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TaylorMade RBZ Stage 2 Driver: Editor Review

by   |   April 19, 2013
rbz driver
TaylorMade RBZ Stage 2 Driver: Editor Review GolfWRX
Performance
Looks and Feel

Summary: Get over the paint job and put this to the test next to your gamer. The right model and shaft combo proved to be a winner for many testers!

5

Howitzer


Pros: The RBZ Stage 2 drivers have larger faces and different center of gravity positions than TaylorMade’s pricer, more adjustable R1 driver. For some testers, this meant that one or both of the Stage 2 drivers performed better than the R1.

Cons: Some will not care for the graphics, and the sound isn’t as muted on the non-Tour model as some others we tested.

Bottom Line: Both of the Stage 2 drivers are on the short list for “Driver of the Year” and the 2013 GolfWRX Editor’s Choice award. They’re currently priced at $249 and $299 (Tour), which makes them a lot of driver for the money.

Overview

Like the R1, TaylorMade’s RocketBallz Stage 2 drivers have bold-looking graphics on their white crowns. TaylorMade continues to refine its manufacturing processes to allow a more optimal weight management.

In the new Stage 2 drivers, TaylorMade was able to move the center of gravity in the head lower and forward than last year’s models, which the company says promotes faster ball speeds and reduced spin.

EditorsChoice_13

During our testing we were surprised by performance of the Stage 2, which was a fit better for many than the TaylorMade R1 Driver that dominates the tours. Some testers also preferred the more subtle graphics over the bold stripes found on the R1, and others said the looks of the heads, which have larger faces than the R1, gave them more confidence to go after the ball a little harder.

Using the Stage 2′s three-degree adjustable loft sleeve, one of our testers was able to lower his spin from 2800 to 2100 on average, increasing carry distance more than 10 yards.

It was a difference that he could not discern with his eye alone, which is why we cannot stress enough the importance of getting properly fit by a qualified custom fitter on a launch monitor.

Click here to see the full article on the RBZ Stage 2 lineup, as well as more photos.

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The RBZ Stage 2 drivers are available in a standard version with lofts of 9.5, 10.5 and 11.5 with a Fujikura RocketFuel 50 graphite shaft in X, S, R and M flexes in a standard length of 46 inches and a swing weight of D6 for $249.

The Tour Version ($299) comes in 9- and 10.5-degree lofts with Matrix’s 6Q3 or 7Q3 “Red Tie” shaft. Its standard length is 45.5 inches with a D4 swing weight.

Both drivers feature TaylorMade’s 3-degree loft sleeve, which adjusts loft and face angle simultaneously.

rbz driver

Black clubface, non-glare white crown and new crown decal all promote easy alignment.

 

Performance

The RBZ Stage 2 Tour driver uses the same head shape as the non-Tour model, but changes in TaylorMade’s tooling allowed engineers to move the CG lower and more forward. This lowers spin, giving higher-speed players the flatter trajectory they need to maximize carry and roll.

Screen Shot 2013-04-19 at 3.45.39 PM

There’s a reason that it’s cheaper than the R1, however.

Its adjustable hosel lags 1 degree behind the R1, which can be adjusted in 0.5-degree increments in a 4-degree range. With the Stage 2, golfers only have a 3-degree range, and no face angle adjuster. That means that when loft is reduced, the face opens, and when the loft is increased, the face is closed.

The Stage 2 also lacks the removable weights that give golfers the ability to tune their shot shape and swing weight without lead tape or hot melt/rat glue.

 

Sound/Feel

Excerpt of a review from GolfWRX member golfpromt

“Some may consider the Stage 2 a secondary line solely to the price point compared to the R1 or competitors. I will tell you right now, you would be making a MAJOR mistake. This head FLAT OUT PERFORMS!!!!  I was concerned that this head would be a loud, tin sounding, spinning head. Wow, was I completely and totally wrong.

While the sound off the head does not have a muted sound the “pang” you hear does ring higher than many we tested. Tolerable for sure and while some might not like it there are others that are just the opposite. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

stage 2 driver

Thick-Thin crown provides lower and more-forward CG location promoting faster ball speed, high launch and low spin

 

The head has a muted solid sound that delivers excellent feedback but remains forgiving. All this while pumping it out farther than you would expect. I am confident saying that any other competitor would be ecstatic to launch this line as their only offering for the year . . .

