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TaylorMade RocketBladez Iron (Non-Tour) Review
Summary: The speed pocket the RocketBladez Irons feature an improved Inverted Cone design that allows for a slightly bigger clubface area, as well as the elimination of hot spots. In summation: longer and straighter shots with tighter dispersion.
Long, long and longer.
Summary: The RocketBladez irons incorporate a slot in the sole of the iron, which gives golfers more ball speed and a higher launch.
TaylorMade introduced this “speed pocket” in 2012 with its RBZ fairway woods and hybrids. In conjunction with the speed pocket, the RocketBladez feature an improved Inverted Cone design that allows for a slightly bigger club face area, as well as the elimination of hot spots.
In summation: longer and straighter shots with tighter dispersion. Click here to see the press release and watch the TaylorMade video about the RocketBladez Irons.
Sean2: (Reviewer #1) Lives up to the billing. These clubs are longer than other game improvement irons I have tried, and they are straight.
The RocketBladez also have a forged feel to them. Yes, some may say that the lofts are a bit strong, but that is the trend these days with game improvement irons.
tbowles411: (Reviewer #2) They are longer than my irons and straighter without a crazy amount of offset, but rest assured high cappers, it’s there to help.
The insert seems to work as advertised. No hotspots, which was a common complaint with previous TaylorMade irons (and I complained too). The ball comes off in a hurry and the feel is very good.
Sean2: This is a game improvement club, those looking for a players’ iron will have to look elsewhere, or wait until February, when the RocketBladez Tour are set for release.
tbowles411: Cons – If you’re less than a 15 handicap and consider yourself a “Playah”, you’re probably going to be disappointed: Wait for the Tours.
Conversely, if you’re having ball striking issues OR are over a 30 handicap, you might need to look elsewhere because the soles are not as wide as someone who needs a SGI club might need for an immediate impact. You CAN grow into them though. Just practice and play with them. Don’t give up.
Tech Video interview with TaylorMade at the headquarters Carlsbad California.
Specs of gear reviewed by our two (2) testers:
Sean2: TaylorMade RocketBladez irons (4-SW), +0.75 inches, 2º upright, from TaylorMade standard, with RocketFuel Graphite shafts 65 grams, stiff flex.
tbowles411: TaylorMade Rocketbladez irons (4-LW), + ¾ and +1 inches (depending on the iron – the AW, SW and LW were the same length), 2 degrees up, Matrix Program 95, Regular Flex (to prove a point), Golf Pride Tour Wrap 2G (white) +6 wraps.
Sean2: This is a very nice looking iron and should appeal to wide variety of golfers, from the traditionalist to the mid and high handicapper alike. Unlike the RBZ irons, whose green badging some found a bit loud, the black/gold is very understated. The club has a satin-like finish that I find very appealing. The sole, where the speed pocket is located, has a chrome finish.
The term “speed pocket” is a bit of a misnomer. It’s not a pocket at all since it is completely filled in so you don’t have to worry about it getting jammed up with dirt or debris when you hit a shot.
The pocket is actually filled with a specially formulated polyurethane developed by 3M. You will find the speed pocket on the 3 through 7 irons. It’s not on the 8 iron through AW it becomes “less active.” The sole of the RocketBladez is narrower than some game improvement irons, and the look is a bit more understated as well.
The graphite shaft is black with the same, understated gold graphics found on the club head. It’s quite sharp looking. The grip is similar to a Golf Pride Tour Velvet in feel, but perhaps a bit softer, and follows the same black/gold theme.
Purists may find the topline a bit thick and the sole a bit wide (though not as wide as the G20s for example), but both are fairly standard for a game improvement iron. One nice feature is a notch located near the base of the hosel, which makes adjusting the lie angle much easier. Overall this is a very nice looking iron.
tbowles411: You all know how it is, when a long brown box arrived from UPS, it’s Christmas at that very moment. But in all their shiny glory were my Rocketbladez irons. But of course, being almost winter, I had to plan my attack when I could, between Christmas parties, rain, and bitter cold, and of course work. These are good looking irons: Kind of edgy and modern. I like that.
The Speed Pocket — oh yes, the holy grail of technology that people love to say has been done before. Here’s the difference. TaylorMade made it work better. I have a 70-something-year-old neighbor who still has a set of Wilson Reflex in his basement. I held up the iron, and you can see its roots.
