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