Last year TaylorMade made a huge splash with the announcement of their Rocketballz fairway wood. They advertised that golfers would get seventeen more yards by making the switch to this oddly named club. It debuted to a huge success with numerous professionals and amateur golfers alike making the switch to this new technology.
In 2013 TaylorMade has now released an update to the Rocketballz line with Stage 2 fairway wood. The marketing campaign has termed the new line Rocketballz-IER. With the advent of social media they have added #IER and added the -IER to all of the TaylorMade professional staff bags. Much of the underlying technology that made the initial Rocketballz a success is packed into the Stage 2 clubs and they have also added some new features which TaylorMade claims added an additional ten yards to the club. Although to be fair in terms of advertising this claim is made with a ball speed of 150 MPH which is much greater than any of the weekend warriors I play with, myself included.
For this review I was given a 15 degree fairway wood, with a graphite Matrix RocketFuel stiff shaft. Join me as I go through the details of this RBZ Stage 2 fairway wood.
There was so much technology packed into the first release of the Rocketballz fairway woods that it is hard to believe that they were able to add more to the Stage 2 design. With technology though, TaylorMade is always evolving. The Stage 2 fairway woods have taken the benefits of the original Rocketballz and added small tweaks to make the clubs even better.
The first technology that was also integrated into the original fairway woods is the speed pocket which is designed right behind the clubface on the bottom of the club. The purpose of the speed pocket is to increase speed and also produce a high launch for the club. In technical lingo the speed pocket allows the TaylorMade engineers to increase the COR of the clubface to the highest levels allowed under the rules of golf. From my research it seems that TaylorMade has made some small adjustments to the Stage 2 design to the speed pocket to help the golfer increase the height that they hit the fairway wood. Many of the complaints from the golfers in my foursome was that the original RBZ fairway woods could be hard to hit with much height, it seems TaylorMade has received that feedback and has improved the speed pocket to provide a performance benefit to the Stage 2 clubs.
Another piece of technology that was found on the first edition of the Rocketballz fairway wood that has been transferred and improved in the Stage 2, is how TaylorMade engineers have moved the Center of Gravity (CG) forward in the club. By moving the CG forward and lower inside the clubhead it provides more speed, higher launch and less spin. This lower CG technology is very unique to RocketBallz, as most fairway woods have the CG higher and farther back in the club. TaylorMade claims that this causes the fairway wood to have a lower launch.
The face of the RBZ Stage 2 fairway wood is made from ultra-high strength TaylorMade RocketSteel. The RocketSteel face is supplied by Carpenter Steel which helped to create a thinner and faster-flexing face to help with, you guessed it, more distance.
A major difference in the Stage 2 design over the original RBZ is the lower head profile to help with higher launch. The face has also been designed to be shallower than the original clubhead. This change is most noticeable at address when the clubhead is put behind the ball. Also at address you will notice the new crown graphics to promote better alignment at set up.
The first thing you will notice when you pick up the new Stage 2 fairway wood is the change in colors versus the original RBZ line. Gone is the lime green, and in its place TaylorMade has gone with a soft yellow color. The white color of course still remains on the top of the clubhead, and the bottom and face of the club TaylorMade has stayed with the black colors as they have done with the originals.
The biggest change in terms of how the club looks is the new crown graphics that now reside on the top of the clubhead. For colors they go with a very soft gray flanked by new yellow color and a touch of black as well. The graphic is mainly a triangle which has its point targeted on what seems to be the sweetspot of the clubhead. At the tip of the triangle is the Stage 2 Rocketballz logo which is a R done in the black and yellow colors. The side of the triangle that faces the golfer has a gray square and both tips of the triangle have the black, yellow and gray stripes. TaylorMade claims that the graphics help golfers line up the clubhead better at address.
The main part of the top of the club is done in the non-glare white “ghosting” that TaylorMade has now made famous. The face makes a nice contrast with the white clubhead which I think also helps with the alignment of the clubhead. The face is done in black and has three scoring lines, or grooves on either side of the center of the clubface.
