The Cleveland GunMetal wedges were so popular that Cleveland decided to extend the look and feel over to their TA-1 and TA-5 irons both of which were already available in chrome versions. The gunmetal look is one that our testers have responded to with absolute love, or with near total disdain. Whatever the opinion, all have agreed that these are distinctive, aggressive looking irons with a very, very serious air about them. They have a particularly sturdy and assertive countenance. They look and feel like weapons – like your grandfather’s Smith & Wesson.
Other than the starkly handsome graphics, what players first notice in the TA-1′s is the very small, narrow head sizes. These blades are just about as skimpy as they come. Their look in the bag and at address is the extreme opposite of “user-friendly”. The toplines are just about as thin as can be realistically constructed. The soles on the TA-1′s are the most narrow of all the contemporary irons we have in our collection. They are not as thin as some old blades from the thirties and forties, but they are not much thicker. This look of intimidating seriousness immediately appeals to some. Others are turned off and reluctant to hit with them from the very start.
The fit and finish of the TA-1′s is very fine. They have a sense of real quality about them. The “FF” in their title stands for “Form-Forged”. This refers to a process of high-end forging that allows for better control of grain consistency in the steel. Grain consistency provides for more uniform vibration and feel across the head. How real this effect is, we can’t say, but the TA-1′s have come across as routinely sweet in our testing.
We have used five testers on the TA-1′s to date. Three did not like hitting these blades. Two of those three testers disliked them so much that they did want to continue testing the Cleveland’s after a relatively short, preliminary session. The third did some repeat testing on-course and off, but was not happy about it. While not a regular blade user, he has often played with, and enjoyed, the small-headed Ram Nickel Tour Grinds with Sensicore S300, so we were surprised that he was turned off by the Cleveland’s. The fourth tester, a scratch golfer and teaching pro, found them to be attractive and enjoyable to hit, but found that he had no real control with the longer irons. He liked the impact sensation and appearance at address, but soon found that he could not relate to them. As a player of cavity backs mostly, he found that he would not mind playing the Feel blades also being tested, but had no genuine faith in the TA-1′s.
Tester number five, a low to mid handicapper with a short but highly accurate iron game, liked them a great deal. He enjoys playing blades in general and found the dark appearance of the TA-1′s at address very appealing. What he appreciated most about these irons was their feel at impact. The softness of the GunMetal finish and the form-forged heads mated to the Sensicore shafts gives the TA-1′s a sweetness that seems surprising from such narrow, traditionally shaped muscle-blades. Even those testers who have not liked the Cleveland’s have commented on the silky feel that occurs on good hits. Compared to other traditional muscle-blades such as our Wilson FG-17′s, the Cleveland’s do feel like silk. It should be emphasized that the TA-1′s feel really, really sweet and crisp to all who have tried them.
In spite of considerable softness, the TA-1′s are responsive feeling and offer more feedback than most good cavity backs. Many inveterate blades players will doubtlessly object to this Sensicore softness in that it does nullify some of the potential feedback. Rifle and Dynamic Gold shaft options are available for them.
The affection that tester number five had for the Cleveland’s was diminished by direct comparison hitting on-course and at numerous range sessions. For feel at impact, distance and appearance, he ranked the GunMetal’s ahead of all comparison irons. But, against the Feel Competitors, Golfsmith Tour Cavity Pro’s and Hoffman cb1′s, the TA-1′s came up a distant fourth for accuracy and consistency. Even the slightly anemic-hitting Snake Eyes MC-01′s imparted a better sense of control. Such have been the basic feelings of most testers.
Trajectories with the Cleveland’s have been consistent so far. They have been high, long and left for all concerned. If you like to be on the back left quadrant of the green, then these are the irons for you. The lofts on the TA-1′s are high – almost at traditional standards – the pitching wedge is 48 degrees. Trajectories, while high, have been more of a penetrating tour variety as opposed to an arched, looping trajectory. In spite of having high lofts, the Cleveland’s have been a third to a half a club longer than most of the other irons we have been hitting of late. Balls leave hot and active from the TA-1′s face.
The Ta-1′s seem to make too many mistakes to the left. While they do encourage working the ball right to left, they just may be a little too “workable.” The lively Cleveland’s have an overly energetic action through the ball due in part to their low swingweight, but also due to their compact, knife-like heads. There is little resistance or drag through turf. This leftwards tendency was particularly annoying to one tester, a Mizuno MP-33 user. He normally plays a pronounced draw. With the TA-1′s, his draws were pulled well off target. He was one of those testers who wanted to stop hitting the TA-1′s as soon as we’d let him. Our fade players were inconvenienced as well. They had trouble cozying the ball up to the pin in their normal fashion. Being accustomed to aiming front left of pins, they routinely found themselves completely off the green back left. Soft fades came more easily from all other irons being tested.
We tested using many types and models of golf balls. We suspect that the TA-1′s were designed with wound balata ball users solely in mind. With other balls, our testers have been seeing less bite than they would like. Much of this has to do with the trajectory changes our testers have encountered. It should be safe to assume that since these blades are from the same company that has given the world its most successful brand of pro wedges, that the TA-1′s will definitely provide ample spin and bite for those fully appropriate to the design.
All have noted that sense of stability seems to be missing in the lively TA-1′s, especially when hit in conjunction with the excessively stable Feel’s and Hoffman’s both of which have much heavier swingweights. The lightly swingweighted Golfsmith’s have also proved to much more stable, however. Our old, Dynamic Gold-shafted FG-17′s seem downright rigid in comparison. Even the lightweight Snake Eyes MC-01′s impart a better sense of control. Performance-wise, we would guess that the Tour Flighted Rifles in 6.5 or 7.0 would be a more productive match for most better players. These S300 Sensicore’s would seem more suited to easy, smooth swingers that normally play DG R300′s or Rifle 5.5′s.
- Cleveland TA1 FF GunMetal
- True Temper Sensicore steel, S300
- 5-iron: Length 38″, swingweight D0+, Overall weight 417gr
The general reputation of the Cleveland TA-1′s in either chrome or gunmetal has not yet risen to the heights of their wedges and woods – or to the level of their other TA irons. As opposed to the newer blades from Mizuno, Hogan and MacGregor, the TA-1′s do not have a large, devoted, international following. We do suspect that these distinctive muscle-blades just may be ideal for some golfers, however. They offer up a personality that is all their own and we will continue with the Cleveland’s well into the 2001 season. This review will be modified and updated as more testers give the TA-1′s a whirl or two.
Dynamic Gold is the standard shaft. Available custom shaft include: True Temper Dynamic Gold, Sensicore and Royal Precision Rifle and Tour Flighted Rifle. All come in XS, S & R. A flex is available in custom order in Dynamic Gold.