OEMs almost always consider the driver to be their halo product – its glow shines on the rest of the lineup. If your driver is delicious, then your fairway woods taste better, your irons taste better, and so on.
In the mid-2000s, Cleveland’s Halo hybrid was a bell-cow product. It was Cleveland’s best-selling hybrid ever, one you can still find in bags in your Saturday foursome. The Halo name is back today in the form of the new Launcher Halo, a separate but equal partner in Cleveland’s Launcher HB Turbo metalwoods lineup.
Let’s see what it brings to the table, shall we?
Blast From The Past
When OEMs unveil a new metalwoods lineup, the driver is always the star of the show with fairway woods serving as supporting actors. Hybrids? They’re usually the red-headed step-children of the roster, often getting little more than a couple of paragraphs at the end of the driver story.
“The Launcher Halo still falls into the Launcher metalwoods family for the type of player we’re going after,” says Cleveland Marketing Director Brian Schielke. “But it does have distinctive technology. It’s a stand-alone hybrid.”
The original Halo was Cleveland’s very first inverted crown club; a design allowing for more mass to be moved lower and deeper for more forgiveness and a higher launch. Halo, in fact, stands for High Angle Lift Off. The new Halo features tech on the top, bottom, and back end that Cleveland says makes it a weapon no matter where you’re hitting it.
“We have lots of data from golfers of all levels on where they hit it from,” says Schielke. “From hybrid distances, fairway shots are actually in the minority. There are more shots hit from the rough, bunkers or other places from those distances.”
Cleveland’s data also says you’re more likely to hit the green if you’re in the fairway – which isn’t really news. If you’re in the rough or the bunker, you’re losing more shots. This isn’t news either.
“With that info, if you’re going to design a hybrid, how would you design it?” asks Schielke. “You’d want to target the majority of shots where it’s hardest to hit the green to help golfers score the best.”
Testing will determine just how well Cleveland has pulled that off. The Halo, like the rest of the Launcher metalwoods and irons lineup, is a game improvement club designed for the masses. It features tech on the crown, sole, and back end to help the likes of you and me to get out of trouble and onto the green.
One Sole, Three Rails
As Cobra has shown, sole rails are pure gold for getting out of the rough. So, is Cleveland copying Cobra? I’m not sure there’s an exclusive on putting rails on the sole, but no matter, it’s a pretty good idea.
“When a player hits the turf, are they going to be maintaining head speed?” says Cleveland Engineering and R&D chief Dustin Brekke. “They can’t be skipping off or digging in.”
The new Halo features three Gliderails on the sole for better turf interaction and, hopefully, cleaner strikes. Cleveland used its own artificial intelligence machine – a turf interaction 3D simulator – to test over 30 different sole designs. The key, says Brekke, is to make sure the rails, leading-edge, and sole geometries are optimized to work in all conditions.
“The whole idea of bounce is to prevent initial digging, but it becomes more complicated than that,” he says. “You can’t have skimming in different conditions, or you’ll hit it thin. What works in one condition may not work in another.”
“We can’t make a product that you can hit fine from the rough but hit thin off a flat fairway. It has to do both, but it’s a bigger performance advantage to prevent fat shots, Thin shots for the target player actually often have a good outcome.” – Dustin Brekke, Cleveland Golf
Cleveland simulated the different rail designs at different swing speeds, launch angles, and turf types before coming up with the final Halo product.
“The rails allow you to get that bounce so you’re not digging in, and it’s preventing the entire sole from hitting and slowing you down,” says Brekke. “Think of it as a snowplow plowing through the turf instead of skis gliding over the turf.”
Cobra, of course, uses dual rails in its fairways as well as its hybrids. We asked if the triple rail design might work its way into fairway woods for either Cleveland or Srixon.
Both Schielke and Brekke just smiled and kept mum, so take that for what it’s worth.
HiBores and Halos
As with the rest of the Launcher metalwood line, Halo hybrids feature Cleveland’s signature HiBore crown, which lowers Halo’s CG upwards of 2.1 millimeters. That may not sound like much, but given the size of a hybrid, it’s fairly significant. The Halo also has what Cleveland says is considerable back end perimeter weighting, which it calls Halo Weighting.
“In hybrids designed for better players you’ll see a lot of weight forward,” says Schielke. “That’s because to get a hybrid to play on Tour you don’t want it to spin that much or go too high, so you put the weight forward to keep spin down.”
“But if you sell that club to a 15 handicap who says he hits hybrids because he can’t hit long irons, you’ve just given them a long iron with a bigger head. The perimeter weighting makes this club very forgiving and easier to hit.”
Driver design is all about finding discretionary weight where you can, and moving it where you need it. Hybrids, however, are heavier, so there’s weight to be found. Unfortunately, it’s also smaller, so finding a useful home for that weight can be a challenge.
“You have a massive amount of weight in there – 100-plus grams not needed for the strength of the club – that you can move around,” says Brekke. “You can’t just put it one spot like you can with a driver, so it’s a matter of how well you can move it around. You don’t necessarily want it forward or high. You want to place it in a way that it’s going to be helpful.”
Halo’s face technology takes a page from the new Launcher irons with a new variable thickness face design made from high strength HT1770M steel. Cleveland’s internal testing shows a nearly 1.5 MPH ball speed increase over the previous Launcher hybrid, which translates to 4 yards more carry and 8 yards more overall distance.
The original Launcher hybrid performed well inMyGolfSpy’s 2018 Most Wanted Hybrid testing, finishing in the upper third in ball speed, carry, and total distance and shot area (dispersion). As with the rest of the original Launcher metalwood lineup, however, it had a somewhat blah look about it, which does matter at retail. If it doesn’t catch your eye, you probably won’t give it a whack.
Like the other new Launcher metalwoods, the Halo is slightly left-biased (again, consider the target golfer). If you tend to hook hybrids to Saturn, the Halo won’t help.
“It’s a challenge getting the bulge radius – the actual curvature of the face with heel-toe MOI – correct,” says Brekke. “It’s a tricky problem to solve, but if someone is getting a massive amount of hook, it’s not so much the impact head twist creating sidespin, it’s the shaft or the head delivery. You’ve lost control of it and closed the thing entirely.”
Which is to say it’s the archer, not the arrow.
Specs, Price & Availability
Considering the target golfer, it seems odd Halo is only coming out in three lofts. If you’re thinking of adding hybrids to, say, the new UHX iron set, you’d either drop the 20-degree 4-iron in favor of the 19-degree 3-hybrid, or you’d add the 16-degree hybrid and maybe skip the 3-wood. Cleveland says the Halo is a stand-alone product, but adding more options for the target market – mid- to high-handicappers – wouldn’t have been a bad idea.
For men, the 3 and 4-hybrids are available for both righties and lefties, with the 2-hybrid in righty only. The ever-popular Miyazaki C. Kua 60 is stock. It’s 57 grams, and Miyazaki lists it as mid-trajectory. The Lamkin 360 grip is standard.
The women’s models are all right-handed, but since the men’s and women’s heads are the same, women who are left-handed can custom order a 3- or a 4-hybrid. The women’s stock shaft is the 49.5-gram C. Kua 40, with the women’s Lamkin 360 grip standard.
The Cleveland Launcher Halo’s will be in stores Oct. 4th and will retail for $199.