Taylormade Rocketballz Stage 2 Fairway wood and Hybrid – Official MGS Forum Review by Super Tuna
Greetings fair travellers from near and far! Welcome to Tuna’s House of Fish-ier! Today for your amazement we will be plumping the depths of insanity, distance and look at such exotic creatures as Beauty and the Beast. Come one! Come all! This is the greatest, FISH-IER show on earth or in the Sea!
Ahem. Please excuse me for a moment. Mr. Toulan needs the whip back to drive the team to even greater feats.
Right, now that that’s all settled. Welcome to the second installment of my review of the Rocketballz Stage 2 Fairway wood and Hybrid. As a refresher for those who simply don’t don’t to scroll up, I have had the opportunity to test the Stage 2 Tour 3 wood and Stage 2 Tour 2 hybrid, both in stiff flex.
This review has and is continuing to be quite interesting to me. I’ve always seen Taylormade as a distance only company. I haven’t been around golf all that long, so any marketing or brand ideals that have been around longer than 3 years or so are unlikely to get a response from me without some research. Within this time period, Taylormade has been all about the white and the distance and I’ve been iffy about both, along with being somewhat hesitant to try their clubs due to all the claims of gimmick online. As it turns out, while that’s a fine extraction from the marketing, at least in terms of distance claims, the part about gimmicks and not even trying the clubs was not. If nothing else, I have a much greater respect for why Taylormade clubs sell when they claim distance. Because they simply put are long. Longest? That’s for each golfer to decide.
Thus stepping into this review, I wasn’t really sure where the assumptions online of the naysayers were about to be backed up or shattered beyond belief. It’s certainly been interesting up until now, and it’s going to be for the foreseeable future. Long term testing producing the greatest results and all of that.
I’m going to take this brief snippet here to mention that a few of the photo’s shows the ball sitting down with one of the clubs behind it. That’s to show you what I consider light rough for Vancouver courses so you can make a comparison from my findings to your local condition.
“At last the anchor was up, the sails were set, and off we glided.” - MelvillePerformanceHybrid Performance
Before we jump straight down the rabbit hole I’d like to clear up some definitions just so we’re on the same page because when people say hybrid there seems to be a fair bot of meaning. With hybrids, one can have the quasi iron. Heck, I consider the RocketBladez 3 and 4 iron to effectively be hybrids.
One can also have those that are more fairway wood in appearance and function.
One can also have those that fall into the happy medium between an iron and a fairway. The Stage 2 Tour hybrid falls into this category. I’m only mentioning it at the beginning, as each style of hybrid tends to alter the expected performance and for the golfer they’re suited to.
Now that the foreplay is over with, let’s cut right to the goodies. Is it long? Oh yes, little Tuna Fry, it’s long. Now, no where do I see a distance claim related only to the hybrid. Taylormade’s claim last year about the 17 yards was directly tied to the fairway. Saying that they offer 10 more on top of the 17, seems to also lie at the feet of the fairway. So the question really becomes, how much more can you get out of the smaller, more compact hybrid? As it turns out, quite a bit.
Over 6 rounds, 3 Trackman sessions and 1 using an AboutGolf simulator I put the hybrid up on it’s own as well as against a number of Challengers. Most notable the club that lived in my bag before, a Razr X Tour #2 hybrid with a Fubuki AX 350H shaft. It had made the bag due to the variety of lies it could be hit from and the trademark smoothness that the Fubuki AX line offers to those with mid tempo transitions.
What I pulled from those sessions is interesting. The Stage 2 hybrid did not launch nearly as high even when I cranked the loft up to 18 degrees. It was more than a full degree lower (average 1.3 degrees lower) and had a lower apex height by a whopping 21.3 feet. The the spin rate also dropped by an average of 800 RPM’s and ball speed went up 3.4 miles per hour. Thus the net changes for carry distance from 214 yards to 223 yards with the Stage 2 hybrid. What also changes is that with the lower flight and less spin, I was getting more roll out on the ball whether it was at a green or a fairway.
For those counting at home, the original Razr picked up 2 miles of ball speed on the 1st Gen RBZ. Thus from the first gen to the Stage 2 Tour hybrid head I picked up 5.5 miles an hour of speed. If those kinds of jumps are behind Taylormade’s distance marketing, they can make all the ridiculous commercials with Jason Day talking about his distance jumps in a growl he can’t pull off that they want.
To be honest, it actually causes me issues when shooting at a green as I couldn’t be confident the ball would stop. I’d have to aim for the front portion and expect it to release to the back, or aim for the rough in front of the green and let it hop on.
