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Whether you’re looking for a wedge to complement your current set, or trying to build your bag from scratch, you might want to check out the new Cleveland club, which we will look at in detail in this Cleveland RTX-3 wedge review. The RTX-3 is the younger cousin of the Cleveland 588 RTX 2.0, with the obvious difference of having dropped the 588 part in favour of the RTX, or Rotex, as it refers to its face (incidentally, this is one of the major features Cleveland touched upon when designing the new wedge).
This dropping might surprise some fans of Cleveland, given how the 588 has been popular even since its inception in 1988, over which period it sold more than ten million clubs worldwide. Still, this new naming pattern does make the branding a bit simpler, which comes off as a decent trade-off.
In a hurry?
Why the RTX-3?
One of the key selling points of the RTX-3 is its center of gravity, which has been shifted somewhat towards the middle of the club. The way they did this is by ever so slightly shaving off some weight from the hosel, which we’ll discuss in a bit more detail shortly.
This, coupled with the new groove design, enables the RTX-3 to play more consistently on full shots, giving you a solid feel, generous amounts of spin (especially compared to the RTX 2.0), as well as ridiculously good distance control. In a word, you’ll be able to really dial in the ball around the green and make an easy up and down.
We’ll best get to know the RTX-3 by comparing them to the 588 RTX 2.0, which used to be the most recent iteration of the series before our star of the show hit the shelves. In a nutshell, it’s considered to be a little bit better feeling, and definitely gives more consistency on center strikes, and you’ll lose much less speed loss as you go through the turf thanks to the new V-shaped sole. So, without further ado, let’s get stuck in!
Cleveland RTX-3 CB: What’s New?
The loft range on the RTX-3 didn’t change one bit compared to what we used to see on the 2.0 – it goes from 46 degree all the way up to 64 in 2-degree increments, so you have a nice and flexible selection of all the four wedge types – the pitching wedge, the gap wedge, the sand wedge, and the lob wedge.
What did change is the way the club is balanced now – it’s far from noticeable until you hold one in your hands. We’re talking, of course, about the way they tinkered around with the hosel to move the centre of gravity closer to the actual centre of the face as much as possible.
What the engineers over at Cleveland did was first shorten the hosel, which allowed them to shave off about 7 grams of weight (about 0.25 ounces). Not only did they shorten the hosel, but they also added a micro cavity towards the hosel’s bottom (hence the name – Cavity Back), which dropped the weight down another 2 grams, for a total of 9-ish (just over 0.3 ounces). It may seem like nothing to write home about, but it does allow, in turn, for more weight to be added elsewhere and still keep the same overall weight.
This freed up weight is then put into the flange (for those of you not in the know, the flange is that part of the club that extends back in relation to the clubface), which allows the CG to be shifted ever so slightly towards the actual centre of the face. Of course, the numbers are miniscule, but the results are telling – you’ll have a much better consistency in the way of distance, as well as better control.
Rotex Face: A New Face for a New Age
Another major selling point of the Cleveland RTX-3 is its face, or, more precisely, the new Tour Zip Grooves. Contrary to what you might expect when hearing about the “new and improved” grooves, these ones really do give a stronger bite on the ball and give you a bit more consistency compared to the older 2.0.
They’re U-shaped and sport a narrower and deeper cut. An interesting bit is that the grooves get covered with plastic after cutting them and prior to sandblasting the face, which serves to shield them and keep the edges sharp. Obviously, the plastic is subsequently cleared out and one of the three finishes is applied – Tour Satin, Tour Black, or Tour Raw, whichever floats your boat.
The size is consistent through all the lofts, though the laser milling patterns changes. It’s fairly straight in the lower lofts (think pitching and gap wedges, 46–52 degrees), which goes a long way to accommodating full shots.
Conversely, in the higher lofts (pretty much the sand and lob wedges of the range, or 54–64 degrees), the pattern is a bit more angled so that you can take open-face shots more easily. This two-pass micro-milling roughens the face up pretty much to the limits of what’s allowed on the course.
Grind Me a River
The grind on the Cleveland RTX-3 comes in three distinct flavours, depending on the bounce angle – low, medium, and full. Other than that, it’s pretty much the same V-sole grind they used to employ on their RTG wedges back in the days (so, it’s not an entirely new concept to Cleveland).
What they did is thin the soles to an extent, which allowed a bit of a lesser bounce on the rear edge and more of it on the leading edge, which accounts for the V-shape. What’s great about this sole design is that it eats through the turf at impact, getting you through it faster, which in turn results in a nice and crisp feel, as well as enhanced distance control and spin. As noted above, there are three bounces to choose from (indicated by dots on the sole itself), which we’ll discuss in a bit more detail here.
The V-LG is the low-bounce variant, and is indicated by a single dot on the sole. It plays nicely out of tight lies, and should really come into its own when played by a sweeper. If you’re going for a pitching wedge, this is the one to choose.
The V-MG represents the medium bounce option for the Cleveland RTX-3, and you’ll recognize it by the two dots on the club’s sole. This one is the most versatile, as per the majority of players, and should play equally well from the rough and fairway, soft and firm turf, or white sand and packed. Think of it as the jack of all trades and master of none.
The fullest bounce in the Cleveland RTX-3 wedge series comes with the V-FG sole, which you’ll easily identify by the three dots on the sole itself. It should appeal to diggers, and/or those who often play on a soft turf. It’s plenty forgiving out of greenside bunkers, so you might want to consider that one for your sand wedge.
Does it Stand Up to the Test?
Now, how does all this technical mumbo-jumbo affect the play? In a nutshell, when compared to older Cleveland wedges, the RTX-3 CB gives a better and softer feel, both in your ears and in your hands. Moreover, you’ll get objectively more distance control, as well as more consistency, all at a somewhat lower launch angle than with the RTX 2.0.
As for the specifics, the grooves will get you more spin (ostensibly), in the neighbourhood of 500 rpms per stroke, as well as more bite. Plus, they’ll do a nice job of funnelling away the dirt, which also adds to the better grip. On a similar note, the moved CG takes the credit for the improved sound and feel.
The Final Verdict
If you’re looking for a one-wedge-set, the RTX-3 just might be the thing for you. Even with the fullest grind, you’ll be able to open up the face a wee bit and slip it underneath the ball to give it a slightly higher flight trajectory. This goes a long way (no pun intended) to making the ball stop a little bit quicker when you’re playing it around the green.
On a similar note, it’s nice that you can really feel the club engage with the sand out of bunker shots, allowing you to just flip the ball out. Bottom line is, the Cleveland RTX-3 wedge is one versatile (and worthwhile) addition to your bag, and whether you’re a seasoned veteran or just getting into golf, this is definitely one of the best ways to go. Now go out there and hit ‘em straight!