Like the Cleveland XL270 driver we review on a different page of this
site, the Cleveland TL310 driver is an ultra-light club engineered to
promote faster swing speeds. Both clubs are members of Cleveland Golf's
Launcher Ultralite series; the third driver in the family is the
Cleveland SL290 driver. All three clubs in the series are designed to
maximize distance. Unlike the others, however, the Cleveland TL310
driver is a "Tour driver."
As I mentioned in our review of the Cleveland XL270 driver, that particular club is the lightest in the Launcher Ultralite series and works best for mid- to high-handicap golfers with smooth, rhythmic swings. The Cleveland SL290, still ultra-light but not quite as feathery as the XL270, is designed for mid-handicap players with faster swings and aggressive transitions at the top of their backswings. This club is the heaviest driver in the Launcher Ultralite series. Even so, at 310 grams it's lighter than typical "Tour drivers." It's targeted at skilled players who want to work the ball and have a more penetrating ball flight.
Professionals and other accomplished golfers are demanding when it comes to their equipment, and this driver is designed to provide the stability, feel, workability, distance and accuracy they require. The traditionally-shaped 440cc club head promotes precision and adds to the workability of the driver, while the club's lighter than average total weight permits golfers to generate faster club head speeds for more distance.
The stock graphite shaft fitted to this driver is the real deal: an impressive 45.25 inch Miyazuki C. Kua 59 series which has been designed specifically for skillful players. This shaft has become a favorite with the professionals on Tour, and I can see why. In my opinion, the shaft is one of the best things about this driver. It's probably one of the finest shafts I've ever had the pleasure of hitting.
The Cleveland TL310 driver is available in 8.5-, 9.5- and 10.5-degree lofts. The shaft flex can be regular, stiff, extra-stiff or senior. The whole point of an ultra-light driver is extra distance, so I tried a regular flex, 10.5-degree club to see if the company's "weight loss program" has been successful.
Turns out, the Cleveland TL310 driver performed well in its primary task, namely distance. On the average, my drives were five to ten yards longer than normal, so I guess a lighter-than-average club really does promote a faster swing speed. And, I'll give the club above average marks for forgiveness because the penalty for mishits wasn't all that bad. Although I did lose some distance on my off-center hits, the ball still went pretty well.
The typical ball flight was straight or a small fade, in contrast to the little draw I normally hit with my own driver. The compact, 440cc head made working the ball pretty easy. That's something I sometimes have trouble with, so it's good to know that the Cleveland TL310 driver could help me with that portion of my game.
I also thought it had a solid sound and feel on impact. The trajectory of well-struck balls was low and penetrating - a ball flight that can really cut through the winds we have so often in Florida. And, because the ball flew so low, I'd be willing to bet that at least some of the distance I gained was due to additional roll rather than additional carry. That's fine with me, and I know the pros prefer the lower ball flight. Some golfers do like a higher trajectory, however. You'll need to decide for yourself whether you'd be happy with a lower, more piercing trajectory.
As for the drawbacks of the Cleveland TL310 driver, it seemed a little too easy to lose track of where the head was during my backswing. Sometimes it was difficult to feel, but that might have been because I'm not used to such a lightweight club.
The Bottom Line: The "TL" in the name of the Cleveland TL310 driver stands for "Tour Lite," and the club delivers the kind of distance, workability and low, piercing ball flight preferred by Tour pros and other accomplished golfers. It can also work for higher handicap players, however, because it has above-average forgiveness. Whether you're a single-digit or something higher, you'll gain additional distance with the Cleveland TL310 driver. Its high level of performance and overall versatility are probably why this club made Golf Digest's Hot List for 2011.