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RBZ Stage 2 Fairway and Hybrid Forum Member Reviews!


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#1 GolfSpy WD

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Posted 25 March 2013 - 02:20 AM

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Rickles Unboxing Review
Mr_Theoo Unboxing Review
Jgolf Unboxing Review
wdgolf Unboxing (Mildly NSFW) Review
Super Tuna Unboxing Review


#2 Rickles

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Posted 25 March 2013 - 02:21 AM

PHASE 1: Unboxing/Initial Impressions

Unboxing

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This box was on my doorstep in about one week from when I told Golf Spy T what I would like for the options on my new Taylor Made Rocket Balls Stage 2 fairway wood and hybrid. I was very psyched with how quick the shipping was. The other reviewers were not so psyched. They waited almost another week and Tuna still doesn't have his. Dang you customs! Thanks to Taylor Made and My Golf Spy for making this happen.

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I was expecting something a little out of the boxier (that’s #1 on the –ier count for those keeping track) when it came to the packaging, especially after seeing the Rocket Bladez reviews. However the packaging was more than adequate with heads wrapped in bubble wrap and the clubs in full plastic bags to protect the shafts. Each club also had a head cover and a user’s manual for the clubs.

I ordered a tour 3 fairway in 14.5 degrees and an 18.5 tour hybrid. These heads are adjustable up and down in loft in half-degree increments up and down by 1.5 degrees, hence the users manual. However, there was no wrench included. Come on TM! I wasn’t expecting to get two wrenches, but to not even send one. I figured they made a mistake, but after contacting the other guys I found out they didn’t get one either. I later heard that retail stores also get no wrenches with their fairways and hybrids. Only the drivers come with a wrench. Even if this is the case, I thought TM would have sent us a wrench just to impress us. They have to see that every reviewer who gets a tour head will mention not including the wrench. To me it seems a little cheap, but I digress. Both clubs also came with the standard Matrix Rocket Fuel shafts and the standard sized Taylor Made tour velvet style grip.

Initial Impressions

Looks


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I am a traditionalist and in the past have even been accused of being a club snob. I carried Mizuno blades for the last seven years and have always been partial to black, pear shaped, deep faced, smaller headed woods, thus my initial reaction when looking down at the head was first, I don’t particularly like white, and second, those crown graphics are God awful. (I’m a Pastor so I don’t use the term God awful lightly!) Even though I have always been the low handicap, I play blades because I can snob; lately I have grown up (Or I’ve gotten old) and have been more concerned with results. Getting outdriven by younger guys who aren’t fat in amateur tournaments will do that to you. I have been playing cavity backs for about three months and even though I don’t like the way they look as much they work better on slight misses. So all of that was just to say that even though I think they are ugly, if they perform, they will stay in the bag.

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Feel

And from the feel they could make the cut. They have a nice heavy (D3) swing weight. You can feel the head throughout the swing on both the fairway and hybrid and the shafts have a nice feel. They load and kick smoothly without feeling too whippy. Best of all, they set up open. Like most low single digits I have a severe fear of hooking and I work hard in most cases to have a standard ball flight that falls right at the end. My current three wood is a hook machine, so much so that I don’t carry it half the time. I’ve actually only had one three wood in my life that I loved. Yet, the way this club sets up open gives me confidence. Also, the crown graphics make it very obvious that the face sits open slightly. Maybe the graphics are not so bad after all. I immediately took them to the range and hit them, but I’ll save that for the review. I will give you a teaser and say that contrary to what Golf Spy T thinks, the fairway wood, at least for me, may not be dead. We are coming up on Easter and I’m hoping that this new Rocket Balls Stage 2 might resurrect the fairway wood for me. I’m keeping an open mind. How’s that for Long windedier (-ier #2) ?

It's all about the short game, unless you can't keep it in play!

What's in my Bag:
Driver: Adams Speedline Super LS 10.5 with Excalibur T7+ tour stiff shaft
3 Wood: Adams Speedline Super LS 13 degree with Excalibur TFW Tour stiff shaft
Hybrid: Nickent 6DT 19 degree Aldilla Voodoo NV Stiff shaft
Irons: 4-9 KZG Tour Evolution with Nippon N.S. Pro Modus 3 tour 120 x flex shafts
Wedges:49 degree Dave Pelz wedge with a Nippon N.S. Pro Modus tour 120 x flex shaft. 54,64 Dave Pelz wedges with Rifle spinner shafts 59 Degree Scor wedge with rifle spinner shaft.
Putter: Bentinardi Ben Hogan Big Ben Center shafted 33 inches with best grips custom pistol putter grip.

Ball: Titleist Pro V1X, Callaway Hex Chrome +


#3 Rickles

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Posted 25 March 2013 - 02:22 AM

Rocket Ballz Stage 2 Fairway and Hybrid – Official MGS Forum Review by Rickles

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Are you a club snob? Do you pick your irons based on how closely they resemble a butter knife? Do you scoff at the words offset, oversized, cavity back, or game improvement? Do you think fairway woods should be black? Does hearing the term “crown graphics” make you throw up in your mouth a little? Do you like to use the word “feel” a lot?

Or maybe you are a performance Nazi. Do you find yourself saying things like “The only thing that matters is how a club performs”? Are you obsessed with launch monitor numbers and simulators? Would you rather test with a launch monitor than on the actual driving range? Do you actually know your launch angle and spin rate? Do you love the word dispersion?

Whichever type of club ho you are this review has a little something for you. Or maybe, if you are willing to be open minded, it might have a lot for you. Let me tell you a little about me. I am a 1 handicap who has played the same Mizuno MP 32 blades for 7 years, wants to be able to work the ball, cares a lot about how a club feels, and likes a traditional look. However, I am also a Dave Pelz nut that thinks that science and data can help you and me be a better golfer. I keep stats when I play to figure out how to practice to improve my weaknesses. I think people should be custom fit for clubs. I will get launch monitor testing before I get my next driver and I think the right shaft can make a big difference. I would also like to say that even though I like traditional looks I would play anything that works better for me. I just may not pick a club up and try it out to see if it works better if the club is ugly.

This gets us into the Rocket Balls Stage 2 Hybrid and Fairways. I tested these clubs hard and did my best to compare them to my current gamers on the range and on the course multiple times. I do not have any launch monitor data, but I did use my range finder to measure shots on many occasions and I will tell you a lot about feel and actual real world ball flight. Because for me, all that really matters is how they perform on the course. This is also a cop out because the nearest access to a launch monitor was an hour and a half away. I could never get there even though I wanted to.

Now for a few words from my inner club snob. By looks alone I would not buy these golf clubs. They are white (yuck) and they have crazy “crown graphics” (there’s that bile in my mouth again). However, if they perform better than my current three wood and hybrid I will bag them. I just might have rookie blue repaint them. So for me, even if they are not prettier (ier #1), we will see if they are better performing-ier (#2). Read on for some more of my schizophrenic review.

Performance

Hybrid Performance

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Here is the performance cliff notes for the Rocket Ballz Stage 2 18.5 degree tour hybrid with the standard rocket fuel shaft in stiff flex: Longi-er, High-ier, and Straight-ier. I would like it to be More Workable-ier! (OK, I think I’m done with the –iers for the rest of this review. I’m already tired of it and I think you are too.)

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When I first got the tour 18.5 degree hybrid I was absolutely amazed at the performance of this clubs. It was like I could not get them to hit anything but straight. Good contact is high and straight. My mishit, which is a little out on the toe, would start 10 yards right and then draw back to center. It would land shorter but then run almost the same distance. I was comparing this 18.5 degree tour Rocket Ballz Stage 2 hybrid to my 19 degree Nickent 6DT and my 15 degree Sonartec MD. The Rocket Ballz Launches Higher than both carries 10 to 15 yards further than the Nickent and flies the same distance as the Sonartec. The Sonartec runs more but that is to be expected when it has 15 degrees of loft. I was carrying both of these other hybrids however, the Rocket Ballz is good because it does double duty. It goes far enough to replace the MD as a tight driving hole tee club, but it goes high enough and stops quick enough to use on long shots into greens like the Nickent. I also did not have any trouble hitting the ball lower in the wind as needed with the Rocket Ballz Stage 2. Being able to flight the ball lower if needed is really important here in Texas. There are a few drawbacks to the Rocket Ballz Hybrid though. As a low handicapper I hate hitting hooks. When I was younger I played a big sweeping draw (ok maybe a hook) with every club and I worked hard in college to get rid of it. That being said I hate to see the ball go left. This club is more likely to go left, which I am not used to. But, it is not a hook for the most part and most of the time it is straight. That being said, I have a lot of trouble hitting a cut with this club. I would like the like the club to be more workable. Also, the draws tended to be worse out of the rough for me. This club works fine out of the rough. However, I do notice that with my smaller headed hybrids rough shots are a little easier and less likely to go left. That being said, I haven’t had tons of experience with them out of the rough here in Texas. This spring and Summer I will play some better courses with thicker rough and will make sure to give more info in my follow up review.

