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Cleveland 588 Altitude Driver Review

Cleveland Altitude Driver (3)

50 Word or Less

Ultra-light.  Great forgiveness and ball speed across the face.  A must-try if you’re looking to regain lost distance.

Cleveland Altitude Driver (11)

Introduction

Cleveland’s message on drivers has been extremely consistent over the last three to four years: Lighter is Longer.  While other companies have gone away from that message only to bring it back later, Cleveland has continued shaving grams off their clubs to bring regular golfers the most distance possible.

The latest driver from Cleveland Golf is the 588 Altitude.  Watch the promo video HERE and you’ll see what it’s all about: this is a driver built for the guys who pay to play golf, not the guys who get paid to play golf.  So does it really deliver “Distance Made Easy” for regular golfers?  We put it to the test to find out.

Cleveland Altitude Driver (5)

Looks

The Altitude driver is pretty middle of the road in terms of its looks.  The look at address neither disguises nor accentuates its 460cc size.  The face isn’t super deep, nor is it terribly long from heel to toe; its size is most noticeable in the face-to-back dimension.

The crown graphics on the Altitude are pretty minimal, just enough to make it look a bit different than every other black-crowned driver on the racks.  Similarly, the sole is understated with lots of open space and a dialed-down color scheme.

Cleveland Altitude Driver (2)

Sound & Feel

Personally, the Altitude gets mixed reviews on the sound.  The tone is good – neither high-pitched nor low, it’s a mid-ranged crack.  However, the Altitude is one of the louder drivers that I’ve tested this year.

If you think about the target audience for this club, going louder makes sense.  The louder sound makes the driver feel hotter, so if you’re going after recreational players seeking more distance, it’s a win.

Cleveland Altitude LM Data

Performance

I’ll be honest: I was not expecting the Altitude to work well for me, at all.  I’m a strong, athletic guy who prefers heavier clubs.  The Altitude and I are not an obvious fit.  But, after a little adjustment period, I was surprised at just how well the Altitude performed for me.

The first thing that I noticed about the Altitude was how good the ball speed was all over the face…and believe me, at first, I was all over the face.  Unless you get way onto the heel or toe, the loss in ball speed is really minimal.

Most surprising for me were the spin numbers.  When I hear that a club is aimed at the “average golfer,” I expect it to be a spin machine.  You can see that while the Altitude does spin a little more than my personal set up, it’s far from high spin.

Ultimately, going to something this light weight is not optimal for me right now.  I did feel that I was able to keep my speed up without as much effort, but on bad swings my accuracy suffered a little too much.  Could I adjust and get better with it over time?  Absolutely.  The numbers here are a short term snapshot of just one player.  I think that for the guy who already prefers light to average clubs, the transition to the Altitude would be very smooth and the increased forgiveness would be a real benefit.

Cleveland Altitude Driver (7)

Conclusion

For the golfer looking to regain some lost distance, the Cleveland Altitude is a no-brainer must-try.  It remains well balanced despite being ultra-light, and it delivers good ball speed all over the face.  Kudos to Cleveland for continuing to refine a concept they clearly believe in rather than jumping on every “innovation” bandwagon.

Price and Specs

The Cleveland 588 Altitude Driver retails for $299.

It is available in lofts of 9°, 10.5°, and 12° (10.5° only for lefties).

The lightweight Matrix Radix Altitude is the stock shaft.  Other shafts are available through custom order.

Watch the Video

Matt Saternus
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18 Comments

  1. Thanks for the review. You say that the grip weights only 25 grams. I play with lamkin Crossline midsize grips. These weight 63 grams according to the Lamkin website. How much would the swingweight of the Altitude driver be affected if I replaced the stock 25 gr grip with my preferrd 63 gr grip?

    • Matt Saternus

      Bernard,

      Thanks for the question. According to some swing weight calculators I found online, you’d lose between 6 and 8 swing weight points with that grip change.

      Best,

      Matt

  2. Thanks,

    Between 6 and 8 SW points in huge.

  3. Tony DiPalma

    Hello Matt- I found your video to be very helpful. I am retired and swinging a King Cobra SS 350. I play with a 17 handicap and play about 4 times a week. I have noticed that my drives a shorter by about 10-15 yards. There are a lot of drivers on the market but tend to favor the 588 altitude but am wondering what shaft would be best for me. My current driver has a reg flex shaft…..do you think I should try a senior flex at this point. Thanks for your help. Tony D

    • Matt Saternus

      Tony,

      Thank you, and I’m glad you found the video helpful. If you’re looking to regain those 10-15 yards, you really need to be fit. I think you should certainly be open to a senior flex, but you may find that in certain shafts a regular could be best. If you have one near you, I would recommend checking out Club Champion. They can mix and match any head with any shaft to find the best combination for your swing.