That being said, this is not a club I shoot for the green for. I use this club for distance from the tee that I can count on for the good second shot. Or I hit it from the rough to get me back into a hole when I’ve flubbed the drive or have a dog leg hole where the first shot is very short with a long second shot.
As it turns out, it’s a good thing I use it that way because I found the club very finicky from the fairway. It is miles better than the 1st Gen of the RBZ hybrids. The fair isn’t as deep, the head isn’t so long front to back and they clearly put more attention into the sole. All that being said, the face is still plenty deep for a hybrid and picking the ball clean off the fairway while maintaining height and ball speed is simply not an ability within my arsenal with this club.
The deeper face really shines from the rough, but the trade-off is that it’s not as easy off the fairway. The other nice thing is that the smaller head is a nice step up from the 1st Gen heads for shots from the rough. It’s not grabbed as badly, which is key for me when looking at hybrid performance.
Take a breather now as I know that was a heart thumping section. Ready? Let’s talk about the goblin in the room: Accuracy and Control.
As we head down this path, I’m firstly going to admit that I’ve always thought this wasn’t Taylormade’s strongest suit. The 1st Gen RBZ driver is silly long, but directionality can be suspect. Same thing with the wildly popular Burner 2.0 irons.
In regards to the hybrid, I’ve found that they’ve tightened it up but that it’s still a fairly large window. Now, part of that is obviously going to depend on the golfer. Rickles as a 1 or plus handicap can probably throw a blanket over his shots, mine tend to be a bit wider as a 10 handicap.
My dispersion rate was middling 18 yards with almost everything missing left of center.
While we’re on the left of center dispersion I want to make note of two things.
1: I choked way down on the club as it was simply too long for me
2: The lie angle on these was very, very upright for my height and swing posture. At 58.5 for the Tour 2 hybrid, it has the same lie angle as my 6 iron. This is going to mean shots on a clean hit are going to go left for me and on an iffy fat strike are going to go even more left as the heel grabs before impact and twists.
That being said, 18 yards is a pretty good window to hit a fairway from a tee or get back on the fairway from the rough while advancing the ball, less so at going for the green. I don’t do that with this club or this style of club, but if you do, it’s something to consider.
Hybrid Score out of 100: 95 little Tuna Fry’s!
(-10 for fairway performance, +5 for ball speed jump, +5 for better performance from the rough -5 for dispersion window being less than perfect)Fairway Performance
As you’ll see throughout the review, I flat out struggled with this club. I’d be the guy that gets removed from the Averages on the MGS home page reviews because I’m skewing the numbers so bad.
Following that disclaimer, let’s look at distance first again. I put it straight up against the 1st Gen RBZ Tour 3 head to see what we’re getting year over year. I can’t reasonably expect huge distance jumps as the advertising promotes as they’re for golfers generating 150mph ball speed with a 3 wood, which is outside my realm (155.4MPH with a driver is my average this year in case anyone is looking for a baseline).
I did however see a modest jump of 1.9mph average, along with a 400RPM spin reduction which gave me a solid jump of 7 yards with a height decrease of only 4.8 feet. That’s rather impressive if one is going to be shooting for the green, since you’re getting the extra carry distance, but not a lot of unexpected rollout.
Wail and gnash your teeth all you like at the distance marketing that Taylormade does, they’re backing it up year over year with the RBZ line. Heck, you can’t even have a go at them over shaft length being the cause, since they’re the same. As was swing weight by the way, a spot on D4 for both clubs.
My real issue and where I struggled so badly with the club was course performance and dispersion.
I missed both ways with the club and often. Rarely did I manage anything looking like a straight shot and looking at the spec’s, it’s exactly what I would expect to happen due to the length and the upright lie. I had a dispersion range of 57 yards to the tune of 25ish to the left and 32ish to the right.
Given that my dispersion was so bad, you’d think that all control was out the window, but not quite. I found it fairly easy to launch it like a worm seeking missile or hoist the ball way up which effectively controlled my dispersion. Worm killer missile shots always went left and high shots were always right. If nothing else, the club was extremely consistent.
For on course performance, I found it exactly the opposite of the hybrid. It was good from the fairway and a better fairway player could easily pick the ball off a tight lie and elevate it nicely. I hard a harder time on the tee as the smaller face does not leave one with much margin for error. That combined with swinging down on it (aver -2.9 attack angle with the 3 wood) meant that I clocked it high on the face a fair bit and Gear Effect kicked in.