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Hybrid Score: 90 (out of 100) 5 points off for workability, 5 off for performance from the rough. I want to be clear here in saying that I am a tough grader and I found the performance of this clubs to be very good, and as good or better than what I usually play. In order to get an A or A+ they would have to have been near perfect. I also think that with a shaft upgrade they could get there.

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Fairway Wood Performance

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I received a Rocket Ballz Stage 2 14.5 degree tour three wood with the standard rocket fuel shaft in stiff flex. I want you to look at the series of pictures that preceded this section one more time. This is a crazy hole at my home golf course. This green is a peninsula jutting out from a man made lake around which many of the holes border. You tee off on top of the dam and these are the back tees. It’s 235 yards, 220 carry to a green with water on three sides. There are only about 5 of us that ever play these tees. Most of us hit driver and play long on purpose. A good shot here for both scratch amateurs and our head pro and his assistant is a ball that is not in the water. The final picture is a where my first two shots I ever hit on a course with this three wood ended up. The pin was back left so the total distance was 243 as shot with my range finder. On the first ball I aimed at the pin. Played a baby cut to the center of the green and the ball released 20 feet to the back fringe. Our new greens are only a year old, the grass was dormant and it is a Texas Muni so a three wood stopping that quickly is really good. My reaction to this shot was wow, so I teed up another ball and this time went straight for the pin. I aimed at the left bunker cut it straight at the pin, landed in the left fringe. It sat and rolled to 15 feet short. So let me just say that I like this three wood. I wanted to carry it around and give it kisses for the rest on the day.

This story is a life-changing event for me because I have always hated 3 woods. Golf Spy T recently wrote a piece about low lofted hybrids spelling the end of the 3 wood. He said the 3 wood was dead. I say the three wood has been dead to me for years. I have carried a 15 degree hybrid for the last 5 years and even though my Adams f11 ti hit better than any three wood I have ever owned I still only put it in the bag on special occasions where I knew there was a specific shot that needed it, and I almost never needed it. I could hit that 15 degree hybrid as far as a three wood off the tee because of the low trajectory with lots of roll. I could hit it really low into the Texas wind. The only place a three wood was useful was for a reachable par 5 when I needed to carry it on the green and stop it. I do not need to do that very often. I also have always had trouble hitting 3 wood off the deck. Hybrids are just way easier for me. I also always felt like a three wood off the tee went too high and I had more confidence off the tee with a driver than a three wood.This three wood changed that for me. This three wood is phenomenal off the tee. It launches high but does not balloon. It carries a really long way and then just kind of dribbles out. I hit it farther than my 15 degree hybrid and it is almost all carry. Into the wind it is a little bit eerie. Even with the high trajectory the ball just cuts through the wind. Here in Texas people like to say that the wind doesn’t really effect a well struck shot. I think this is a load of bull. However, into the wind the ball seems to only lose 10 yards or so. I was hitting three woods off the deck into a 20 mph wind on the range and landing them in the center of a green that was 215 yards away as shot with my range finder. For a three wood hater like me that is nothing short of amazing. Also, did I mention that I hate going left? This three wood does not hook and I love it. Every other three wood I have ever owned has been a hook machine. I rarely carry my Adams for this reason. The dreaded snap has been known to occur. My natural swing produced a baby cut and if I try to hit one left I get a going draw. For me this is the best feature of the club. It gives me confidence.For everything I have said this club does not allow me to walk on water. It isn’t perfect. The same can definitely be said for the person swinging it. I still do not hit the Rocket Ballz Stage 2 3 wood consistently well off the deck. I do hit it better than my Adams and the other three woods I have tried lately. I still hit the occasional thin low screamer. To Taylor Made’s credit it still goes almost as far as a well-struck shot. I hit this low thin shot the other day on a second shot on a long into the wind par 5 and the guy who I was playing with told me he thought I hit an awesome stinger. I did tell him I didn’t mean to hit it like that. I also wish the head was just a little smaller. I think that would help this club off the deck and out of the rough.

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So to sum up: this three wood is great off the tee. It is long and accurate. It launches high, but I can hit it lower if I need to, but I usually don’t have to because the wind seems to affect this club less. It is very forgiving. My toe hit miss still goes and a thin shot flies low and carries less but still goes about the same distance with run out. I can move the ball left and right and up and down but it does not hook. I love that! This three wood has kicked my 15 degree hybrid out of the bag, which I thought would never happen. It is still white and I do not like the crown graphics and it isn’t a miracle worker off the deck, but I’ve never had a three wood that was.

Fairway Wood Score: 95 (out of 100) This is the best 3 wood I have ever had.

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Performance Notes

These clubs work well together and you can tell they were designed that way. They are consistent as far a trajectory and distance. Both go high, straight and are very forgiving. They also have good distance gaps. The 18.5 hybrid and the 14.5 three wood have about a 15 to 20 yard gap between them. They are longer than my old hybrids and this makes the gap between my longest iron and the hybrid slightly longer, but that isn’t Taylor Made’s fault. I think most of us would be willing to put up with bigger distance gaps to hit our hybrid and 3 wood longer.

Total Performance Score: 92.5

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Subjective

Looks

Here comes the club snob. The head shape is good. It has a nice rounded classic head shape. Both the hybrid and the fairway heads are a little bigger than I would prefer. It is also white, and in my opinion the white makes the club heads look even bigger. I can handle the white, but I prefer black, and I just do not like “crown graphics”. I get queasy just typing it. I will concede that for those who have alignment issues the crown graphics do serve a purpose. They aid in alignment. They are not superfluous like many of the other manufacturers offerings. I will even say that the graphics were one of the things that made the way the 3 wood sits open very obvious. As a better player I like it when a club head sits open and I am assuming that they made the tour heads set up this way on purpose. The 3 wood sets up very open and the hybrid sets up slightly open. The performance is so good that the crown graphics are not a deal breaker.

As for the rest of the looks, the sole, the shaft and the color scheme all look good. The sole says modern technology without over statement and I like that the colors are a little more muted than last years. It looks cool and up to date without being gaudy. The sizes of the heads and the graphics are consistent between the hybrid and 3 wood. It makes me feel like I have a matched set and they were meant to go together. This gives me the confidence that they were designed to work together and cover the gaps effectively and that the same swings with both clubs should produce consistent results. The shafts are great. The flat black with the yellow gives it just the right amount of pop. I even like the head covers and I usually do not like OEM head covers. If you are a Steelers fan you will be in heaven. (Hail to the Redskins) I also want to say something about the black face and sole. I understand that the white head and black face help with contrast for alignment purposes, but from a purely cosmetic stand point I think all clubs that have black faces and soles show their age and use more quickly. I want to make it clear that this is a problem with all black-faced clubs. (That sounds racist like the clubs are putting on a minstrel show or something!) Even after just a few swings the black metal starts to wear a little on the sweet spot, and on the sole where it contacts the ground. If you care about your clubs looking as clean as possible you may want to avoid the black club-faces. However, in this area performance trumps looks. The club is well designed from a visual standpoint. I expect nothing less from the marketing geniuses at Taylor Made. Overall the Rocket Ballz Stage 2 clubs are good looking. Get rid of the white and the crown graphics and they would be near perfect.

Looks Score: 85 (out of 100) 10 off for crown graphics, 5 off for the white head.

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Sound and Feel

When it comes to sound these clubs strike a great balance between a harsh tinny sound and an overly muted thud. The have enough of a click or tink off the face to tell your mind that the clubs are hot. The sound is also loud enough that you can hear that slight change of sound when you catch one thin or off the toe. However, they are also not so loud that you worry about annoying other golfers on the course.

What stood out from the very beginning for me was the feel. When I pulled the clubs out of the box and gave them the waggle I made an audible "ooo" and could not wait to hit them. As soon as my wife got home I begged to go to the range. (Yeah I’m whipped, so what!) I love to be able to feel the club head through out the swing and these clubs have an excellent weighting scheme. Both club heads are D3. That is just slightly heavier than most fairway and hybrid options and to me it feels perfect. It seems like lots of manufacturers are making clubs lighter and lighter in the quest for distance but that can really sacrifice feel for me. When I can’t feel where the club head is I lose confidence and then things go south quickly. For me that extra head weight really helps my tempo and allows me to complete my backswing and quiet my transition. Both of these things lead to more accuracy and distance. You can also feel a miss hit but it doesn’t hurt you or sting your hands.

I think that you are going to hear a lot of other reviewers talk smack about the shafts. I have been hearing words like harsh and dead being thrown around and I am interested to hear their thoughts on the shaft. However, for me I think the shafts feel fine. Notice I did not say great, I said fine. Taylor Made did a good job with the weight of the shafts: lighter in the fairway and heavier in the hybrid. They have similar feel and seem like they were made to go together. I can load them and they do the job and seem like the right flex for me. To me they do not feel super smooth, but they also do not feel harsh or dead. Feel for me is in the middle to the point where I do not really notice anything about the shaft good or bad when I swing the club. That makes one less thing to think about and that is fine with me. I probably could make this club feel even better with an aftermarket shaft but I do not have the money and both clubs work great just the way they are. One thing is for sure, if I ever do re-shaft either of these clubs they better keep the swing weight exactly the same because I love it.

