Cleveland CG12 Zip Wedges Review

Cleveland’s CG12 with new “Zip Grooves” promise to put a new spin on your short shots. Do they?

Cleveland Zip Wedges HeroRoger Cleveland founded Cleveland Golf in the 1970s on the strength of his wedge designs. They’ve long been renowned as some of the best in the game, but Cleveland has been slipping in this category since Roger’s departure in the mid-1990s. Bob Vokey at Titleist, Roger’s new employer Callaway, and even TaylorMade have made great inroads in the wedge game and the top spot now belongs to Titleist’s Vokey line of wedges.

That has not stopped Cleveland, of course, and they’re looking to get back on top with their new CG12 wedges with “Zip Grooves™” – deeper U-grooves than found on previous models (like the CG11s we reviewed) that aim to add juice to your wedge shots much like TaylorMade’s “Y” grooves, Callaway’s “Mack Daddy” grooves, and Titleist’s Spin Milled grooves.

As a long-time Vokey fan, I put these wedges to the test: I took my Vokeys out of the bag and played with these for a month straight. Did they pass the test? Read on to find out…

Despite the addition of one to the name, Cleveland’s CG12 wedges are not successors to the CG11s. In fact, determining the CG12’s parents are difficult: the wedges resemble the CG10 and even the revered 588, but with a bit more of a square leading edge and toe. They’re likely updates to the CG10: the CG11s are the forgiving models and the CG10s and CG12s are for slightly better players.

Cleveland’s new “Zip Grooves” are larger, allowing for more debris to be swept away and cleaner club/ball contact for more spin. In theory, anyway.

The hot feature on the CG12s is the addition of the “Zip Grooves.” The grooves on these wedges are milled to the current maximum conforming dimensions using a proprietary CNC mill bit.

Once milled, the clubs undergo an “innovative plating process [which] preserves [the] absolute integrity of [the] grooves by application of proprietary coating for protection during face sandblasting process.” In other words, the grooves shouldn’t be softened or rounded by the sandblasting process, resulting in grooves that remain consistently sharp, pristine in appearance, and shiny.

Groove CartoonThe wedges are stainless steel, which marks an interesting departure. Cleveland previously used a “carbon metal matrix” (CMM) in their CG10 wedges, which supposedly led to a softer feel. The CG12 ditches CMM in favor of a softer stainless steel that can be bent or adjusted for both loft and lie up to about two or three degrees.

I’ve stayed pretty far away from Cleveland wedges. At one point, I got it into my head that Cleveland wedges were all shaped like spoons, with large, rounded leading edges, low toes, and tall heels.

The CG12 maintains a bit of the “rounder” appearance my brain wants to attach to all Cleveland wedges, but in reality, these wedges are fairly modern shaped and look a lot like wedges from Titleist, TaylorMade, and Callaway. The leading edge has been flattened and the toe is a bit higher.

The chrome wedge is indeed quite shiny, except for the sandblasted face. Glare can be a concern.

The CG12 is available in both chromed and black pearl finishes. As you can tell by the pictures, I played two chromed wedges. The chrome versions are quite shiny – I often saw hot spots of reflected light around my ball when playing on sunny days. The face is attractively sandblasted from top to bottom and around every groove, resulting in a satin appearance that helps to minimize glare.

The long hosel and two-ring black and white ferrule are simple enough, but I wish the same approach had been taken to the rest of the club. The Cleveland logo appears on the back of the club, but designers thought it necessary to include the scripted word “Cleveland” on the sole of the club. It not only complicates what would otherwise be a fairly clean design, but proves difficult to clean with just a towel.

Two looks at the 60° model. Even with 10° bounce, the leading edge gets pretty low to even a super-tight lie.

Other markings on the club include the stamp “CG12” on the back of the blade along with the “Zip Grooves” logo. The lofts are marked on the toe side of the sole, and the bounce is written in both degrees and with Cleveland’s typical “one-, two-, or three-dot” markings on the back of the hosel.

I tested two models of the CG12: the 60° wedge with 10° bounce and the 54° with 12° bounce. My normal Vokey wedge setup pairs a 54.10 with a 60.04. Needless to say, I was apprehensive about hitting the 60-degree wedge in particular with six degrees more bounce.