 

Screen Shot 2013-04-19 at 3.46.00 PM

As far as the graphics go, when I saw the pre-release images I was a skeptic, to say the least. I thought they looked nice but did not think they should be there. On my first swing with the Stage 2, I thought to myself about the graphics but NEVER again did I even notice them.

rbz driver

Expansive 4,100 square-millimeter clubface gives the golfer substantially more face area

 

For lack of a better term, I consider them similar to “background noise” you here on the golf course. Yes, birds are chirping and there may be sound of a golf cart in the distance but once you are over the ball you tend to block those things out and never notice them. Same thing here. I have not noticed them since the first look.”

rocketballz stage 2 driver review

 

After a few rounds of play we learned to enjoy the graphics and they served more and more as functional alignment aids to us. This driver required us to suspend the head about the turf and line up the face to the target line. The graphics on the crown helped with that.

stage 2

TaylorMade Loft-Sleeve technology which offers 7 standard and 5 upright loft options to add ±1.5° to each of the available standard lofts: 9.5 (which can be adjusted up to 11° or down to 8°) 10.5° (which can be adjusted up to 12° or down to 9°) and HL 13° (which can be adjusted up to 14.5° or down to 11.5°)

 

Having confidence over the ball on the tee is priceless. The RBZ Stage 2 helped give confidence that we were going to hit it straight and far. Cant argue with that.

We suggest you give this driver a seat at the table when you get fitted. The Stage 2 will stand up to its peers.

Check out our additional images of the Stage 2 drivers below:

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28 Comments

  1. Kelvin

    May 5, 2014 at 3:08 am

    I brought this driver a fewday ago on a advice from co-worker to upgrade my R5 Driver. At the drving range comparing hit between the two clubs. I didn’t gain any further distance using the RBZ. I was hitting better shot with the Taylor Made R5 Driver. I was somewhat slicing more with RBZ on the factory setting. So newer isn’t always better. I got a good sales price for the RBZ, going us it as a backup driver for now. Going use the R5 more unless I figure out adjustable setting on RBZ.

    • Mark

      September 23, 2014 at 11:51 am

      I found your comments interesting as I too used the R5 driver and used to hit it dead straight. I thought the newer RBZ stage 2 would give me more distance but like you i found that i couldn’t hit it without the dreaded fade from left to right usually ending up in the trees!I have gone back to my trusty R5 and find that distance wise it is very similar to a straight hit with the RBZ 2. I play off a 4 Handicap too so feel a little qualified to compare the two drivers.

  2. Zac

    March 9, 2014 at 12:43 pm

    I’m looking to purchase the driver, but I have a Pro force V2 shaft and I want to use that instead of the stock shaft. Is it possible to change the shaft? I just want to make sure before any impulse buys.

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    January 3, 2014 at 10:40 am

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  4. Danny

    August 31, 2013 at 9:20 pm

    Any experience from comparing SLDR with RBZ Stage 2?

  5. Steve

    August 23, 2013 at 9:18 am

    Just picked up this driver in 9.5 with regular shaft. 5’10″, 210 56 yrs
    Transitioned from Sumo (square) 10.5. Spin on Sumo over 3K with 212 avg carry at 88-92 mph. Rocketballs stge 2 was low 2k spin with 230+ carry and 250+ total at above speeds. On range, carry was more like 220 with 240-250 total. Toe hits resulted in high slight draw. Only could make a fade with late wrists. Lighter shaft will let you close head too quickly if you over rotate hands. Tried the 10.5 but spin rate over 3K again. Lower and forward CG does allow lower tee hight, but found you have to hover the club at address to avoid low trajectory, tending to hit high on face if not paying attention. Have not experimented with settings, all above at standard. After 50 or so shots, adjusted to club, very pleased with results. Easier swings produced better flight. Hope this helps.

  6. Terry Bell

    July 20, 2013 at 11:19 am

    I loved my original Rocketballz driver, truly loved it! I went for more hype on the Stage 2, and sold my original and purchased the Stage 2, what a mistake! This club is made for those who can swing it over 100mph, not for the average golfer, such as I. It makes a thunk kind of sound off the club, not the ‘crack’ from the original. I took it back to PGA in Denver and the guy took the club into the hitting area and being a solid golfer with a 100mph+ swing, he hit it and ‘crack’ was the sound. He asked, is that the sound you want? I said sure, he said although the face is thinner on the stage 2, it’s also much harder metal, and with my swing speed of around 85mph I’m never going to get the crack sound I was used too hearing. This club is designed for above average swing speed, over 100mph, if you swing it that fast, good for you, most of unfortunately, do not. Not for me. Looking to buy another original Rocketballz, shame on Taylormade.