Cliff’s Notes for Sound and Feel: They have the right sound, loud enough to sound hot, soft enough to not be annoying. They have good sound feedback on mishits. The weighting scheme is perfect. You can really feel the head. Shafts are fine but not great. Not harsh but also not silky smooth, but they do the job. Feel is similar with both clubs and they work well together

Sound and feel Score: (95 out of 100) If the shafts were a little better I could have given these a hundred and that is saying something.

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Likelihood of Purchase (LOP)

This is going to sound like crazy talk because I love these clubs and they are both probably going to stay in the bag. Taylor made you earned back a loyalist to your woods. I had an r510 TP and loved it but never really liked the r7, r9, r11. When I look for a new driver I will seriously consider The Rocket Ballz Stage 2, but I would say that my likelihood of purchasing these woods new is slim to none. There is only one statement that explains it. “It’s not you Taylor Made it’s me because I am broke.” I simply cannot afford to buy new clubs on my Music Minister salary with 2 small children at home. If I had the resources I would get them custom fit with shaft upgrades. That being said, other people I know and maybe those I do not know after this review will be more likely to purchase, so hopefully the free product Taylor Made gave me will pay off for them. I think I gave these a pretty glowing review and I would have been more than happy to tell everyone how much they sucked if they did. However, the fact is that they perform great and feel good to me and everyone will know it. That is how the other forum members, myself and the my golf spy team rolls. That is why I love this site. Ok I’m getting emotional again. Back to the review!

LOP Score: 75 (out of 100) 40 out of a hundred likeliness of purchase brand new. 90 out of a hundred likeliness of purchase used on eBay.

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Subjective Notes

Here it is short and sweet. Crown graphics and white head are ugly. Everything else looks great. The sound is right. The clubs have great feel and perfect weight. You can hear and feel mishits in a good way. The shafts could be smoother but they are fine.

Total Subjective Score: 85 (average of Looks, Sound & Feel, and LOP Scores)

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They are in my bag! Yes that is a 64 degree X wedge. Yes I carry four wedges, and yes that is a face on putter.

Conclusion

So who wins out between my inner club snob or my inner performance Nazi? I will answer that question with one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite golf books, Seven Days in Utopia: Golf’s Sacred Journey. “Is it tradition you seek or truth? Is it excellence or acceptance? These are the questions of greatness. These are the questions that must be answered if a man is going to lead a revolution.” As many of you know I am a music minister and I serve in a congregation that has lots of older and younger people. Something myself, the other staff, and our members are always struggling with is the question “Why do we do what we do?” Are we doing things because that is the way we have always done it, or because that is what people want or expect of us, or because that is what makes us comfortable, or because it’s cool. Or Instead, are we doing things because it is God’s Will, or because it is what Scripture says, or because it is going to allow us to tell more people about Jesus, or just because it is the truth and it is right. I’m not saying this to get preachy. I’m saying this because it takes guts to do something that is right, or that is the best option, or to do what works the best even when others say it has always been done another way, or its tradition, or whatever. This is a concept that is really deep and is most important in the major decisions of life, but it applies to the little decisions like which golf clubs we will choose to play too. I have respect for MGS because they don’t do reviews with a huge emphasis on how things look or what is cool or what people think works best or who is advertising on the site. They use data to show which clubs perform best. Sometimes it is the Big Cool Brand (Taylor Made and Callaway for instance in the driver test they just did) or it can be a smaller boutique company, like the Bettinardi that just won the mallet putter test. The question is do you want clubs that your friends think are cool, or make you look like a “player”, or do you want the clubs that help you play better?

The bottom line is that this Rocket Ballz Stage 2 fairway wood and hybrid perform better than what I am currently playing and so they will go in the bag, crown graphics and white head or not. I’ll putt “face on” if that works better for me too. Until I find something that works better, the Rocket Balls Stage 2 Hybrid and Fairway will be in the bag!

Total Score: 88.75 (average Performance and Subjective Scores)
However I have just conceded that what really matters is performance and feel. If you take the average of those two scores you get 93.75 and that is a great score on what really matters from a guy who considers himself a tough grader.

The Five (answer the following questions)

1. Will these clubs go in your bag? Why or why not?
The 3 wood is in my bag and will stay in my Bag for the foreseeable future for 3 reasons. 1. It is great off the tee and as good as anything else out of the fairway. 2. It is long with a high but solid ball flight. 3. And most important, it is hard to hook. (Did I mention I hate hooking it?)The Hybrid is in my bag right now but I am still at a tossup between the Taylor Made and the Nickent 6dt. The Taylor Made Rocket Ballz Stage 2 is longer, launches higher, and is more forgiving on miss hits. However, I have hit some hooks. The Nickent never goes left and I like the smaller head out of the rough better. I may tinker with new shafts but the hybrid will probably make the cut too.

2. To whom, if anyone, would you recommend these clubs? Why?
I think these clubs are a solid choice for anyone. I am a low single digit and they gave me performance gains in distance and the 3 wood is very accurate. I also got to go to the Masters and quite a few players had these in their bag. YE Yang had two woods and a few hybrids in his bag all Rocket Ballz stage 2 and we have seen how good he is with hybrids. This makes me think they work for some of the best in the game. I also think they will work well for high handicaps because they are high launching and very forgiving even in the tour heads. So I guess I would recommend them to anyone based on performance, but those purist out there will have to get over the white and the crown graphics.

3. How, if at all, did these clubs change your overall impression of Taylor Made?
I have always thought that Taylor Made did a good job with the marketing and the looks of their golf clubs. I also played a Taylor Made Driver for a number of years and it performed well. I hear people say all the time that their clubs are all looks and marketing and not about performance and recently I would have been inclined to agree. I did not like the r7, r9 or r11 drivers. However, the way these two clubs performed shows me that Taylor Made woods and hybrids have the performance to match their pretty (or ugly) paint jobs and slick marketing.

4. What feature would you change or eliminate from the next generation of this model?
I think we are headed to a world where customization and options are becoming more of the norm. It would be cool if in the next version you could have the option of black or white and the option of crown graphics or not. Otherwise, from a performance stand point they are great. I would also like to see the tour versions have an even smaller head. A smaller head gives me confidence off the deck.

5. What feature do you really like, and would most like to see continued or evolved in future models?
I love the way the heads set up open. I love the loft adjustability. And I think there is something to the channel in the bottom of the club head that adds distance.

It's all about the short game, unless you can't keep it in play!

What's in my Bag:
Driver: Adams Speedline Super LS 10.5 with Excalibur T7+ tour stiff shaft
3 Wood: Adams Speedline Super LS 13 degree with Excalibur TFW Tour stiff shaft
Hybrid: Nickent 6DT 19 degree Aldilla Voodoo NV Stiff shaft
Irons: 4-9 KZG Tour Evolution with Nippon N.S. Pro Modus 3 tour 120 x flex shafts
Wedges:49 degree Dave Pelz wedge with a Nippon N.S. Pro Modus tour 120 x flex shaft. 54,64 Dave Pelz wedges with Rifle spinner shafts 59 Degree Scor wedge with rifle spinner shaft.
Putter: Bentinardi Ben Hogan Big Ben Center shafted 33 inches with best grips custom pistol putter grip.

Ball: Titleist Pro V1X, Callaway Hex Chrome +


#4 Mr_Theoo

Mr_Theoo

    GRANDMASTER SPY

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  • LocationColumbus, OH
  • Handicap:32

Posted 25 March 2013 - 02:28 AM

Phase 1: Unboxing and initial thoughts

Unboxing

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My fiance' sent me this picture while i was at work letting me know my clubs had arrived. Shipping was very quick. Once I got home from work I was like a kid on christmas quickly opening up the box to see what I had received.

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I choose to go with the tour 3 wood and 3 hybrid. Thank you MGS and TMag for the opportunity to review these clubs. The packaging was nice. Each club in its own plastic and the heads wrapped in bubble wrap with user manuals for each. Like Rickles I did not have a wrench in mine but I did have one from my nike clubs which fit until I am able to get a TMag one. Even though it was inconvenient it didn't take away from the clubs at all.

Initial Thoughts

Looks

Overall I actually like the looks of the club. The crown graphics aren't as harsh on the eyes as I thought they'd be. I do think it would look a lot better if they were black instead of white but thats my only gripe. When putting it on the ground behind the ball it sets up nicely. Just big enough to inspire confidence but not so big that it looks like you'd be swinging a driver from the deck. Seeing that I'm only in my second season I need anything that will inspire confidence in the longer clubs.

