Available in 9-degree, 10.5-degree and 12-degree versions, the Cleveland
XL270 driver is creating quite a buzz. It's one of three new Launcher
Ultralite models Cleveland Golf introduced for 2011: the XL270 (weighs
270 grams); the XL 290 (290 grams); and the XL 310 (310 grams). The
XL270 is 45 grams lighter than the average driver, which weighs 315
According to the company, this driver is one of the lightest in all of golf, and its Miyazaki shaft is the lightest ever used in a PGA Tour event. I tested the 10.5-degree model fitted with a regular-flex 46.25" Miyazaki C. Kua 39 Series shaft, but it's also available in stiff and senior flexes and 9- and 12-degree lofts. Neutral and draw versions are available; I don't need any help getting a draw so I evaluated the neutral version.
The light weight and longer shaft of the Cleveland XL270 driver means it's been engineered to maximize club head speed. As a general rule, lighter, longer drivers are capable of faster club head speeds. All things being equal, a higher club head speed translates into the higher ball velocities that produce longer drives.
Cleveland Golf is clearly trying to "wow" us with the Cleveland XL270 driver - as in "Wow, I can't believe how far I hit that ball!" According to Cleveland, Ultralite technology (which includes the long, ultra-light shaft, a lighter than average club head and a lightweight grip) allows weight to be removed from the club without causing any sacrifices in swingweight, flex profile, feel or playability. The company calls the result "Effortless Distance."
The Cleveland XL270 driver has a fairly conservative, traditional appearance that resembles its predecessors in the Launcher line. That's fine with me - I've never really liked the square and other odd shapes manufacturers have used in trying to produce additional distance and forgiveness. Five or six years ago I played a Cleveland Launcher driver, so I felt comfortable standing over the familiar-looking XL270.
It sits well at address and the contrast between its black crown and the gold Miyazaki shaft makes it look pretty sharp. I figured there'd be some adjustment time for the extra-long shaft, but I got the hang of it after hitting a few balls on the range. It's possible that I got used to the extra length so quickly because I've hit the TaylorMade Burner SuperFast 2.0, which is another lightweight driver with an extra-long shaft.
The club felt balanced throughout the swing, but I could tell from the light weight of the head that I'd need to swing smoothly in order to keep things under control. It felt so light that I needed to consciously resist over-swinging. It's tempting to swing harder than you need to with the Cleveland XL270 driver because its light weight means less effort is needed to achieve the club head speed you're used to. Although a little extra club head speed can be a good thing, over-swinging will cause a loss of control. With this club it's always helpful to remember "Effortless Distance."
The Cleveland XL270 driver delivers a solid feel and sound at impact - there's nothing hollow-sounding about this club. Ball flight was a nice medium-high, penetrating trajectory without any ballooning. Accuracy was decent, especially for a lightweight driver with a longer than normal shaft. Forgiveness was above-average, with not much distance lost on mishits. When I first started hitting it I did have a tendency to hit it left. Once I realized I was probably standing too close to the ball at address (because I'm used to playing with a standard-length shaft), I backed away slightly and the lefties went away.
All of this sounds nice so far, but distance is the reason for this club's existence. And I have to say I was disappointed by the length I got from the Cleveland XL270 driver. Despite all the hype and the weight-saving measures, I don't think I hit this club any farther than I hit my own older, "standard weight" driver. Not overall, anyway. What's up with that? Was I having a "bad driver day," or was the club just not suited to me? I don't know ...
The Bottom Line: The Cleveland XL270 driver is a solid, lightweight club that could be ideal for a smooth-swinger. The Miyazaki shaft is exceptional. As for the distance gains claimed for Cleveland's Ultralite technology, I'm not convinced. Your mileage may differ, however.
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