If you play Game Improvement irons and don’t play Game Improvement wedges, Cleveland says you’re doing it wrong.

Wrong. Plain and simple.

Take a look at the bag drop the next time you play. What kind of irons do you see in those bags? Most likely it’s some variety of large, light, cavity backed, perimeter weighted Game Improvement iron – Cleveland says as many as 84% of you are bagging GIs.

Then check out the wedges.  Vokeys? Cleveland RTX’s? A set-matching Gap wedge?

Cleveland says 84% of you are doing that, and 84% of you are doing it wrong.

And Cleveland thinks it has a solution.

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Meet The CBX

“Blade wedges don’t make sense for the Game Improvement golfer,” says John Rae, Cleveland’s VP of Research and Development. “They’re significantly heavier, the shaping’s different, and it doesn’t have any of the Game Improvement features the iron set has.”

Set matching wedges, according to Cleveland, aren’t any better.

“Those wedges don’t have high-tech grooves or high-tech face roughness,” says Rae. “And to be totally honest, there’s very little thought put into their sole design by different manufacturers. In most cases, the Gap wedge is just slapped onto the end of the set. The Pitching wedge is basically your 10-iron, and the Gap is your 11-iron. They’re making a 4, 7 and pitching wedge and just extrapolating all the other lofts off those.”

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So if you’re a GI player, you likely have either blade wedges that aren’t as forgiving as and don't match your irons, or you have set-matching wedges that don’t offer the requisite wedge-ness to do what you need to do from 100 yards and in.

Cleveland’s solution? The CBX Game Improvement wedge.

Now before you start crying nothing new here, yes, we know – and Cleveland knows - all about its previous cavity back wedges, including the RTX-3 CB option.

“If you go back in time, we did have cavity back wedges in our line – the CG 16, CG 14, CG 11. But the trap we fell in to was even though we were making cavity back wedges, they were still based on our better-player wedges. They were close in head size, the sole width was similar, and the total club weight was similar to a standard blade wedge.” – John Rae, Cleveland VP of R&D

Cleveland says the CBX has been designed from the ground up to be a true Game Improvement wedge. There are some tech stories you’ll want to consider, and we’ll get to those in a sec, but first, let’s review the visuals.

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The first thing you’ll notice is the good sized cavity that allows for more perimeter weighting. You’ll also notice even though the head is noticeably larger than, say, your standard RTX, Vokey or Mack Daddy, and the wedge itself is lighter. Flip this puppy over, and you’ll see a sole that starts out wide at the heel and gets significantly wider as you move from heel to toe.

Oddly, it doesn’t scream “shovel.”

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Tech Tales

The CBX wedge shares several features with Cleveland’s RTX-3 offering: Feel Balancing Technology, the V-Sole and Cleveland’s Rotex face. As mentioned earlier, CBX gets its GI on by modifying the V-Sole and with perimeter weighting.

The sole gets significantly wider as you transition from heel to toe. Cleveland says the shape will sacrifice some shot-making flexibility compared to a blade-style wedge, but it will help the GI player get the club through the turf and help with forgiveness.

Lower handicap golfers who want wedge flexibility, and have the skill to open up the face and pull off a variety of shots, probably won't like or need the CBX sole. Mid-handicappers, says Rae, don’t open the face up as much and may need more help on full, square face shots.

“The wider sole isn’t as much of a negative for the mid- to high-handicap golfer, but it’s a big positive in that it helps them with the shots they hit most often. As the V gets narrower towards the heel, it allows you to open the face a little, but the wider sole isn’t great for the massive open-faced flop shot kind of thing. In reality, high handicappers won’t be trying that shot anyway.” – John Rae, Cleveland Golf

The modified V-Sole also helps with weight distribution and Cleveland’s Feel Balancing Technology, which is a fancy term for moving the club’s center of gravity away from the heel and more toward the center of the face.

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“A fundamental flaw in wedge design is that they have this big, long hosel,” says Rae. “As a result, you end up with a bunch of weight in the heel section, and the CG ends up being heel-biased.” Cleveland introduced Feel Balancing Technology in its RTX-3 wedges last year in an effort to move CG closer to face center (Vokey and Callaway were already heading in that direction). The CBX sole shape and cavity back allow Cleveland to get the CG almost dead center.

“When you get the center of gravity in the middle of the face, you’ll get only a little bit of performance drop off in terms of spin and distance if you hit it a little on the heel or on the toe,” says Rae. “If your CG is to the heel side, like a normal wedge, you’ll get more spin and distance if you hit it towards the heel, but as you move towards toe hits you’ll get a big decrease in performance.”