It also gave me a torrid time out of the rough. The head might to “tour” sized for a fairway, but it’s still large and getting in and out of the rough with anything approximating good speed simply wasn’t in the cards. In Vancouver, our rough tends to be fluffy but also decently deep, nothing like Tour conditions or even conditions in say North Carolina (where I’ve had the pleasure to golf a number of times). In those types of climates and rough, I’d say you’d get more value from trying the wood shots there. Up here on the fluffy rough golf courses on the Hippy Coast? Not so much.
Fairway Score out of 100: 80 little Tuna Fry’s!
(-15 for dispersion, +5 for consistency, +5 for ball speed jump, -10 for rough performance, -10 for tee performance, +5 for fairway performance)Performance Notes
Performance for me with the two clubs is really Beauty and Beast for me. Though I have to say Cogsworth was clearly not talking about Taylormade with his response to” I want to do something, but what?” when he said “Well, there's the usual things: flowers... chocolates... promises you don't intend to keep...”
Taylormade promised more distance, and that’s exactly what they provided. Simply put, it’s down to the golfer to see if they can harness that distance and being willing to get fit to ensure that they can. It’s great that the Stage 2 woods and hybrids do exactly what they say on the tin immediately from the shelf. However throughout the review, I couldn’t stop the feeling that I as missing out on performance still, be it potentially more distance or a tighter dispersion. I believe with my findings above, that while I might not find any more of the former, significant gains in the later can likely be achieved.
Simply put, the hybrid did everything I hoped it would. It’s a legitimate 4 wood replacement club that gives me consistent distance and consistent control, even if it’s not as tight as it could be. And I get it all in a more attractive head size.
The fairway wood is more tricky. I mean, I could somewhat control it. Aim way left, go for the high shot and be on the far right side of the fairway, if it’s decently open but that’s really sugar coating it. The performance of the club and I simply don’t get along in its current form.Total Performance Score: 87.5 little Tuna Fry’s!SubjectiveLooks
Now here is where things start to get really polarizing for people. Much like any change in head colour, graphics, alignment aids, you are going to have those who love them and hate them. Personally, I waffle between the two like a politician.
On one hand, I really like the white. I wilfully hold my hand up as someone who thought the white was weird when Taylormade really pushed the concept to market. I preferred a black head with a smaller size at address whether it was a driver, fairway or hybrid. The white however was won me over. I heartily enjoy the lack of glare that comes off them, rare as sunshine is in Vancouver. However I don’t subscribe to the contrast idea that a white head with a black face helps players align themselves better.
With the Stage 2 woods, it looks like Taylormade listened to players such as I in regards to alignment and added some crown graphics to make things easier. While I love the concept of the design, the practicality and execution leaves a bit to be desired.
First, there’s the crowd that claims it’s a massive distraction at address. Taylormade (and other OEM’s) that use crown graphics aren’t so sure. They have a fair bit of research that backs up the idea that when golfers address the ball where the graphics are located are outside of their vision and thus shouldn’t prove a distraction. My problem with that is twofold. First, I’m an awful abstract thinker and tend to plot my way around the course according to odd geometric design lines that are both logically sound and aesthetically pleasing. Yes, I’m a total odd ball that draws lines over course maps to have them form patterns. Yes, I’m crazy, but not officially. Much like Sheldon’s mom, mine had me tested as well. The point of this ramble is that I focus on those graphics to distraction. They’re spot on just right that my eye wants to follow them on take away. This unfortunately caused a disastrous chain of events that leads to many a worm being decapitated.
My second problem is that if golfers don’t notice the graphics, what use are they to align properly? Yes, many skilled players stand behind the ball, draw imaginary target lines in the air and then are able to align themselves to those lines once they address the ball, ensuring that the club face is smack on that line. What I can also tell you, is that most golfers have as much of a chance of doing that and the Missus does at having a Bubba Hovercraft or Ms. Gulbis does at showing up for the MGS Vancouver Open. Golfers fiddle around with face angle and alignment at address quite a lot. If the graphics aren’t noticeable, then what’s the purpose? They aren’t exactly picked up well by TV cameras for Tour identification so alignment must be the purpose.
There’s something else I really want to touch on and that’s the change to the graphics when one uses the FCT settings.
When adjusting the fairway with the FCT to open/closed, the graphics really make the club look that way. A closed faced Tour 3 wood looks to my eye, more closed then it actually measures. My concern with that is that one of two things will happen.
