Did TaylorMade find that breakthrough? The proof will be in the performance when TaylorMade RocketBallz fairway woods (read review) hit retail outlets on Feb. 3, 2012. But the company claims that better players will see distance gains of up to 17 yards with RocketBallz fairway metals. That's potentially a huge gain, and TaylorMade addresses any skepticism by following its claim with one word: "Really." (Higher-handicappers and slower swingers should not expect gains of near that magnitude. The claim is based on robot testing against the Burner R11 fairway wood.)
The RocketBallz (or RBZ, if you prefer) fairways have white crowns with black PVD clubfaces, a striking look.
The distance gains, TaylorMade says, come from several approaches that boost ball speed off the face. Compared to Burner SuperFast fairways, the RBZ fairway heads are more traditionally shaped. Compared to previous TM fairways, the RocketBallz fairways have larger, deeper faces, with the optics of the white crown/black face creating the illusion of even more size.
The center of gravity is lowered, but also pulled forward. A "Speed Pocket" inside the clubhead leads to more flexibility in both the face and overall head. In addition, the clubs are lightweight and aerodynamic, with lightweight shaft and grip options.
TaylorMade claims the RocketBallz fairways are the first steel fairway metals that hit the USGA/R&A "speed limit" for ball speed off the face.
In addition to the base model, there is also a RocketBallz Tour fairway model that has a more compact head, a more open face angle and a heavier and stiffer shaft.
The base RBZ fairway woods come in lofts of 15, 17, 19, 21 and 24 degrees for right-handers; 15, 18 and 21 for lefties. The stock shaft is a 50-gram Matrix Ozik XCon 5. The Tour model has a 75-gram Matrix Ozik RUL 70 shaft with lofts of 13, 14.5 and 18 degrees (RH only). Both models are priced at $229 for launch.