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.

Overview

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.

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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.

Performance

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).

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

Bottom Line

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.

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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.

Learn more from Cleveland GolfBuy Now on Amazon

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.

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7 COMMENTS

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  1. I played nine holes at Cutter Creek (Snow Hill) on Saturday and eighteen at Pine Crest (Lumberton) on Sunday in North Carolina. Used the Altitude at Cutter and the Custom at Pine Crest. I hit the daylights out of both clubs and feel comfortable keeping both/either in the bag for the next rounds.

    • Have now played 2 rounds and 4 range buckets with this 588 custom and I must say it is significantly shorter than the 905r that it replaced, however I am in the short stuff far more often. Loss of 15-18 yards but 4 more fir’s a round so far. I am happy. 18 handicap

    • Honestly, I didn’t going to last season thinking about Cleveland drivers. However, when I’ was fit by independent golf fitter, the matrix ozik black tie was selected as the best shaft for my swing. Of retail drivers, the Callaway RAZR Xtreme and Cleveland XL Custom were the only retail drivers that had the shaft available off the rack. I didn’t get along with the Callaway, but the Cleveland fit me like a glove.

  2. I am the proud owner of the 2013 Cleveland Classic XL Custom driver, and I believe that for retail consumers, the XL Custom is better than the 588 Custom:

    1. Spin Rate: Aside from the SLDR, the XL Custom was the lowest spinning driver head I hit last year. The newer iteration, the 588 Custom, spins more than my XL Custom with a Black Tie X flex shaft.

    2. Launch: The 588 Custom launches lower than the XL Custom per my golf swing. On the monitor, my XL Custom 9.0* launched 1.5* higher than the 588 Custom in the same loft and flex.

    3. Shaft Offerings: The XL Custom had 4 shafts available at retail: Fubuki, two Miyazakis, and my Black Tie. The 588 Custom only ships with a Matrix, thus eliminating a bit of the “custom” aspect.

    4. Length: My XL Custom was dead set off the rack at 45″ while the 588 Custom is 45.5″. While the length may lead to longer drives, there is a trade-off for a bit of control.

    Tour players exhibit low-spin characteristics in their golf swings; therefore, they do not need to play the lowest spinning driver possible. SLDR aside, many tour players play the higher spinning version of their sponsor’s offerings (913 D2, G25, Covert, etc.). As a result, I can argue (without evidence of fact) that Cleveland lowered the launch and increased the spin to make the driver more appealing to their Tour staff. However, for us amateurs, lower spin can contribute to adding both the distance we desire and the accuracy we need. Therefore, I argue that Cleveland Golf had an arguably better product for non-competitive amateurs last year, as golfers could be fit and find an immediate solution in stock (Titleist business model) at their local shop.

    Maybe I’m bitter that Cleveland abandoned the super deep face that allows me to tee it high and smack the crap out of it. Maybe I’m bitter that Cleveland abandoned the super cool old-school pleather barrel head cover. Maybe I’m bitter that Cleveland abandoned the clean black crown in place of an Overhaulin’-esque gold pinstripe. Maybe I’m bitter that Cleveland is marketing a removable weight in the back when the XL Custom in my office also has a removable weight in the back. Maybe I’m just bitter.

    Absence of sugar aside, the Cleveland Classic XL Custom is the best driver I’ve hit in my 14 years playing this great game. I had high hopes for its replacement, but I’m afraid this is akin to Caddyshack II. The sequel is inferior to the original.

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