Cleveland Golf have a long standing reputation for their excellent wedges so I was eager to see how their CBX ZipCore range would perform for me down at my local course. After all, the CBX ZipCore is aimed at golfers of my distinctly average skill level, promising a nice blend of forgiveness and spin for mid handicappers. Did it deliver?
My one sentence review is that these wedges exceeded my expectations and performed as well as anything else I have tested. But you want more than one sentence, so read on and I’ll tell you exactly why I was so impressed with them.
But back to the matter at hand. Choosing a set of wedges is one of the most complex things a golfer has to do when shopping for clubs, as there is a daunting variety of options available. Not only do you have to decide on a brand and then a style of wedge (player or game improvement), but then you have to look at lofts and grinds too, which is when it gets really bewildering.
To help you understand the different options I have compiled a handy guide to the best wedges which includes useful information on lofts, lie, grinds and the difference between wedges aimed at better players and those more suited to the Average Joe like myself. The Cleveland CBX ZipCore falls into the latter category.
These wedges are aimed at golfers who don’t always strike their wedges crisply. If you occasionally fat your wedges or thin them so they fly like a 3 iron, then you should not be playing bladed clubs, such as the excellent Callaway Jaws Raw wedge, which I reviewed recently. You need something a bit more forgiving and easier to hit. Something like the Cleveland CBX ZipCore.
Cleveland marketed these wedges by saying "All you wanna do is chunk a little less. Skull a little less. Duff a little less. CBX ZipCore helps you hit better shots around the green by striking it true and clean more often."
So do they live up to that? Read on and I’ll tell you.
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Cleveland CBX ZipCore wedges - price and availability
You'll find Cleveland CBX ZipCore readily available in most major golf retailers, in store and online. The graphite shaft option is not as widely available as the steel variety but they aren't too difficult to find.
You can expect to pay between £109 and £129 in the UK and around $149 in the US. In Australia costs vary between $219 to $239.
Cleveland CBX ZipCore wedges - Looks & Feel
The Catalyst Spinner all black graphite shaft is what sets these clubs apart in both looks and feel for me. Visually the CBX ZipCore looks very striking with the graphite shaft complimenting the black and silver finish of the clubhead very nicely. You can go for a steel shaft if you prefer, but do keep an open mind on the graphite as not only do they look much more striking, they definitely add a different kind of feel to your shots.
Graphite shafts in irons are very much an acquired taste with many associating graphite with older golfers. While it’s true that a slower swinger can benefit from a graphite shaft, it’s too simplistic to say graphite shafts are for old timers. Not all tour players will have steel shafts in their irons or wedges, and besides, the CBX ZipCore shafts are specifically designed for wedges. You don’t need to be old to benefit from these shafts. I certainly benefited and I’m not ol… actually forget that.
The view from the back of the head isn’t as pleasing as many of the other wedges out there. It’s no Callaway Jaws Raw for example, and you wouldn’t particularly call it a good looking wedge from the back. Over the ball is a different matter. It’s like a different club. From behind you see the cavity back design and expect the club to look a little thick and clunky at address, but it’s surprisingly sleek when you look down on it before a shot. The couple of extra grooves also promotes confidence at address.
On full shots the feel from these wedges is incredibly soft and there is no shortage of spin. You can still tell when you haven’t quite hit the sweet spot but there is no unpleasant, vibration feeling that you get when you don’t hit a bladed club out of the middle.
When chipping with these wedges the sound is a little clicky, which would imply that the feel might be a little on the firm side. Far from it. The feel of the CBX ZipCore is extremely soft, whether on full shots or when chipping and pitching around the green, and I found it easy to get the ball to stop quickly on chip shots as there is no shortage of spin.
Cleveland CBX ZipCore wedges - The Technology
These wedges are jam packed with technology which makes them perform differently to other cavity backed clubs I’ve used. There is a hollow chamber near the heel of the club which Cleveland say boosts that moment of inertia (MOI) which improves forgiveness well past what other cavity back wedges can offer. Additionally, you have Gelback. This is a custom TPU insert behind the club face which softens vibrations, which means less punishment on those shots that don’t quite find the sweet spot.
Additionally, these are the deepest grooves Cleveland have ever made, plus they’ve even added a couple extra. By moving the grooves closer together and deepening them, the spin factor is exponentially multiplies. Cleveland say Ultizip grooves are 11% sharper, 7.3% deeper, 7.4% closer and provides 7.2% more groove contact on shots.
