TaylorMade RocketBladez and RocketBladez Tour irons

TaylorMade RocketBladez (<strong><a href="http://www.golf.com/photos/taylormade-rocketbladez-rocketbladez-tour-irons-best-golf-irons/rocketbladez-back">More photos</a></strong>)
David Dusek

From Golf Magazine (December 2012)
Since the launch of the original Burner in 2009, TaylorMade has been making a concerted effort to build irons that fly noticeably higher and farther, with more spin and a steeper angle of descent, than typical sticks. Its latest creation, the RocketBladez (“RBladez”), takes these attributes to a new level. The RBladez boasts a thinner face than current RocketBallz (RBZ) irons, a 6 percent lower center of gravity (CG) and a “Speed Pocket” slot behind the undercut in the back of the cavity (3-7 irons only). In fact, company officials say the RBladez generates COR numbers (a measurement of the springiness of the face) that are on par with a driver. Previously, it was unheard of for a standard iron to achieve these driver-like numbers. The by-product of these design updates is faster ball speeds and more consistent flight on off-center hits. Robot tests conducted by TaylorMade show that the RBladez 6-iron is longer than the RBZ 6-iron by 2 to 5 yards, thanks to 1 to 3 mph faster ball speeds, 200 to 300 rpm more spin and a 1° higher launch angle (for 2 to 3 yards higher flight). According to the company, this performance might equate to the distance of a 6-iron with the launch angle of a 7-iron, and so on through the set.

From Golf.com (October 23, 2012)
CARLSBAD, Calif. — TaylorMade President and CEO Mark King introduced the company’s newest irons, the RocketBladez and RocketBladez Tour, during a webcast Tuesday morning. (Video below.)

When TaylorMade released the Burner irons three years ago, it was the company’s first attempt to manufacture irons that had springy, powerful faces, and the clubs proved very popular with amateur players. The RocketBladez irons represent an evolution of what TaylorMade did with the Burner irons, and should appeal to the same players. But King and others at TaylorMade think that a new design feature sets RocketBladez apart and could make them appealing to accomplished players and pros, too.

(Related Photos: Close-up look at RocketBladez and RocketBladez Tour)

The RocketBladez irons have a large cavity behind their stainless steel faces that lowers the center of gravity and pulls it farther away from the face, making them forgiving and high-flying. That’s not new. What is new is a 2-milimeter-wide slot in the sole of the 3- through 7-irons. The company is calling it a Speed Pocket and says the slot allows the unsupported, 1.6-milimeter-thick face to move and flex more easily at impact, especially on shots hit low in the face. In fact, TaylorMade says that the RocketBladez irons have COR numbers that are similar to a driver's.

The slot is covered with polyurethane to keep debris out, and TaylorMade says the polyurethane also helps quiet vibrations without significantly slowing the flex of the slot.

According to TaylorMade designers, the slot and the added face flex will cause the ball to launch higher, fly 2-5 yards farther and land on a steeper angle of descent so it stops more easily.

Sean Toulin, executive vice president of TaylorMade, feels that last point is one of the features that will help to make the RocketBladez and smaller-headed RocketBladez Tour irons a good choice for pros. The other is the slot’s ability to help TaylorMade expand the sweet spot across the face.

According to Toulin, pros who tried the Burner irons, like Kenny Perry, reported a big distance discrepancy between well-hit shots and those struck just outside the sweet spot. The difference could be 30 yards. Toulin says that adding the slot behind the face increases the hottest part of the hitting area from the size of a pea to the size of a quarter. While that may not sound like a lot, for pros and golfers who rarely stray too far from the sweet spot, it should mean that slightly mis-hit balls will still fly as far as they were intended to.

(See-Try-Buy: Three steps to your perfect set)  

“If it launches at the same trajectory, has the same speed and has the same spin rate, well, guess what happens?” Toulin says. “By law, the shots are going to go the same distance. If it goes the same distance more often — and by the way goes higher, goes farther and comes down on a steeper trajectory using a ball that really doesn’t want to spin as much — guess what happens to your proximity to the hole stats?”

For pros like Sean O’Hair, who used a prototype set of RocketBladez in October at Justin Timberlake’s tournament in Las Vegas, that’s great news, and TaylorMade expects it to translate into more birdie chances.

Both the RocketBladez and RocketBladez Tour have a notch on the outer, rear side of the hosel to make it easier to bend the heads and change the lie angle.

The RocketBladez irons will arrive in stores on Nov. 30 and come standard with 85-gram "RocketFuel" steel shafts for $799 or 65-gram "RocketFuel" graphite shafts for $899. The RocketBladez Tour irons will be in stores Feb. 1 and will cost $899.

Here is a video from TaylorMade CEO Mark King and Executive Vice President Sean Toulon discussing the new irons: