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Cleveland 588 MT and TT irons: Editor Review
Summary: These beautifully skirt the line between players irons and a GI in performance and appearance.
Straight and solid
Pros: The higher-launching, more forgiving MT irons and lower-launching TT irons blend together nicely to allow a player to mix and match a set. Both sets have better performance on mishits than most players irons, and a solid feel on center strikes. There’s real springiness to the forged faces — especially the MT irons, which perform like mini hybrids.
Cons: Less workability than many players irons. Blade enthusiasts won’t love the thick top lines of the MTs, and the TTs are a bit bulky for a “tour” iron.
Bottom Line: The 588 TT irons are a legitimate step forward from the 588 Forged line, adding distance and performance on shots struck both on and off center. Most players will sacrifice the modicum of playability for irons which look and feel this good. The opportunity to add more forgiving hybrid-esque long irons (the MTs) is a significant advantage, as well.
Following up the 588 Forged CB and 588 Forged MB irons, and several years removed from the Black Pearl era of Cleveland Irons, Cleveland Golf released the 588 MT (medium trajectory) and TT (tour trajectory) irons for 2013.
The company intends for the irons (as well as the super game-improvement Altitude series) to be fully interchangeable with one another so golfers can, as Cleveland says, “build the perfect set.” Thus, I reviewed the 3 iron (19 degrees) and 4 irons (21 degrees) from the MT line, in conjunction with the 5 iron through pitching wedge (44 degrees) in the TT line.
The MT irons (above) are used by several of Cleveland Golf’s staff players, including Keegan Bradley, Charlie Beljan, David Toms and Graeme McDowell (Click each player’s name to see a WITB with full specs and photos).
Both the MT and TT models feature multi-material vibration-dampening inserts that are intended to provide a more consistent feel across the club face. Both models also are equipped with Cleveland’s Forged Face Technology, by which a forged face is essentially inserted into the golf club.
The MTs feature full-hollow construction, which creates “advanced internal weighting that adds forgiveness and promotes a lower, deeper center of gravity for optimal launch and … distance.” The line also features progressive blade heights, moving from shallower in the long irons to taller in the shorter clubs, while the TTs have a constant blade height and a variable blade length.
The club’s forged face insert is something of a trampoline, and initial ball speeds are quite high. However, the company has improved its way to a potential fault, as the pitching wedge is almost too hot to use around the green.
Between the hot face and the stronger lofts, players will likely be picking up a few yards with each iron. Happily, trajectories shouldn’t be markedly lower, due to the the CG and undercut design.
Both the MT and the TT are remarkably forgiving: Mishits fly father and straighter, and that isn’t just talk. Unless you need to work the ball like Bubba Watson, you’re not going to suffer from the decrease in playability compared to, say, previous 588 Forged models.
The 588 MT irons really get up in the air, which will be a benefit for the vast majority of golfers. However, better players will want to stick with the TTs as their long irons.
The TT’s rounded sole and compact design, in particular, make it a versatile and functional club from the rough, and it’s likely to outperform competitors from the territories outside the fairway due to both sole design and a face that ensures maximum distance on even the least convincing strikes of the golf ball.
Looks and feel
In the longer irons, the MTs are reminiscent of the old Mizuno Fli-Hi: long body and wide sole. Depending on playability and personal preference, this may be confidence-inspiring or annyoing. The TTs feature a substantial cavity, but it isn’t visible at address. As mentioned before, the top line of the clubs is wide, and is of comparable width to the TaylorMade RocketBladez irons.
The 588 MT irons have wider soles than the 588 TT irons, which lowers the center of gravity for a higher launch, but decreases versatility from the rough.
A similar aesthetic to the RTX CB wedge models is evident on the rear of the club, and there are suggestions of the 2008 Cleveland CG Golds/Reds in the design.
Cleveland’s claims about the vibration dampening effect of the insert held true, almost to a fault, as there was (not surprisingly) less feedback at impact than with most traditional players, although off-center strikes didn’t come with their usual sting.
The models demoed featured Cleveland’s Traction 85 S flex shafts, but a variety of options are available.
Additionally, the loft and lie chart is below. Predictably, the lofts are 3 to 4 degrees stronger than in the 588 CB irons and reflect the industry imperative of strengthening club lofts.
The elephant in the room with this year’s iron offerings for better players is Taylormade’s RocketBladez. So, this year, Cleveland moved away from the traditional look and construction of their 588 MB and 588 CB irons towards polymer and forged faced inserts.
The death nell of the forged iron may have sounded years ago, but with the adoption of the larger, longer-flyinh irons by the world’s best players, it seems that the “players iron” of today is a club that would have been positioned between players club and game improvement iron five years ago.
It is this spot that the Cleveland TT irons (and to a lesser degree, the MT irons) occupy. And if you’re anything other than the staunchest of blade purists, the Cleveland TT is worth your consideration. Likewise, if you aren’t contending for your club championship, a mixed set of the MT and TT irons will provide key benefits throughout the bag.
Another point of consideration in comparing Cleveland’s crop to their obvious competitor: the MT and TT lines both sell for $699, a price that’s below most of the competition.