The view at address is simpler and less round than I expected from Cleveland. The bottom, though, could be less cluttered.

First, I sought to test the Zip Grooves that Cleveland is touting with these wedges. The grooves promise to put a lot of spin on the ball from all conditions. Unfortunately, in my testing, they fail to live up to the hype. In fact, I didn’t feel as though I got any more spin from the fairways than I would from the CG10s or the 588s I borrowed for comparison and only marginally more spin from wet lies or thick rough. I found it virtually impossible to check the ball on partial greenside shots.

I wasn’t expecting Vokey Spin-Milled type spin, either. When the Vokeys are new, they spin way too much and it can take a month or two to wear down the grooves a little. I was expecting at least as much spin from the CG12s as a worn-down Spin Milled wedge provides, but was still disappointed. I couldn’t even get as much spin with the CG12s as I could with my one-year-old Vokeys.


I’m quite capable of spinning back a sand wedge from a dry lie in the fairway, but in side-by-side testing with my year-old 54.10 Vokey wedge, the CG12 couldn’t pull a ball back more than about a foot. This compared poorly to the 15 to 18 feet I averaged with my Vokey. In side-by-side testing with the CG10 and the 588s, the Zip Grooves on the CG12 did perform slightly better from the rough – balls would stop a few feet shorter than they would off the older wedges. With anything less than a full swing, performance was nearly identical.

That being said, not many people can take advantage of modern “über-grooves,” and the CG12 is still a very capable wedge. And, for those who like to look on the bright side, there’s this: the Zip Grooves didn’t shred my golf balls nearly as much as the super-grooved wedges from the “other” companies.

The 60° model I tested is a “two-dot” wedge: it has 10 degrees of bounce. That’s more than I usually play, but in some situations, the extra bounce came in handy. A model with 4° bounce is available.

I use my 60° wedge around the greens and from bunkers, so I was apprehensive about moving from four degrees to 10° bounce. While the change did require a different approach from tight lies, the extra bounce did come in handy – as extra bounce should – from fluffy lies in the rough, soft sand, and wet fairway conditions.

Once I adjusted to the lack of spin or check, it became quite easy to control distance, and the clubs responded incredibly well to my attempts at hitting balls at varying heights.

The CG12 feels a tad heavier than the wedges I’m used to and about the same as the CG10, but I came to like the feel of the increased weight – I knew where the clubhead was at all times and felt it helped me control impact better. Impact itself felt a tad firmer than off Cleveland’s other wedges, but not so much that the club in any way feels clunky.

The CG12 is pretty, but I’d do away with the scripted “Cleveland” on the sole. It gets dirty quickly and is tough to clean.

All told, I simply can’t figure out what’s up with the Zip Grooves. Clearly they look different, but the look and Cleveland’s approach don’t seem to result in increased spin. Others seem to agree in this forum thread (disclosure: I started the thread).

The CG12 are available in both chrome and black pearl. Lofts ranging from 46° to 60° in two-degree increments are available. The four highest lofted wedges – 54°, 56°, 58°, and 60° – are available with multiple bounce configurations, including a 60/4 and a 54/8 for players (like me) who prefer a tad less bounce on their wedges to deal with firmer sand and tighter lies in the fairway.

The wedges are all 35.5″ or 35.25″ in length with a lie angle of 64° and a swing weight ranging from D3 in the 46-48° wedges, D4 in the 50-52°, and D6 in the 54° wedges and up.

Final Spin
Cleveland’s Zip Grooves are an interesting move for the company, but not for the right reasons. Released shortly before the USGA deadline for comments on the grooves proposal and well after similarly deep-grooved wedges from folks like Titleist, TaylorMade, and Callaway, these wedges are caught in a sort of no-man’s land. Better players may only get to use them for about a year. And unlike the wedges from those other companies, I simply couldn’t get the Zip Grooves on the CG12s to do much of anything beyond a “normal” wedge, including several earlier Cleveland models. The Zip Grooves… don’t.

The Zip Grooves are pretty heavily marketed. Unfortunately, I feel I could have left this sticker on and gotten just about as much spin.

