Cleveland billed the 588 hybrid as the longest hybrid they have ever designed. Built on the name of their successful wedge range, I was eager to see how the new design would perform.
I got my hands on the 20.5° H3 588 hybrid and took it out on the range and the course to get a feel for the new looks and technology.
The first thing I noticed was the shape. To me the 588 hybrid resembles the spoon-like woods of golfing past. The shape stretches out from the hosel to a large, rounded toe that looked smooth and oversized behind the ball.
That being said, Cleveland tell me the head shape is actually more compact than their recent hybrids, a change designed to make the club more playable.
Perhaps the look at address is deceiving.
Anyone that has heard me discuss hybrid design before knows that I am not a fan of a noticeable offset. Manufacturers can alter the CG and weight to favour a right to left shape without the need for an ugly, set-back hosel.
For that reason, the Cleveland 588 sat beautifully behind the ball. It has very little offset at address and the long groove lines make it easy to align whilst also making the face and head appear slightly larger.
Other than minor cosmetic changes, the main difference in the 588 hybrid lies in its sole. Cleveland have added a weight screw in the back of the sole to draw the centre of gravity away from the face and help increase launch. They have also included their successful and patented "Gliderail".
Whilst it seemed very subtle in the 588 hybrid, the Gliderail is designed to improve interaction with the turf through two rails and subtle keel in the centre of the sole.
The Gliderail makes sense in my head, and I found it noticeable in past hybrids, but it didn't seem or feel as evident in the 588 model. Don't get me wrong, the performance and feel was impressive, but I didn't feel any additional help through the turf.
My thought is that the rails will help those golfers that really interact with the turf and need help stopping the club twisting or opening at impact.
Other than that, I was pretty impressed with the 588 hybrid. I wasn't sure what was necessarily new, or daring, or innovative about the design, but those questions were quickly forgotten once I'd hit a few buckets of balls.
The 588 hybrid feels powerful and consistent time after time and the hollow, thick noise at impact is better than most hybrids I've tried. Whilst Cleveland have designed this to launch a touch higher, I found the flight was quite penetrating, or mid-height at best, which I liked.
Cleveland's 588 brand has a long history of successful and popular clubs and I believe this will be yet another one. Whilst I still question why they would name a hybrid after a range of wedges, I can't question the performance of the hybrid. The simple, smooth looks are matched by a consistent, forgiving performance that will attract those players looking for a direct replacement for their long irons.
Good looks and equally good performance are hard to come by when it comes to the hybrid market, but Cleveland have proven to me that they have the knack for producing exactly that. If you are a mid-to-high handicapper that wants a simple, long-iron replacing hybrid, I'd recommend you take the 588 out for a test drive.