    • Jim Feil

      September 25, 2013 at 2:01 pm

      I’ve played the TM RBZ Stage 2 10.5 drive for 3 weeks now with a matrix ozik xcon 5.5 R flex shaft at 45.25 inches with a 90 mph SS and this driver is as long as anything on the market. A little bit of a learning curve getting use to the 317 gram weight compared to other drivers. Our golf director gave a TM RBZ Stage 2 driver to his 82 year old father and he is has increased his driving distance by at least 10 to 15 yards. Your lack of success with the Stage 2 probably has more to do with poor shaft choice or swing flaws then the driver head.

  7. jordan shoes store

    July 11, 2013 at 9:30 am

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  8. Phillip

    July 8, 2013 at 9:24 pm

    Here’s a review from an average golfer who bought the 9.5 regular flex driver and 3 wood. Tried it out at golftown but really didn’t get the true feel until I brought it out to the range and worked out some issues. Let me start by saying I’m 5’8, 145 lbs with bad shoulders and half a backswing…. My club head speed is ~102 mph… Handicap=12. Now on to the driver… Let me start by saying I love it… Have left it tuned at the standard loft. I am hitting this club anywhere from 20-50 yards further. Averaging about 260 and have recorder a few up to 285. ( thanks Skycaddie). The 3 wood performs equally as well. Distance up 20-40 yards…
    I also had the same experience when using the R1. My brother-in-law plays one…Don’t hit it near as far..

    Hope this helps…

  9. Barry

    July 8, 2013 at 6:21 am

    Sorry peeps love my TM RBZ Stage2 4wood but really didnt get driver, just couldnt nake friends with, a low flight iff to the right with no carry, always felt shaft was perhaps a little light, have heard similar comments on other forums, still love fairway version

  10. T ony

    July 1, 2013 at 7:28 pm

    I am on my 2nd TM 1st been the Rbz now stage 2.
    Both have had head rattles., TM say its loose glue and repair not replace, now its happend again.
    Not happy.

  11. clive

    June 11, 2013 at 12:24 pm

    Is it better than the stage 1 and in what way please

  12. Trent

    May 5, 2013 at 12:04 am

    Also did a fitting. Head speed, 112-115mph, ball speed, 165-170mph, smash 1.47. I had the TP shaft in it (60g Rocketfuel) as well as the Matrix 60g, hit both about the same. Carry was 275-285y with spin right around 2200-2500rpm and launch 11*-15*. All setup with 9.5*

    I’m not the most consistent, but my mishits showed less dispersion than other drivers I tried (R1, Covert, G25, Amp Cell Tour). Now I just need to decide if I should buy another “toy”.

    • John C

      June 6, 2013 at 6:08 pm

      Scott, I had the same experience 1 week ago when I went to buy a new driver as my Calloway had broken. I liked it fine BTW . I tried 6 different clubs. The RBZ tour with the tour shaft was the clear winner for my swing. I’ve hit balls every day and played with it twice. For me, this club is the best driver I’ve ever owned. 270-290, fairly forgiving and the smoothest feel ever.

  13. nick

    April 24, 2013 at 3:21 pm

    i like reading all the reviews from all the different sources, that said.
    it is almost completely immaterial to almost everyone…
    you can try clubs in sims and at demo days but unless you know the sim is legit and buy the exact club you hit, you have nothing.
    with the tolerances the clubs are manufactured to, unless you have them fitted and assembled by a custom fitter capable of building to specific swing weights and cpm’s, it’s a educated crap shoot.

    • Scott Robinson

      April 25, 2013 at 10:09 pm

      Did track an fitting today and swing speed consistent 106-107mph. Ball speed around 150, smash factor around 1.50… I was very surprised that this was the driver which yielded the best results. Compared to R1 and other new competitive drivers…the R1 delivered great numbers but lacked distance…the Rbz stage 2 was getting me 10-15 more yards with the same swing speed numbers…ordered one on the spot and can’t wait to put it in the bag.

