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TaylorMade RocketBallz Tour Driver Review
Summary: Dark Horse of 2013
TaylorMade has notably been the leader in Drivers out on tour and in retail shops. While the R11s family seems to receive most of the TMag driver buzz, we are looking towards the RocketBallz Driver to be the 2012 Dark-horse of the year. While surveying a select few top 100 fitters, we found this driver to float to the top slot in late year polling. The ball speeds and dispersion performance are best in breed. Here is a quote from a well respected member of GolfWRX aka “Bob57“…
“Most of the tests I’ve seen list the RBZ as the highest ball speed producing driver today.”
Editor Review by: fore_life
Pros: Great pop on center strikes while being surprisingly forgiving on miss-hits. Launches high with low spin, and flight can be adjusted accordingly with the FCT system.
Cons: The white color, while not visually off putting, may be a bit a problem for someone who wants to keep the driver for a few seasons at least, as it shows every spec of dirt and any little ding that may occur.
Bottom Line: We have lift off. Sean O’Hair was right. This thing is a Rocket Ballz!
TaylorMade’s latest driver offering features inverted cone technology to help produce maximum ball speed from all across the face and the company’s Flight Control System (FCT) to fine tune ball flight to your desired shot shape. Let me preface this part by saying that when it comes to drivers, I tend to favor the traditional head shapes and sounds. To my eyes, nothing looks better than a simple black club head without any fancy alignment aides or gimmicks, and nothing sounds sweeter to my ears than the sweet THWACK produced by many of the drivers that have gained legendary status out here in message board land. I’ve owned the legendary J33r, the 9015d, the 905r,the Nike VR tour, the Superdeep, and my most recent gamer, a 983e, all of which have that meaty thud upon impact.
When I got word that I had been selected to review the RocketBallz driver, my initial thoughts were “I wonder if they’d make me a black one?” I have taken short glimpses at the older r11 models and that’s as far as it went, I just wasn’t into the color. It made the 460cc club head look even larger.
Upon receiving my RBZ, what immediately stood out to me was how “not huge” the club head appeared. I feel that the lime/silver graphics on the rear of the crown do a great job of breaking up the visual lines, and the overall club head shape looks much better and dare I say more traditional that that of the non-tour RBZ model. Much less of a triangle shape going on here. The matte black finish of the club face really pops against the white background, and accompanied by the ahina ion plated shaft, I had one sweet looking club on my hands.
I do have to say that the white color doesn’t bother me from a visual /performance aspect, it does bother me on the level that it shows every little piece of dirt/debris and if you plan on keeping it in the bag for a few seasons, it seems that it could drive someone crazy if you are a stickler about not having paint chips or dirty clubs (like me).
After much back and forth with Rob (HipCheck), I confirmed my custom specs for the RBZ Tour. I went with the 9 degree head shafted with the 60x Diamana Ahina, tipped one inch, playing at 44.5″. I also asked if possible, could they throw and extra wrap of tape underneath the new grip, which nicely is absent of any markings so it appears the same no matter which setting you have the FCT adjusted to. When the box arrived, I dug and found that it was built to my specs, with a VERY quick turnaround time once my specs were submitted.
Once again (and probably more in the future here) I will reference my past drivers as the baseline on performance/feel. My gamer before the RBZ arrived was a 983e 8.5 degree that I shafted up with a 66xx UST proto shaft. Ball flight felt true to loft, and I was getting pretty good results. Well, I thought I was getting good results.
Here is a great Technical discussion with TaylorMade about the RBZ Driver:
First swing at my local range shocked me as I launched my ball suuuuper high, but man, it just kept flying and flying, holding its peak trajectory, no ballooning whatsoever. Time and time again, just high bombs on the neutral setting. But we all know how range time can be deceiving, so I was extremely excited to see how this bad boy would perform on the course.
First round was at Papago out here in Phoenix on a day where the high peaked out just under 80 degrees, a little windy, and fairways in soft conditions. It’s 7,333 yards from the tips, 75.0/130. I tied my personal best on that track with a 74 first time out. The high launch most definitely increased carry distances and I was able to take some more aggressive lines off the tee which was nice, but even more was just how forgiving mishits where. Shockingly so. Misses high and on the toe stayed pretty true and distance was superb on mishits. I’ve got 4 rounds in now with the RBZ, played with multiple friends, and all seem to have noticed both how much higher I hit this set up, and how much more forgiving it appears to be. Drivers I’ve played in the past were MUCH more taxing on bad days, and if the tour plays so forgiving, I can’t even imagine how much of a cinch the non tour must be. Center strikes are freaking deep! I know a lot it to be said for the proper shaft/head combo, and maybe I just hit the nail on the head with this set up, but this is the most consistently deep set up I’ve ever gamed. Good stuff.
Speaking of mishits, there is a definitive audible difference when not struck on the bolts. When hit on the screws, it’s a very loud but yet a powerful sound IMO, not anything “tinny” in nature. Mishits do sound a bit harsh, but really not nearly as bad as I was expecting given some of the reviews I had read beforehand. Do not be mistaken, it is not a quiet driver and you will probably pull a few looks while whacking this thing on the range or on the course, but the feel of the driver and performance negates any sound complaints, at least for me. Hell it’s could make a little kitten “meow” when hit and if put out good results, I’d be all for it.
The clubface does feel extremely hot though and it really feels like you can feel the ball shooting off the face, nothing of which I have experienced before in a driver. IMO, if you’ve hit the TEE fairway line, then that is the best thing I can compare it to, the balls just seems to FLY off the face.
Overall the club has a great balance and feel to it. Good solid weight to the club head, in fact the head has a stout and heavy feel, very reminiscent of my old j33r. Just a solid feeling driver that inspires confidence.
OVERALL BOTTOM LINE:
Say what you will about the TMAG marketing juggernaut, but the results I am getting from this bad boy cannot be overlooked. I have not hit any of the latest offerings from other manufactures nor do I have launch monitor data to back me up, just real life performance on courses that I have played numerous times. Time and time again I found myself flying the ball past where I would previously roll out to. 320 all carry on wet fairways? Why the hell not! 290 on mishits high on the toe? Superb!
2 buddies hit the driver on an Easter Sunday round, went home and immediately began looking to replace their old drivers. I hope they can chime in here with any additional input/insight.
I’d like to say thanks again to GolfWRX and Taylor Made for providing me with this opportunity. This site has been an extreme asset to myself and the golfing community worldwide.
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