Gear & EquipmentSeptember 10, 2013

TaylorMade upgrades slotted iron with SpeedBlade

By E. Michael Johnson

When TaylorMade launches a new product, it likes to make a splash. When it launches a new product that it likens in significance to the original metalwood and the original movable-weight r7, it brings in the heavy artillery. [#image: /photos/55ad76e5add713143b42799f]|||TaylorMade-Speedblade-35768.jpg|||

Such was the case last night when the company unveiled its SpeedBlade irons at Conway Farms GC--host site of this week's BMW Championship--during a snazzy presentation featuring company CEO Mark King as well as staff players Dustin Johnson, Jason Day, Sergio Garcia and U.S. Open champion Justin Rose. SpeedBlade is a game-improvement iron designed to build upon the successful RocketBladez platform or marrying a thin face with a "speed pocket" (a slot in the sole of the club that is in the 3- through 7-irons) that enables the face to flex at impact, the result being a fasterballspeed with a higher launch. The position of the slot low on the clubhead is an important factor, says Brian Bazzel, the company's director of iron, wedge and putter development, who noted company research that showed 72 percent of iron shots hit by five- to 25-handicappers are struck below the center of the clubface, resulting in a low launch and loss of ballspeed. Compared to the RocketBladez, the speed pocket has been widened and lengthened to provide a more effective area near the heel and toe areas. The topline is also a bit thicker in the longer irons. The clubs boast a satin nickel chrome plating with a dark smoke satin ion plating. During the event each of the players hit some shots to demonstrate the zip on the clubs. Day hit several shots with a 3-hybrid and then a SpeedBlade 3-iron, the display resulting in fairly similar distances, but a better angle of descent with the iron. Rose hit shots with a TaylorMade MB 4-iron and the SpeedBlade 4-iron, the latter not only resulting in approximately 20 yards more distance, but more peak height. Johnson, meanwhile, engaged in a long-drive contest against NFL Hall of Famer and former Chicago Bear Richard Dent. Using driver, Dent hit one 267 yards. Using a SpeedBlade4-iron, Johnson bested him with a laser that traveled 273 yards. "Sure, I'll take the extra yards," said Rose, who switched to RocketBladez irons in his 3- through 6-irons earlier this year. "But it's the ability to get the extra distance with the height that matters. If the ball comes in flat it's not going to help. But these reach a nice apex and then come down with an angle of descent that it should have. That is a huge plus." The SpeedBlade irons come stock with a lightweight (85-gram steel shaft) and will sell at $800 for a set of eight.

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