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TaylorMade RBZ Stage 2 Fairways: Editor Review

by   |   April 24, 2013
rbz stage 2 review
TaylorMade RBZ Stage 2 Fairways: Editor Review GolfWRX Staff
Performance
Looks and Feel

Summary: Yes, they're longer. But the smaller, usable size and increased adjustability is what will really score points with golfers.

5

King of the hill


Pros: TaylorMade’s RBZ Stage 2 Fairway Woods offer even more of the ball speed that made the original RocketBallz fairway woods famous, but it’s housed in a smaller, more forgiving package that improves versatility off the ground and light rough.

Cons: Adjustability is only available in the Tour model. We’d also like to see shaft options that weigh more than 50 or 60 grams, like the Matrix RUL in the Stage 2 Tour TP, which is about 75 grams.

Bottom Line: TaylorMade’s Stage 2 Fairway Woods are better than the originals in every way. We love the Tour models, which have a 3-degree range of adjustability and a medium face depth that makes them just as much of a threat off the ground as they are off the tee.

Overview

The improvements TaylorMade has made to its newest line of RocketBallz fairway woods, the RBZ Stage 2, are pretty awesome.

The new face material, RocketSteel, is 38 percent stronger than the 455 Carpenter Stainless Steel that was used in last year’s models. The Speed Pocket, or slot in the sole, has also been improved to make the fairway woods even hotter and more forgiving.

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According to TaylorMade, those changes add up to an extra 10 yards of distance over last year’s RBZ fairway woods, which is astounding considering how far they went for some golfers.

But some is the key word, because not all golfers were a fit for the original RBZ models. For many golfers, especially those with shallow or slow swings, the original RBZ fairway woods were almost unplayable off the ground because of their large, deep-face construction.

Photo: The Tour model of TaylorMade’s RBZ Stage 2 Fairway Woods (bottom), is lower launching and lower spinning than the standard model. It also has a slightly deeper face.

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TaylorMade has fixed that problem with the RBZ Stage 2, which are hotter and more playable than last year’s models.

Stage 2 (non-Tour): $219.99

Stage 2 Specs

 Stage 2 Tour: $249.99 (Stage 2 Tour TP has the same head with Matrix RUL shaft for $349.99)

Stage 2 Tour Specs

Performance

The average club-head speed for a PGA Tour player with a 3 wood is around 105 mph. Because of that speed, Tour players usually required less loft in their fairway woods, which lowers their launch and spin to create a flatter, more playable trajectory. But we’ve seen a reversal of that trend since the popularization of high-COR fairway woods, which are launching the ball with more speed and less spin than fairway woods of the past.

rocketballz stage 2

Last year, several of TaylorMade’s staff players ditched their 13-degree and 14.5-degree fairway woods for a tour only RBZ “Tour 4″ model. The Tour 4 had the loft of a 4 wood, but because of the high-speed, low-spin nature of RocketBallz, it launched the ball more like a 3 wood.

This year, TaylorMade brought the Tour 4 to retail in the RBZ Stage 2 line, calling it a “3HL Tour,” which is the model we’ve seen quite a few of TaylorMade’s staff players using this year. Because of the Stage 2 Tour’s higher launch, smaller size and shallower face, we’ve also seen more of the 14.5-degree models on tour.

Photos of the RBZ Stage 2 Tour 3HL (16.5 degrees when set in neutral)

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Our high swing-speed tester (swing speed between 106 and 109 mph in testing) tested the 14.5-degree Stage 2 Tour model on our in-house FlightScope with a UST ProForce VTS 85X Red shaft at 43 inches. He had struggled in 2012 with a TaylorMade RBZ Tour 13-degree model with the same shaft, which basically became a tee-only club for him because of its low launch, low spin and deep face.

Even with the smaller, shallower-faced RBZ Stage 2 model, our tester was still not producing a high enough launch and spin for the club to be a true threat from the fairway. But the beauty of the Stage 2 Tour fairway woods is that they have a 3-degree range of adjustability, which can be tweaked in 0.5 degree increments. He increased the loft from from 14.5 to 15.5, which gave him the launch and spin numbers he was looking for.

Looks and Feel

Did adjusting the loft change the face angle? Absolutely. But all of TaylorMade’s 2013 woods come with a face angle that is about two degrees open, or “visually square,” as TaylorMade calls it. That means that when our tester added 1 degree of loft to the club, he closed the face, which made the club closer to square at address. Did he notice that the club had a tendency to draw? Yes, a little, but he liked it.

stage 2 review

If he wanted a more open face angle at address, which would have given him more of a fade bias, he could have opted for a 3HL Tour model and lowered the loft to 15 or 15.5 degrees. That would have given him a face angle that was more than 2 degrees open if he so preferred.

