The Club Report: Cleveland CG Black Driver
Attention lower swing speed golfers. Today we’ve got something just for you.
I know…it’s about time.
As participants in golf forums and other golf-related communities we’ve been conditioned to believe that the average golfer swings 110 MPH and carries the ball at least 300 yards (and that’s uphill, at sea level, and into a headwind).
Can you believe we had a reader question the validity of our Most Wanted Driver test because the average distance across all testers was below 290 yards? The unrealistic expectations and the quest for distance have gotten that far out of hand.
Let’s spend today getting real about some things. Let’s spend today talking about a driver for the guy who doesn’t hit the ball 250.
The golf companies have increasingly catered to the gearhead, and while average golfers like shiny things that move too, it means more, and often complex adjustability.
The trend towards low and forward CG positions does have the potential to create massive distance, but it offers little help to the guy who struggles to get the ball in the air or who like many of us, has a tendency to work the face rather than work the ball.
When you consider all of that, it’s actually ironic, though not surprising, that a club like Cleveland’s 2015 CG Black – a club actually designed for truly average golfers – occupies a space a bit outside of the mainstream. There’s just a hint of absurdity in that.
Slower swing speed guys, this one is really and truly for you.
The Competitive Set
When we compared CG Black to the majority of Speed-centric drivers on the market, we found that only Wilson’s D200 at 268 grams is in the same weight class. TaylorMade’s AeroBurner (300g), and even Callaway’s lightweight-ish V-Series (290g) aren’t really playing in exactly the same space.
The CG Black is for guys who want a lightweight driver…a really lightweight driver. At only 260g, the Cleveland CG Black is the lightest driver on the market right now.
Cleveland CG Black Driver Specs
CG Black Technology
On a comparative basis, it’s noteworthy that in the process of evolving the CG Black from 2012 to 2015, Cleveland’s engineers shifted the center of gravity lower and closer to the face. Now all of that happened within the relative vacuum of the Cleveland CG Black line, so a lower and more forward center of gravity doesn’t mean a low/forward CG. The new CG Black isn’t designed to compete with TaylorMade’s R15 or Callaway’s Big Bertha Alpha 815 Double Black Diamond. We’re still talking about a driver designed to help average golfers get the ball in the air.
Like many drivers on the market today, the CG Black features variable face thickness. The idea is make the face more responsive in the areas where average golfers tend to miss. Face design coupled with MOI is where forgiveness comes from.
Speed through weight reduction is gaining in popularity with most companies now offering something that either qualifies as ultralight or is designed to compete with ultralights. Cleveland’s CG black is on the extreme end of that ultralight range. Of the 260 grams of total weight, 187g of that is in the head, while the 44g Mitsubishi Bassara shaft accounts for the bulk of the rest. You can do the math yourself to figure out the grip weight.
The totality of the design contributes to what Cleveland calls Low Swing MOI. Now is a good time to make sure everyone understand the distinction between head MOI and Cleveland’s Swing MOI. High MOI in the head is desirable. It’s where forgiveness comes from. Lower Swing MOI, according to Cleveland, is desirable because it produces more speed with the same effort.
Everybody wants more speed…at least that’s what all the commercials say.
The CG Black offers a slightly rounded shape, a matte black crown, and absolutely no alignment aid. The only crown detail, blue accents on the trailing edge, is subtle-enough that most won’t notice it at address. While you might call CG Black a game-improvement driver, the overall design proves that game-improvement doesn’t need to be in your face. Much like the Classic line, CG Black reflects a modern take on a traditional aesthetic.
Other details include a slightly shallow face, and while difficult to explain in any meaningful way, the majority of golfers who sole driver at address will appreciate the way the heal-side edge contours hug the turf.
Cleveland put a fair amount of effort into refining the sound (and consequently the feel) of the CG Black driver. The addition of an internal rib creates a higher frequency sound at impact, which most will likely prefer over a deeper thud. The result is a club that feels more alive at impact.
Everything we’ve talked about is all well and good, but doesn’t it really boil down to how the driver performs?
Because of its specific and arguably narrower market focus, Cleveland declined to have CG Black included in our Most Wanted Test, but it did provide us with samples for testing. So while not specifically part of the test itself, a subset of our testers (those within CG Black’s target audience) did hit the CG Black driver during the test.
When we look at key metrics like swing speed, ball speed, and distance (total and carry) it’s not surprising that for our golfers within its target audience, the CG Black outperformed low/forward CG designs like the TaylorMade R15, Callaway Double Black Diamond, Cobra FLY-Z+, as well as a majority of the sub-460cc drivers.
Those drivers are generally designed for lower launching, lower spin players. They’re not designed to produce higher club head speeds or help the golfer get the ball in the air.
Among the drivers in our test, and likely across the entire market, the closest comparison to the Cleveland CG Black is the Wilson D200, and so we thought it could be interesting to take a look at a direct comparison.
As you can see, the two drivers performed quite similarly and depending on what exactly it is you’re looking for in a driver, you could probably make a case for either.
When we take a deeper dive into our data we find a bit clearer of a dividing line. For the subset of testers who swing above 85 MPH (the range was roughly 86-91 MPH), the Wilson D200 put up better numbers (nearly across the board), while for our testers under 85 MPH (roughly 78-84 MPH), the results were better – again, nearly across the board – with the Cleveland CG Black.
While the results of our larger tests suggest the D200, and other fast drivers like AeroBurner and V-Series should have wider reach within the market, for lower swing speed players, particularly those below 85 MPH, Cleveland’s CG Black is an intriguing option.
If you swing more than 90 MPH, the Cleveland CG Black probably isn’t for you. If you’re happily playing a TaylorMade SLDR or something else of that ilk, it’s probably not for you either, and that’s okay…at least it should be.
Much to Cleveland’s credit the company isn’t taking the usual this driver is for anyone who wants more distance route. Instead the company is being specific and honest about who is most likely to benefit for the CG Black.
Unfortunately that probably also means the CG Black won’t grab the same level of attention as the marketplace juggernauts. All things to all people is what the market likes. Still, if you’re a slow to moderate swing speed player looking for help getting the ball in the air, and who wants to have fun hitting the driver again, then take a look at Cleveland’s CG Black.
The 2015 Cleveland CG Black driver is available in 9°, 10.5°, and 12°. Retail price is $349.99.