Review: Cleveland 588-TT and 588-MT IronsForgiveness; where art thou?
(588-TT 5 Iron Cavity)
Why do I love golf? The reasons are many, as I am sure is true for you. One aspect I think we can all recognize is how different we, as golfers, can be day to day, along with the course conditions we play. Sometimes, our swing is a little “off,” and we seek reprieve with some clubs that just might help us beat the little white ball around easier that day. Marketed as a forgiving “players iron,” the Cleveland 588-TT (or, “Tour Trajectory,”) helped me get my 2013 season off to a more forgiving start.
(588-MT 3 Iron Cavity)
The 588-TT is a good looking set. Think of them as more of a “pro” style game improvement iron. The heads themselves are fairly large, with a progressive blade length which gets longer for more forgiveness in the long irons. A unique aspect of the TT’s is their constant face height throughout the set. In the pitching wedge, this gives it a smaller, more compact look heel to toe, with the thick topline reaching upwards to the toe at a steep angle. The shorter irons look workable, with moderate offset amounts. The long irons, the heads are quite large and look very forgiving. My set consisted of the 4-PW in the TT’s, and Cleveland included the 588-MT (Mid Trajectory) 3 and 4 long irons, which are more hybrid-like and resemble a driving iron. There is ample perimeter weighting, and the center of gravity is pushed rearward for easier launch, despite strong loft angles. (Pitching wedge comes in at 44 degrees of loft.)
(588-TT Pitching Wedge at address)
The 588-TT’s and MT’s were paired with the stock Cleveland Traction 85 gram steel shaft in stiff flex. This is admittedly a much lighter steel shaft than I am accustomed to playing, but I wanted to see what the performance was like, given so many game improvement iron sets on the market have similar specs. Speed-wise, the stiff flex suited me well and kept up nicely, pulling off a number of quality shots. I was not as accurate with the long irons as I was the short irons, and some of this I attribute to the over-length nature of the playing specs of the long irons. The 5 iron, for example, progresses to a length that is a full half inch longer than my typical 38.25” playing specs. At 6’2”, they were a little longer than I was comfortable with. +1/4” specs placed the PW at my usual 36”, but the lengths get progressively longer, most recognizably after the 7 iron. The net effect was a looser feeling shaft by the time I got to the long irons. Still, the swingweights came in at a respectable D2 on my set with good tolerances and overall build quality. The grips were installed nicely, and no epoxy or other eyesores were present. If I were to change anything, I would have preferred to have this set built to my typical lengths in the longer irons, as I think they would play more consistently.
Feel-wise, I have nothing to report but good things with both the 588-TT and MT irons. The “face forged” construction, along with the cavity dampening system, really gives both models a nice soft “click” sensation at impact, with the thinner faces giving them a hot and lively feel. Club for club, the distances were comparable to my other sets. The higher launching mid kick shafts seem to offset the stronger lofts for me to some degree, and the net result was a high flight with slightly excessive spin. Downwind, I hit many quality shots, but into or cross wind, the spin levels seemed to keep them from holding their line effectively. I have no doubt the flight would be stronger for me with different shafts. But for a lightweight, 85 grams steel shaft, I must admit my results were better than expected. (My driver swingspeed is around 110 MPH.) If you are in the market for a set with lighter shafts, these seem to perform well. I enjoyed nice versatility around the greens as well, with the lighter shafts allowing good speed through the ball for chipping and bump and runs, and perceptible “check” to the ball with the active nature of the shaft tips. Harkening back, I could feel just a hint of my old TA3 Form Forged set in the forged face construction and the cavity dampening system.
(588-TT 5 iron Pocket Cavity)
If you are interested in more forgiveness in your long irons, the 588 series is designed to mix and match as desired. I was glad Cleveland sent the 588-MT’s in the 3 and 4 irons, as they proved to be very interesting. They almost remind me of the Cleveland “Niblicks” from a few years ago in their profile. The low height of the face makes them look especially easy to launch. However, I was very surprised just how much the MT’s lived up to their mid trajectory namesake. They too elicited a nice soft “click” sensation at impact with just a slightly hollow resonance. I hit some very good approach shots from the fairway on par 5’s, as well as some good tee shots on long par 3’s with the MT’s. The length of the shafts, again, was pretty long, and added to some inconsistency. The MT heads, however, like the TT’s, are a .370” hosel, which would allow for re-shafts with any number of hybrid shafts on the market. This is something I am admittedly curious about trying in the MT’s. Despite their offset values being greater, the low profile of the face with the offset makes them look easy to hit at address, and they proved easy to get airborne. The flight was fairly flat, and the apexes never too high, living up to the mid trajectory namesake. I was impressed with how closely the feel resembled that of the 588-TT’s, and this adds to the appeal of mixing the styles in the 588 series.
(588-MT 4 Iron, left, and 588-TT 4 Iron, right.)
(588-MT 3 Iron at address.)
What would I change? A few minor things are all that I would need altered to bag this set as “gamers.” I’d make them more traditional in their playing lengths for greater accuracy. Being there is not really a bridge between the 588 Forged Cavity Backs in the Cleveland lineup, I may have made the 588-TT slightly more of a “players” GI offering, especially with respect to offering taper tip .355” iron shafts that are more typical of a “players” set. (I see some .355” offerings in custom, which we’ll presume are shimmed at the factory.) The TT’s will fit a wide variety of players, but lower handicaps may find them just a little large to look down at. I may have given them a different name as well. We know the 588 is the bread and butter namesake of Cleveland, but the historical cache wears off the more a company uses a name. (And these in no way remind me of a 588 wedge.) I always liked the “Tour Action” name Cleveland used years ago, and it may have fit nicely with the “Classic” woods theme. (Oh well. No one asked me.)
(588-TT 7 Iron at address.)
(588-TT 7 Iron offset)
In a crowded market for game improvement irons, Cleveland has a solid offering in the 588-TT and MT. Very good feel, forgiveness, and some workability is rolled into this design, and the flexibility of mixing and matching head styles to suite your needs is an excellent idea. Pay attention to the specs you order, and try to demo the different styles if you can to determine your ideal setup. They are a subtle, subdued looking set, but just might surprise you with their excellent feel. Like their ad slogan, these might stay “below the radar” based on looks, but may not stay there based on their feel. Michael White
Independent Equipment Reviewer