Published on September 6th, 2013 | by David Sitrick1
Review: TaylorMade RocketBallz Stage 2 Hybrids
The TaylorMade RocketBallz Stage 2 hybrid surprised me. I’d kind of given up on the 2013 batch of hybrids, having spent time with its two biggest-name competitors, the Titleist 913H and the Callaway X-Hot hybrid and being overwhelmed by neither. I had mostly resigned myself to this being a down year for new hybrid offerings, and had even started to wonder if something about my cobbled-together jalopy of a golf swing didn’t mesh well with hybrids at all, given my fitful relationship with all makes and models tried previously. Especially given that I’d liked-but-not-loved the other offerings in the RocketBallz family, I certainly wasn’t expecting to find my favorite hybrid of the year when I picked it up to try.
And yet, here we are, with the RBZ hybrids having caught my eye in a way that no other hybrid has. There’s just nothing to complain about. With other hybrids I’ve hit, something has always been off – usually its trajectory, workability, forgiveness, or some combination of all three. As we’ll get to down below, none of these are issues with the RocketBallz hybrids. This club is the mid-handicapper’s dream, responding exactly how you want it to, with dialed-in shot shaping when you want it without completely abandoning forgiveness on mis-hits. If you’re buying a hybrid in 2013, this is the club you want.
Obviously distance with a hybrid is a unique concern, as you’re typically dialing in lofts and club types to fill in a particular gap in your existing bag. The RocketBallz will absolutely do that, offering a variety of customizable lofts and lies to give you something you can challenge longer approaches with. Where the RBZ hybrids stand out, though, is the consistent trajectory. With the RBZ’s competitors, I found either inconsistent trajectories – ballooning high one minute, terrifying worms the next – or ballflights that were too lazy and soft, refusing to hold their line against the wind and occasionally sapping me of distance consistency. The RBZs, conversely, offer a penetrating flight that goes high enough to land a ball softly, but still bores through crosswinds and maintains a steady accuracy. The results are pure delight.
As I said above, everything about this is dialed in exactly the way you want it. It’s as forgiving as you need a club to be if you’re a mid- to low-handicap, offering consistent distances on off-center hits and trying as hard as it can to keep your half-shanked banana ball somewhere near the target line. Yet the margins are not so loose that you can’t dial up a consistent intentional fade or draw when you need one. I was actually fairly shocked by how consistently I could control the amount of movement on the ball; very few shots ended up over- or under-cooked on sidespin, with even fewer double-crosses into the sticks. The ball just goes where you want it to, however you intend to get it there.
The club has a good heft to it, to promote good feel of the clubhead throughout your swing, but isn’t so heavy so as to feel unwieldly or slow your swing down. I like a club with a little more weight to it because I feel like it smooths out my tempo and prevents me from being too herky-jerky on my transition into the downswing. If you have a naturally languid swing, maybe you’d drift more towards something a little lighter. But for me, the RBZ hybrids felt excellent. On the sound and appearance front, there wasn’t anything terribly noteworthy one way or the other; solid, nothing wrong with it, but no standout quality either. The look is in line with the rest of the RBZ family, with a sort of angular, futuristic feel that may take some getting used to if you’re a traditionalist. I wouldn’t say it’s a beautiful club, but performance is much more important to me than aesthetics, and I can get used to the look of anything that gets the ball in the hole quicker.
At the risk of sounding redundant, I can only say that the TaylorMade RocketBallz Stage 2 hybrids are the best hybrids to hit the market this year, as far as I’m concerned. They hit every box on my checklist of things that are important to me in a club: reliable trajectory, good workability, and a decent margin for error. If you’re a mid-handicapper looking for a club that will grow with you, and still be useful as your game improves and you take strokes off of your game, you’d be hard pressed to find an offering in 2013 better than the RBZs.