No other club in golf's marketplace had a better year than TaylorMade's RocketBallz line of metalwoods, but that didn't stop the company's engineers from searching for ways to make it better.
The result of those efforts is RocketBallz Stage 2, a family that features a thinner, weight-saving crown design and more adjustability in the driver and a unique, high-strength stainless steel alloy in the fairway woods and hybrids that has been used in rocket engines and jet landing gear.
RocketBallz Stage 2 Driver
The crown on RocketBallz Stage 2 features a variable thickness design that allows the titanium shell to get as thin as 0.4 millimeters, or less than half the thickness of a credit card. That design saves three grams over its predecessor, and the saved weight is used to make the face larger while keeping the center of gravity low and more forward compared to the RocketBallz driver and enhancing the shaping of the body of the driver to improve the way the clubhead moves through the air during the swing.
RBZ Stage 2 offers 12 settings (there were eight settings on RocketBallz) that change loft across a range of 1.5 degrees per loft. It also will feature a 50-gram Fujikura RocketFuel shaft that allows the total weight of the driver to check in at less than 300 grams in total weight. The design is topped off by a multi-colored, arrow-like crown graphic aimed at improving a golfer's ability to align the clubface square to the target line.
"It's hard to imagine bringing a driver to market that outperforms the original RocketBallz driver," said Todd Beach, vice president of metalwoods research and development. "Making the head of the RBZ Stage 2 driver more aerodynamic while also making the clubface larger was a tremendous challenge and succeeding was critical to promoting performance that's superior to the first generation RBZ driver."
The RBZ Stage 2 driver will be available Feb. 1 at a street price of $300. A RBZ Stage 2 Tour model, which features a lower and more forward CG than the RBZ Stage 2 and a Matrix 6Q3 shaft, will be available on Feb. 15 for a street price of $350.
RBZ Stage 2 Fairways and Hybrids
The metalwoods that advertised themselves as 17 yards longer last year are claiming even more distance in their latest iteration thanks to a specially heat-treated Carpenter stainless steel alloy that allows the face on the RBZ Stage 2 fairway woods to be as thin as 1.8 millimeters. TaylorMade engineers say that the extra strength combined with the thinner face results in 50 percent more flexibility than its predecessor. According to TaylorMade this puts the fairway wood's characteristic time at the U.S. Golf Association's spring-like effect limit.
Both the fairway and hybrids (the RBZ Stage 2 Rescue) feature a channel in the sole designed to improve both launch angle and face flexibility similar to that seen in last year RBZ fairway woods and hybrids. Both feature a shallower face design as well, to allow the leading edge of the club to sit closer to the turf.
A Tour version of both the fairway woods and the hybrids adds an adjustable hosel similar to the RBZ Stage 2 driver that allows loft to be tweaked plus or minus 1.5 degrees.
"RocketBallz represented a distance breakthrough, but we knew we could make improvements, said TaylorMade's Beach. "The improved Speed Pocket, re-configured CG location and shallower profile make this year's line-up of fairways and Rescues the best-performing metalwoods we have ever developed."
The fairways and hybrids will be available at retail in February. The standard RBZ Stage 2 comes in five lofts (15, 17, 19, 21 and 22) at a street price of $250, while the adjustable TP model is available in four lofts 13, 14.5, 16.5 and 18.5 at a street price of $280. The standard RBZ Stage 2 Rescue is available in four lofts (19, 22, 25 and 28) at a street price of $200, while the adjustable TP model comes in four lofts (16.5, 18.5, 20.5 and 23.5) at a street price of $230.