      Best,

      Matt

  4. Cedric Theofanous

    With all the low spinning high launching heads out this year I am disappointed that cleveland only got you down to 2700 spin. Like you said, that’s not bad but with nike coming in under 2000 and taylormade at 2000 you’d have to be giving up distance going with this club.

    • Matt Saternus

      Cedric,

      First, a quick disclaimner: I don’t claim all the numbers from one review to the next to be apples-to-apples comparisons. Sometimes we may use a slightly different ball, and, of course, my swing is better some days than others.

      More to your point, it’s important to understand who this driver is targeted at. Low spin is good only to a point. This is a super lightweight club designed for players with less clubhead speed, and those players often need more spin.

      -Matt

  5. I was able to try the Altitude and a few other drivers recently. My swing characteristics had my optimal set up at 11 or 12 deg and regular or possibly A flex with Nike, Cobra and TM to name a few. However, Cleveland had my optimal as 10.5 deg and stiff shaft. It is noticeable that the Altitude “stiff” is not your typical stiff shaft but something softer. This combo worked exceptionally well for me with my 87-90 mph swing speed. There is something special about this driver for the average guy I think, but the flex and loft are a little different when compared to other drivers.

  6. I am like Bernard with larger hands and require mid sized grips. Oh, I very much enjoyed your video and happy I stumbled upon it and Bernard’s question. It appears that a light weight overall club would not be for me. My swing speed is 85-95mph on any given day and I have a smooth tempo. I am still using my Taylor Made R5, regular shaft, and is heavy throughout. Do you have an opinion for a driver where my mid size grip MIGHT be a good fit? Heavier shaft? What gram weight in regular shaft? Just looking for some direction. I hope to hear from you. Thank you
    Jon
    Janesville, WI.

    • Matt Saternus

      Jon,

      I would strongly recommend taking a drive down to Club Champion and working with one of their fitters to find the best driver for you. There are far too many variables at work for anyone to be able to make a good recommendation based on swing speed, etc. You really need to swing the exact club for yourself to know if it will work.

      Best,

      Matt

  7. All else the same, how would feel and trajectory change when switching from a 25g grip to a 60g grip on a driver? Would this raise the balance point, lower the trajectory, and increase feel?

    • Matt Saternus

      Mike,

      You’ll lost a substantial amount of swing weight making that change. The balance point will move towards the hands and you’ll feel the club head less. As far as trajectory, there’s no way to know how that will affect a given player.

      -Matt

  8. Vincent Walter

    I am having trouble with elbows arms etc, but playing golf again (hell it may help). Anyway. I am having trouble getting my Ping G5 12degree to 200yds (sometimes 170 yards). THEY GO HIGH and plop.. I know it could be mostly me. I never could (nor should I been sold) my old Titlest 8.5 degree Titanium Club (25 yrs old)

    There is a “sale” on a 9 degree altitude. Is it the club for my reduced strength? I know go get “fit”. Currently spending loads of moola on my high school daughter’s game…. Her 2 season old TM G1 is looking worn out. Just got her fit with some Callaway XR driver set… ca ching.. but she’s having fun and playing really well. Thanks

    • Matt Saternus

      Vincent,

      It looks to me like you already know the answer to your question – you have to get fit. At a minimum, go give it a try and see what the ball flight looks like.

      Best,

      Matt

      • Vincent Walter

        Reading I find perhaps one of those “mini” clubs might fit my swing abilities.

        Here is a funny, my last range ball last night with my G5 and my left leg popped up off the ground and I fell over. The sole on my FootJoy’s gave way.

        They say it’s not the arrow but the indian, so should I golf barfoot now?! I hate golfing badly but love to golf…

  9. Just recently purchased the 588 Altitude 9.0 degree driver (S. flex), the only issue I have is that I’m having a lot of pull (duck-hook) shots compared to my TaylorMade Burner 9.5 degree S-Flex (superfast) 50 grams with Winn lite standard grip. I’m sure with time and adjustments I may be able to get the performance I’m looking for. Hope to hear from you. Thanks

    • Matt Saternus

      Vinnie,

      Sounds like either the shaft is a poor fit or the face angle on the 588 is more closed than on your Burner.

      Best,

      Matt

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