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The Fringe: Cleveland Niblick Review

So-called “rescue” or “utility” clubs are all the rage these days, enabling you to play it safe from the fairway or disentangle yourself from an errant drive. But what happens when even that safety net fails? What happens when things still go bad near the green? Who’s going to rescue you now?

Enter the Niblick by Cleveland Golf. This ain’t no stinkin’ rescue club. It’s a survival club.

Are you on the collar or first cut, stalked by the twin tyrants known as Skulling and Chunking? Are you ensnared in the strangling rough? Are you tormented by low-hanging branches? Have no fear, because the Niblick is your Swiss Army knife. You will survive, and you will score.

Under The Hood
Cleveland Golf calls the Niblick a “short iron hybrid,” billing it as a multidimensional replacement for the common pitching wedge or nine iron. It is designed for chipping and pitching, as well as approach and recovery shots. The name comes from the original Scottish “niblicks,” which were a staple of ancient golf.

-Available lofts of 37 degrees (nine iron) and 42 degrees (pitching wedge)
-Wedge-style sole with eight degrees of bounce for minimizing fat shots
-Large Zip grooves for added spin
-Iron-style hosel offset for natural address position
-Gelback cavity insert for vibration dampening
-Retail price is $109

Why It Rocks
Chipping is a breeze with the Niblick. It offers a soft, easy touch for bump-and-run shots, and the plumpness of the club is a reassuring sight for those who tend to blade the ball. You can even employ a putting-style stroke from the short fringe.

The Niblick also performs well on pitches and approach shots as long as you trust the natural loft of the club. It may look similar to your standard long-iron hybrid, but you need to overcome that mental image and swing it like a short iron on approach shots. The Niblick can feel a bit hefty at first compared a short iron, so be prepared for an acclimation period. Once you get the hang of it, however, the Niblick flies ’em high. The stopping power of the Zip grooves is frosting on the cake.

Best of all, the Niblick shines in matters of recovery, and it’s particularly effective on lower shots off troublesome lies in the proverbial jungle—such as when you are off in the rubble about 40 yards from the green with tree branches crowding your view. In such situations, the Niblick packs the best of both worlds into a single club with its wedge-style sole and short-iron loft, enabling you to get the ball off the ground without flying it too high.

The 37-degree model is probably best for punching out of trouble, but you can de-loft the 42-degree model for similar results.

The Final Word
Now this is a utility club. Sure, you might have to mothball your nine iron or pitching wedge to fit the Niblick in your bag, but you’ll get a box of tricks in return. For mid to high handicappers in particular, the Niblick is a smart choice for shaving strokes.

About The Fringe
The Fringe is where PutterZone.com roams “beyond the green” in search of golf’s hottest new gear. This bi-weekly series is reserved for products that truly earn the spotlight by demonstrating superior quality and ingenuity.

 

About Sean Weir

Sean Weir is the founder and editor of PutterZone.com, and the author of Putter Perfection, the definitive guide to putter fitting. Profile: Google+

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  1. Believe me, I played this 49 degree cleveland niblick and it is going to stay in the bag and taken with my putter everywhere around the fringe,below an upward slope or on a hard surface you will encounter @ the green. This makes you enjoy the short game when you stick it within 5 feet of the hole. It takes practice but then it is worth its weight in the comments you will get from your group and the lower score. It makes my day and I enjoy the game so much more. Aloha from Hawaii where the grass is green and this niblick stays in the same bag compartment with the putter.

  2. great little club. Now comes in 37, 42, 49 and 56. I have all four. Miles easier to use than a traditional wedge or 9 iron. I actually found the 37 to be closer to an 8 iron in distance. So the 8, 9, PW and SW have all be replaced with these.

    The 49 and 56 will stop the ball on a dime. I used to be a strictly bump anmd run guy at 100 yards and under, but with these I have the confidence to shoot straight at the pin.

  3. That's amazing how easy is to handle this putter, it is not so heavy like others, it lets you to make excellent low shots.

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