RocketBallz has just got RocketBallzier, claimed TaylorMade, before handing me its brand new RBZ Stage 2 fairway wood at the Paul McGinley Golf Academy in Portugal.
If being one of the first people in Europe to test the new RBZ Stage 2 3-wood (15-degree) wasn’t nerve-racking enough, I had the 2014 European Ryder Cup captain standing behind me, arms folded, watching attentively. Talk about being on Stage 2.
Under intense pressure just to pull the club back, I was somewhat surprised to see the ball fly high into the blazing sun and out to some 220 yards. Although not my greatest hit, it was a solid start to proceedings and TaylorMade could breathe a huge sigh of relief that I hadn’t turned the club into RBZ Square 1.
McGinley had seen enough and moved onto the next red-faced journo. With no spectators on hand, it was time to loosen up and get testing.
While I am a whisker away from generating a 150mph ball speed, which TaylorMade says you need to achieve in order to accomplish a ten-yard distance gain on the original RBZ – which offered you a dramatic addition of 17 yards – getting the ball airborne was an effortless procedure.
If I’m honest, the ability to get the ball in the sky is much more important to me than distance when it comes to a fairway wood. But with the TaylorMade RBZ Stage 2, you enjoy the best of both worlds.
This is all thanks to a wider and improved Speed Pocket where a lower and further forward centre of gravity location attributes to higher launch and lower spin. The Speed Pocket also pushed my ball speed up to 145mph. Carry when hitting the ball off the deck averaged 225 yards and distance reached 235 yards – a five-yard bonus on my current RBZ and worryingly close to my driving distance.
Speaking to McGinley after my testing session, the Irishman explained how he has been forced to drop down from a 3- to 4-wood, as well as trim an inch off the shaft, all because of the dramatic distance gains since joining the RBZ family.
Ensuring he has a fairway wood that gaps to his desired 235 yards, the distance gains of the RBZ Stage 2 is a tremendous asset for him since the additional loft of a 4-wood provides him with a much softer landing trajectory and allows him to stop the ball quicker when going for a par-5 in two. Consequently, all this new technology means McGinley can keep up to speed with the big boys.
“The RBZ Stage 2 fairway makes a much bigger difference to us average hitters than it does to someone like Dustin Johnson, who is just about always going in with an iron to a par-5,” said McGinley.
In terms of appearance, the aggressive crown design and alignment aid is a dramatic improvement on the original RBZ as it allows you to focus in on the target line. I wasn’t sure about the ‘V’ design on the non-glare white crown at first but after a while, my eyes were fixated on the left-hand side of the head at address and I could align with confidence.
And just as the case with the new TaylorMade R1 driver, the eye-catching racing lines at the top and bottom provide the essence of power and speed, which is exactly what this club delivers. The bright yellow and black headcover will also look great in the bag.
The TaylorMade RBZ Stage 2 fairway may scream distance gains but it’s the lower profile and shallower clubface that gets me excited as this makes it exceptionally easy to launch the ball in the air. The 3-wood was also relatively easy to draw and fade – perfect for when requiring a shaped second into a par-5. As for the crown design, it might take some getting used to, but once you do, you’ll be aligning with confidence.
If there is one word of caution, it’s to ensure you try out the 3-wood before you buy to ensure you’re not hitting it longer or close to your driver, as you don’t want to be over or under shooting par-4s or par-5s with your second shot. To counter this, as McGinley has done, you could always drop down to 17-, 19-, 21- or 23-degree RBZ Stage 2 versions.
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