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A first look at RocketBladez

There’s a lot of buzz about TaylorMade’s RocketBladez, the iron the clubmaker launched earlier this week. No one does marketing and promo as well as TaylorMade — and so it didn’t come as a huge surprise that a box containing a bucket of balls and a single RocketBladez 6-iron arrived by courier the same day Tmag was announcing the clubs. The pitch is essentially this — that the iron hasn’t progressed in the same way drivers and fairway woods have, so TaylorMade is making improvements to modernize the product segment:

“Metalwoods have advanced tremendously since TaylorMade introduced the first one in 1979,” TaylorMade CEO Mark King said. “The ball has advanced too, and even footwear and apparel have improved a great deal. But there hasn’t been significant advancement in irons since the perimeter-weighted cavity back was introduced more than 50 years ago. The Speed Pocket changes that – it’s a once-in-a-lifetime innovation in the iron category. If your iron doesn’t have a Speed Pocket, your iron is outdated.”

The Speed Pocket is a 2mm-wide slot in the sole of the iron (available in 3- through 7-irons) that flexes and rebounds at impact, increasing the speed of the face. The advantage is said to be more effective on impacts made low on the face, which is the shot that amateurs tend to hit more often.

There’s a lot of technology in the irons, and the version sent to writers was clearly a game improvement iron, with the tour model to appear in the spring.

So I took the club, a 6-iron, out yesterday to Firerock Golf Club to see if the hype matched the performance.

Several things immediately caught my attention. First, the shaft on the club was a half-inch longer than my stock Callaway or AP2 6-iron. Since TaylorMade is making some big distance claims, largely in connection to the speed pocket and reduced face thickness, I couldn’t help but think there’s probably some added distance coming from the longer shaft. Secondly, there’s a slight offset in the club and a chunky topline. A showed the club to a player on the range who was hitting Titleist MBs and asked his impression. He thought it was ugly — and looked like a typical game improvement club. He’s sort of right, and the think top accentuates that.

What about the performance? Well there was no doubt the iron was at least 5-7 yards longer than my Callaway RAZR X 6-iron. The flight was impressive — it didn’t ballon, and interestingly I found I could work the club right to left and left to right with a fair bit of ease, something I hadn’t expected. The sound at impact was clean and crisp and getting the ball up in the air, even on mishits, was quite easy.

So yes, the promise of added distance was there — and if you can get by the aesthetics, then it was a nice iron. Now I didn’t check the loft on the club — they could be strong.

The bigger question is this — do players want their irons to go far or more consistently? And does this club address that?

 

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Robert Thompson

A bestselling author and award-winning columnist, Robert Thompson has been writing about business and sports, and particularly golf, for almost two decades. His reporting and commentary on golf has appeared in Golf Magazine, the Globe and Mail, T&L Golf and many other media outlets. Currently Robert is a columnist with Global Golf Post, golf analyst for Global News and Shaw Communications, and Senior Writer to ScoreGolf. The Going for the Green blog was launched in 2004.

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