Cleveland HB SOFT Milled Putters
- Updates to Cleveland’s value putter line.
- Ten models: six for slight arc, four for straight back/straight through strokes
- Optional UST Mamiya ALL-IN carbon fiber-steel shaft
- $199.99 in steel, $249.99 with ALL-IN shaft. Available Nov. 18
If you’re looking for a new flatstick, Cleveland HB SOFT Milled putters check an awful lot of boxes.
Do you like a milled look? Check.
Do you like a milled look but don’t want to pay $400? Check.
Do you like a milled look, don’t want to pay $400 and would like some face technology? Check.
Do you like a milled look, don’t want to pay $400, would like some face technology and are intrigued by newfangled composite putter shafts? Check.
And do you like a milled look, don’t want to pay $400, would like some face technology, are intrigued by newfangled composite putter shafts and are OK with pretty much fitting yourself? Check.
Dating back to the original Huntington Beach (thus HB) putter line in 2016, you’d be hard-pressed to find a company with more affordable putter innovation than Cleveland. You’d also be hard-pressed to find a company that gets less credit for affordable putter innovation than Cleveland.
Buffalo Springfield certainly wasn’t talking about Cleveland putters back in 1967, but it’s an appropriate reference, because: “... there’s something happening here. But what it is ain’t exactly clear …”
Let’s see if we can’t sharpen the picture for you.
For What It’s Worth: Cleveland HB SOFT Milled Putters
Quick poll: When you think about a new putter with plenty of tech is Cleveland the first company you think of? The second? The ninth?
There’s nothing game-changing about the new Cleveland HB SOFT Milled Putters. On one hand, you could say they’re pretty much the same as the 2020 line. Cleveland has added new shapes to the mix along with some hosel alterations. You’ll find six models designed with moderate toe hang for slight arc strokes and four face-balanced models for straight back/straight through strokes.
Have a strong arc? Either make one of these fit or look elsewhere.
But the point of the Cleveland HB SOFT Milled putter line is affordable innovation. With each iteration, the HB line has added a meaningful tech twist. The price has inched up each go-round, too, but that’s a separate story.
Traditionally, the HB SOFT line, like every other value-priced putter line, has featured a cast body with a milled face. The upside, compared to a 100-percent milled putter, is lower cost. The downside, however, is a finished product that looks like it’d be more at home in a department store. Regardless of performance, they looked cheap. And right or wrong, the “I gotta love the looks” crowd believes a better-looking putter will be a better-performing putter.
A Sharper Image
The new Cleveland HB SOFT Milled putters are still cast but Cleveland is finishing them with a precision milling process for both the body and the face.
“The primary benefit to the cast-then-milled process is to waste less material which, in turn, saves cost,” says Cleveland Product Manager Casey Shultz. “It’s a smarter way to achieve the precision benefits of a fully milled putter.
“By milling the portions that would normally have some casting inconsistencies, we can ensure the precision and premium finishing you’d typically only find in a milled putter.”
The difference is hard to miss. The lines on the new HB SOFT Milled putters are much sharper and the overall look is much more premium and much less department store.
Additionally, Cleveland continues its SOFT face milling. SOFT stands for Speed Optimized Face Technology and is Cleveland’s take on ensuring distance control on mishits. It’s an undeniable fact that golfers mishit putts. And even missing the center by scant millimeters can cause a putt to come up short. By using head-specific milling patterns, Cleveland is giving you more face material and less groove space on either side of the sweet spot and more groove and less material right in the sweet spot. More material means you’ll impart more energy to the ball on slight mishits and get the ball to the hole.
Ten Heads to Hold You
Cleveland has consistently offered a wide variety of mallet and blade shapes in both the HB SOFT and Frontline putter lines. It also consistently tinkers with those shapes. The tinkering continues with the HB SOFT Milled. As mentioned, the new line does not include strong-arc models. Added to the line is a popular half-moon mini mallet (the 5) with a slant neck and moderate toe hang as well as a wide blade with a plumber’s neck hosel (the 8P), also with a moderate toe hang. The 8 is also available in a face-balanced model with a single-bend hosel.
In total, there are six slight-arc models and four face-balanced models. Head weights will range from 345 grams for the standard Anser-style blade up to 370 grams for the larger mallets. And because there is a fan base, there is a center-shafted option for the 10.5C mallet.
For better or worse, Cleveland has also consistently tinkered with its alignment aids. There were interesting innovations like the TFi 2135. And there were silly ideas that Cleveland would rather everyone forget like the Double Square line.
The HB SOFT Milled line gives you two choices. For the two standard Anser-style blades, you can get a simple single line. The rest of the lineup, however, goes high contrast with black fill behind the ball. The slight arc/slight toe hang models feature a single contrasting white line against the black backdrop while the face-balanced models feature one thick white line with two thinner lines to frame the ball.