That being said, the CG12 wedges offer several advantages. The lack of “über-spin” provides a level of consistency that is tough to find on some of the spinnier wedges out there. The CG12 won’t render a golf ball useless by shredding the cover, the weight feels good, and the clubs look and perform well in the hands of skilled golfers looking to play a variety of shots from all sorts of lies.

In the end, at about $20 more than the CG10s and perhaps as little as a one-year life span, I’m just not sure they’re worth the extra cash.

41 thoughts on “Cleveland CG12 Zip Wedges Review”

  1. Nice review, Erik! I honestly thought CG12 would be a better match to Vokey’s SM than CG10, but guess not. 🙄

    The good things, however, CG12 offers more options in lofts and bounces than Vokey’s SM. Furthermore, it’s easier on the ball so probably some golfers will benefit by not having to change balls every one hole or two.

    These CG12 wedges are probably for those who already have very high spin on their shots and don’t need the extra spin provided by Vokey’s SM.

  2. I picked up a 52 about 6 weeks ago and really enjoy it. They don’t back up much, if at all, and I’m fine with that. As an 18 handicap, I like that I can fly the ball where I want to (on a pitch/chip) and the ball will just stop where it lands. I might get 1 foot of rollout…

    I’ve enjoyed the club.

  3. Nice review. I was honestly expecting you to tell me how you could not keep your shots on the green becuase they spun back so fast. Clearly not the case.

    My initial reaction when I saw these new super-grooves advertised was, “Why did they just now do this?”, but then it dawned on me that if you let all of your tricks go at once then new product launches are going to be rare. I suppose the next evolution of the Cleveland wedge will be the DSG sole grind coupled with these grooves? We will see.

    Anyways, great review.

  4. I was expecting the same as the others said. I thought the clubs would be spinning off the greens. My friend was looking for a 60* wedge and he bought this club. His handicap is about 4 and he can stop the ball on a dime with the cg12 but like you said in you review it does not spin back. Excellent review!

  5. You, my man, should work for Golf Digest. An excellent review from someone that clearly knows what they are talking about. You have convinced me to buy the Spin-Milled Titleist.


  6. :mrgreen: very good review, i have been looking to buy the cg12s for months now as i am looking for wedges that get the most spin. I thought that these would challenge the vokey spin milled but obviously not, clearly a very knowledgeable guy and fair when it comes to judging a piece of equipment.

  7. :mrgreen:
    First of all, great review. It really shows that you know your s*&t !

    Second, I’d like to know what all the deal is with spin. I’m an 8 handi and the guys I play with are a mix of scratch and 5 handicappers … and I got to tell you, even the scratch golfers are more concerned about where the ball is going to land than spinning the ball back.
    I would think that the emphasis still has to be on feel and ball placement. If you’re not confident on where the ball is going to land, what good is the spin going to be?

    Now, that said, I’ve used the Vokey SM, and the CG12’s. My preference is on feel, which leads to better ball placement.

    When I first bought the Vokey’s, they were spinning way too much for me. I had to completely rethink most of my approach shots. Now after 8 months or so, the grooves are wearing down and the spin is right around where the CG12’s are. Here’s the difference for me, I’m thinking the feedback I get from the CG12’s are actually better than the Vokey’s. Now, I’m playing the Chrome finish on the Vokey’s and the Black Pearl on CG12’s — not sure if that’ll make a difference.

  8. If you’re not confident on where the ball is going to land, what good is the spin going to be?

    Good questions and thoughts. First off, I think spin is important in two ways. One is on short shots around the green – pitches and chips and that sort. Sometimes you want them to check and grab. With the CG12, that option isn’t a very viable one.

    Second, spin is an added dimension as well on the fuller shots. For example, on greens with a backstop, I sometimes like to throw the ball behind the hole, and using both spin and the backstop, pull the ball back to the pin. Throwing the ball to the middle of a green and sucking it back to a front pin is a valuable shot sometimes.

    Given the choice between A) a club that can spin or B) a club which cannot spin, I’ll choose A because it gives me more options.