      • Stefan

        May 2, 2014 at 7:57 am

        I got similar figures in fitting for a driver and the RBZ Stage 2 delivered the best results of consistent 220-230 yard shots. I managed to reach pretty amazing ~115mph swing speeds with the Ping G25 which felt extremely light and effortless to swing, but the RBZ simply provided superior feel on impact and delivered better distances.

  14. Dan

    April 22, 2013 at 2:33 pm

    Not sure what the point of this “Review” was.

    Quote: This head FLAT OUT PERFORMS!!!! ………………. A little ambiguous, no?

    What does it do? What shaft, what is the reviewer’s game, SS, miss?

  15. brian Melville

    April 20, 2013 at 5:35 pm

    Is there anyone out there who can put actual figures (trackman or the like) to this review? Reviews are all very well but if the reviewer is one of the muscle-men who swing it at 120mph then the review / performance figures for that individual reviewer mean nothing to us mere mortals. Would it be possible for a “normal handicap golfer” or a panel of differing handicappers who swing the driver at speeds between 85/100 mph to hit this club with a variety of stock shafts and let us 90+% of worldwide players known if the club / stock shafts would be suitable for us? I look forwards to replies.

    • Jack

      April 21, 2013 at 9:44 pm

      I agree. It’s a conundrum for me as someone who likes to buy stuff off the internet. If you are a shopper who goes to like a golf smith or golf galaxy or one of those big store, you really don’t need the reviews as much since you can test it at least on an indoor launch monitor (which isn’t perfect but still better than trying to understand a club and shaft from someone else’s swing and opinion). For a retailer to setup a location for club testing basically would eliminate the internet advantage. So really what the internet stores need is to setup their own testing crew and review the equipment themselves. Although I’m pretty sure that the manufacturers have something in the contract that forbids them to do so. Maybe setup a separate company to do the comprehensive reviews. It probably hasn’t been done simply because there’s not enough money in it. Most websites are limited to reviews by a single person’s short term experiences.

    • Dnels

      July 28, 2013 at 11:02 pm

      I have a swing right around 100mph with the driver. Use to swing a Taylormade R-7 Superquad: carry around 230-240, very little roll out.
      Switched to Stage 2 driver: carry 250-260 roll out 265-280 consistently, this club is unreal. Stock shaft by the way. The one big difference is this club will still send it out there on a bad drive, however playability is compromised in this process. A big draw is more like a 5 yard draw and a big fade very similar.

  16. MJY

    April 20, 2013 at 1:06 am

    The original Rocketballz divers never had a slot. Take a look at some pics.

    The slot is a feature on the fairway woods and hybrids only. It is still present in all the Stage 2 fairways and hybrids.

    • JL

      April 20, 2013 at 11:01 am

      I realized that. My fault! I was thinking about the FW woods. I demo’ed this and it is really awesome.

  17. Jack

    April 19, 2013 at 9:28 pm

    Anybody know why they got rid of the slot on the sole near the face? They keep changing stuff up, I’m not sure if one design really is better than the other. I guess equipment manufacturers wouldn’t really allow it, but if we could get test numbers across manufacturers and down their product lines and yearly changes, we can get a better idea of whether they truly have been improving anything. Need some kind of standardized testing with robots with adjustable swing profiles and swing speeds.

    • Jonny8

      April 22, 2013 at 3:53 pm

      There was never a slot in the driver. In the fairway woods, yes, but not in the driver.

    • Mike B

      May 15, 2013 at 8:41 pm

      Your wish has been granted….by the Germans. Check out this website:

      http://www.robogolf.com/de/komfortsuche/index.php?lang=de&page=komfortsuche

      It’s mostly German but a good amount of English, and well worth the struggle. Google Translate helps. Every year they test all the new drivers (and irons, etc.) against each other using a robot hitting machine. Carry, roll heal, toe, slice, hook, they test it all. It’s awesome. By the way, the RBZ 2 was not this year’s winner.

    • Indi

      June 9, 2013 at 9:15 am

      I was fitted last week and came away with one of these – it’s fantastic. Love it. As far as the slot in the sole, I also got the 3 Wood and the Rescue club in this series, and they still have the slot. Upon inquiry, the salesperson told me that they have been made illegal in drivers, though still allowed in fairway woods. I haven’t been able to find confirmation of this, and there appear to be other brands still offering the slotted driver. The plot thickens.

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