There are three grinds available. V-Shaped is designed to glide over the turf without digging, even when you strike behind the ball. So if you’re prone to hitting fat shots, this will help eliminate those. S-Shaped is for bunkers or when you need to open the face for finesse shots around the green. Its wide profile offers plenty of bounce. C-Shaped is designed in a way that you can open the face to any angle and attack any green site situation.
So a general rule would be V-Shaped for approach shots with PW and GW, and then you might want to go with S-Shaped grind on a sand wedge, with C-Shaped on a lob wedge. This also depends on the type of course you usually play on and also your skill level.
Cleveland CBX ZipCore wedges - Performance
I took two Cleveland CBX ZipCore wedges onto my local course and spent a couple of hours just hitting full shots into various greens, before finishing up with some chipping and bunker shots. I had a 44 degree and a 56 degree, which would be the nearest equivalent to the pitching wedge and lob wedge in my own set of clubs.
The first thing I noticed was just how light the CBX ZipCore wedges felt on full swings. Before even hitting a shot I had noticed that just from a few practice swings. Completely different to anything I'd used before.
When I began hitting shots I was surprised at just how much feel I had with them. My own wedges are fairly heavy, very forgiving, cavity backs. The CBX ZipCore are cavity backs too but that’s where any similarity ends. The feel is incredibly soft, which has to be a result of the Catalyst Spinner shaft.
The forgiveness was impressive and on good shots there was plenty of spin and control. Another plus point for me was I didn’t hit any really bad chunk shots. That’s an Achilles heel for me, especially with higher lofted wedges when my swing can get a little steep and I hit behind the ball and catch it fat. It’s not easy hitting fat shots with these wedges, which is partly what makes them ideal for mid-handicap golfers.
Around the same time I tested these wedges I was also running the rule over the Callaway Jaws Raw and the Wilson Staff Model wedge. All three were really impressive and while I would say that the Callaway is the best wedge I’ve tried this year, I would also have to concede that it is aimed at better players than myself and, much as I don’t like admitting it, it probably is not the best fit for me personally. I really liked the Wilson Staff Model too, but again, it’s aimed at better players than me. The Cleveland CBX ZipCore wedges gave me the most consistent results because they are aimed more at golfers of my level.
That said, I definitely preferred the Jaws Raw wedges for chipping around the green but then I’ve always liked a blade for those kind of shots. While I wouldn’t say the CBX ZipCore is clunky, it doesn’t fill me with the same kind of confidence I have when chipping from a tight lie with a bladed wedge. When there’s a bit of grass under the ball it’s fine, but from tight lies I’m not as confident over the ball as I am with a more bladed wedge. It is something I did become more comfortable with the more I used the CBX ZipCore though.
On full shots I loved these wedges right from the get go. The 44 degree wedge gave me the best results as I was able to hit that right on my number more often than not. With the 56 degree I was not as consistent but that’s normal for me as I never really know how far a full shot is going. It will be anywhere between 65 and 75 yards. They were easy to flight and the spin was impressive.
I did struggle with it a little out of bunkers and it took me some time to figure it out. My sand wedge is fairly heavy so to go to the much lighter feeling CBX ZipCore 56 degree threw me off quite a bit and I kept leaving everything short. Sometimes I didn’t even get it out of the sand. After a while I realised I needed to swing a little harder and the results improved. Personally though I do prefer a heavier head on sand shots.
After I used these wedges I went to the Cleveland website and read up on the technology used. I tend to take most of this stuff from manufacturers with a large pinch of salt as much of it is just marketing spiel to make their club sound like the greatest thing that’s ever happened to golf. Every driver is more forgiving and goes further than the previous incarnation because of some new technological breakthrough, Every putter has a bigger sweet spot and better weight balance to help you hole more putts. It always sounds great but generally those things don’t jump out at me when I use the product.
When reading about the tech in the CBX ZipCore though it did match up with my experience of using them. One thing in particular really struck a chord with me; the Gelback, TPU insert that is designed to soften vibrations. That’s why the feel is so good with these clubs. They’re soft and buttery and it’s rare that you get that nasty vibration feeling up the shaft when you hit one a bit thin. The insert at the back of the club face combined with the graphite shaft completely dampen that.
Cleveland CBX ZipCore wedges - Verdict
These wedges are a fantastic option for mid handicap golfers such as myself. While a blade design is always appealing visually, they are more suited to the more skilled golfer and most players below that level would be better served with something like the CBX ZipCore.
The feel on full shots is buttery soft and you get just the right blend of performance and forgiveness. They aren't the cheapest but they aren't at the top of the price range either, so if you are looking to upgrade your wedges this year then the Cleveland CBX ZipCore is well worth a look as it is definitely one of the best wedges out there for the average golfer. Two thumbs up from me.