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Feel
The feel of these are very nice. Not too heavy or too light. Like Rickles said its very easy to feel the head throughout the swing which is something I look for in clubs, but they are still light enough that it doesn't feel like I have to swing out of my shoes. So far I'm very impressed and excited to give these a full rundown and I can forsee them making it into my bag as my goal for the 13' season is to shoot 80 and anything that will help me do that I will use

Driver:  :taylormade-small: SLDR 10.5° w/ Project X 7C3  45 in

3 Metal:  :taylormade-small: SLDR TS w/ 8C4 42.5 in
Hybrid:   Accepting tryouts
Irons:   :taylormade-small: Tour Preferred MC 4-PW w/ Projecy X Flighted 6.0 Hard-stepped

Wedges:  :nike-small: X3X 52° D/S, 56°,  X3X 60° Toe Sweep w/ KBS C-Taper XS Soft-stepped

Putter:  :nike-small: Method 001 33 in

 

Irons are +.5 in Length, 1° strong Loft, 2.5° UPRIGHT Lie


#5 Mr_Theoo

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Posted 25 March 2013 - 02:29 AM

Official MGS Forum Review by Mr_Theoo

Posted Image


INTRO

So a little about myself last spring I picked up the game of golf with some encouragement of a friend who was doing the same. His reasons for wanting to learn this great game were business orientated, mine were to get outside more and give me something to do when basketball season dies down. Little did I know that I would become a golf nut! Even though it’s very frustrating it keeps me coming back for more. Being in school still gives me A LOT of free time; possibly more than one should have but oh well. It’s given me the opportunity to improve my game a lot this past winter. Though the season is still early I can tell I have improved a lot. My short game is much better than last year and after getting my driver fitted I’m able to get off the tee with some consistency
I hoped these clubs would help me reach my goal of breaking 80 by letting me attack par 5s as well as the narrow par 4s. If they did they would most certainly make the bag. The question is do they. Well read along and you shall find out
Intro photo 3.jpg

Performance
Hybrid Performance

The hybrid was a tricky little guy. Sometimes it was good others I wanted to chuck it into the woods and leave it to be ravaged by coyotes. Its accuracy for me is a bit of a tricky one; while they go straight with a bit of a fade, which is my normal shot pattern, I have noticed that I have a bit of a problem with aiming. So when I think I’m line up to my target and they don’t end up near the target I don’t blame the clubs. That being said the hybrid shot lasers; on the rare occasions when I would position myself correctly they went at the target providing I put a decent swing on them. Like accuracy I had some trouble with a consistent distance. When the swing synced up the distance with the hybrid is flat out insane. The ball just seemed to go on forever. The first time I took it out to play I had great results. On one par 5 in particular I had a great 2nd shot that ended up 120 from the hole that gave me a shot at birdie. I ended up with par but that is still great for me. And then on the following hole I had an approach shot that actually landed on the green. Ended up with back-to-back pars, which is a first for me. After that it was pretty mixed results. On the range they preformed great but once I got on the course they became a liability. Trajectory is just right, high enough that it gets plenty of distance but not so high they balloon or gets taken away with the wind. Especially when I put a good swing together. Starting to notice a trend here LOL. Forgiveness is eh for me, but I think that more had to do with me not the clubs. When I caught it in the toe or heel they still got in the air but accuracy was way down. That being said I feel as I get better the forgiveness will as well. While I had problems with aiming and accuracy I had none with control. When I was swinging well I could rely on the hybrid to get me closer to the hole. When it wasn’t control was a little hard. But still very predictable because my normal miss is a bad slice I knew where they would end up so I adjusted accordingly. The hybrid was a little better out of the rough or awkward lies. But it wasn’t the great when teed up. I don’t know why but I could never figure out how to hit it off a tee.
Overall this was nice about the hybrid because even when I wasn’t hitting it great it just wanted to go straight so my slices weren’t nearly as bad as they should’ve been. Now if I could swing like that all the time, but that’s a WHOLE nother issue :lol:

Hybrid Score: (80 out of 100)
Hybrid by ball.jpg

Fairway Performance
Describe the following:
Unlike the hybrid I didn’t have as many issues with aim and accuracy with the fairway. It pretty much went where I wanted it go. This pleased me very well because I used this as a go to choice for off the tee when the fairway was narrow or when it was windy and I wanted to keep the ball from getting taken away. Just like with the hybrid the distance was amazing! It was just as far as my old driver which is one of the reasons I went to get fitted for a new driver so thank you Tmag :D. It was great to be able to grab this club when I both screwed up a drive or on par 5s when I wanted to take a shot at getting it inside 100 or on the green. The trajectory for the fairway was medium to low but in a good way. It was just high enough to get a good carry but still had lots of roll out. This also helped with control for me which I really liked. There was no worries if I really had to get behind one that I would be basically spraying and praying that I ended up with a good shot. The forgiveness was similar to the hybrid. Misses out of the heel or toe were harder to control and had some distance loss. Overall the fairway was a better experience than the hybrid overall. I really liked this club, which I didn’t expect when I first got them. Mainly because I thought it would be hard to hit off the deck but it was the complete opposite. It was still a challenge to hit off the tee just like the hybrid was. This is something i hope to get a handle on.

Here is a shot from the recent course I played. The hole was a par 4 that was 288 yards. I didn’t want to hit my driver because the fairway was narrow so I pulled the 3w and aimed slightly left. Had a nice smooth swing and launched it 218 yards down the middle of the fairway. The picture is of what I was looking at for my second shot
Fairway Tee shot Minerva.jpg

Fairway Score: 90 out of 100

Performance Notes

As a set these do preform very well. On the rounds where I went out and didn’t use a driver I still felt confident that I could get off the tee well and have a good approach shot. On the longer holes it was nice to be able to have good distance off the first and second shot. (When the hybrid was being friendly that is.) Like Tuna said in his review the heads are very hot and there seems to still be more untapped performance I have yet to get out of them. So hopefully as I get more time with them and improve my swing I can really see what these are made of.



Total Performance Score:85

Subjective

Looks
Unlike Rickles and Tuna the looks didn’t bother me as much. I wasn’t a fan of the white but I learned to adapt to it. I think being so new to golf helped because I hadn’t become accustomed to certain looks. I do think black with the crown graphics would look a lot better though. The head on the fairway metal was just perfect for me. Like I said in my initial impressions putting it down by the ball inspired confidence in me that I could hit this club and hit it well. Which by my score shows that I did. The hybrid’s size wasn’t bad but didn’t inspire as much confidence especially after my trouble with it.

RBZ Stage II Review Pic.jpg
Looks much better with grass stains on it.

Looks Score: (70 out of 100) make it black and its 90


Sound and Feel
The sound from both the hybrid and fairway were something I quite enjoyed. It gave me great feedback as to where I was striking the ball. For someone who doesn’t hit it out of the center all the time I like to know where so I can adjust for the next shot when practicing. The feel is another thing though. For the fairway I liked it a lot. Swing weight wasn’t too heavy or too light. It has a good feel when swinging and I could easily get into rhythm with it. The hybrid on the other hand was pretty much my enemy, even when swinging it well it just didn’t feel right. I don’t know if it was the length of the shaft or the shaft itself but I could never get into a good rhythm or tempo with it.

Sound and Feel: (85 out of 100) (100 for the fairway, 70 for the hybrid)
Intro photo 2 edit.jpg

Likelihood of Purchase (LOP)
I would be very likely to purchase both of these clubs but would want to be fitted for them as to get the most out of them. Like tuna said the heads are very hot but the shafts leave something to be desired more so in the hybrid for me. I have started to look into a 5wood to maybe swap out with the hybrid from time to time depending on the course and such. Plus I just like new clubs….yea yea I’m a ho lol. It’ll be interesting to see how much better these will preform after a shaft change and more improvement of my swing.

LOP Score: 80 (90 out of 100 for the Fairway; 70 out of 100 for the hybrid)

Subjective Notes
Very hot heads, with a great sound when contact is made. Length is a bit too long for me but manageable. Shafts just feel a bit off, a lot more in the hybrid than fairway in my experiences. The heads alone make this a club that needs to be on your radar for hybrids or fairway metals but getting fitted is a must in my opinion.
Subjective Score: 80

Total Subjective Score: 81.6666666667

In conclusion the TMag RBZ Stage II fairway and hybrid are a really nice set of clubs. While there are some down points they are few and far between with what shines in these clubs. Hot heads, great sound and confidence inspiring, shafts could have been a little better feeling but they aren’t completely worthless. I was surprised to like these clubs as much as I did because I never had any Tmag clubs before and was a little put off by their claims of distance, but now I’ve seen its all true for the most part. So bravo to them! Now comes the fun part where I can go on the great shaft search to try and squeeze every little bit of performance out of them! Stay tuned for the follow up review. And please ask any and all questions you may have about the review. Thanks for reading.

I also want to thank both MyGolfSpy and Taylormade for allowing me and the other reviewers a chance to try their products.
Total Score:83

The Six Big Questions!!!!!!

1. Will the fairway or hybrid go in your bag? Why or why not?-
a. The fairway is definitely into the bag. It gives me a great option off the tee or on the longer par 5s when I feel I’m able to play aggressive. The hybrid has made the bag as well but until my swing improves and I find a better shaft it probably wont see much action unless I’m feeling very confident that day.

2. To whom, if anyone, would you recommend these clubs? Why?
a. I would recommend these clubs to anyone who is looking to improve their long game since these are so easy to get up in the air. Also to anyone who may struggle with their driver because the fairway is quite long so they can get the distance with a bit of added control.

