Building on the success of its New Face of Spin campaign with last year's 588 RTX wedges, judging from what I saw during my half-hour testing session with them on sun-kissed Watford turf on Friday, the new RTX 2.0 wedge is only going to enhance the brand's reputation as one of the leaders in wedge technology.
To put into perspective just how popular the RTX wedge has been with consumers, who no doubt took note of our in-depth TOTB: Wedges Test 2014, Cleveland Golf explained to us in a presentation that the 588 RTX wedge has helped the brand grow its market share in the UK wedge sector from 9% to 29% from when it launched back in March 2013.
588 RTX 2.0 is only going to take things to the next level... you'd imagine.
So what's changed?
Well the new RTX 2.0 wedges have received subtle makeovers through a number of enhanced technological features and by offering golfers even more versatility of choice, all of which has been achieved through hundreds of hours of testing and feedback generated by the world’s top players such as Graeme McDowell.
From all this research three distinct wedge grinds have been developed in two different head designs that are proven to optimise the short game for players of all abilities.
For the improving wedge player, a more forgiving cavity back design, and for the better player, a traditional muscle-back head shape.
Testing out both traditional muscle-back in black satin and CB in chrome, there's no question the former had all my attention - okay, there is slight favouritism as I do currently bag the 588 RTX muscle-backs.
First Look: Cleveland Golf 588 RTX 2.0 wedges
Starting with the better-player RTX 2.0 wedge (also available in Tour Satin), the classic tear-drop design and tapered hosel hasn't changed. You've just got 'RTX 588' now stamped on two separate lines as opposed to one and the CG logo moving to the corner instead of being splashed on the front.
Then again, was there any reason to mess with perfection?
The new black satin finish I tested in 56-degree just adds a sense of flair and appears to frame the ball nicely. It also features a wide sole towards the heel, which becomes narrower near the toe.
In terms of feel, this cast wedge is a little heavier than some other premium wedges on the market, with swingweights ascending as the lofts increase, but it does feel much more buttery than last year's offering which is a big plus - it's certainly much softer feeling than the Forged 588 Wedge of 2012. It just goes to prove that manufacturing processes don't always equal better feel.
In terms of performance, the 588 RTX 2.0 is a very solid blade, generating consistent yardage and an excellent spin rate both out of the fairway, intermediate and first cut of rough. With the 56-degree, I was achieving a carry around the 100 yard mark and decent spin rate of 9500 RPM (we'll look to provide a full data comparison between both RTX and RTX 2.0 in the coming weeks).
Of the Tour-shape and the CB version, there was obviously more spin and a softer feel coming from the former when catching the ball purely out the middle, but given the versatility on offer in the RTX 2.0 line, if fitted to the correct specs, the CB will certainly provide you with the forgiveness you've come to expect but with an added degree of creativity. The RTX 2.0 CB offering is also much sleeker than a typical cavity-back wedge, and when placed in the address position, looks nearly identical to the blade version.
The Rotex face has been enhanced further to offer the maximum surface roughness allowed by USGA, achieved through three advancements in the R&D lab. Fourth generation Tour Zip grooves, says Cleveland Golf, combine 15% sharper grooves and a deeper micro milling to provide superior spin on all shots from the rough, while an advanced 2-pass micro milling pattern ensures increased friction and more spin, especially from inconsistent lies. You've also got Cleveland's laser milling on hand to fine-tune the micro-roughness for more consistency and texture across the face.
Simply put, you've got sexy looks, an enhanced surface pattern, larger grooves and laser milling, all of which combines to impart maximum spin. Other than ask it to hole every shot you look at, what more could you ask for in a wedge?
The biggest difference to the RTX 2.0 line, however, is versatility. Although the company has provided its fan base with both MB and CB wedges for a while now, previous Cleveland wedge lines have typically limited the larger variety of bounce options to just MB players. Not any more.
With RTX 2.0 wedges, bounce and grind selections among both MB and CB mirror each other. Those who seek more forgiveness with the CB, for example, no longer have to sacrifice versatility.
And remember, with Cleveland fitting carts and demo day programs available, figuring out suitable combination of forgiveness, bounce and loft is accessible to almost all golfers in the market.
Hat tip to Cleveland Golf.
To make it even easier for consumers, Cleveland Golf has even simplified the potentially confusing subject matter of 'grinds' by pairing the different grind offerings with a simple dot system. For example, the more dots on the sole of the wedge, the higher the bounce angle (this means the less material that has been ground away).
Actually, take that hat off.
I was testing out the 1-dot wedge, which effectively means it has the lowest bounce in the line and the most aggressive grind (trailing edge grind + maximum heel and toe grind). I was finding the 1-dot version made the wedge easier to manipulate for things like open face shots but also provided me with stability on those full-blooded 100-yard shots.
Those looking for a wedge that imparts maximum spin on all shots will surely want to give the 588 RTX 2.0 a try, whether they’ve previously been fans of Cleveland’s wedges or not.
Quite simply, timeless beauty and versatile design for an all-around wedge performance no matter what shot is required. The innovative groove and face technology in Cleveland’s 588 RTX 2.0 wedge make the club a serious consideration for mid-to-low handicappers, and the the CB version will appeal more to the higher capper.
Cleveland Golf has essentially doubled the number of choices available to its fan base and shown that one doesn't necessarily have to sacrifice creativity around the greens when in need of a little forgiveness. That will prove a big plus in that camp, no doubt.
Click here for Cleveland Golf 588 RTX 2.0 owner reviews