1: The player closes/opens the face to alter the loft then manually manipulates it at address to get it to neutral again where they’ve just rendered the FCT setting changes useless.
2: It’s going to promote a swing path change. Someone who closes the face because the ball wants to go right on them are then doing to swing along the alignment path line and end up either belting it straight left (for a right hander) or cut across the face of the ball even more promoting more side spin.
I also want to highlight that the sole of the Tour 3 wood and Tour 2 hybrid are different. With the Tour 3, when I set that to open/closed, it’s pronounced in its changes. With the Tour hybrid, the sole seems to have more of a slope on it. I found that when I cranked it all the way closed or all the way open it wasn’t as startling in its appearance change. You could tell, but not to the extent of the Tour 3 Wood. I think for those that prefer a more neutral looking club but need the loft and face angle change the FCT provides are going to enjoy the looks of the hybrid more at address.
Others have commented that they suspect the yellow and grey scheme are not going to hold up over time. I’m extremely curious to see if this will be the case or not.
Looks Score out of 100: 90 little Tuna fry’s!
(-10 for the graphics, +5 because I’m crazy and they shouldn’t bother me, -10 for the fairway’s massive FCT looks, +5 for the clever hybrid looks)Sound and Feel
At least to my thinking, the sound and feel despite the speed slot, is classic Taylormade. It sounds like you absolutely murdered the ball with a lovely crack whether you did or not. Even mishits sound like they’re going to double check if Pluto is big enough to be a planet for you before landing on the fairway and rolling to a pleasing distance.
Feel is also quite different to my senses between the fairway and hybrid. The hybrid feels slightly more smack-ier while the fairway is more ting-ier. It’s hard to describe, but the hybrid feels like I just clobbered the golf ball with a side of beef. It gives that solid, meaty smack to the contact. The fairway is more like the ball was hit with a broad sword, more of a metallic sound and not quite as solid.
Overall feel is another matter. As Rickles alluded to above, some of us have been talking smack about the feel of the shafts. I simply put, find them horrendous but I refuse to blame Taylormade and lay it squarely on the feet of Matrix who supplies the shafts for the Tour 3 wood and Tour 2 Hybrid. Matrix has gone off the deep end this year with the X/Q/M shafts. They’ve entirely lost the firm but fluid feel that was their signature before and why they were so loved aside from the tight tolerances. Gone is that feeling and unfortunately, it’s infected the Stage 2 woods. The shaft turns this club from a classic feeling Taylormade club into something much more dead and dull. I understand that with the Tour model, one gets a different shaft. I also understand that those who tend to be drawn to Tour model clubs and shafts typically have a quicker tempo with which to load these styles of shafts. That being said, I think they took it too far.
I think when fitting these clubs, players are going to have to be very careful about the shaft they choose to pair this club with. The head is hot, there’s no denying that. It’s just what sort of platform allows you to harness that power rather than play military golf. Fortunately, Taylormade offers a wide variety in their TP options that will suit anyone.
I cannot tell you how excited I am to adjust the length and swap the shaft and start reaping the added performance bonuses. Or attempt to anyway. That will all be covered in the follow up review which will go from Tuna-ier to Tuna-ier-ier.
Sound and Feel score out of 100: 80 little Tuna fry’s!
(-20 to Matrix for the shaft which does no favours to the classic lively but solid feel of Taylormade woods)Likelihood of Purchase
This one is very easy for me, since I was looking at purchasing them before the review came up as I’m looking for a long club that suits my eye and my needs between my trust 21 hybrid and the driver. In regards to that situation, I’m much more inclined to purchase the hybrid over the fairway. I’m also quite inclined to purchase this specific hybrid as it’s uses for me are generally off the tee and out of the rough, both spots where the club shines. With a fitted shaft, it’s really hard to see what could stand toe to toe with it and come out ahead.
The 3 wood is hard for me to score. If I was inclined to purchase a fairway, this would be up there for the pure distance that it offers. However as my testing shows, I simply do not get along with it from a performance stand point nor a looks one.
LOP Score out of 100: 95 for the hybrid (100 with a fitted TP shaft), 60 for the fairway. Average of 77.5 little Tuna Fry’s!Subjective Notes
In case you didn’t make it through the subjective wall of text here the quick-ier version.
I love the hybrid. Aside from the alignment graphics that gives me fits, the look is quite nice. Good depth, great boxy style toe that doesn’t look too square at address to suit all parties, sounds good, feels intoxicating even on mishits.
