TaylorMade releasing RocketBallz fairway woods and rescue clubs
Mike Ferris, TaylorMade's vice president of product marketing, was counting each stride as he marched across the front of the conference room. "Twelve, thirteen, fourteen," he said before touching the wall, turning around and pacing back again. "Fifteen, sixteen, seventeen."
P.T. Barnum would have loved the way Ferris had just shown how much longer TaylorMade claims the new RocketBallz 3-wood is than last season's Burner SuperFast 2.0.
This is the club that gave the RocketBallz family its name. According to TaylorMade, the engineers who developed the club—and a small number of Tour pros who were given a chance to hit the earliest prototypes—all said that the 3-wood "hit the ball like a rocket."
Having a little fun, the engineers etched "RocketBallz" into subsequent refinements of the prototype, more as a code name than anything else. They never expected the name to stick, but it did, although it was shortened to RBZ on the sole.
(Click here to see an exclusive video on the RocketBallz fairway woods.)
Once you get past the name, the first thing you'll notice about the RocketBallz fairway woods is a cavity carved in the sole. Positioned just behind the face, it is designed to increase the flexibility of both the face and the sole of the club to help increase ball speed.
Golfers will notice a weight plug positioned directly behind the cavity. In drivers, weights like this one are often positioned in the back to move the center of gravity lower and farther from the face to encourage a higher ball flight. In the RBZ fairways, TaylorMade has moved the center of gravity in these clubs forward.
"Historically, we've always said, let's move the center of gravity back to make the club easier to play" says Tom Olsavsky, TaylorMade's senior direct of product creation. However, Olsavsky notes, most golfers hit their fairway woods and hybrids high in the face. He says the physics that helps you hit longer shots with your 460-cc driver doesn't help you as much with fairway woods because they feature a smaller head and shallower face. In order to get a higher launch angle, more ball speed and more carry distance, TaylorMade says that it moved the center of gravity in to keep it more aligned with where golfers actually hit the ball.
Olsavsky says the combination of the cavity and the forward adjustment of the center of gravity increased the RocketBallz ball speed by 3-4 mph over the Burner SuperFast 2.0. He also notes that the same features make the RocketBallz Rescue clubs 15 yards longer than their Burner counterparts.
"We have never seen a fairway wood that has gone right up to the USGA speed limit," Olsavsky says. "We had some things made from titanium that got close, but no one wanted to pay for them, so we're excited to be able to produce a product in a steel construction that goes right up to the USGA limits for coefficient of restitution [COR] and CT [the face's trampoline effect]."
Like the rest of TaylorMade's 2012 wood and rescue offerings, the RocketBallz line features a white matte finish on the crown and a black face to aid in alignment. But unlike the R11 clubs, the RBZ models are not adjustable—TaylorMade hasn't been able to incorporate moveable weights into a head that features a channel on the sole. (At least not yet.)
The fairway woods will be available in both standard and Tour models. The Tour version has a slightly smaller head, a more open face angle and a fade bias. Similarly, TaylorMade will offer a standard RBZ Rescue club and a Tour Rescue.
When they arrive in pro shops on Feb. 3, the RocketBallz fairway woods will come standard with a Matrix Ozik XCon 5 50-gram shaft; the Tour version will come with a Matrix Ozik RUL 70 75-gram graphite shaft. Each will cost $229 and lofts will range from 13°-24°. RocketBallz TP fairway woods with upgraded shafts will cost $329.
Arriving in pro shops on the same day, the RocketBallz and RocketBallz Tour rescue clubs will each cost $179 and come with a proprietary TaylorMade graphite shaft. A RocketBallz Rescue TP with an upgraded shaft will be $229. Available lofts will range from 16.5°-27°.