Cleveland RTX 6 Zipcore Wedges – Key Takeaways
- Sixth generation RTX gets second-generation ZipCore technology.
- New HydraZip face for improved wet condition performance
- New Low+ Sole Grind for better sand performance
- $169.99 each. At retail Jan. 20
Say this for the new Cleveland RTX 6 ZipCore wedges: they pack a lot of zips.
Three degrees of zip, to be precise.
While this is the sixth installment of Cleveland’s signature RTX wedge family, we are getting the second generation of Cleveland’s unique ZipCore technology. Then there are the updated UltiZip grooves and something new called HydraZip. HydraZip is supposed to do what it sounds like it’s supposed to do but we’ll unpack a bit more on that later.
The previous generation, simply called RTX ZipCore, was released in the summer of 2020. If you’re a calendar cop, you could say these new wedges are a tad overdue but, hey, there was that COVID thing, after all. But Cleveland always has some interesting and useful technology in each wedge release and those 2020 RTX ZipCores represented a major leap for Cleveland.
Can these new wedges maintain that momentum? And can HydraZip do what the name suggests? There’s lots to unzip here so let’s zip to it.
Cleveland RTX 6 ZipCore Wedges: The Zen of Zip
“Zip” is a very versatile word. It can be either a transitive or intransitive verb and it can be a noun. You can zip a file, zip a fly and you can even quarter-zip a pullover. And if you played college sports in the 44325 Zip code you’d be a University of Akron Zip.
We won’t even get into zippedy-doo-dah.
These new Cleveland wedges are tripling down on zip with ZipCore, UltiZip and HydraZip. We’ll unpack all of that but when all is said and done and marketing has come up with its zippy tech names, spin is the name of the wedge game.
“Every generation, we think we’ll have different hero technology for our wedges,” says Cleveland Tour Engineering Manager Patrick Ripp. “Whether it’s ZipCore or HydraZip … we even had Feel Balancing for a while. But once the product rolls out, spin is the hero technology.
“It’s an ongoing research project for us.”
Just so you have your Zip Scorecard ready, know the new Cleveland RTX 6 ZipCore wedges feature interesting upgrades in UltiZip, major updates to ZipCore and are introducing HydraZip.
Since ZipCore is in the name, let’s start there.
Forgiveness and Feel
Introduced in 2020, ZipCore is a unique (and proprietary) low-density core extending from the lower hosel and into the heel of each wedge. The goal is to remove weight from that area and shift the CG more toward the center of the face.
In previous RTX generations, Cleveland tried to accomplish the same thing by thinning out and shortening the hosel. That moved the CG closer to the center but it also wound up reducing both heel-toe and high-low MOI.
“Adding ZipCore let us grow the hosel, maintain the head shape and get the CG closer to the center of the impact area,” says Ripp. “But growing the hosel also let us move some weight away from the CG and allowed us to increase the MOI, basically unlocking the relationship between sweet spot location and growing MOI.”
In this new generation, Cleveland is nearly doubling the amount of ZipCore material in each wedge and creating a unique ZipCore geometry for each loft. “That allows us to explore different hosel lengths and get the right forgiveness and MOI for each wedge while keeping the sweet spot in the center.”
In other words, ZipCore lets Cleveland create the performance of a perimeter-weighted wedge without actually having to make it a perimeter wedge.
“With a CBX wedge with ZipCore, the actual size is going to help with MOI,” says Ripp. “It’s going to be even more forgiving. But in terms of a Tour-size wedge? Yeah, we’re trying to get as much forgiveness in there while keeping the look and feel the better player wants to see.”
HydraZip: Not Slippery When Wet
Wedges get wonky when wet, especially in higher lofts. The more glancing the blow, the more likely the ball will slip up the face due to loss of friction. As a result, launch angle goes up and spin goes down. In some cases, way down.
Unless you’re PING. Then it goes up. That’s a fact.
In MyGolfSpy’s last two Most Wanted Wedge tests, the Cleveland lineup scored very well, both in overall score and in wet performance. In 2021, the original RTX ZipCore ranked fifth overall and fifth for spin. The satin chrome version finished second in wet performance while its raw stablemate finished fourth.
Cleveland doesn’t submit second-year products that are due for replacement for Most Wanted testing so the OG RTX Zipcore wasn’t included last year. But the game-improvement CBX ZipCore finished fourth in wet performance.
But when the PING Glide actually gains spin when wet, well, that’s when engineers get competitive.
“It’s a whole face treatment,” says Ripp. “Dry spin, wet spin and rough spin are very different animals to attack. HydraZip helps us address that wet spin. We’re trying to increase that friction between the ball and face when there’s moisture in between.”