When we turn the clubhead over to look at the sole of the fairway wood the first thing I noticed was the screw that is put about an inch back from the face. TaylorMade does not go into much detail on what this screw does, although likely it is used as weight to help move the CG towards the front of the club. The screw is a metallic silver and has an extremely unique pattern which is likely a proprietary screw design for TaylorMade. The rest of the sole is done mostly in black along with the RBZ logo and the traditional TaylorMade logo. The black is done by mixing in a matte finish with a shiny black finish to outline the logo and break up the sole of the club. The matte areas are sunken from the shiny areas to give the black area a more playful design. Also in the black area is the speed pocket which is right behind the face of the club. The back of the toe area is the only white section of the sole and done there is the three stripes along with Stage 2 painted in white into the gray strip.
The first part of the hosel of the clubhead is done in white and then it quickly transitions to black before the black ferrel adjoins the shaft. The shaft design is a very modern design done mostly in black with the first two thirds of the shaft done in a black matte finish to reduce glare, and the top third of the shaft done in a shiny black finish with the RocketFuel logo and information on stiffness and weight of the club. The colors on the shaft match the clubhead with the yellow and gray mixed in.
For the headcover TaylorMade has gone with a mix of the yellow and black. The main top part is done in yellow and the sides and sock portion of the headcover is done in black. There is a strap along the top portion to make the headcover easier to pull off done in black with the Rocketballz logo. The headcover does look a bit like a bumblebee, but the colors are not offensive.
Playability and Feel
The big question on everyones mind for the performance of the RBZ Stage 2 fairway woods is how do they compare to the original RBZ line of woods. For the purpose of this review I borrowed a friends original RBZ fairway wood. Sadly I did not see the ten yards that was advertised in the promotion, but these new Stage 2 fairway woods are a big improvement in the ability to hit these clubs higher. In the use of the original RBZ fairway wood, I would often have trouble from the fairway having a high launch because it was quite difficult for me to get it airborne. The Stage 2 fairway wood is a big improvement in this area. In complete disclosure I still struggled to hit this club as high as some of the other fairway woods on the market today.
There is little doubt that when hit, this club goes some amazing distances. Off the tee I hit some three woods that rivaled some of my driver distances. If I were a golfer who did not yet have the confidence to hit a driver this fairway wood would no doubt be in my bag. In addition to that if I were a golfer that played a course regularly that required him to hit fairway woods off the tee this club would be an outstanding option. The ball rocketed off the face and was a pleasure to hit from the tee. The issue I often ran into was, the times that I didn’t hit the ball squarely enough off the fairway I would struggle if there were any forced carry involved. I can say that out of three shots from the fairway, one would be crushed and go 10-15 yards farther than my current three wood, one would be average distance, and the last would chop some daisies and go 10-15 yards shorter than normal.
When I was in the rough and needed to hit this club, unless I had an absolutely great lie in the rough I was often worried that I could not get solid enough contact to advance the ball far enough down the fairway or onto the green. If there was a forced carry a ball in the rough was tough to negotiate and I would likely not use this club.
My friend who lent me the original RBZ hit the Stage 2 and was pleasantly surprised. He is a four handicap and he felt that the Stage 2 was easier than the original to get up in the air. He confessed to me that out of the rough the original was quite difficult but he felt he could better with this club. He hit a few from the rough and he was satisfied that Stage 2 woods were an improvement there.
The sound of the club is on the noisier side of the spectrum, but not obnoxiously so. Off the tee when hit properly hit it made a loud noise but did not raise the eyebrows of the other players in my foursome. I think TaylorMade has found a very happy medium now with the sound of all of their clubheads giving the player a nice audible thwack but not getting carried away that other folks.
TaylorMade made big news last year releasing the Rocketballz line and it was clearly a marketing success. With the release of the Stage 2 RBZ line TaylorMade is looking to continue upon that success with a better-ier club. My recommendation is if you don’t carry a driver, you play a course where you hit fairway woods on many of the holes, or if you are a high ball speed golfer I would give an extremely high recommendation of getting this club. I would even suggest those who liked the RBZ but would like something slightly easier to hit to give this club a try as well.
I also believe that TaylorMade has taken the feedback that they received on the original RBZ clubs and made key improvements to the Stage 2 clubs. I feel we should commend companies that are take the feedback from golfers and attempt to make their clubs easier to hit. TaylorMade has done an excellent job with that. I am unsure if everyone will gain the additional yardage that TaylorMade claims that you will, but when hit properly there is no doubt that this club delivers a powerful ball flight and some additional yardage.