Late at night, after everyone else has left the Huntington Beach, Calif., headquarters of Cleveland Golf, the engineers and clubs designers must be using a Wayback Machine to go back in time. Last season they released the Mashie, a retro-looking hybrid with an unfinished crown. Sure, it's made of stainless steel, but the Mashie looks like something your great-grandfather used, right down to its pom-pom-topped knit headcover. If you liked the Mashie, check out the Classic, which Cleveland plans to release in early 2012. The Classic is made using a modern material, in this case titanium, but it's the club's old-school look that will get everyone talking. With a mahogany-colored crown, a brass-colored sole (complete with a "1") and a faux face insert designed, the Classic looks like a driver Ben Hogan or Byron Nelson might have used.
Even the script "Classic" on the crown, which should help golfers position the ball in the sweet spot at address, harkens back to a time when swings were homegrown and clubs were hand-carved. But while the Classic’s retro styling recall the Golden Age of America car culture, under the hood the Classic is a thoroughly 21st century club. Nate Radcliffe, Cleveland Golf's metalwoods development manager, said there is a lot of technology built into the Classic.
"It's got the biggest face of any driver we've ever made," Radcliffe said. "It's deeper and it has more surface area. That gives it a lot of forgiveness. It's also got variable face thickness, and the thin areas around the outside of the face really help you maintain ball speed when you hit the ball off the center." Two versions of the Classic will be available, one weighing 270 grams and the other weighing 290 grams, a trend Cleveland established when it made three versions of the Ultralight drivers, each tipping the scale at a different weight. The idea is to offer drivers that appeal to a broader range of players; slow swingers will be able to swing the lightest models faster for added power, but hard-hitters will get a little more stability from the slightly heavier models. The stock shaft for the Classic driver will be a Miyazaki C. Kua and you should start to see the club in your local pro shops in late January for about $299. Click here to watch a video featuring Cleveland Golf's Nate Radcliffe discussing the Classic driver. See-Try-Buy: Learn more about Cleveland clubs, and schedule your fitting with GolfTEC or Golfsmith. Related: Follow David Dusek on Twitter | Facebook | Google+