Cleveland Zipcore XL Irons (Our Honest Review)

Your golf experts: Jordan Fuller & John Marshall.
Updated April 8, 2024. This article was thoroughly audited by multiple golf experts and coaches for its accuracy. You can read more about our rigorous testing protocol here.

Cleveland’s highly capable Zipcore XL Irons are an outstanding option for mid handicappers.

With a forgiving design that minimizes side spin, the Zipcore XL Irons are highly accurate, delivering that pinpoint precision that golfers need to make the next jump in their handicap level.

These irons, awarded the prestigious Golf Digest Hot List Gold Medal for 2024, offer a wide blade with a broad, inviting sweet spot. 

But are they right for your game?

In this Cleveland Zipcore XL Irons review, we’ll take a deeper dive into the benefits and features of this advanced set to give the information you need to make an educated decision.


Cleveland Zipcore XL Irons

Best Cleveland Irons for Mid Handicappers

CG Zipcore XL 5-PW/GW GR R RH
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Specifications (4-PW)

  • Loft: 20°-43°
  • Lie: 61.5°-64.5°
  • Shaft Length: 35.75”-39.125”
  • Swing Weight: D2
  • Shaft: KBS Tour Lite (Regular, Stiff)
  • Grip Type: Lamkin Crossline 360
  • Price: $899.99

Pros

  • Superb spin rates help hold the green
  • Longer blade provides exceptional forgiveness
  • High launch with a steep landing angle

Cons

  • Lacks workability of players’ iron
  • Wider toe shape can drag through impact

Our In-Depth Cleveland Zipcore XL Irons Review

How do the Zipcore XL Irons look and feel?

We really liked the shape and style of the Zipcore XL at first glance. Dominated by a clean, crisp chrome silver, each iron head offers an inviting appearance that looks great in the golf bag.

Along the back of the Zipcore XL iron head, you’ll find a cavity-back design with a modern look—lots of hard lines and edges with a nice black and silver contrast.

Cleveland has always taken a hit on their clubs’ appearance, but we think that criticism is unwarranted here. These irons look great in the bag, similar to Callaway’s Apex series.

Regarding our instant response to the club’s feel, we enjoyed how sturdy yet lightweight the iron felt in their hands.

The response was pure once we started swinging the club on the range. No vibration or unnecessary feedback. There are all great things to see with these first-rate Cleveland irons.

We noted the blade’s extended length most likely helps stabilize the feel of the iron, especially as the clubhead passes through the golf ball. The purely smooth feel is definitely worth noting.

What handicap is best for the Zipcore XL Irons?

As mentioned earlier, after a few range sessions and a couple of rounds playing these irons, we think they work best for mid handicappers.

However, we did feel that experienced high handicappers who wanted a more capable iron set could also benefit from playing with these clubs.

Low handicappers will be frustrated with these irons’ lack of total workability. We could curve shots in both directions, but far more subtly than players’ irons or tour-level sets.

Game-improvement iron sets are susceptible to the occasional booming flyer, and that’s no different from the Zipcore XLs. 

During our testing, we launched a few golf balls far past our intended target, but those are baked into the cake with this type of iron set.

Mid handicappers should expect a trade-off, as these clubs will launch balls high and straight, but a few expected imperfections accompany those benefits.

How does the Zipcore XL Irons perform?

Since Cleveland and Srixon are made by the same parent company, the ZX5 series and Zipcore XL  share many similarities.

The blades are long, the head shaping provides more toe material to stabilize the hitting area, and forgiveness delivers tight dispersion around the target.

At address, the larger footprint helps instill confidence when standing over the golf ball, much like the best Srixon irons on the market.

Scoring irons in this set utilize the same structure as Cleveland’s Zipcore wedges, and we could see the benefits from inside 175 yards. The low CG boosted ball flight and provided plenty of spin.

Regarding spin rates, the Zipcore XLs do a nice job of keeping them well within an ideal range.

These golf irons produce a flight that’s not “penetrating,” but the ball gets high and offers a steep landing angle, which helps shots settle nicely on the putting surface.

We noted that the ridged sole helped move the face cleanly through the turf to produce crisp divots.

We also found that the Cleveland Irons maintained ball speed on off-center strikes, which is something you want from irons at this price point.

Overall, the Zipcore XL Irons deliver a higher ball flight with extended carry that stays along your target line, a great combination for game-improvement irons.

The ball jumps off the face with a nice energy transfer, something you’ll definitely see better if you have a higher swing speed. 

How does the Zipcore XL Irons compare to the Halo XL Full Face Irons?

The Halo XL Full-Face Irons by Cleveland offers a hybrid-like shape with several design features that help weekend warriors with slow swing speeds easily get the golf ball into the air. 

The Halo XLs don’t offer much sophistication when comparing the two iron sets. These are blunt instruments, and that’s not necessarily bad if you are a beginning golfer or high handicapper who wants to improve your golfing experience.

In contrast, the Zipcore XL offers more flexibility in shaping shots and delivers far more control.

Both irons do a nice job of producing high straight shots, but if your swing speed registers in the average to above-average range, you’ll be better served by the Zipcore XL set.

Recommended: Cleveland Halo XL Full-Face Irons Review


Other Zipcore XL Irons Model Available

Cleveland Zipcore XL Women’s Irons

2024 Cleveland Women Zipcore XL Single Iron RH 4 Graph Lady
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The women’s edition of the Zipcore XL irons is excellent for experienced golfers who want more spin with premium turf interaction.

The shorter shafts boost swing speed and improve overall contact quality.

The women’s Zipcore XL Irons utilize the UST Helium Nanocore 50 graphite shafts to boost swing speed and enhance feel. The shafts are rated as high spin and launch and weigh just 53 grams, making them easy to swing. 

These high-grade shafts ensure your irons stay stable, provide long-lasting durability, and produce highly efficient results when you need more distance from your iron game.


Our Verdict

We enjoyed how capable the Cleveland Zipcore XL Irons were from over 150 yards.

The penetrating ball flight with the mid-range irons helps create that steep landing angle you need to hold your position on the greens.

It’s also worth noting that the Zipcore XL irons utilize that broad sweet spot to deliver a straighter ball flight. While that might limit full-range workability, you can still craft subtle draws and fades without issue.

A Golf Digest Hot List Gold Medal Winner, the Zipcore XL Irons are very enjoyable to play and promise to pay off huge dividends if you need more accuracy and length from your iron set.