Another improvement of the RBZ Stage 2 fairway woods is the sound, which is more muted in both the Tour and non-Tour models than last year’s RocketBallz. Last year’s models made a distinct “crack,” which sounded a bit puny on misses. The Stage 2 fairway woods offer a quieter “thwack,” which makes a more consistent sound on hits across the face.

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A lot has been made of the yellow and grey graphics on top of the RBZ Stage 2 fairway woods, but we think they’re pretty much a non-factor. They’re subtle enough and far enough away from the face that we didn’t pay them much attention.

The Takeaway

Slower swingers will gravitate toward the higher-launching, higher-spinning non-Tour model, which like its predecessor offers plenty of ball speed and forgiveness. But for faster swingers, it’s the Stage 2 Tour fairway woods that will shine.

TaylorMade was the first major OEM to break ground into the high-COR fairway wood category with the original RocketBallz, and we applaud the company for making the second generation of those fairway woods adjustable. It allows serious golfers to tune launch and spin to their desired levels, as well as the ability to change directional bias based on specific course setups.

Need a high draw from your 3 wood for a certain hole? Crank up the loft. Need a low fade for a certain course? Bring the loft down.

We anticipate that future models of TaylorMade fairway woods will give golfers an increased amount of adjustability, but we’re pleased for now.

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14 Comments

  1. sam

    January 12, 2014 at 4:18 am

    I’m keen as on a 3hl

  2. Pingback: New TaylorMade SLDR Fairway woods & Hybrids have arrived! | Niakwa News

  3. jesusdelallata

    December 15, 2013 at 9:25 am

    I usually don’t write comments, but I felt i needed to share this with people who are like me and love to read review after review before buying new equipment.

    I just bought the stage 2 3wood and it hits amazingly. Great distance, great feel, great trajectory. I switched from a burner superfast 2.0 3 wood because it tended to fly way too high with too much spin. I read that the speed pocket makes this club spin less and after playing a round on a golf course where I hit five times from the tee with a three wood, I was convinced that this is a better club then what I had before.

    The graphics are NO BIG DEAL. They did not distract me. I got used to them immediately. I just love the way this club launches the ball. One of my playing partners hits the ball fairly far and on our drives I was only 10 yards behind him (he hit driver I hit my new 3 wood). I definitely recommend this club.

  4. markb

    November 7, 2013 at 1:37 am

    I’ve hit all the variants of the Stage1 and most of the Stage2. I agree that the Stage1 3 wood hits the ball too low off the deck. The Stage2 was a bit better, but I still had to move up to the HL to get a good launch angle. One thing they don’t tell you — the Tour woods have smaller heads and much less snap. I lost 15 yards on the Tours, so I switched back to the HL 17 degree 3 wood and 21 degree 5 wood.

  5. Jeremy

    September 30, 2013 at 12:53 am

    6’2 200lbs, early 40′s – I’ve always been long with borderline fast swing speed, but never very accurate with the driver. Recently replaced my Ping G20 with the 13 degree Stage2 3w and I am hitting straighter and just about as far as the G20. I love the 3w and hitting it consistently 265/280 in fairway- Better than 295 in the trees! I look forward to my index dropping a few points by next year. The way I see it, a tough par-4 420 yds is 8i-9i in and short par-4′s, I can go w/ my gap wedge. Good Swinging!

  6. Rob

    August 10, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    Just bought the Taylormade stage 2 fairway wood and to be honest it has left me disappointed. I play off a 10 handicap yet seem unable to hit the ball off the ground when hitting a fairway shot. On closer inspection of the 15 degree head it actually looks steeper than my 10.5 degree drive and Im beginning to think its a manufacturing error or maybe I should have bought the high loft 17° version.

  7. Ken

    August 8, 2013 at 2:47 pm

    The slot is not new to TM as was stated in the initial article. Adams had the slot years before anyone else did and I dare say the reason TM bought Adams is for the slot technology of which the patent has not expired on.

  8. David Clark

    July 19, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    This club is long. Yes, it sets up square.

  9. Biz Markie

    July 3, 2013 at 11:47 pm

    Does the non-tour have a square set up?

  10. Simon

    June 9, 2013 at 4:43 pm

    Looking to buy driver, woods and hybrid….

  11. Simon

    June 9, 2013 at 4:42 pm

    I have spent all day reading reviews of the RBZ Stage 2 non-tour vs tour and still very confused which on to opt for. Hcp 15. Not a fast swinger. Like the idea of adjustability but will the shallower face and smaller head be less forgiving right now for me?

  12. Sean

    June 7, 2013 at 11:45 pm

    I’m very happy with mine…I have three of them.

  13. Gil Leonard

    May 13, 2013 at 7:30 am

    I am waiting for my Tour 3HL to be delivered. it is due in any day. Like the looks and adjustability factor. Have R1 and Tour 2 hybrid already. TaylorMade makes great clubs which help us amateurs play to our potential.

  14. Jay

    May 4, 2013 at 6:32 pm

    think i will just stick with a re-shaft on my Ping G20 3w

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