I could hear the tuts, sighs, and even the odd bang on the desk - a thud that no doubt spilt coffee over the keyboard - in the forum when we informed you of TaylorMade's latest, yes there's another latest, range of clubs a month ago.
Having just digested everything the popular RocketBladez had to feed us at the beginning of the new season, an iron featuring a 2mm wide slot known as a Speed Pocket in the 3- to 7-iron, TaylorMade has once again decided to strike while the iron is
hot by unleashing its game improvement SpeedBlade iron.
But just before the tutters, sighers and bangers among you begin to write off the SpeedBlade as just a gimmicky product or re-badged RocketBladez, you might want to think again...
For me, the RocketBladez is one of the greatest game improvement irons on the market today. The RocketBladez Tour for the better player is even better. So the SpeedBlade was always going to be up against it when I tested it at Hersham Golf Club this week.
While TaylorMade will no doubt suggest the SpeedBlade is equally as revolutionary as what came before it, in my opinion, the SpeedBlade represents only evolutionary progress.
Placing clubhead down at address during my testing session at Hersham Golf Club and the most striking difference from RocketBladez to SpeedBlade is that the innovative Speed Pocket in the 3- to 7-iron is now not such a 'little thing' anymore. It's a little wider, a little length-ier and in the shape of a handle bar. See what I did there?
This radical change provides much greater clubface area toward the toe and heel, and allows the face to flex more on shots struck in those areas. The larger sweetspot also helps to enhance ball speed on off-centre hits.
Consequently, I found the revamped slot was providing me with a little better launch angle than the RocketBladez, particularly with the 4-iron, and better feel. A new polymer material has been installed in the Speed Pocket this time around and that appears to dub down any vibration.
The Speed Pocket also features a cut-through slot internally, which allows for more flex and rebound on the bottom part of the face, making the SpeedBlade iron the fastest face TaylorMade has ever created. This measures right up to the COR limit, so I've been told.
How did the SpeedBlade perform in our Game Improvement Irons Test 2014?
But TaylorMade isn't just interested in making one sly change to the SpeedBlade. Far from it.
The most noticeable structural change is how TaylorMade has chopped off the chunky toe section on the rear part of the iron. This has allowed the brand to place more weight lower and deeper in the head to give the SpeedBlade the lowest centre of gravity in TaylorMade's history.
According to our friends at TaylorMade, 72% of golfers make contact with the ball on the bottom part of the face and so I'm sure the game improvers among you will agree this is a welcome addition.
One slight difference in terms of appearance, aside the colour switch from Norwich to Chelsea, the SpeedBlade appears much smaller and compact than the RocketBladez in its new two-tone, satin-nickel-chrome finish with dark smoke plating. TaylorMade says this creates more visual shrinkage at address and I'd have to say I agree.
The combination of the new structure, dampening mechanism and SpeedPocket filler make the SpeedBlade irons noticeably less harsh at address, turning the RocketBladez’s clank into more of a SpeedBlade smoosh. While I loved the 'blade-like' feel of the RocketBladez, it was far too loud. Yes, the SpeedBlade is still a little vociferous but not anywhere near as deafening as those gun shots!
In terms of topline, something I always like noting when it comes to a GI iron, there's a larger topline on the long irons in comparison to the RocketBladez to help inspire a little more confidence at address. If I'm honest, the toplines are a little big on the long sticks, and the offset is a little more visible than I'd like from 6-iron down. Then again, that's just personal preference and they're by no means off-putting.
The short irons don't have a Speed Pocket but they do at least feature a thinner topline and sole and I found that was helping me work and flight the ball a little better than previous.
TaylorMade has also ensured its SpeedBlade irons close the gaps in your set. Long irons are designed to go higher and longer and close the gap between your longest iron and shortest fairway wood, but they have also designed three wedges to prevent distance gaps nearer the green.
SpeedBlade Attack, Sand and Lob wedges have been designed with a traditional Tour shape and blade construction to not only fit the eye of a player, but also fit a gap in their bag. The sand and lob wedges feature TaylorMade's ATV (All Terrain Versatility) engineered to produce better feel, spin and control from a variety of lies around the green.
Although TaylorMade is not making any distance guarantees this time around, it does attest the SpeedBlade 6-iron travels more than ten yards further and 4% higher than the 2009 TaylorMade Tour Burner iron.
Dusting down a Burner 6-iron from my garage and using a rangefinder, I can safely the SpeedBlade travelled at least five yards further on average. SpeedBlade 6-iron (27.5-degree) reached a 170-yard average, while the Tour Burner crawled over 165 (27-degree). RocketBladez (27.5-degree), when I tested the club in our Ten of the Best: 2013 Game Improvement irons earlier this year, reached 169. The ball with the SpeedBlade launched slightly higher than Burner but the same as the RocketBladez.
Although nothing particularly ground-breaking in terms of distance, for my own game at least, any actual increases in distance aren’t the result of loft-jacking, or shaft lengthening, or any of that other evil stuff golf companies sometimes do to make iron shots fly further.
This time around the distance increases, according to TaylorMade, are the result of collaboration with the company's metalwoods team and an improved understanding of their own slot technology.
TaylorMade has designed its best game improvement iron-to-date, in my book. As I mentioned earlier, the RocketBladez was going to be a hard nut to crack but the SpeedBlade has done it.
I love the new look, the dubbed-down sound at impact is a welcome bonus (although there's still room for improvement) and the widened and lengthened Speed Pocket achieves a much higher ball flight and faster ball speed on those off-centre hits.
While there's probably a little too much of a topline for me and perhaps just too much offset in the longer irons for me to put these in the bag, the game improver will love that for added confidence standing over the ball.
£600 for the set might sound a tad expensive but if you struggle to make solid contact with your long irons, look no further. The revamped Speed Pocket will unlock and make more flexible the lower part of the face so thinned shots will come off with a little more speed and higher launch.