The 2012 RocketBallz fairway wood line has received a majority of the buzz from the new products that have been released this year. TaylorMade has been advertising that the RocketBallz 3-wood is 17 yards longer than your current 3 wood. 17 yards longer? For a fairway wood? Really? When I attended a TaylorMade media day late last year I had heard the rumors of the line that would be replacing the popular Burner clubs. I thought the name “RocketBallz” was some insider joke and the actual name would be revealed during the presentation.
As we know that was not the case. RocketBallz was the name of the new line and the TaylorMade executives were proud of their new baby. They even took us outside and rolled out a carpet that was 17 yards long. The script on the carpet read, “This is how long you’re going to hit you new fairway wood”. They reported that 17 yards is what their lawyers told them they could legally claim. They hinted at players seeing gains of 20 yards and more. It was a big claim and truthfully I thought they had no chance of living up to it. In golf, a five yard gain is huge and I thought we had reached the limits to what we could do for making a club “hotter.”
But I may have been wrong, and TaylorMade claims to have re-engineered the fairway wood from the ground up to produce the hottest club in golf.
The distinct, maybe even goofy name is based on testing TMaG Tour staffer Dustin Johnson’s experience with the prototype. “I brought the prototype out to some players and Dustin Johnson was the first one to test it,” said Todd Chew, Tour Product Specialist. “He’s unbelievably long, as we all know, but he was just blown away by how far the Rescue was going. Dustin said a couple of times, ‘It’s like a rocket.'”
When the prototype returned from initial field testing, Taylormade’s engineers took the creative liberty to etch the name, “RocketBallz,” into both the CAD model and the sole of the prototype club head. “I never thought RocketBallz would actually show up on the prototype,” said Todd Beach, Senior Director of Product Engineering, Metalwoods. “Typically, it’s got an MW label and a number on there, whatever our number is. When the prototype came back, I was like, ‘What are you guys doing?’ I can’t believe you put that on there. There’s no way we’re going to call the product that.” A product name has never come from the R&D department, the marketing department for whatever reason decided to keep the name.
So how did TaylorMade make the fairway wood dramatically longer? First they had to examine what most golf manufacturers do with the standard fairway wood. Most fairway woods have the weight low, which TaylorMade engineers say makes the structure of the sole stiff. When the sole is stiff there is obviously very little flexibility. This is not a great feature for speed. The RBZ (RocketBallz) sole is engineered to be thin to incorporate a higher trampoline effect. The most noticeable feature to create some flexibility in the sole is the the Speed Pocket running parallel and just behind the face. The pocket is very deep and TaylorMade says it improves the sole geometry to increase ball speed and COR (Coefficient of Restitution).
The face is made of high strength 455 steel to ensure the face doesn’t crack. The reason the face could crack is because the deep sole pocket makes the face more flexible but less durable. With titanium clubs you can make take the COR to the limit but it’s not something that’s done with steel for the reason just mentioned. The face is welded on a cast body where TaylorMade says this makes the face stronger and more durable than other fairway woods.
The technology in our new RocketBallz fairway woods boosts clubface COR to a place we haven’t come close to before, promoting an immense increase in distance. It’s an absolute breakthrough.Dr. Benoit Vincent TMaG Chief Technical Officer & CEO
TaylorMade also found that most fairway woods had the CG (center of gravity) was too far back, creating too much dynamic loft which TaylorMade says lead to average players contacting the ball too low in the face. This would lead to low launching and high spinning shots. So TaylorMade moved the CG forward and below the center axis. Having the CG forward also helps increase ball speed, giving the golfer a chance at gaining four to five miles per hour in ball speed. This will help utilize the loft of the fairway wood producing a higher launch, more ball speed, and a lower spin rate. That’s how you start thinking about claiming 17 yards.
TaylorMade also created more speed by constructing a deeper face. From a speed standpoint, the face structure is defined by the height because that’s the shortest span. TaylorMade says the bigger you can make the face the larger you make the trampoline. More spring-like effect equals more distance. This is something that has never been done before in steel fairway woods. The pull-face construction has been used by other manufacturers before and it usually delivers a more powerful face and in the Rocketballz fairway woods this is the case as well.
The incorporation of deeper face, low-and-forward CG and RocketBallz technology has allowed TaylorMde to create the first steel fairway that reaches USGA/R&A speed limits. What also makes the club faster is the lightweight Matrix X-Con 5 weighing in at 45 grams. The club’s overall weight is just 315 grams.
The RocketBallz fairway woods and Rescues represent a game-changing breakthrough in performance comparable to few products in the history of our industry. To hold a RocketBallz metalwood in your hands is to possess confidence, power, speed and distance potential that will regularly and quite literally redefine the long game for golfers.Sean Toulon, Executive Vice President of TaylorMade
Like all TaylorMade woods now, the RBZ features a white crown and black face makes alignment easy and eliminates “hot spots” or glare at address.
The Tour version has many similarities to the standard version but the differences will be more fitting to the better player. The club head has a more compact design to promote a penetrating trajectory, it’s not going to ballon for players with higher swing speeds. The Tour head is 172 cc while the standard RBZ is 197 cc. The face is more open, actually neutral and the shaft is 30 grams heavier than the standard RBZ fairway.
TaylorMade loves the fact that their clubs are white and is surprised noone else has really followed them down this road. Cobra has a white driver, but TaylorMade has two lines of drivers, fairways and hybrids that include their distinct white matte finish. From a marketing perspective TaylorMade has done a great job with their tour presence. You know when you see a pro swinging a white headed club, even if it’s not a TaylorMade staff member, that it’s a TaylorMade club.
