the CBX 2 range caters for this.

Better golfers tend to hit their wedges closer to the hosel and the sweet spot is slightly heel -side of center on the RTX Zipcore models.

Tour Rack Options

Cleveland will open a tour rack custom service in the USA allowing golfers to customize the sole, head, leading, and trailing edges to their requirements.

Final Thoughts

When choosing your wedges consider these factors:

  • Your home course fairways-hard or soft?
  • The type of grass in the rough-thick or sparse?
  • The bunker sand-Soft, fluffy or hard and inconsistent?
  • Test the Demo models at your club pro shop or your nearest retail outlet, and select wisely
  • Cleveland has produced a winner.

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