Optional All-In Shaft
Multi-material graphite and steel putter shafts have been a thing for a while. But 2019 might have been the watershed year as Barney Adams gave us the Breakthrough Golf Technology Stability Shaft and Odyssey gave us Stroke Lab.
Cleveland is joining the fun for 2023 by offering the UST ALL-IN as an option in the HB SOFT Milled line. The ALL-IN has been in circulation on the PGA TOUR since at least this past May but doesn’t appear to be listed on the UST website. According to Cleveland, the ALL-IN profiles at 26-percent stiffer than a standard step-less chrome putter shaft with 38-percent higher frequency and 24-percent less torque.
Those numbers sound impressive but do they mean anything for a putter stroke? Again, according to Cleveland, its testing shows seven-percent improved face rotation consistency and six-percent improved impact location consistency. In plain English, that means clubhead rotation was better and golfers hit the center of the face more often. Ultimately, Cleveland says it all leads to a 10-percent more consistent face angle at impact.
“A shaft that allows your putter face angle to remain 10 percent more consistent at contact can make a big difference,” says Cleveland’s Shultz. “It has a very real effect and is an important variable in the putting equation that many players simply haven’t experimented with.”
Can A Putter Shaft Really Make a Difference?
MyGolfSpy did test this theory back in 2019 by comparing the Barney Adams’ Stability Shaft with a standard steel shaft in identical putter heads. You can check the results for yourself but the bottom line is the Stability Shaft did perform better than steel on five- and 10-foot putts while steel performed slightly better at 20 feet. Overall, the Stability Shaft performed slightly better in Strokes Gained.
Our own field testing with the HB SOFT Milled 10.5S with the ALL-IN shaft is limited and the results are largely anecdotal. What we can say is the putter does feel very different than a steel-shafted putter. The stroke stability may not rival a L.A.B. Directed Force 2.1, for example, but it’s pretty stable for a putter that doesn’t look like a satellite dish.
“I would urge golfers to try the UST ALL-IN for themselves,” says Shultz. “The feel is noticeably different so it may take a few putts to get used to the added stiffness. But you can really tell the increase in control and consistency with a side-by-side comparison.”
As far as fitting goes, Cleveland doesn’t have a formal fitting program but is upgrading its fitting content online and in stores.
“(We want) to clearly communicate our stroke-type story and get players into the shaft, shaft, grip and alignment that is the proper fit for their game,” says Shultz. “We believe there’s a hole in the market when it comes to simple putter fitting. We’re doing our best to make our story clear and to take the guesswork out of the process.”
In other words, Cleveland will give you enough information to help you fit yourself into something that fits you better than if you went eeny-meeny-miny-moe. It’s no SAM PuttLab but I suppose it’s better than guessing.
Stop! Hey! What’s That Sound?
Now that we’ve given you a more complete picture, here’s the $10,000 question: Is Cleveland a serious putter company?
From a “volume of offering” standpoint, that would be an emphatic yes. Cleveland considers the HB SOFT Milled line to be an extension of the existing Huntington Beach SOFT putter family. And the innovative Frontline series is still current but is being discounted, which is a sign that it’s due for an update.
You can also make a case from a performance standpoint. Cleveland blades and mallets were middle-of-the-pack performers in this year’s Most Wanted testing. The company did, however, score higher than offerings bring Scotty, PING, Odyssey, Toulon and TaylorMade, and Cleveland did it with models that retail for under two bills. Our recent story on putter brands puts Cleveland in an interesting spot. Scotty, Odyssey, TaylorMade and PING don’t leave a lot of room at the table. And, price be damned, there’s no getting past the fact that many golfers simply can’t wrap their heads around the idea that a $200 putter can perform as well as a $400 one.
But, as we said earlier, Cleveland is giving you lots of choices with some pretty innovative technology. And for what it’s worth, you might want to look at what’s going down.
Cleveland HB SOFT Milled Putters: Specs, Price and Availability
As mentioned, the Cleveland HB SOFT Milled putter line features 10 models. The stock grip for the six slight arc/moderate toe hang models is the Golf Pride PRO ONLY Red Star. It’s a traditional pistol and, according to Golf Pride, is designed to help your hands turn the putter over in a naturally arcing stroke path.
The PRO ONLY Green Star is stock on the face-balanced models. It’s more oval-shaped than the Red Star and is slightly larger and heavier. The extra girth is designed to keep your hands quiet to promote a straight back/straight through stroke.
Optional grips from Golf Pride, Lamkin and Super Stroke are available through Cleveland’s custom department.
And while there are 10 heads for righties to choose from, only the 4 blade and the 10.5S and 11 mallets are offered for lefties. The 10.5S is also offered in a lighter and shorter women’s model.
The standard models will retail for $199.99. The UST ALL-IN Shaft models will cost you an extra 50 bucks.
The Cleveland HB SOFT Milled putter lineup will be available at retail starting Nov. 18.
For more information, visit the Cleveland Golf website.
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