3. How, if at all, did these clubs change your overall impression of Taylormade?
a. These clubs gave me a great first impression of taylormade. From the ads and media all you hear is distance distance distance and while they back up the claims you also hear people putting them down for these claims. I enjoy both of these clubs even though me and the hybrid didn’t quite get along

4. What feature would you change or eliminate from the next generation of this model?
a. Like the others I think custom color options would be nice. Cut the length down a bit just so it can be a little more controllable.

5. What feature do you really like, and would most like to see continued or evolved in future models?
a. I really like the heads. The feel and sound for me are top notch.

Attached Images

  • Unboxing 2.jpg

Driver:  :taylormade-small: SLDR 10.5° w/ Project X 7C3  45 in

3 Metal:  :taylormade-small: SLDR TS w/ 8C4 42.5 in
Hybrid:   Accepting tryouts
Irons:   :taylormade-small: Tour Preferred MC 4-PW w/ Projecy X Flighted 6.0 Hard-stepped

Wedges:  :nike-small: X3X 52° D/S, 56°,  X3X 60° Toe Sweep w/ KBS C-Taper XS Soft-stepped

Putter:  :nike-small: Method 001 33 in

 

Irons are +.5 in Length, 1° strong Loft, 2.5° UPRIGHT Lie


#6 Jgolf

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Posted 25 March 2013 - 02:30 AM

Phase 1:Unboxing/Initial Impressions

When I found out that I would be testing the new RBZ Stage 2 Tour 3 wood and 3 hybrid, suffice it to say that I was ecstatic! Basically, every thought since has revolved around this basic premise:

Give it to me now.gif

Luckily for my sanity the clubs arrived quickly, and after a quick golf trip down to Myrtle Beach I came back to a distinctive box (with a heartwarming message)

The Best Performance Golf Brand In the World.jpg

The packaging wasn’t anything special, but it got the job done as the clubs arrived in pristine condition!
When I unwrapped the clubs and gave them the customary waggle the majority of concerns about the graphics went away. These clubs look good! I could post pictures upon picture, but I think i'll limit myself for now.
Posted Image

Photo 1.jpg

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I'm going to put these clubs through the full gambit of tests indoors and at the range (both documenting impressions and recording objective analysis) and will get them out on the course as soon as is possible. As always if you want to see anything specific i'll do my best to follow through. This is going to be a fun journey, and I look forward to taking everyone along for the ride!




#7 Jgolf

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Posted 25 March 2013 - 02:30 AM

cover.jpg

Do you know how it is incredibly easy to picture yourself as the world’s best golfer, especially when you’re laying down on your couch watching the pros miss short putts? Well, besides from a select few, it gets much harder to image yourself as the world #1 when you’re out on the course. The course is where reality attacks ideals for better or worse. I think that similarly it is easy to imagine that a club in store will change your game forever. Maybe for a select few a new club could change their game completely, but for the vast majority of golfers improvement takes time. My aim for this review is to focus on the reality of a club, and in my mind that reality is best found under pressure on a course. Lets begin by saying that I in no way pretend to be the best golfer in this test, and this early in the season I can be very inconsistent. That said my ball striking and tee game has always been a strength of my game, and I normally manage to keep my scores around 80. The thing about my game is that while I am comfortable off the tee and hitting approach shots, I will rarely pull a wood or hybrid off a fairway lie, and in general feel much more confident with my irons than a hybrid or wood. I think though, and this is my bold statement for the day, that trend may be changing…

I am lucky enough to be at a stage in life where while I work insane hours I can find time to fit in 9 holes on a regular basis. (I’m the model of the new play 9 initiative!) and accordingly I have gotten these clubs out for 135 holes + range time. Because I have been lucky enough to play so much lately this review is largely going to be based on my on course feelings and range data for distance comparisons with my former gamers (notice how I said former...)

But that’s enough about me. Let’s get to the clubs!


Hybrid Performance:

I have been playing a Taylormade burner 3 hybrid and 3 wood for the past few years (admittedly with custom fit shaft upgrades) and I haven’t changed out my equipment because i’ve been hitting them sold. My major and normal miss is a hook, and i’ll normally pull my hybrid out if I have a tight tee shot on a par 4, a par 3 with a distance of ~220, or a long 2nd into a par 5. Admittedly, for every solid shot that made me fall in love with the burners, there would be an equally bad shot that quelled the desire to hit it again. As such I often found myself laying up on holes with long irons.

While it is safe to say that my rbz stage 2 hybrid is long, what really impresses me is the tight dispersion off the tee. The hybrid has become my go to club on tight par 4s, and it has served me well on the long par 3s that seem to be a staple of most courses now back east. I think that the design of the club really suits a sweeping shot off the tee, and the contrast between the white head color and the black face really inspires confidence (for me). The same confidence that I feel of the tee, however, deserts me when I lay the club down off a tight fairway lie. The club is really more of a small fairway wood than an iron substitute, and for a guy who prefers the look of an iron the size of the hybrid is a little disconcerting. As such, I have found that while the club excels of the tee, I struggle to hit with it consistently off the fairway. Out of the rough the issue of a clean pick becomes largely mute, and the club shines. The ball, when I hit it solid, comes off the club face on the perfect trajectory with a penetrating ball flight that doesn’t balloon on me. I can work it both ways, but often, and I am exceedingly happy that this is now the case, i’ll line up to hit a straight shot, and believe it or not, it goes straight.

In sum this club is longer than my previous gamer, shines off the tee and out of the rough, and while I don’t love it from the fairway, when considered holistically the club is very solid, and in my mind it deserves a solid A.


Total Score: 93


Hybrid.jpg


Fairway Performance

Let me briefly qualify this part of the review by saying that I prefer to hit my driver even when in theory I should probably hit a 3 wood off the tee. That said, this review forced me to hit the 3 wood (I put the driver away for a few of my rounds) and while I was not enthralled, with practice I could see the 3 wood becoming my go to club when I need to hit it out there but can’t miss it much to the right or left. Most of my issues with the club come from a feeling of absurd length. That's phrased awkwardly, and its hard to describe the exact feeling, but I think a quote from my local club fitter sums it up well. He said, “Those are great heads, but the shafts are absolute crap.” While I don’t mind the shaft in the hybrid, the length in the wood makes it feel unwieldy, and I found myself struggling to feel the head throughout the swing as I normally do with my clubs. That said (while i will soon be switching out the shaft) Taylormade sent the club stock, and this review is based on the stock shaft. I fully hope (and trust to a large degree) that the club will improve drastically with a new shaft, but that is to come.

As it is, and as the vast majority of golfers will play it, the club is solid, and it is long. I fully expected, when I put away the driver, to be playing a very different course, with some long and challenging second shots. While I was not as far down the fairway (never the rough obviously) as I normally may be, the tee shots with the 3 wood definitely were not short. In fact when I caught it solid and compared the distance to a so so drive they were surprisingly equal. While I wasn’t the most accurate with the club (as I mentioned I had shaft issues) the distance left me impressed. I was also impressed by the penetrating ball flight when hit I made solid contact. I don’t often, if I can’t get to a par 5 with a hybrid or iron in 2, go for the green, so a fairway wood off of a fairway lie is a shot that i will rarely take on, but on those occasions where I really had to whack it to have a chance at a good score this fairway wood got the job done. As I said that shot is not in my comfort zone so I don’t think it’s fair to blame the club for my missed shots where I over swung, but when I kept it in control it did its job. My impression was that it wasn’t the most forgiving club, but I certainly hit it farther than last years rbz 3 wood, and for a tour model it was as forgiving as I would expect it to be. (The club also struggled out of the rough.)

Because the shaft, to phrase it nicely, is not well suited for my swing... leading to some uncomfort with the club, I cannot see myself giving it an A. It does deserve a solid B however, and I fully expect this grade to go up soon.


Total Score: 85


IMG_2972.JPG


Performance Notes

All in all, while I didn't come away from this process on cloud 9, the clubs generally gave me all I asked from them. I love the hybrid, and on holes that I might have previously hit an iron to avoid trouble, I now pull the hybrid for the same confidence in accuracy but a guarantee of more distance. The 3 wood left me wanting, however, so I feel torn as to which side of the B/A grade barrier these clubs would fall into. As such, I made a table:


Table.png


In sum:


Total Performance Score: 89


Bagalicious.jpg



Subjective


Looks

Now this is where it gets fun!

My initial reaction when I got the clubs was, simply put, “These are purty.” (i’m not sure where the southern accent came from but it definitely was there) In other words, i am very much a fan of the white club head look. I feel confident looking down at it, and while in an ideal world the graphics would not be there, they don’t overly detract from my impression. The shape of the club (especially the hybrid) does get to me, and not to harp on a single point, but while the hybrid may be changing, i’m a tradionalist, and I see no reason to make the hybrid a wood and still market it as a hybrid. In my mind hybrids are supposed to replace irons and not woods, but i digress...

Purely from a cosmetics and not theory standpoint, however, it’s hard to detract from these clubs, and i’ve received far and away the most positive comments on the looks of the clubs from my version of the peanut gallery, than I ever have in the past for any club. That has to be a good sign that Taylormade is doing something right.