The fairway wood if it was in my bag would be my nemesis. My iron Byron to a MGS club test as it were. The looks don’t wow me, the feel is not what I’m looking for. That being said, I want anyone who is a fan of Ping fairway woods to go give this a hit. It feels very Ping like with the metallic ting and frankly if you can deal with those battle axe graphics, the alignment aid shouldn’t bother you eitherTotal Subjective Score: 82.5 little Tuna Fry’s!
So, to my conclusions which at this juncture, I would hope are easily spotted. The hybrid works wonders for me, and hopefully for anyone that prefers hybrids due to the smaller head size . The performance is there, the control is there right from the rack. You should still get fit to really dial it in and get all you can out of it, but it’s definitely worth a swing or five to try out.
The fairway and I didn’t really get along but I feel it was sort of doomed at the beginning. The club is as long as my driver and has a more upright lie angle to boot. Both of these are the perfect storm to cause me issues. That being said, I’ve been fairly impressed with the consistently of my misses. That bodes extremely well for people who hit it consistently right from the beginning.
To this end, I’m not sure the performance score or overall score is really fair when you combine the two clubs together. The hybrid obviously suits my eye better and performs well, why the 3 wood didn’t. Having the hybrids score dragged down or the fairway’s score propped up doesn’t seem the best recipe.
The graphics drive me bonkers. I wish they were either extended closer to the face or where in a different colour or something. Despite the comments from many other tests, after a month, I still find them distracting.
The shafts are downright awful. I’m distinctly unimpressed with the change Matrix made to their lineup and how that effects the feel of the rest of the club. I’ve tested a tone of shafts, my personal catalogue is HUGE and those that know me, know I can back up the findings. Thus I’m able to change my swing to suit a shaft as needed. I’ve not enjoyed adjusting to these and rank them well down with other such unresponsive offerings. As you read, there’s replacements on the way that will liven these heads back up. With that increased feel, I’m really looking forward to seeing how the performance changes if any. It may very well be that I increase my distance, decrease my dispersion, or maybe both will get worse. May you live in interesting times indeed.Total Score: 85 (average Performance and Subjective Scores)The Six:1: Will one or both of these clubs go in your bag? Why or Why Not?
The hybrid is getting a shaft change, length change (and hopefully an effectively lie angle change with the length alteration) and is going straight into the bag. It simply murdered the other candidate.
The Fairway wood, I think you know the answer to that. It will be in the bag for the MGS Vancouver Open because I want to see how other people get along with it. Yes, I will be cutting on RoverRick to take a number of swipes to see how it goes.2: To whom, if anyone would you recommend these clubs? Why?
To game either of these clubs, I think you’re going to have to be fairly proficient with that type of club. I don’t find Taylormade fairways or hybrids all that forgiving at the best of times and the Tour versions are even more so. If you’re really looking to harness the distance that Taylormade is offering up, you really have to like that style of club. I could very easily see someone who likes hybrids roll with say a 2/3/4/5 hybrid setup all the way to their irons where as those who like fairway woods better should really check out the 3, 5, 7 offerings.
Tour versions in general though, off the rack, are going to suit low handicappers with a faster swing tempo and a late release better.3: How if did these clubs change your overall impression of Taylormade
Between testing these and hitting the Rocketbladez standard and Tour irons at the store, I think this is Taylormade’s most complete line of clubs top to bottom. To me, it proved they aren’t just a driver company. Distance sells and sells well, and while they don’t talk about it and should in my opinion, they’ve got a good grasp on the accuracy game presuming the club fits you.4: What feature would you change or eliminate from the next generation of this model?
Different style of graphics perhaps or the ability to customize the colours as other OEM’s are allowing for would be nice.
An option to get something with a shorter lie angle would really help out as well for those of us who are sub 6 feet. It drives me bonkers that the lie angle is so high to start with and then the FCT settings are for cranking it up even more.5: What feature do you really like and would most like to see continued or evolved in future models?
Well, the FCT slot is here to stay though I’m sure there will be some more refinements.
I don’t want them to give up on alignment graphics so I’d like to see that thought process evolved in terms of shapes or colours that might help.
In terms of keeping but not doing anything to it, leave the FCT alone. It’s brilliant, it makes effective changes and it’s easy to understand. The peril meter at Taylormade will be ramping up to peril-ier the day it goes with mass rioting.6: Why is it called the six when there are only five questions?
So you can bask in my radiance of my review a little while longer.
I laught at your claims to fight a zombie apocalypse when most of you can't stand up to a Spider