    The only downside to A is that you have to practice a little more. Sometimes you don’t want spin, sometimes you don’t want spin, so you have to know how to hit that kind of shot.

  9. First, thanks for your fantastic reviews. They’ve been terrifically helpful in rounding out my research.

    As for the CG12’s…

    I bought the 50-degree “Black Pearl” model this past weekend, and tried it in a round yesterday.

    As a marketing guy, i can appreciate that the true value of the bigger grooves is one part science, 3 parts marketing “spin” (pun intended).

    However, i can say, the bloody thing works. i’ve never been as dead-on with approaches at 95-105 yards. As it is likely to be the club i hit only 2nd in frequency to my putter, the $109 was well worth it.

    I was actually very concerned, based on the marketing, that the spin would be too excessive. It wasn’t, in my case. The greens i hit were soft, thus the ball only backed up from the impact point…rather than bouncing PAST the impact point, then rolling backward. It netted out at about a 3-6 foot reversal, at most.

    So the spin was relatively neutral, but the thing i really appreciated where the weight, balance and touch. I just had terrific confidence using the club. I felt like i could toss darts right at the flag and trust it.

    One last point: sound. I read on a review from that another guy said it sounded like you were ‘undressing the ball’. That is a perfect description. There is a slight “velcro ripping” sound when you pinch the ball cleanly. It’s really fun. You don’t get that sound if you hit the ball thin, so in some respects the sound gives you tremendous aural feedback as well as through the hands.

    I love the club. I’m strongly considering dumping my Tom Watson Ram 55-degree sand wedge in favor of a CG12 sibling.

  10. You can never predict exactly how much spin you’re going to get off a full shot.. Look how tiger hits his full wedge shots these days.. You don’t see him spinning them off the green like he used to. What the wedges and these grooves do for you is allow you to control spin better from the rough, where you really need it.

  11. I recently upgraded my 2 Clevelandwedges in my bag from the 588’s to the new CG12’s. I am a 3+ hncp and have no trouble spinning a wedge shot when I absolutely need to. These new wedges have the same spin action that I expect as the 588 version. The shot from the first cut of rough with these new clubs gives you a better chance of holding the green and sticking. Thats what we all want. Control.

    The 588’s were a classic, reliable, tour proven club of choice of many PGA stars. The CG 12’s are proving their worth in my bag.

    As we all know and hear, choice is everyones option. I have been told numerous times by Club Pros that Vokeys are for the individuals that have trouble hitting a spinning shot from 80-100 yards.

    As a Titileist Pro V1x user, my shots drop and stop where and when I expect them to. I don’t want them to drop and then spin back 10-15 feet. The PGA pros want and expect the hit and stick shot. Hitting a shot and trying to control your amount of spin is in my mind alot more practice. I’d rather be playing more than practicing spinning wedges shots on the range.

    Hit ’em straight. And have fun.

  12. I agree with much of the above comments. I play off a 4 and recently did an on course playoff during 4 rounds of golf in Maui. Two on the gold and two on the Emerald. I played my old Tour RAC Blacks against the Spin Mills, the X Tour/X Tour PM MD, and the CG-12’s. I tried the CG-10’s for a few rounds last year but never liked the CMM material. Bottom line, the CG-12’s have the most consistent performance and spin of all the offerings. No question the Vokeys spin the most, and are very accurate on dispersion, but I want the ball to stop where it lands, not spin back 10 feet one time and 18 feet the next. Also, at $4.00 I want the ProV1x to last at least 9 holes on average. Trying to spin the 60 CG-12 out of light rough I was able to pull it back 12 – 15 feet on a full swing. Don’t want to do that except on special occasions, but it can do it. I bought a 52 -10, 56 -12, and 60 -04. Very happy. Great head feel throughout the swing.

  13. Good review. I have been using 54.12 and a 60.10 CG12 wedges for a couple of months and as mentioned in the review, you don’t get the large amounts of spin as with a Vokey Spin Milled or Callaway X-Tour, although they do create some spin out of the rough and I have noticed some check on chip shots that are hit pretty crisply. The spin factor is probably not a really big deal once you get used how shots react off the CG12. It has been my experience that the CG12 is quite a bit more consistent from shot to shot as far as trajectory goes over the X-Tour and the Vokey Spin Milled, which really surprised me after having used the Vokey Spin Milled and Cally X-Tour wedges for over a year (and I am not sure why that is). The feel of the CG12 seems to be good too. So far I really like the CG12.