Total Score: 95


Sound and Feel

When it comes to feel, however, my enthusiasm wanes... The feel and sound is definitely an improvement over my current burner hybrids, but by no means is it perfect. It sounds clicky even on miss hits, and while this may appeal to some, I prefer softer feedback that distinguishes between solid shots and miss hits. There really isn't much to say about the feel and sound besides from that while it’s adequate, Taylormade still has definite room for improvement.


Total Score: 80


Likelihood of Purchase (LOP)

I keep going back to the first thing that John (my club fitter) said when he saw the clubs - “Those heads are great!” This is high praise coming from him, but the high standard set by the clubs soon wears off as you get to the rest of the club. The shaft, he went on to say, “Is crap,” and I’d have to agree. It is also worth mentioning that when I regripped the clubs the grip that came on the hybrid was secured with tape, while there was just some weird stickum securing the grip to the fairway wood. This, while not a major issue, it just seems sloppy to me. That said, if I were to purchase these clubs at full price, I could very easily see myself walking into a store, pulling the hybrid from a rack, and walking right out (Probably after paying ;)) I doubt I would run to grab the 3 wood in the same manner, but I would definitely give it a chance, and I can’t put into words how excited I am to get a new shaft in the club and see its true potential.


Total LOP: 85 (This is very solid for me as I don’t buy new clubs that often...)


Subjective Notes

If you've read through the subjective section up to this point well done! If not, please understand that your actions are very wounding, but, because I wouldn't want you to miss my in depth analysis completely here is a summary:

The looks in my mind are top notch, but the sound and feel is below par...

^Short and sweet!

Taking a strict average of my subjective scores.... We get a,


Total Score: 87


3 wood flip.jpg



Conclusion:


This is the part of the review where I get to throw in a little passive brag... Do you know how every now and then you’ll just come across a hole that demands a great golf shot, and while you don’t always pull it off, there is always the potential to create a very special moment? Well, I got lucky last week, and found myself in that exact situation. In short I got to play at Sleepy Hollow Country Club, and through the first 4 holes I was playing very well. However, when I got to the 5th hole my driver decided to take a break, and I duffed it off the tee and it trickled into the light rough right to the side of the fairway. On this hole a hill blocks your view of the green if you don’t hit a good drive, and because I hit a horrible drive the hill was blocking my view completely. I pulled the 3 hybrid from the bag at the urging of my playing partners (I had 225 to the green) and wacked it. The ball took off, going on the perfect line, and while you can’t see it on the photo below, it ended up 20 feet left of the pin. That was my shot of the day, and that was the moment where I realized that these clubs were legit. I look forward to fiddling with the settings and shafts, as any good learning club ho would want to do, and I can’t wait to get out on the course again. Golf is a frustrating game, but it is a game that can leave you overjoyed if you simply hit one good shot in a round. That one shot keeps you coming back, and for me that one shot onto the green on the 5th hole will keep me happy for a while. These clubs are capable of producing that memorable moment, and for me that just about sums up their appeal.


IMG_2967.JPG



I’ve gone from saying that I was in love with the clubs to asking my lawyer to work on getting a divorce between myself and the clubs. With both feelings, I have been very passionate, and I cannot stress enough that when these clubs get the shafts that they deserve I am fully confident that the dispersion (both with the actual shots and with my feelings as they relate to the clubs) will be drastically reduced.


Total Score: 88




The Six (6=5 for future reference):



1.Will these clubs go in your bag? Why or why not?
Both clubs are already in my bag, and they will stay there. As soon as possible I will be switching the shafts out (at which point I will get some LM data to supplement the findings above) and unless one of the clubs breaks any time soon I really struggle to see a situation where I would pull them from the bag. I may replace the 3 wood with a driving iron... but that is another issue entirely reltaing more to me than to the clubs.


2. To whom, if anyone, would you recommend these clubs? Why?
I would always recommend that if you plan on buying any club it is well worth the time and money to get custom fit. If you were to buy these clubs stock, however, I would recommend them to a better ball striker. They are not severely game improvement, and if you can’t hit your current hybrid or wood these clubs are not going to change that. If you can hit the ball with consistency, and you want more distance I would be very hard pressed to find a better alternative for you.


3. How, if at all, did these clubs change your overall impression of Taylor Made?
Taylormade has really impressed me lately. I game a r11 driver, and these quality clubs just add to my overall good impression. It is easy to justify their high sales numbers by looking at their masterful marketing, but one would be remiss to ignore that quality clubs got them to a place where they have the reputation to continue marketing new clubs, and to keep having loyal customers come back to buy them.


4. What feature would you change or eliminate from the next generation of this model?
I would like to see a smaller head on the hybrid (maybe a separate tour model?) and obviously it would be great to have the option of a black head or white head without annoying graphics, but in sum, besides from improving the sound and feel, performance wise Taylormade has a winner here, and if you have a winner, radical change really is not required.


5. What feature do you really like, and would most like to see continued or evolved in future models?
I like the adjustability, and I wish that they would offer that in non tour heads. I think that the slot technology is very impressive, and I think that it will be taken to another level very soon.



#8 GolfSpy WD

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Posted 25 March 2013 - 02:30 AM

PHASE 1: Unboxing/Initial Impressions
Mild NSFW warning: Scantily clad woman below




A golf bag is just a place to keep your stuff while you go out and get more stuff.




- Paraphrased from George Carlin





At this point, you’ve already seen pictures of the boxes. It wasn’t nearly as pretty as the packaging the Rbladez came in and certainly not as pretty as the Media Edition R1 Driver TMag sent to T, but it was effective enough since the clubs arrived without a scratch, and seriously, that’s all I care about. The clubs were packaged by being tossed into the club equivalent of a clear plastic body bag along with the head cover and and manual stating how to work the adjustability if you have a wrench (luckily, I do). I'll leave it to your imagination what this looks like since I want to stay within my image count quota. Or you could scroll up.




Snow.jpg




Before I say anything else though, I’m going to take a slight aside to b!tch and complain. As Theoo said, having new clubs show up at your front door does feel like Christmas, except Christmas is in December. Snow may be grudgingly tolerated during that time of year, but in March, I sure as hell don't want to see it. In the picture above there’s way more snow than I ever want to see until next Christmas. You can't see it because it's a close up, but there was nothing but this white crap all over the place and I haven't played golf yet this year, so I’m a little bitter.




Here’s what I would prefer:




Kate.jpg




My apologies for Ms. Upton being in the way of the scenery in the pictures, but I that’s what I want to see: beautiful blue skies and not a trace of snow. I assume she’s standing near a water hazard and a giant bunker. You’ll have to imagine the rest of the golf course she’s obviously on, cause in my dreams she also likes golf and is referred to as Mrs. Wdgolf.




Speaking of Christmas, I also have a sudden urge to unwrap a present with a giant white bow or maybe fishnet. I’ve never gotten a present wrapped in fishnet...man I've been missing out.




Snow2.jpg




Anywho, the clubs did arrive very quickly and I can’t yet figure out a way to blame TMag for the snow, so I’ll actually start writing about the clubs. TMag was kind enough to send me the RBZ Stage 2 3-wood and 3-hybrid, both tour models.




The things that interest me most are:
  • Carpenter Steel face: TMag says they added 10 more yards by bumping the COR from .822 to the max .83. Luckily, I happen to have last year’s RBZ 3 wood to compare it against, and I fully intend to do so. I also have a Titleist 910 hybrid, which has had a carpenter face since Titleist released it however long ago.




    For the record, Wishon is credited as the first to use Carpenter Steel in 2004 in fairways with their 915HL model. Not exactly new technology.



  • Lower profile head: Think of last year's model being sat on by a very heavy person, pancaking it. From TM’s website, they claim the lower profile head makes it easier to get the ball in the air or help hit it straighter. I like hitting it straighter since I stopped caring about trying to "shape" the ball. I’ll be stopping by a launch monitor while preparing for the full review and see if the Stage 2 launches higher than the original version and if that in turn makes it easier to hit/more consistent.



  • The Slot: Yeah, this was last year’s technology, but it’s still worth mentioning. I’m curious how the slotted hybrid compares to the 910h and if I see any difference.



  • Crown Graphics Alignment Aide: Unlike the R1, there’s actually a point to these graphics as an alignment aide. So far, just swinging the clubs in the house, I don’t see the benefit unless you count that I haven't broken anything yet, but on-the-course testing may change my mind. IMO though, it’s really just so people know what you’re playing from far away and give TMag even more free advertisement like they used to get with the original white headed R11. At least it doesn’t say something stupid like "Super" across the face!



  • Adjustable Heads: More specifically, how much of a distance gap is there by adjusting the head +/- 1.5*. Seriously, I’m curious, it’d be very cool to adjust clubs for those long par 3s or two shot par 5s. I’m also planning on getting some more shaft adapters and trying out the 3-wood with my Black Ops shaft and the 3-hybrid with my KBS Hybrid shaft, both of which I really like.




Shafts.jpg




That sort of leads to the next point: we didn’t get to pick out complete custom options this time around. I honestly think this is a good thing and TM, and other OEMs, actually put a lot of thought into what is the best shaft for the masses. The tour models do come with slightly heavier shafts and their weight feels good, so I’m not too worried about it, but as I said, I have a few extra shafts I want to try anyway.






