“A traditional wedge is much more inconsistent if you’re trying to hit the middle of the face. A little bit of a miss-heel or a miss-toe will have two radically different results. Better players tend to figure that out.  What we’re doing with CBX is giving that average golfer – the mid-handicapper – the most consistent performance across the face of a wedge he’s probably ever seen.” – John Rae, Cleveland Golf

Cleveland’s internal testing shows more consistent ball speeds heel to toe with CBX compared to a traditional blade wedge – the very definition of forgiveness - as well as tighter dispersion, compared to blade wedges and set-matching wedges.

Spin-wise, you won’t see much – if any – difference between the CBX wedge and Cleveland’s RTX-3’s. The CBX features Cleveland’s Rotex face, with Zip Grooves, Micro Milling, and Laser Milling. The stock shaft is the Dynamic Gold 115, which has the same step pattern and flex and bend properties as the standard Dynamic Gold but is lighter to better fit in with Game Improvement irons. That means you won’t have such a dramatic jump from a 90 to 100-gram shaft in your GI irons to a 130-gram shaft in your wedges.

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The CBX does have a taper-tip hosel, so in theory, nearly any shaft can be installed. Rae says you’ll be able to order custom option from Cleveland, but the target market probably isn’t thinking along those lines.

“Besides,” he says, “the heavier the shaft, the more you’re taking away from the purpose of the product.”

You’ll notice there aren’t a lot of bounce options with the CBX. Again, that’s intentional to make it easy for the target market.

“It’s a single finish and a single bounce option – basically mid-bounce,” says Rae. “We don’t want to confuse the average golfer by making the process so difficult that he just goes back and buys the set wedge or a blade wedge.”

CBX Specs - 1

So Who’s It For?

CBX is meant to be a high-performance wedge designed to fit with Game Improvement iron sets. Is the golf world ready for that? Cleveland (and others) already has offerings for the high handicap golfers with its Smart Sole wedge offering, but will the middle of the bell curve want a CBX?

“It should be our biggest seller,” says Rae. “The only reason it wouldn’t be is the golfer. I think it’s going to take a few generations to really convince golfers they need to play a cavity back wedge.”

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Rae says the target market is any golfer with a handicap ranging anywhere from 8 to 10 up through 20. How you integrate CBX into your set depends on what your handicap is what it is.

“A lower handicapper who’s playing GI or Super GI irons may be the guy who’d switch out his pitching wedge he’s been using for a lot of bump and runs for ours. It’ll give him more spin and control with a better sole. He might want to take out his Gap wedge and replace it with one of these, but keep his blade style sand and lob wedge if he has the skill set and wants the versatility those offer.” John Rae, Cleveland Golf

A practice session with the CBX shows a few things. On full shots, this thing is as forgiving as advertised and is silly easy to hit, and distance control is fairly consistent compared to a blade wedge. The wider sole makes it pretty easy to pick it clean and hit down on the ball, but on the downside is you have limited ability to open the face up if you need to. But then again, that’s not what the wedge is designed for.

If you’re a chronic chili-dipper around the green and simply want to get the ball in the general direction of the hole, you may find a friend in the CBX. If you have the skill and short-game creativity to play high spinners, low rollers or anything in between, you’ll find the CBX a little limiting.

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The CBX wedge gives Cleveland the broadest short-game offering in the business – everything from the better-player suited RTX-3 all the way to the Smart Sole offering for the high handicapper. CBX sits right in the middle, where an awful lot of golfers – 84% of you – reside.

OEM’s are constantly trying to design equipment that packs in as much GI tech as possible while still looking like a golf club. The challenge facing Cleveland is the preconceived notion of what a wedge is supposed to look like. Visual familiarity equals comfort, and if golfers aren’t comfortable with the looks, they may never consider a club, even if it’s good for them.

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Price & Availability

Cleveland’s CBX wedges are available in men’s and women’s models. Men’s wedges are available in eight lofts in two-degree increments, ranging from 46 to 60 degrees. Stock shafts include the steel Dynamic Gold 115 wedge shaft and Cleveland’s 90 gram Rotex wedge shaft in graphite. Cleveland’s Lamkin BlueCap grip is standard.

Womens’ wedges are available in seven lofts (48 to 60 degrees), with Cleveland’s Women’s Action Ultralight 50 wedge flex shaft and Women’s CBX grip standard.

MSRP is $129.99 in steel, $139.99 in graphite. Pre-sale beings August 28th, and in store availability is September 15th.