  14. Great review, thanks. I’ve played the CG10’s for a two years, loved the feel, and the matte black/gray look. Tried the Vokey oil can spin milled wedges this past summer and just couldn’t play them long enough for the grooves to wear down which is my polite way of saying they just spun too much for me, went back to the CG10 until I got the CG-12’s and it seems to me that they are the perfect balance between my old CG-10’s and the Vokey’s. My experience plus yours and the other folks who have posted here just goes to show how important it is to be able to demo clubs, to each his (or her) own.

  15. i am amazed that not one mention has been made about the difference that the type of ball and firmness of green will make when discussing spin! reviews are useful and would like to hear about the cg 14 in 48 degree. these wedges are all great such as the vokey, cg 10, cg 12 and vokey spin milled. i have over 50 of these in every conceivable combination of loft and bounce. love them all and constantly swap them out depending on conditions and just for a change. they all spin with the right ball! just ordered a cg 14 48 degree and would like some feedback please.

  16. Good reveiw. It gave alot of good comparisons, i have been debating over the Vokey Spin Milled or the CG12’s, and i dont get the extra spin of some players, so the Vokeys are mine. But again, great review

  17. 😈

    I’m surprised no one has mentioned that these wedges are now coming in the DSG RTG combination. I’ve had these about a month now, have played 9 rounds. I’ve got to say that I love the look and feel. I’m not getting too much spin right now – but it could be due to the firm dry greens.
    I’d love to hear any feedback on these and the conditioning of the finish – I’m not getting any rust on mine yet.
    BTW – I played the Vokey sm but as other reviews state above, not a fan of going thru balls as tho I hit the cart path on every hole.

  18. I added the CG12 56 medium bounce in the fall to my bag and find it has considerable spin. Recently on a full shot on a firm Green in SC I by acident backed one p over 10 yds! Now I have never played Spin Milled I have seen the spin they have. Vaqrying articles claim the CG 12’s have more??????????? Well anyway to each his own , I ordered the 46 to replace a Taylormade and a Gap 52, I love them!

  19. I think this club is great. I am a high school golfer who is about a 2 handicap. I bought a 52 and its great. I can spin it back or hit a 50 yard pitch and have it skip and stop right next to the hole. The only thing to be careful about is leaving it short. You really have to throw it at the pin.

  20. The guy who wrote this article is a complete spasctic. You don’t want 10 ft backspin, you want the ball to stop where it lands.

  21. The guy who wrote this article is a complete spasctic. You don’t want 10 ft backspin, you want the ball to stop where it lands.

    I’m “the guy,” and I’m not sure what a “spasctic” is.

    Besides, sometimes there are times when you want backspin. And spin isn’t just about getting the ball to come back – it’s about getting the ball to sit quickly on less-than-full shots.

  22. yesterday i bought the new cg 12 rtg dsg wedge in 58 degree. i play on pretty soft greens but my first shot spun the ball back 10 feet. i previously had a vokey spin milled oil can with decent grooves, and with the vokeys the ball would run 3 feet every time. very satisfied with the zip grooves. i do agree with the fact that they dont spin very good around the green, but at 75 yards they are deadly

  23. The more you play these wedges the more you find conditions are what matters. They are good wedges and do put a lot of spin on the ball. Conrolling it is different from course to course. The new high quality courses with state of the art firm greens seem to be the ones you see all the spin back on. That being said you need to be careful with spin you don’t need or want. Fairways cut tight and firm greens make for a lot of spin!!!!!!!!!!

  24. Thanks for the review but despite your claim that they don’t spin; well I went out and bought them anyway. I found that I could easily spin them back most of the time around ten feet. These results came from Arizona greens in the middle of summer which are very hard. So in my opinion they spin just fine and although they do somewhat tear into the golf ball, they don’t damage it nearly as much as the spin milled wedges.

