From Golf Magazine ClubTest 2012 (May, 2012)
Category: Game-Improvement Hybrids
Price: $179, graphite
WE TESTED: 3 (19°) with TaylorMade RBZ 60 graphite shaft
KEY TECHNOLOGIES: The nonadjustable head has more weight low and toward the face (a “forward” CG location) to promote a high launch angle and lower spin for increased distance. A “speed pocket” along the sole creates a more active face for greater ball speeds. The white matte finish aids alignment.
OUR TESTERS SAY: One of the higher-rated hybrids. Its assets include length and accuracy.
PLAYABILITY: High, straight flight leads to soft landings; large, deep face nearly performs like a driver off the tee; adequate from fairway bunkers.
ACCURACY/FORGIVENESS: Deadly accurate when you hit it true; high launch and trajectory minimize directional errors.
DISTANCE: Long and rewarding when hit on the screws; several testers find it to be 10 yards longer off the tee than their own; heel or toe hits lose little length.
FEEL: Crushing, substantial, driver-like feel on solid shots; the heavy head is felt throughout the swing and is sturdy and powerful through impact.
LOOK: The now-familiar white crown and black face help at address.
Heavier feel takes some getting used to; a few higher-handicappers
From The Shop Blog (December 12, 2011)
According to TaylorMade, the engineers who developed the prototype RocketBallz 3-wood—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.
Once you get past the name, the first thing you'll notice about the RocketBallz fairway woods and rescue clubs 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 and Rescues, 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 make the RocketBallz Rescue clubs 15 yards longer than their Burner counterparts.
"We have never seen a fairway wood [or rescue] 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.)
Arriving in pro shops on Feb. 3, 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°.