The head of the standard RBZ head is similar to last year’s Burner 2.0. Mid to large sized with a large footprint but less “triangular” than the Burner 2.0. The styling, providing you like white, looks excellent and the black contrast face makes it very easy to line up. There are some graphics on the crown outlining the outer edges, helping to frame the ball better and give it a techy, modern design.
The tour head is smaller and might be more preferred by players that like more of a compact look throughout the bag. I personally like the standard head better, as do some tour players like Sergio Garcia. What I don’t like is that the standard head wants to aim more to the left, something Sergio doesn’t have to worry about since tour reps will make him anything he wants. With a face this deep, I like having the overall look be larger and it really looks like I can smash it off the tee or off the fairway.
What I’ve noticed with the RBZ, more than TaylorMade’s previous white clubheads, is that the head looks like it was designed with the white matte finish in mind, and that it wasn’t just an afterthought of white paint. It may not seem like a big deal but it can make all the difference between making the club look cheap and making it look stylish.
The lime green is a color that works well with the white and black styling of the RBZ. You may have noticed earlier in the Spring that TaylorMade pros were outfitted with lime shirts and hats that included a large, lime green “17” to promote the RBZ line.
Playability and Feel
I decided to go with the standard head because I prefer the look and it’s what most players are going to buy. After having the RBZ 15 degree fairway wood in my bag for the past month, I can honestly say this is the easiest fairway wood I’ve ever hit. Shots that aren’t perfect still take off fast and travel with increased distance. The RBZ is really fun to hit, especially when you get into a groove on the range and are bombing it over and over again. The size and shape of the RBZ head inspires a great deal of confidence makes it easier to smash high launching shots.
Comparing the actual numbers to my old gamer, on average I carried the ball 228.76 yards with a total distance of 248.22 yards. When testing the RBZ I was carrying the ball 241.50 yards with a total distance of 263.45. Not quite 17 yards but 15 yards is still a big jump! My swing speed even increased from 95.2 MPH to 99 MPH, thanks to the lighter and slightly longer shaft. One shot in particular that stands out is on a medium length par-five at my home course. I hit an average drive in the right rough and had 280 yards downhill. The lie in the rough wasn’t perfect but since it was a two-man best-ball tournament I decided to see how close I could get. I managed to make a good swing and the ball rocketed out of the rough and ended up just short of the green. This normally wouldn’t have been a shot I would have tried due to the lie and because the hole narrows as you get closer to the green. To know I have a shot like this in my bag now is very exciting.
In my first outing with the RBZ at the media day I wrote that I noticed a distance gain but not 17 yards. A majority of the shots I hit were with the Tour RBZ fairway which is heavier and I definitely launch the Tour RBZ lower than the standard head. With the lower launch I wouldn’t be carrying it as far. The standard head is a winner for me. The shaft in the standard RBZ is too light for my liking and I will probably put something a little heavier in it.
The sound coming off the face is very pleasing. Much different than any other fairway wood I’ve hit, steel or titanium. The best way I can describe it, is that is sounds hot. The pitch is higher than most fairway woods I’ve hit but not distracting. I’m guessing it’s due to the speed pocket and the more flexible sole. There’s nothing dull or ordinary about this club.
Like I said, the RBZ is very forgiving, my only miss is an overdraw because my tendency is to miss shots off the toe. Even though I haven’t had much experience with a white crown, the look has been growing on me. The black PVD face does tend to wear after hitting numerous shots. It’s very noticeable when looking at the face head on but not when you’re addressing the ball.
TaylorMade Mens RocketBallz Fairways feature:
– Club/Loft: #3 (15°), #3 High Loft Wood (17°), #5 Wood (19°), #7 Wood (21°), #9 Wood (24°).
– Graphite shaft available in Senior, Regular or Stiff flex available in left-and right-hand
– Includes headcover
– RocketBallz fairway woods come standard with a Matrix Ozik Xcon 5 50-gram shaft.
– The Tour version comes with a Matrix Ozik RYL 70 75-gram graphite shaft.
Additionally, a selection of 25 custom TP shafts will be available for upgrade.
RocketBallz Fairway Woods: $229
RocketBallz Tour Fairway Woods: $229
RocketBallz Fairways with TP shaft upgrade: $329
There is no doubt the RocketBallz fairway woods are long but the question is, do you want a 3-wood that goes almost as long as your driver? Some golfers might say no, that the 3-wood is a placement club and there’s no point in hitting it farther. I’m one to say, why not hit it further? Maybe the RBZ will help you reach a par five or par four that you normally can’t get to in two shots. It’s very rare that there is a club that comes to market that has the potential to save you one or two shots a round. This could be that club for you.
The company incorporates a ton of technology into these clubs, and as a result they push the legal limit for Coefficient of Restitution (COR also referred to as trampoline effect). All things being equal, more trampoline effect equals more distance. The woods have a similar style to last year’s Burner 2.0 woods, but with a slightly more appealing, balanced look.
The RocketBallz fairway woods are fun to hit, innovative and affordable. Each RBZ fairway wood has technology that will boost your ball speed and help you pick up some well deserved yardage. I would definitely recommend giving these clubs a try, if you haven’t already, experience the most revolutionary, high performance fairway woods out there. In my opinion, the RBZ fairway woods are the must have clubs of 2012.