PLAYING WITH … CLEVELAND RTX 4 WEDGES
Cost: $209. Tested by: Jimmy Emanuel, Golf Australia Writer (GA Handicap 9.4)
Jimmy Emanuel is seriously considering an upgrade after testing the latest wedges from Cleveland.
MODEL PLAYED: Cleveland RTX 4 (56°-10° Mid Grind), fitted with True Temper Dynamic Gold S200 shaft in Tour Satin finish. FIRST IMPRESSIONS: I have always been a fan of Cleveland wedges – and carry the previous RTX 3 currently in my bag – so was excited to see the evolution of the RTX 4, which didn’t disappoint.
Instantly, the influence of the company’s Tour players was recognisable, with a more compact head with less offset looking terrific behind the ball, helping to instil confidence that I wasn’t going to hit too many thin or fat around the greens.
The face is noticeably rougher in texture, and unsurprisingly the spin off the face was higher than my own 56° wedge, and not just due to the age of the grooves. One of the first pitches I hit, from a downhill, downwind lie to a pin placed just over a similar downslope, seemingly had teeth, as it dug in and pulled up quickly. HOW IT PERFORMED: Spin continued to be a noticeable improvement during my testing, with the RTX 4 really grabbing on mid-range pitch shots that sometimes roll out due the lack of clubhead speed produced when hitting these shots. Chips were also spinning slightly more than with the previous model, while bigger swings from the fairway responded as expected when landing on the putting surface, and the feel off the face was significantly softer than the RTX 3 for mine.
Beyond the all-important spin, the other area of performance I value highly in wedges is versatility. And the RTX 4 delivered in spades.
I would typically opt for more bounce than 10° in a 56° wedge, but the ‘Mid’ sole performed extremely well across a variety of lies and conditions around the greens, with heavy lies in bunkers the only area it was slightly below its own lofty performance heights. However this could very much be attributed to my bunker technique, formed with a higher bounce wedge.
The performance of the sole design meant the wedge played as if it were a number of different 56° wedges with varying bounce angles (which Cleveland does offer) when chipping and pitching from tight and heavy lies. The smaller head design, refined leading edge and reduced offset helped to elevate this playability further.
When moving further away from the green, flighting the ball up and down from the fairway was very easily achieved, and a great deal of fun. Low, checking approaches were a particular favourite shot to hit with the RTX 4 – which, it is fair to say, have made my RTX 3s a little nervous about their starting spot in the bag.
I typically opt for darker finishes in wedges and the ‘Tour Satin’ of the RTX 4 I tested was one of the only areas of the new model I could fault, with glare off the face in bright sunshine a slight distraction. But Cleveland offers the new model in multiple finishes to counter this very issue.
Overall, I was extremely impressed. The improved look and versatility of the RTX 4 were great for both playability and confidence from any lie. And the enhanced grooves and various face milling techniques had me spinning the ball as much as I have with any wedge made post the 2010 change to the Rules of Golf limiting grooves.