The follow-up to TaylorMade's highly successful white R11 and Burner SuperFast woods was officially unveiled today by TaylorMade and the name of the product line is certain to raise a few eyebrows: RocketBallz.
Although the moniker (originally conceived by the R&D team when they wrote the name on a prototype after gathering some impressive test data) is different, the technology goals of the clubs remain true to TaylorMade's focus on creating speed for golfers. Specifically, the fairway woods and hybrids each boast a slot in the sole designed to enhance the flexibility of the head and face.
The clubs (which boast a slightly deeper face) are cast from stainless steel and feature a web-like crown structure that gets as thin as 0.4 millimeters. The weight saved from the crown is then used to create a center of gravity position that is low and forward to create a faster ball speed with low spin.
To illustrate the club's performance, TaylorMade has provided a video of Dustin Johnson testing the RocketBallz fairway wood, complete with ProTracer graphics:
Dr. Benoit Vincent, TaylorMade's chief technical officer, explained the slot was positioned in the sole because it is an area that is normally not very flexible due to the amount of weight positioned there. The other benefit, he said, is that golfers tend to make contact with fairway woods and hybrids low on the face. Placing the slot in the sole adds speed to those shots.
Lofts on the fairway wood (street price: $230) are 15, 17, 19, 21, 21 and 24 degrees while the hybrid (street price: $160) comes in 19, 22, 25 and 28 degrees. A Tour version of the hybrid is available in 16.5, 18.5, 21,5 and 24.5 degrees.
Although the fairway wood and hybrid are non-adjustable, the RocketBallz driver has an adjustable hosel with eight loft/lie angle settings, making it an attractive proposition at the $300 price point. The driver does not feature the slot technology (drivers have larger, springier faces that are already close to the USGA limit on flexibility and therefore a slot is not needed),
The club also continues TaylorMade's work in the area of lightweight clubs (299 grams overall including a 50-gram Matrix Ozik XCON 5 shaft) with thin crowns and inverted cone technology in the face. The shaft, at 46 inches slightly shorter than the Burner SuperFast 2.0, is still long enough to help boost swing speed.
Two versions of the driver are available. The standard model features a larger appearance at address with a standard face height and a slight draw bias while the tour model appears slightly smaller with a deeper face and a neutral face angle. Lofts are 9, 10.5 and 13 degrees on the standard model and 9 and 10.5 degrees on RocketBallz Tour.
Although the RocketBallz woods serve as the headliners, TaylorMade unveiled several other notable products. Rounding out the RocketBallz line are two irons models -- RocketBallz and RocketBallz Max.
The game-improvement RocketBallz set features 3-, 4- and 5-irons that are made from a high-strength steel alloy and feature a hollow construction to optimize distance. The large face is as thin as 1.8 millimeters in some areas to boost the springlike effect. The clubs (which come with 85-gram steel shafts as well as the ability to bend the hosel for lie and loft adjustments) cost $700 for a set of eight.
Those seeking distance in irons may gravitate to the RocketBallz Max iron set ($1,400). The strong-lofted irons use tungsten weights that are located inside the hollow areas of the sole (primarily in the heel and toe areas) to improve forgiveness. Designers also stiffened the clubface in the toe area to help promote a slight draw bias.
TaylorMade also followed up its R11 driver with the R11-S. The 460cc club ($400, two lofts: 9 and 10.5 degrees) have the same three areas of adjustability however the soleplate now offers five positions. In all the club boasts 80 combinations -- that's 32 more than last year's R11 that cover a range of 3 degrees of loft, 6 degrees of face angle and four millimeters of CG movement.
The R11-S fairway woods come in five lofts (14, 15.5, 17, 19, 22 degrees) and feature a thin crown that saves weight that is used to move the center of gravity forward in an effort to reduce spin and provide more ball speed. The club ($250) has an adjustable hosel and rotating soleplate provide 24 options. All RocketBallz and R11-S clubs will be available at retail Feb. 1.
-- E. Michael Johnson Follow @EMichaelGW