Cleveland's 588 range of wedges started in 1988 and were the fifth model they created, hence the name. Since then they have sold over 10 million of them culminating in the Cleveland 588 RTX 2.0 wedge that has now been superseded by the Cleveland RTX-3.
A lot of the dimensions and features continue, but alas the iconic 588 name has been dropped in favour of the RTX of recent models that stands for the Rotex Face.
The third generation Rotex face features narrower and deeper Tour Zip grooves that are the same dimensions on every loft so they can fit an extra two on the face.
Cleveland say that the U shaped grooves have sharper edges because after the grooves are cut, they fill them with plastic to protect them before the face is sandblasted. Once that is done the plastic is cleaned out and the groove is as close to the legal limit as they can make them.
The 4 laser milled lines are there as before between the grooves for a bit of extra grip and they will wear down over time. The lower lofts up to 52° have a straight milling pattern behind this and then higher lofts from 54° upwards are milled at an angle so the pattern has more effect when the face is open.
Quite how they know that everyone opens up every higher lofted wedge and by how much is beyond me, but the grip is most definitely there on every loft in the bag.
The range is the same as before going from 46° up to 64° with the same range of 1, 2 and 3 dot bounces. However the grind has changed to what they are calling a V Sole Grind.
This is narrower than before for more versatility and because it goes through the turf more easily.
Cleveland says that the V Sole loses 23% less speed through impact than the previous model.
On even the tightest lies I found it going through the turf very easily and for most players the widest V-FG full grind will be the one to go for in the higher lofts from 54° to 60°.
There is a V-MG mid grind that is standard on the 46°, 48°, 50°, 52°, 62° and 64° lofts and at this lower loft it provides all the bounce you need.
The final option is the low bounce V-LG grind that you can get in 54°, 56°, 58° and 60°, but these low bounce wedges are really only for highly skilled players as there is less margin for error.
So there is a lot of new things going on with the RTX-3, but the main feature is one you can't see as it is to do with the balance of the head.
With all bladed clubs, the Centre of Gravity (CG) is more towards the heel of the club as most of the weight is in the hosel.
Cleveland has used what they call Feel Balancing Technology to move the CG on the RTX-3 around 6mm closer to the centre of the face than before in the 588 RTX 2.0.
They achieve this by making the hosel 1cm shorter to save 7g and then drill a micro cavity at the bottom of the hosel below where the shaft goes in to save another 2g.
This 9g is then repositioned in the back flange to move the CG further across the head, keeping it at the same height as the previous model. The closer you can hit the ball to the CG then the better the dispersion as the head will twist less at impact.
At the Cleveland RTX-3 launch I tested this out against the 588 RTX 2.0 on Trackman and RTX-3 was a lot better at getting consistent distances.
What the numbers also showed was a slightly lower launch angle and a higher level of spin of around 500-600rpm. Some of this could be the brand new grooves on the RTX-3, but more likely it was because the deeper grooves were channeling out more dirt and giving more grip. Either way the difference was enough to persuade me that the new features were generating more overall spin.
The CG movement is a good improvement and Cleveland say it was possible to move it even further, but that the sound and feel deteriorated when they did so. Apparently they are working on new materials to make this happen so watch this space.
One thing I like about Cleveland wedges is that the heads are a nice generous size without being too big.
The RTX-3 shape is the same as before and in the lower lofts the depth of the face on the inside does seem bigger than other models.
Throughout the range the feel was very good and whatever type of shot you wanted to play, it was easy to achieve. The V Sole Grind felt a lot more precise than the previous more rounded design and you did not have to open the face much in order to get a higher ball flight.
The RTX-3 comes in a choice of Tour Satin or Tour Black finished, with the latter supposed to last 4 times longer than other manufacturer darker finishes before it wear off showing the steel below.
Having managed to get some of it off in testing, it will probably only be a practise session and a couple of rounds before you start to see a difference on the sole.
Keen tournament watchers will also spot a dark gold Tour Raw finish on Tour that may appear in store in due course.
Overall the RTX-3 is a significant improvement on the 588 RTX 2.0 and it sounds and feels better and the benefits of the CG placement should result in an increase in accuracy. It is probably the start of things to come from Cleveland as more resources go into wedges now that they have stopped making irons and woods.
A competitive price combined with the versatility of the sole and one of the widest range of lofts and bounces means that whatever your wedge needs there will be an RTX-3 to hit the spot.