Tour 3-wood
Tour 3-hybrid
14.5* loft +/- 1.5* 18.5* loft +/- 1.5*
168cc head 110cc head
Matrix Rocketfuel 70 S Shaft Matrix Rocketfuel 80 S Shaft
3.4 torque 3.4 torque
43.5" long 41.25" long






So, as usual, the clubs are longer than traditional clubs. I’m going to be putting on a midsize grip asap and might trim the 3 wood to an even 43" long and the hybrid to 40" long.




As always though, please send questions our way and give us ideas on what to test. I like on course testing best since those are real world results, but I’m going to hit up a launch monitor once or twice too.




Speaking generally across the board for all OEMs, not just TMag, but there’s a ton of technology in fairways and hybrids these days and they are pretty fun clubs when you think about it.




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Finally, a huge thank you to MGS for offering these member reviews. I highly encourage everyone to donate so they can keep this great site going.

#9 GolfSpy WD

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Posted 25 March 2013 - 02:31 AM

RBZ Stage 2 Fairway and Hybrid – Official MGS Forum Review by wdgolf

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There are two broad categories of golfers:

The first is Kevin Costner from Tin Cup who would prefer a 12 on their scorecard than a par because there's a chance at birdie. I'm not sure a 12 is even allowed, but seriously, it's the fucking US Open, you are tied for first as an amateur (last amateur to win the US Open was Johnny Goodman in 1933) and you go for it in two by trying to hit your 3 wood 235 yards over water. And then you hit it dead on the screws, but due to a tiny gust of wind, you f*ck it up. So what do you do? That's right, you blow up your chance to automatically qualify for the US Open and the Masters next year with a fucking 12. This was immortalized with Rene Russo's words, "Five years from now nobody will remember who won or lost, but they're gonna remember your 12!" She was half right, everyone who saw that movie remembers that shot, but they also remember he lost like a putz and that he's a bad actor.

The second type of golfer is the Bobby Jones type, who constantly played against Old Man Par. This strategy helped Jones dominate golf like no one before or since, and against other greats like Ouimet, Sarazen, Hagen, Evans, etc... for 7 years before retiring from amateur golf after completing the only single season Grand Slam in history. Seriously, 13 major wins in 7 years, eat it Tiger. One of his most famous shots was during his 1930 Grand Slam run at Interlachen during the US Open where he pulled his spoon (3-wood) to go for it in 2, because he's Bobby Jones and could pull it off. During his backswing two little girls ran out onto the fairway and distracted Jones, messing up his swing. The ball hit the water and seemed to bounce off like it hit something solid and land just off the green. Jones then went up and down for his birdie and eventually the win. Some spectators could swear the ball jumped on the water like that because it hit a lily pad, so this shot became known as the "Lily pad shot". The difference between this shot and Costner's though was it took some obscene outside influence for Jones to mess up his shot and not just a slight gust of wind.

Costner-Bobby.jpg

Most amateurs fall into the Kevin Costner category, but my round about point is, both shots above were done with a fairway wood and not a driver. No one gets excited about a fairway wood because it's the proverbial middle child of golf clubs, but some of the greatest shots in history were hit with them. Technically, Kevin Costner's shot wasn't really part of history, but neither are most amateur shots, so my point is still valid. Other great shots included Gene Sarazen's 4 wood 235 yard "Shot heard round the world" for an albatross to tie and eventually win the Masters in 1935 and the Seve Ballesteros, ‘car-park shot’ 16th hole of 1979 Open, which was set up by an errant 3 wood ;).

I've gained a lot of new affinity for fairway woods since starting this review. For 6 rounds, I left my driver at home and tee'd off nearly every shot with my fairway or hybrid. I compared the RBZ Stage 2 fairway against last year's RBZ model and the RBZ Stage 2 hybrid against my Titleist 910h, both on the course and during two LM sessions. I also swapped out the stock shafts in the RBZ Stage 2 fairway/hybrid to compare those against a Black Ops fairway shaft and KBS Hybrid shaft.

I've avoided reading the other reviews so as not to change my opinion, so if I repeat anything they say, then consider it affirmation.

Performance

During my initial unboxing, I laid out a series of performance questions about the clubs. I'm going to use those questions to judge bot the 3-wood and hybrid and compare them to my previous clubs

  • Carpenter Steel face: TMag says they added 10 more yards by bumping the COR from .822 to the max .83. Luckily, I happen to have last year’s RBZ 3 wood to compare it against, and I fully intend to do so. I also have a Titleist 910 hybrid, which has had a carpenter face since Titleist released it however long ago.

    For the record, Wishon is credited as the first to use Carpenter Steel in 2004 in fairways with their 915HL model. Not exactly new technology.
  • Lower profile head: Think of last year's model being sat on by a very heavy person, pancaking it. From TM’s website, they claim the lower profile head makes it easier to get the ball in the air or help hit it straighter. I like hitting it straighter since I stopped caring about trying to "shape" the ball. I’ll be stopping by a launch monitor while preparing for the full review and see if the Stage 2 launches higher than the original version and if that in turn makes it easier to hit/more consistent.
  • The Slot: Yeah, this was last year’s technology, but it’s still worth mentioning. I’m curious how the slotted hybrid compares to the 910h and if I see any difference.
  • Crown Graphics Alignment Aide: Unlike the R1, there’s actually a point to these graphics as an alignment aide. So far, just swinging the clubs in the house, I don’t see the benefit unless you count that I haven't broken anything yet, but on-the-course testing may change my mind. IMO though, it’s really just so people know what you’re playing from far away and give TMag even more free advertisement like they used to get with the original white headed R11. At least it doesn’t say something stupid like "Super" across the face!
  • Adjustable Heads: More specifically, how much of a distance gap is there by adjusting the head +/- 1.5*. Seriously, I’m curious, it’d be very cool to adjust clubs for those long par 3s or two shot par 5s. I’m also planning on getting some more shaft adapters and trying out the 3-wood with my Black Ops shaft and the 3-hybrid with my KBS Hybrid shaft, both of which I really like.


shafts.jpg

3-Wood Performance

fairways.jpg

Let me start off by calling unequivocal bullsh*t on TM's claim of +10 yards when comparing this years RBZ fairway to last years. With stock shafts, I could hit both within inches of each other on the LM for roughly 235 yards on average. In fact, my longest shot was from last years RBZ for 251 yards. That said, there was about 500-1k difference in spin between this years model and last (both with stock shafts), where I consistently hit last years model with way more spin than the new RBZ Stage 2 fairway.

I do like the stock shaft though, but it was easily blown away by the Black Ops. Even thought he Black Ops claims to be a spin killer, I was still getting 3300-3600 backspin with the Stage 2 and was hitting it great. The stock shaft was maybe 100-200 RPM more, but considering my swing, I'll jott that down as within the margin of error. Overall though, the Black Ops was straighter and was about 4-6 yards longer than the stock Matrix shaft.

Off the tee, this club is supremely easy to hit. Off the deck, I feel like I have to make a perfect swing because anything fat and all yards are gone. Out of the rough was hopeless unless I got a good lie.

In terms of forgiveness, there was no perceivable difference between this year's model and last. Finding the sweet spot on the club face is simple, look at the shorter groove lines on the face, then look for the longest of those grooves. If you hit it in that area, you're golden. Outside of that area and you lose a bunch of yards. While that area is fairly big, it seems like an all or nothing with this club. I hit my perfect shots 235-241 and not so perfect shots 200-210 with literally nothing in between.

Performance Score: 90

tm_specs_rbz2_fwy_tour-1msl4.jpg

* Note, I cut my RBZ 3-wood down to 43" for both standard and Black Ops shafts.

3-Hybrid Performance

hybrids.jpg

I'll say I was ready to tear this club to shreds in my review and would have had I written this within two weeks of getting this club. I absolutely hated it for a while until it dawned on me I should compare it with my current hybrid some more. That was when I had an epiphany that I couldn't hit any hybrid, so it turned out to be me and not the club. I spent a good two range sessions relearning how to hit a hybrid and began to like this club a lot more, mainly due to the feel when compared to the 910h, but I'll get into that later.

Performance wise, there was no significant difference between the RBZ Stage 2 and the 910h. With stock shafts, both go 217-223 yards. The LM I used didn't tell the height, so I was unable to test TM's claim that the RBZ Stage 2 helps get the ball in the air better. However, I did test both clubs with the KBS Hybrid shaft. What I found was I lost 2-4 yards but gained a ton of consistency. The KBS Hybrid helped raise the swing weight a bit too considering I cut the club down to 40". Finally, considering I hit my 4i about 200-205, the loss of those yards was fairly inconsequential, so I've stuck with the KBS Hybrid shaft since.

Forgiveness was very similar to the 3-wood, except my bad shots with the hybrid also went about 200 yards and good shots about 220. The head of this club is much smaller, so I didn't mind it out of the rough nearly as much, but anything buried and I still had to reach for an iron.

Performance Score: 90

tm_specs_rbz2_rescue_tour-t23p6new.jpg

* Note, I cut my RBZ 3-hybrid down to 40" for both standard and KBS Hybrid shafts.

