Pros: Two loft options (9 and 10.5), and each head has 12 settings to further tune loft, lie and face angle. A weight port in the back of the head accepts three variable screws to adjust swing weight.
Cons: Only one stock shaft option, a “made-for” Matrix Ozik 6Q3.
Bottom line: The 588 Custom targets golfers looking for a more penetrating flight than the company’s 588 Altitude. Its classy look, solid performance and adjustability could make it the best Cleveland driver to date.
In 2013, Cleveland marketed the Cleveland Classic XL Custom as its premium driving club. The Classic marked the advent of adjustable hosels for Cleveland drivers. The 2014 iteration of the premium driver, the Cleveland 588 Custom, added an adjustable swing weight screw in the back of the club head to the adjustable hosel feature. A 3-gram weight comes pre-installed, but 7- and 11-gram weights are also available for golfers who wish to increase head weight. The 588 Custom measures 460cc and is available in two lofts: 9 and 10.5 degrees for righties and lefties.
The club is outfitted with a standard Matrix Ozik 6Q3 shaft. The 6Q3 is a mid-launch shaft, a common installation allowing a company to satisfy a wide spectrum of customers. It has a stock length of 45.5 inches, published lie of 60 degree and a total weight of about 305 grams. Twenty-three other shafts are available through custom order.
The fitting guide that accompanies the 588 Custom reveals the following ranges of adjustability: face angle may vary from 2.25 degrees closed to 2.25 open; loft may be adjusted from 1.5 degrees low to 1.5 degrees high; and lie angle may extend from 58.5 to 61.5 degrees.
The Cleveland 588 Custom driver sells for $349.99.
I tested both the Cleveland 588 Custom and 588 Altitude driver (which I reviewed earlier this year) on a Trackman launch monitor. The 588 Custom was set to 10.5 degrees to match the 10.5-degree loft of the 588 Altitude, which has a fixed hosel. I hit a dozen balls with each driver, and discounted the two outliers (one that I crushed deeper than the others and the one that would have been an automatic reload, a three-from-the-tee).
Here is how the numbers shook out for my 95-to-100 mph swing:
- Average launch angle was 10.6 degrees.
- Ball speed averaged 142.6 mph.
- Smash factor was consistently at 1.49 (better than my 5 handicap predicts).
- Spin rate averaged 2116.
- Average length was 244 yards.
There were noticeable differences between the performance of the 588 Custom and the 588 Altitude driver. While the Altitude’s average ball speed and smash factor were slightly lower, 141.7 mph and 1.46, respectively, its average launch angle was a full 2 degrees higher! That big of a differential seems like a head scratcher, but it can be attributed to my tendency to contact the 588 Altitude driver higher on the face. The higher contact point also helps explain why the Altitude’s average spin rate was just 2300 rpm, only 200 rpm more than the Custom’s. The higher launch and and relatively lower spin gave me about 10 more yards with the 588 Altitude driver than the 588 Custom (253.6 yards on average compared to 244 yards).
My experience with the two drivers shows the importance of custom fitting, and the thoughtful manner in which Cleveland designed the two drivers. As expected, Cleveland Staff members have gravitated toward the 588 Custom driver because of its lower center of gravity that helps lower spin for maximum distance. But for average golfers the shallower-faced 588 Altitude driver might be the ticket, as it can produce a higher launch and is designed to be more forgiving.
Looks and Feel
I liked the sound of club-ball contact with the 588 Custom. Having grown up playing wooden drivers, I lean toward a quieter click and the Cleveland 588 Custom delivers that muffled sound on center and off-center hits.
As for aesthetics, the 588 Custom driver eliminated the shield and large number that was on the sole of the Classic XL Custom driver, which gives the club a more aerodynamic look. On the crown, the 588 Custom has a gold alignment aid on the back of the head perpendicular to the line of flight. A simple alignment aid on the front of the driver would have been more helpful to me, but the gold line around the perimeter is a nice way to keep the driver looking clean without totally abandoning an alignment aid.
The stock grip on the 588 Custom driver is a Golf Pride Tour 45. It has a softer, slightly-spongier feel than the Tour 25 that comes standard on the 588 Altitude driver. Cleveland also offers a nice headcover with the 588 Custom, which is leather with a tug belt that aids in its removal. The leather upper has thickness to it, offering reassurance that your expensive drive head is safe from nicks and dents when not in use. Any sky marks are your fault! There is nothing garish about the head cover’s coloring; it’s black with gold and white highlights that characterize the Cleveland look.
My Trackman session with the Cleveland 588 Custom revealed that my results with driver were enviable: all balls within the in-bounds grid and 60 percent in my normal 240 yards-plus zone (reaching all the way to 270). But I’m a sucker for a club that compensates for my less-gifted swings, and that club is the Cleveland 588 Altitude. For early-season rounds, I’ll have it in my bag over the 588 Custom.
Were I on a mission to purchase the 588 Custom, I would run through every available shaft option. Why? The positive, outlier drive that I discarded reached 280 yards with carry and roll, a full 15 yards longer than my other best drive. I’d be foolish to think that I couldn’t reach that number with more consistency if the shaft were synchronized perfectly with my swing.
Thanks to Kevin Hoffstetter and Donna Henrich of Woods To Wedges, Inc. (Williamsville, NY) for the use of their Trackman studio and their assistance in capturing and tabulating driver swing data.