  25. I have to totally disagree with this review, although I find Erik on the money most of the time. I have played Vokey’s, Mizuno MP Raw and Cleveland wedges. The CG 12’s are a very responsive wedge, with great feel and at the end of the day my feeling is they spin just fine. I will admit they are new to my bag and I only have 3 rounds under my belt, but these babies are tight. It really comes down to what fits your eye, so give them a look, I love them. (I had several balls hit pin high today only to roll back a solid 10-15 yards, they spin fine if you hit down on them with a solid swing). Final note, my favorite wedge to date.

  26. They have been great for me and spin a great deal with a full swing or a pinch by a green. However I have had a full season and my 56 has lots of wear. I just saw an add in the back of a golf magazine for a groove sharpener, It costs 19.95 plus shipping, just ordered one to see if you can touch up grooves on wedges. 46,52,56,60

  27. My course in New Hampshire has greens that act like landing the ball on a pool table… hard and fast.

    I finally broke down and got two of these wedges, 56 and 52 and can actually get the ball to hold on the green. Being able to hit a short pitch to within ten feet and get the ball to stop has given me a huge boost of confidence. It removes the angst of missing greens. My ability to get up and down from within 50-yds has gone from 10% to 40%, and from the fringe to 20-yds out, gone from 40% to 70%.

    My regular playing partner and good friend, after seeing me put yet another 20yd pitch shot to within three feet said “Will you STOP doing that!”

    I attribute it to these wedges, not to any skill. I’m hitting the same shots as before, but now it’s like throwing darts!

  28. I bough the 56 Gun Metal, normal bounce last spring. I call the club – surgical, it is like throwing darts at the pin. I have a great feel and confidence with this iron. From 100 yards in I am all over the pin. The ball stops or spins back a few inches, which I intend so I can get aggressive on the ball. You really have to have soft greens to spin this ball back a good distance. I’m going to buy a 52 and then a 60 Vokey for those hard fall greens.

  29. I have a 60 and a 56 degree. I bought them because I read about how easy it was to backup the ball. I used them all summer and I couldn’t get them to backup at all. Once i got use to them and figured out what distance I got out of them I really like them. Also I like the looks of them.

  30. great wedge, i love it has taken my handicap from 18 to 15 in a couple of weeks. My favourite wedge to date as i can conistently stick piches to within a coupla metres. good review though eric.

  31. If the club is a CG 12 or CG 10, does the number reflect the bounce? If not how do you determine the bounce?

  32. CG 10 and CG 12 are models of wedges. The bounce is 1 2 or 3 dot which reflects the gegree of bounce low med or hign.

  33. 😀 Do you feel this is a good wedge for a 25 handicapper. I am trying to find both a 56 and 60 degree that will help me score lower.

  34. Try the CG14 Model, same club a little more forgiving, many of the pros are using them. They have a little dampner on the back and are more like a cavity back with the same zip grooves.

  35. After reading this review I was really considering going with the vokey instead of the cg12. But after playing my first round with my cleveland cg12 RTG DSG oil can wedges I am sooooooo glad I picked the cleveland. His review really makes people wonder about the spin rate these wedges produce, I am not sure which ball he was playing but I was playing a Callaway HX and had to take spin off so it wouldn’t spin off the green. As soon as I switched to a pro v 1x it was like I was playing yard darts, these wedges are amazing. Don’t shy away from these based on this review if you get them you will not be sorry. And for those of you who say oh this guy must just natually put a lot of spin on his balls, that is not the case, the reason I couldn’t decide vetween the vokey and cg12 is because I and fairly confident in being able to control spin on my wedges but it is possible to take spin off but if you get a wedge that just doesn’t spin it makes it hard to have any confidence in it what so ever. Hope this helps anybody who is on the fence like I was.

  36. Just got the 58deg version – went round the course this morning im not getting much back spin but the ball stops dead, love it already!

  37. Hey Spin-doctor….I prefer the ball to consistantly stop where it lands on the green like a DART….I don’t need to factor in another variable of how many feet its going to spin backwards….(looks awfully cool though)….I love the weight, look and feel of my satin chrome G10’s am about to buy some closeout G12’s

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