He told me there were a set of slotted Walter Hagan irons that came out around the same time that were actually better looking and in his opinion performed a little better. In his words, “The Reflex irons were crap! They helped kill Wilson!” I wasn’t going to argue with him because I was only 8 when they came out, so don’t sue me Wilson. I’m only passing on what a Korean War vet told me.
I like the color scheme of the head. It’s not gaudy like some complained the RBZ irons were: Black, gold and gray, a nice combination. My shafts were the Matrix Program 95 in regular flex. My point: I ordered regular flex to help produce a bit more spin as this shaft can be a stout one. I’m a pretty big dude, so while I didn’t want rebar, I also didn’t want a noodle either. I think this was a nice compromise. While I can’t say these are the “real deal,” they feel very similar to the ones I used to play in my Vega irons.
As a guy who uses GI irons, I liked the thick topline. It’s there for a simple reason: To give mass to the back of the iron and to make it more forgiving. It’s going to forgive the bad swing, but not the REALLY bad swing. For me, this is the run of the mill GI iron. There is a small cavity, which gives even more forgiveness. And it gives confidence. And I’m all about some added confidence standing over a shot.
The wedges have a “cavity” as well. It’s not really a cavity, but its there for forgiveness as well. It makes those off center shots behave. But the wedges look outstanding. To me, it really is one sexy looking wedge. But how do they perform? More on that in a bit. LOOK: 4.75/5 STARS
Sean2: Having owned both the TaylorMade Burner 2.0’s and the Ping G20’s, I was able to compare the RocketBladez with both. The first thing I noticed about the RocketBladez is the feel. When you hit a shot on the sweet spot it feels like a very well made forged iron. Yeah, I know, surprised me too.
Unlike the Burner 2.0s the RocketBladez exhibits none of the “hot spots” the Burner 2.0’s are known for. What really stands out is how straight the ball goes, the consistency in distance, and the nice high trajectory I was seeing with each shot. Make no mistake though, the ball wasn’t ballooning, but pierced through the air. Even shots hit off the toe would go straight without a terrible loss in distance.
I had replaced the Burner 2.0’s with the G20’s because I found I my distances were inconsistent with the Burner 2.0’s. The G20s took care of that inconsistency very nicely. The RocketBladez also gives you a very consistent distance shot after shot. It’s comforting to know the club in your hand will give you the yardage you are shooting for.
While I like the G20s very much, I’d give a slight nod to the RocketBladez. Yes, the lofts are stronger in the RocketBladez from the 7 iron on up, but when I took my G20 6 iron and the RocketBladez 7 iron (29 degrees and 30.5 degrees respectively), I found I was hitting the RocketBladez slightly further. In addition, I was hitting the RocketBladez a tad higher and straighter as well. And finally, the RocketBladez had a slight better feel to them. However, I think the finish on the G20 is more robust than on the RocketBladez. Compared to the Burner 2.0s, the RocketBlades surpassed them in all the categories mentioned above even more so.
There are two models of the RocketBladez Irons. The standard model (this review is on the “standard” model) and a “Tour” version. The Tour Version is not as long and a smaller, more player-type iron for lower handicap. The upside to the standard is the hot face and distance gains we saw vs. the Tour version.
Photos of the standard RocketBladez
Photos of the standard RocketBladez Topline (Below). It’s thicker in the standard version than it is in “Tour” version, which also has a smaller blade length, a narrower sole and a reduced amount of offset.
I’ve even had some success hitting the long irons, especially off the tee. I was surprised at the distance I was getting, especially with the 4-iron, however, it does have 20 degrees of loft. Does that mean I’ll ditch my 7 wood? Not just yet, because for the most part I hit it really well. However, I’ll keep working with the 4 iron and see where it takes me. Either my golf swing is getting better, or it’s all about the technology, or a little bit of both.
Photos of the “Tour” model of RocketBladez (slightly smaller head and thinner top line, but not the same distance and the standard version).
Photos of the RocketBladez “Tour” Version Topline
The higher trajectory, sans the ballooning, gives you the added benefit of landing the ball on the green softly without all that nasty rollout. When it comes to the scoring clubs, 8-AW, high and straight will translate to lower scores. I also hit a few low punch shots with the pitching wedges into a brisk wind, and had no problem keeping the ball down. The graphite shafts feel quite smooth and have a very nice feel to then. For an OEM shaft it performs quite admirably.
