Expert Review: Cleveland Huntington Beach Soft #10.5 PutterPublished on 07/30/2023 · 8 min readThis review is my honest opinion of the putter, which I tested for one day in July of 2023.
All photos courtesy of Calvin Lieberman
About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the putter, which I tested for one day in July of 2023.
The Cleveland HB Soft #10.5 is a great putter for any mid to high-handicap player who is looking for a simple but high-class mallet for their bag. The only things that would keep it out of the bag of a low handicapper are the lack of customization options and the general lack of feeling innate to a fully stainless steel putter.
About the club I tested
- Model: Cleveland HB Soft #10.5
- Shape: Mallet
- Hosel Neck: Straight Neck
- Balance Point: Face
- Shaft Length: 34 inches
- Grip Type: Oversized
- Finish: Stainless Steel
- Average Score: 79
- Handicap: 6
- Experience: 20 Years of playing golf
- Right/Left-Handed: Right-Handed
- Stroke Type: Straight Back
- Golf Ball Used: ProV1
- Height: 5’11”
- When I tested the putter: July 2023
- Days tested: 1
- Where I’ve used it: Practice Green
- Weather and Wind Conditions: It is 117° here in Arizona, and everything is dry. The green complexes are dry from the grass to the dirt.
- Green Speed: 9 Stimpmeter
- Grass Type: Bermuda Greens
How it performs
What I was looking for
Recently I decided that it was time to switch away from a blade-style putter that I have been using for years and years. The only reason I use a blade is the vanity of liking how it looks in my bag; otherwise, I really struggle with it from virtually any distance. So, I have been looking for a mid-mallet with some classic styling that will give me the performance I need without breaking the bank and be tolerable to look at in the set.
Why I chose to test this club
This putter stood out to me for two reasons: first, its simple aesthetic, and second, its obvious quality for price when compared to the other options. As part of the process of looking for something new, I have tested many, many putters. This one outperformed most of the higher-end options, but it didn't quite feel the way I wanted it to.
What I love about it
- Forgiveness: For all of its utter lack of feel, it has the forgiveness of a patron saint. Even off-square strikes with the face result in incredibly straight putts. If I had to pick a moniker for this club, it would be Lag King. The ball may not always go straight in the hole, but power regulation and line are easy to get right in a general sense.
- Weight: The weight of the HB Soft #10.5 is not as heavy as I thought it would be. I swung the #8 and the #12 because of testing the line, and I would say the #10.5 is closer to the #8 than the #12 in weight and feel. The weight of this putter is evenly distributed. However, I wish the relief cuts were perhaps five degrees steeper to give it some movement, even as it seems very blocky.
- Alignment: This putter shines through in forgiveness, and I think it is entirely due to how easy it is to line it up. I found myself checking where the hole was fewer times with this putter and worrying less about the technical elements of putting, instead just letting them rip like I was a kid again. If golfers have issues aligning this putter, I suspect they simply have issues with alignment. If there were one feature this putter was designed around, it would be ease of alignment.
- Length: The mallet length is fairly standard. It isn’t so big to be oversized, but it sits behind and backs the ball at address. Personally, I prefer a more in-line look where the face is about a ball and a half wide instead of larger like this. Still, the relief cuts on the shaping go a long way to covering its faults.
- Aesthetic Appeal: I think this putter is slightly oversized, but that is where my aesthetic complaints end. The putter is classically styled, focusing on keeping the design manageable. It stays simple while communicating its technical underpinnings, which is very impressive.
- Balance: The mallet shape of the HB Soft #10.5 is supremely well-balanced. Putting it between my hands was like assuming the form of a pendulum scaffolding. I was really impressed at how, despite the weight, the putter was not hard to get going on the backstroke, something I credit to the balance and even weighting.
Issues I’ve encountered
- Face Feel: The feel of this putter is its only main detractor. It's positively dead in my hands. There is very little feedback beyond a dull thud, even on the firmest strikes. The #10.5 loses the tact the lower-weight putters in the line have. Someone can hit a ball far from the center until they reach the toe or heel. It's all the same feeling.
- Grip Feel: Here is another area where this putter struggles. The oversized grip trend is fine for those who like them, but for those who don't, it is becoming harder and harder to test putters because it's becoming the norm. I saw one of the HB Soft 8s with a Pistol grip; otherwise, the entire line was in oversized SuperStroke grips. I can't say enough how much I despise the hand positioning of the SuperStroke grips; why anyone would want to hold a putter like a burrito is beyond me. The Pistol grip is of high quality but hard to find.
- Customization: The HB Soft line offers virtually no custom options, largely due to their effort to keep the price down. Unfortunately, no customization options make it hard if I’m even looking for a different head cover option or a name stamped in the back.
Best Putt or Round with this Putter
I am not someone who makes a lot of putts. In fact, to some degree, my entire game is built around not having to make long putts. But typically, if I find myself outside five feet, I mentally give the hole to whoever I play with. My skill is so low, and my memory’s catalog of putting failures is so full that I struggle to pick a line to make a putt, instead opting to get it close enough but still below the hole that I don't have to worry about three putts.
When I started testing this putter, I noticed everything, and I mean everything rolled past the hole. I had already tested the #12 that day, so while I would normally be inclined to say it must have been the weight, that couldn't have been the case because the heavier putter didn't have such a startling shift in performance. So after I noticed that I tried something I never do, I tried to make a putt from 30 feet. The craziest thing happened; the ball slowly rolled toward the hole and then fell in. So, I thought I would try again and bang. Another fell. With newfound confidence, I whirled around, looking for a further hole, and found one. A lone practice flag was all the way across the practice green—shoved up impossibly close to the edge. I lined it up, let it fly, and smiled ear to ear as it gently worked toward the hole and fell in on the last possible roll.
Value for the money vs. other options
After extensively testing the entire line of HB Soft putters, they have become the unit of measurement I judge other putters by. Let me explain. These putters retail at about $150 and are packed with technology and features. So is it half as nice as a Scotty Cameron that starts around $300? No. The Scotty isn't nearly twice as nice as the Cleveland; it might only be marginally nicer.
If the value is the primary concern in looking for a new flatstick, this or any of the Cleveland HB Soft putters is exactly where one should be. They are incredible putters that seem to exist largely as the anchor holding the industry’s runaway premium pricing in check.
Despite its dead feel in the hands, the HB Soft #10.5 putter proved highly forgiving, allowing for straight putts even on off-center strikes. Its weight distribution was even, although I wished it had some slightly different aesthetic choices, like steeper relief cuts in the back to add more of a sense of movement. The putter excelled in alignment, making it easy to line up shots accurately. While I dislike the prevalence of oversized SuperStroke grips, the quality Pistol grip was a rare and fortuitous find that made testing far more enjoyable.
Customization options are limited to non-existent. This limits choices to stamp or have a putter personalized. Still, I suspect the vast majority of the market is not interested in that and would rather appreciate the price point that standardization allows for compared to alternatives like Scotty Cameron or Bettinardi.
During testing, I experienced a breakthrough in my putting performance with the HB Soft #10.5 putter. Previously resigned to conceding long putts, I confidently sank putts from longer distances. This newfound confidence led to memorable successes. Overall the HB Soft #10.5 was an exceptional offering from one of the game’s most trusted brands.