Friction Through Face Blast
HydraZip is a combination of Cleveland’s traditional Rotex milling, a unique additional laser milling pattern and a face blast. It’s all in the name of shedding water.
“With a face blast, you’re shooting a material with different hardness and different grain sizes out of a high-pressure gun onto the wedge face,” says Ripp. “It gives us more surface area and crevices to allow moisture to go away. You’re getting more metal-on-ball-cover contact.”
Both the face blast and the additional laser-milled mini-grooves are unique for each wedge group. The 46- and 48-degree wedges, which are pitching and gap wedge replacements, feature a less aggressive face blast and longer but fewer additional mini-grooves. Both the blast and milling get more aggressive in the 50- and 52-degree models. The 54- through 60-degree models, where you want the most spin, have the most aggressive patterns.
“We want to dial it in for max spin,” says Ripp. “But we also want to emphasize consistent spin for wet and dry conditions. That way, your carry distances and launch conditions are the same regardless of whether it’s wet or dry.”
Cleveland’s own wet-condition testing shows the new RTX 6 Zipcore (58-degree model) retains 43 percent more spin than the 2020 model. That’s something we can’t wait to test in the 2023 Most Wanted shootout.
Doin’ The (UltiZp) Tighten Up
The third degree of Zip is UltiZip, Cleveland’s ever-evolving groove technology. Cleveland touts this new version as having the sharpest, tightest and deepest grooves ever. Considering the USGA has something to say about it all, how is that possible?
“We try to get as close to the USGA limits as possible with every generation,” says Ripp. “Some of that is improved manufacturing techniques and learning the lifecycle of the tools we use to cut the grooves and making sure they’re replaced frequently.”
As for groove sharpness, the USGA measures what it calls “edge deviation.” That’s a combination of wall angle and groove radius.
“The USGA rules also include infinite combinations of depths and widths,” adds Ripp. “They limit each specific characteristic but you can do a combination of all angle depth and pitch and groove spacing. We research all of those combinations for different lofts, shot types and swing speeds. We’ve found our best combination with UltiZip but we still focus on our manufacturing processes for consistency to get that groove design up to the USGA limit.”
Cleveland RTX 6 ZipCore: Grinds and Bounces
If you like your sole grinds numerous and lettered, the new RTX 6 ZipCores won’t make you happy. But if you want simple and versatile enough, Cleveland says it’s got you covered.
“We’re trying to make it as simple as possible for the consumer,” says Ripp. “The average consumer walking into a store is looking at so many options and just trying to understand what’s best for them is tough. We’re trying to help them make the best decision.”
The new RTX 6 ZipCores come in four sole grinds. The Low is a C-shaped grind for 58- and 60-degree lob wedges. It features six degrees of bounce and favors golfers with a shallow angle of attack who take small divots. The Mid grind is a traditional V-shaped sole with 10 degrees of bounce and is available across the entire lineup. And the Full grind is the highest-bounce sole (12 degrees) for the 54- through 60-degree models. It’s designed for rough and bunker play, softer conditions and steeper angles of attack.
The newest addition is Low+, available in the 54- and 56-degree models only.
“It’s a play off our Low bounce grind but with a bit more bounce in the leading edge,” says Ripp. “It’s for players who need a bit more bounce in bunkers.”
Cleveland is once again providing crossover charts at retail and online. They’ll tell you which RTX 6 ZipCore best replaces your existing wedge whether it’s a Vokey, Callaway, TaylorMade, PING, Mizuno or any Cleveland wedge dating back to the original RTX.
Cleveland RTX 6 ZipCore Wedges: Specs, Price and Availability
The Cleveland RTX 6 ZipCore wedge line will be available in 46- through 60-degree lofts in two-degree increments and in the grind and bounce options described above. The entire lineup will be available for both lefties and righties.
Cleveland is launching its Tour Satin first. Black Satin and Tour Rack (Cleveland’s raw finish) will be available in the spring.
The stock shaft is the True Temper Dynamic Gold Spinner Tour issue. Cleveland says it’s similar in profile to the DG S200 but designed specifically for wedge play.
The Lamkin Crossline 360 is the stock grip.
And if you want to personalize your wedge, Cleveland continues to offer its custom engraving and paint fill program. It’s one of the best deals in golf: 20 different fill colors for three different areas for 15 bucks. You can also get up to five characters engraved for another 15 bucks.
The new Cleveland RTX 6 ZipCore wedges will retail for $169.99 and will hit retail on Jan. 20″.
For more information, visit the newly rebranded Srixon-Cleveland-XXIO-Dunlop Sports website.
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