On a closing note, I don’t find the RocketBladez to be “ridiculously long”. They are longer, but not ridiculously so. I am more impressed with how straight they are and how they feel when you hit the sweet spot. 4.50/5.00
tbowles411: With the onset of winter, I had to time this well. I hate playing on a wet course, but of course, I was out of options. For you nice people I did it. Because I’m a giver. I took my Garmin GPS, extra golf balls to compare shots, my primary set of Callaway clubs forged wedges and the Rocketbladez and rolled out. Yes I’m a Club Ho and have multiple sets of clubs and bags. What’s it to you?
I pick the ball clean off the turf with a very small divot. I had no issues with playing on wet ground with these, though the divots were a bit deeper than I’d like. I couldn’t help it. Since it was a wet day, I went out as a single, so I could take my time. I had the course to myself, so where I tried to take two shots to compare distances.
As former user of the Burner 2.0’s, I liked them, but one of the things I absolutely did not like were the hot spots. \I could hit a 200-yard 5 iron, a 220-yard 5 iron, or a 190-yard 5-iron. It made it pretty hard to plan out what I was going to do. It didn’t matter how easy they were to hit, I just couldn’t tell how far they were going to go. I had no such problems with these irons. I was wary given my last experience with TaylorMade irons. I know with my Callaway Razr XF, I hit my 5-iron, 195 yard with a smooth swing, and a little over 200 yards if I lay into it harder. I’m happy with that. I know the loft is 2 degrees weaker than the Rocketbladez in the long irons, but only 1 degree weaker in the short irons (the 9 iron was the same), so I expected a distance gain, but I was unsure how much. Keep in mind, I was using a 10g heavier and stouter shaft then what I was using in my Callaway’s.
I’ll just say they were longer. Even with the heavier shaft. know if I want to gain distance, I can go with a different graphite shaft, that’s not only more flexible, but kicks higher. However, the ball came off very hot. It seemed to hang in the air, but the ball didn’t balloon. It got out there in a hurry, even with the wetness of the course. It wasn’t cold, just wet. So it scares me to think how these will perform in warmer weather. I made an effort to mishit these, taking the shots more towards the heel and the toe. The ball still went straight with a negligible distance loss, so that was impressive, to say the least. I was having issues with the 4-iron, as I don’t carry one as a rule. However, once I got used to it, it was a little more preferable off the tee. Though the fudge factor wasn’t as great as a hybrid, you can still get very good distance, but crazy accuracy with it. It just wants to go straight. Oh, my 4-iron distance? 233 yards.
But another word on the Speed Pocket: But I understand the premise of the Speed Pocket. It’s placed lower where most golfers actually hit the ball and across the entire face. It provides an added “trampoline” effect which gets the ball up at a higher trajectory (launch angle) and out not only faster, but farther. In basic terms, it has to do with the dynamic loft of the club which can increase launch angle. These irons were designed to help the average golfer get the ball up with the likelihood there would be a mishit. So the center of gravity is lower and the dynamic loft fires the ball at a higher launch angle. A higher launch angle, a faster ball speed, more distance. Sorry. My geek was showing. Where was I…?
The wedges are a different story. My usual setup is 50, 55, 60. I was pleased to find out my gaps were already standard. I knew these were built on the ATV wedges. However these have a “cavity” in them to add forgiveness. They worked better than I thought they would. They don’t give as much spin as my primary wedges, but they still get good bite, but the cavity adds mega forgiveness. Wedge play isn’t my thing, but with the cavity it made shots from 110 yards and in very simple. A sand wedge with a cavity is like cheating. Out of the sand, it’s money. Even I could get the ball out! And I actually got the lob wedge with the set and wanted to see what it could do: 60 yards with spin. Flops were easier with a cavity. Very nice. Get the wedges. Don’t even hesitate. You’re welcome.
