Published on June 4th, 2013 | by David Sitrick0
Review: TaylorMade RocketBallz Stage 2 Fairway Woods
A reliable fairway wood is a wonderful thing. For good players, it turns par-5s into golden opportunities to be aggressive, attacking the green in two and lining up eagle or easy birdie chances. For higher handicaps, a good fairway metal or two often represents a shot at redemption, recovering after the botched tee shot that snap-hooked into the left rough, or ballooned eight miles into the air and left a sky-mark on your expensive new driver, or hosel-rocketed 30 feet in front of you, just short of the children’s tee. Make a nice recovery with a high-soaring 3-wood that gets you back in the general vicinity of the green, and you can at least keep hope alive for a miracle birdie or hard-fought par. Regardless of your ability, it’s essential to have a club you can trust to stay in play for lengthy approach shots or driving holes too narrow to risk hitting your driver.
With the RocketBallz Stage 2 fairway woods, TaylorMade aims to provide that club for you, insisting the club’s Speed Pocket design and proprietary RocketSteel clubface material combine to make the RBZ Stage 2 fairways pure speed demons. And indeed, these fairway woods do go a long way. But do the technological advancements touted by the advertisements place the RocketBallz fairway woods head and shoulders above their competitors? Let’s dive into some of the club’s notable elements and find out.
I’ll get right to the point: the RocketBallz Stage 2 fairway woods are long. Are they the longest you’ll ever hit? Will they fly seventeen yards past your current fairway woods, as I saw one advertisement suggest? I’m not so sure. Personally, I caught a couple of balls right on the screws with the RBZ Stage 2 3-wood I tested, and I saw about a bump of about ten yards in carry over my current 3-wood – definitely something to get excited about. But the distance on perfect strikes impressed me less than something else about the club.
The 3-wood I tried offered remarkably consistent trajectory and distance, more so than any other fairway metal I’ve tried before. Shot after shot took off on the same medium-high trajectory, and stayed within about a 10-yard carry variance, consistency that’s just about unthinkable for me and my game. It was easily the most generous and confidence-inspiring 3-wood I’ve ever hit, and I was trying out the Tour version; I can only imagine the even greater heights of playability the standard version must reach.
I’ve spent my life looking for clubs that will magically eliminate the occasional block right that haunts my nightmares. The RBZ Stage 2 isn’t that club, but I found its accuracy perfectly acceptable, especially contextualized with the trajectory and distance consistency the club offered.
One quirk about the RBZ Stage 2 fairway woods is the somewhat tinny sound and feel the clubs offer. Though I was quite pleased with the ball flights and distance I got out of the club, at impact the RocketSteel clubface material felt strangely thin and yielding, like I was hitting a ball with tinfoil. I’m sure this is a result of the strong, thin face and lightweight clubhead that makes the RocketBallz fairway woods so distance-friendly, and I’d happily get used to the odd feel after a few range sessions, but it was a bit jarring at first. Also, as is the case with pretty much all recent TaylorMade clubs, they’ve placed an extreme emphasis on lighter weight to maximize clubhead and shaft speeds. This results in clubs that, at least initially, feel a little bit too light for my taste, and stock shafts that feel a touch too whippy. As always, taking the time to match the club with the right shaft for your swing and ball flight will yield big dividends in both performance and feel.
A very tempting entry into the fairway wood market, the RocketBallz Stage 2 fairway woods are a line of clubs you can upgrade to and feel confident you’ll find tangible gains over what you’re leaving behind. The consistent, reliable distance improvements the RBZ Stage 2 offers are rare, and with more and more courses looking to test players with 600+ yard par-5s and tight, challenging driving holes for which the driver is best left in the bag, these fairway woods make for reliable weapons. If you’re in the market for a new 3- or 5-wood, the Rocketballz Stage 2s are absolutely worth your attention.