Performance Notes

The other points I haven't touched on yet are the pancaked head, the slot, alignment aide, and adjustable hosel. Essentially, I wasn't able to perceive anything for the lower profile head and alignment aide. I'm still convinced the alignment aide is purely so other people around you know you're playing a TM club, it simply wasn't a factor at all, for good or worse.

For the adjustable hosel, I tried several settings with the 3-wood and Black Ops shaft and seemed to lose yards if I went stronger loft or higher loft, so I put it back to standard. IMO, this is a fine tuning mechanism, but you can't just expect lower loft equals more distance. You really need to have a LM handy to do your tuning. My favorite part is still being able to swap out shaft though, especially since (unlike Titleist), TM makes the adapters readily available, albeit not cheap.

Finally, for the slot I do believe it helps on thin shots to get the ball a bit higher up in the air and I'm a fan of it. There was no difference in this regard between this and last years model though.

Total Performance Score: 90

four.jpg

Subjective

Looks

Wood_floor3.jpg

Now I get to the more fun aspect of the clubs, how ugly it is. It's really not that bad, but compared to the competition, it's not very impressive either. Personally I like the Nike Covert Fairway/Hybrid best. These clubs beat out the new Adams hybrids that say something stupid like "Super" on the top, but that's about it.

I found last year's RBZ model to be much more appealing to the eye, but I do like the black/yellow (Bruins) color scheme. All in all, a solid C.

Looks Score: 75

Sound and Feel

Wood_floor.jpg

Since starting this review, I've flip-flopped about sound and feel. Early on I said I was ready to trash the RBZ stage 2 hybrid and a lot of that was because it felt like crap. Problem is, my swing was crap and I was hitting who knows where on the club face. With the Titleist 910h, I could swing it whichever way and it retained a very smooth feel.

BUT, as I said, I've changed my mind about this. Hitting the RBZ Stage 2 on the sweet spot feels fantastic and outside of those small groove lines on the face, it feels like punching a wet 2x4. I like this though, the feedback is fantastic and this is one of the big reasons I've changed my mind about the RBZ Hybrid, looks be damned.

Sound and Feel Score: 100

Likelihood of Purchase

Wood_floor2.jpg

After doing this review, if I had to buy a new fairway and hybrid, I'd very likely buy last years RBZ models. They have all the performance of this years model, but are much cheaper atm. I do like the adjustable hosel though, so I might be tempted to wait until next years models come out to buy the Stage 2s. It's definitely worth trying out different brands as well and different options on shafts.

LOP Score: 70

Subjective Notes

All in all, I'm not crazy about these clubs, but they do perform very well and feel better. I think the feel of the club is where they shine the most in terms of subjective scoring. I would definitely recommend anyone try these out for that alone.

One thing I will say about white heads in general is they are much easier to see during your downswing. This is especially true for those rounds where the sun is setting as you approach the last few holes. With the 910h, I couldn't see the club head for the life of me. This wasn't a problem at all with either version of the RBZ clubs.

Total Subjective Score: 81.67

Glass_bottom.jpg

Conclusion

Bobby Jones once broke his driver because he hit the same pea-sized spot on the club face for years until it eventually cracked. He could also hit 300 yards with persimmons heads and hickory shafts. Kevin Costner, on the other hand, could have made his first shot onto the green using the RBZ Stage 2 fairway instead of whatever the hell he did use. Then he would have looked like a hero and kept Rene Russo. It was only 235 yards! Hell, I could make that shot assuming I didn't hit one of my 200 yarders, those would go into the water. But, during the last round of the US Open while tied for first with a chance to take the lead with a birdie? Yeah, I could make that ;).

This was a fun test because I put away my driver for so long that I forced myself to learn to hit the damned fairway and hybrid much more consistently. I highly recommend doing this sometime. When I did put the driver back in the bag, I was hitting in on the screws each time and the head looked enormous.

These clubs didn't blow me away nearly as much as the Rbladez did. The RBZ Stage 2 fairways and hybrids are very good clubs though and the score reflects that. I probably should have penalized TM more for the 10 yard claim, but that's advertising and not performance. The claim is total crap and the clubs aren't great looking, so I'd still recommend trying other brands. But, for feel they really can't be beat when it comes to fairways/hybrids, so I do also highly recommend giving this year or last years RBZ clubs a try sometime if you're in the market. If you have a fairway and/or hybrid you already like, then you're probably fine keeping it in the bag.

Total Overall Score (80% Performance, 20% Subjective): 88.33

bushes.jpg

The Six
1. Will these clubs go in your bag? Why or why not?

Yes. While I did like the stock shafts, having custom shafts makes them all the better. I really like the feel and feedback and the looks don't bother me enough to make it an issue. I hate the headcovers though, those are going to have to go eventually.

2. To whom, if anyone, would you recommend these clubs? Why?

Average to better players. New golfers may get very frustrated with how dead these feel on mishits and how really bad mishits can be fairly badly penalized.

3. How, if at all, did these clubs change your overall impression of Taylormade?

I have too many TM clubs in my bag right now and am feeling a bit like a fanboy. The R11s is going to have to go ;)

4. What feature would you change or eliminate from the next generation of this model?

I might want slightly smaller heads.

5. What feature do you really like, and would most like to see continued or evolved in future models?

The feel of it. Fantastic feedback on good shots and mishits.

#10 Super Tuna

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Posted 25 March 2013 - 02:33 AM

Greetings all!

When T let me know that I would get to help out reviewing the Taylormade Rocketballz Stage 2 fairway and hybrids, well, my fins might have gotten swish-ier.

I apologize for the late posting of the grand unveiling. Usually, someone might say something like shipping to Canada simply takes longer and whomever handles shipping at Taylormade is an awesome human being. In this instance, unfortunately things were delayed by malaria. You see, at the LPGA Canadian Open in Vancouver, I had the excellent experience of meeting Ms. Gulbis along with my young daughter. Not content with signing a hat for Baby Super Tuna she promised future awesomeness.

Thus, what did arrive at my door:
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Oh yes. And a Rockettballz Stage 2 Tour Hybrid #2 since she's already hold the Tour 3 fairway.

The reason behind my choices is that I tend to agree with GolfSpy T. He recently wrote a article on the home page that Woods are starting to die a death in amateurs bags while hybrids are in ascendency. I tend to agree with him in general, but thought this would be an excellent testing ground. What better club to see if the 3 wood is dead, then the 3 wood that is considered the longest or one of the longest fairways and/or hybrids on the market.

From my personal point of the view, the club that fits between the 3 hybrid and the driver is the toughest position in the bag. I demand distance, I demand accuracy and and I require it from a multitudes of lies. Be it tee, fairway or various levels of rough it needs to perform at the highest level.

As many of you know, I also have a large interest in golf shafts. I'm really looking forward to putting the RocketFuel 70 in the 3 wood and RocketFuel 80 by Matrix in the Tour hybrid through their paces.

Meanwhile, circling back to Ms. Gulbis, here's the presents she brought:

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I laught at your claims to fight a zombie apocalypse when most of you can't stand up to a Spider

#11 Super Tuna

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Posted 25 March 2013 - 02:34 AM

Taylormade Rocketballz Stage 2 Fairway wood and Hybrid – Official MGS Forum Review by Super Tuna

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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.” - Melville


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Performance

Hybrid 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)

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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)

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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!

Subjective

Looks
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)

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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 either

Total Subjective Score: 82.5 little Tuna Fry’s!

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Conclusion

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

#12 GolfSpy WD

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Posted 25 March 2013 - 03:01 AM

Huge thanks to Dan (manbearpig) for the title image!

#13 GolfSpy WD

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Posted 25 March 2013 - 04:11 PM

Rickles unboxing posted!

http://forum.mygolfs...dpost__p__96790

#14 Rickles

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Posted 25 March 2013 - 04:14 PM

My unboxing is up.

It's all about the short game, unless you can't keep it in play!

What's in my Bag:
Driver: Adams Speedline Super LS 10.5 with Excalibur T7+ tour stiff shaft
3 Wood: Adams Speedline Super LS 13 degree with Excalibur TFW Tour stiff shaft
Hybrid: Nickent 6DT 19 degree Aldilla Voodoo NV Stiff shaft
Irons: 4-9 KZG Tour Evolution with Nippon N.S. Pro Modus 3 tour 120 x flex shafts
Wedges:49 degree Dave Pelz wedge with a Nippon N.S. Pro Modus tour 120 x flex shaft. 54,64 Dave Pelz wedges with Rifle spinner shafts 59 Degree Scor wedge with rifle spinner shaft.
Putter: Bentinardi Ben Hogan Big Ben Center shafted 33 inches with best grips custom pistol putter grip.

Ball: Titleist Pro V1X, Callaway Hex Chrome +


#15 JBones

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Posted 25 March 2013 - 06:36 PM

Very nice start, Rickles. Can't wait to hear everyones thoughts on the performance.

Can someone get a pic of the RBZ hybrid next to a "regular" hybrid? Rickles, don't you have a Nickent 6DT hybrid? If so, I'd love to see a pic next to it. Thanks.
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