THE CHALLENGE: THE HOLE
There is a hole on the course that is my nemesis: A 235-yard Par 3, with the pin center, and a little tucked (the Super was in a bad mood I see). Why this hole is on a local muni is beyond me. I almost never hit this green and if I do, I’m sure it’s going to barely make it, but usually, I take my 4 hybrid and roll with it. Well, I took my new 4 iron and went for it. It flew a little higher than my hybrid and when it hit, it bit some and spun towards the hole. It never left the pin: 18 feet to the pin. I was pretty pleased. To compare (since I was alone), I took two more shots, one with my 3 and 4 hybrids: 25 and 34 feet. A silly grin started creeping across my face. I thought, “I think I’m going to like these…” PERFORMANCE: 4.75 STARS/5
Sean2: I wanted to talk a bit more about this because I was so surprised the first time I hit one on the sweet spot. I was on the range warming up (I usually start out chipping and pitching until I get loose), and I grabbed the nine iron, took a full swing, hit it well, and oh my. The shot felt very similar to a forged iron. I then took the 7 iron. Same thing. I wanted to see if this was for real and head out to the course.
I decided to leave all my woods in the bag and play from the forward tees with just the irons. I wanted to hit every tee shot with an iron to see if I was imagining things. Maybe the range shots were an anomaly.
No, they weren’t. A well struck tee shot, shots out of the fairway, shots out of the rough, all had a forged feel to them. Nice! Remember though, I’m playing graphite shafts here. Perhaps that had something to do with it? I don’t know. 4.75/5.00
tbowles411: THESE ARE NOT FORGED. There. I had to remind myself of that. However, these feel very good. When you strike these on the center of the face, they feel as soft as a cast club can. For a quick moment it reminded me of a Ping iron. I’m fairly sure the insert has a lot to do with it. Hit it along the heel or toe, still feels very decent. I remind you, feel is a preference. But these are a very good feeling iron. When you get to the short irons, they did remind me of a Ping iron: Pretty soft for cast. As someone who uses forged clubs, I could totally use these and not be disappointed. I know what you’re thinking: “Dude, you’re using graphite!” Yes, but if you use graphite as long as I have, you know the difference of a good shot, and a great shot; a well struck, and one not so much. FEEL: 4.75/5 STARS
RocketBladez Wedges Sean2: Included with the irons for me to test was a RocketBladez sand wedge with a loft of 55º. This is a great looking wedge, with a satin like finish, and a bit of a cavity back. The sand wedge has the same ATV sole (All-Terrain Versatility) that their “players” wedges have, but with a bit more forgiveness. I’ve always been a fan of the ATV because it allows a golfer to play a variety of shots from a variety of turf conditions and not have to be to concerned about bounce. I have a 64º ATV wedge that’s been terrific. I wasn’t at all surprised at how well the sand wedge performed. It was great from the rough, off a tight lie, and out of the sand. It had some bite to it too and a few times the ball checked up on the green. It always surprised me that people will be encouraged by their pro to purchase a set of game improvement irons, or based on an article they read in a golf magazine, or from a book they’ve read, but will still end up purchasing a set of “players” wedges. If a golfer purchases a set of game improvement irons, why not a set of game improvement wedges?
I would encourage anyone thinking of purchasing a set of RocketBladez irons to give the RocketBladez wedges serious consideration. The AW/SW/LW come in 50º/55º/60º respectively. 4.75/5.00
Sean2: The TaylorMade RocketBladez is a game improvement iron that anyone can enjoy. These irons do everything well in a very nice looking package. They are bit longer, forgiving, straight, and feel terrific. The casting process has come along way. For those of you that believe that forged is the only way to go, but have been looking for a more forgiving forged iron, I would suggest you take the RocketBladez for a test drive. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.
For those of you looking for a game improvement iron that has a nice understated look, with a hemi under the hood, you don’t have to look very far. There is a lot of technology packed into the RocketBladez, and the nice thing is you’re not hit over the head with it. If you’re in the market for a new set of irons I think you owe it to yourself to give the RocketBladez a test drive, and please don’t forget the wedges. That all said, you still have to put a good swing on whatever club you purchase, however I think TaylorMade hit a home run with the RocketBladez irons. Overall Rating: 4.65/5.00
tbowles411: The hype is true. These will go farther. I’m not sure about 11 yards farther, but I can see how it could. We can argue about lofts, materials and God knows what else. Your average consumer isn’t going to care about any of it. They want the ball to get up, and out. Stock offerings in steel and graphite will most certainly do that and get them to enjoy golf and have some fun with it. I can totally see TaylorMade selling a boatload of these irons in the regular and probably in the Tour models. They perform as advertised. My advice to higher cappers: Leave the 4-iron at home until you get good with it. Get the hybrids which I’m sure will be on sale eventually, and for the love of all that’s holy, GET THE WEDGES. OVERALL IMPRESSION: 4.75/5 STARS