TaylorMade Review – R1 Driver, Stage 2 Driver, Stage 2 Fairway & Tour Fairway and Stage 2 Rescue & Tour Rescue

TaylorMade updated the original R11s and RocketBallz line with the trendier R1 and Stage 2 RocketBallz products.  With an updated look, technology and cool color scheme, be sure to check out the new products from TaylorMade.

TaylorMade R1 Driver Review 

Appearance 

TaylorMade concluded through research that 80% of the golfing population is playing the wrong loft on their driver.  Therefore, TaylorMade introduces the R1 driver, designed to fit every golfer with 12 different loft combinations.  In addition, the R1 allows users to alter loft, face angle and design their shot shape.  The only thing golfers need to worry about is selecting the correct shaft flex.

The flashy appearance of the R1 features an athletic design.  The club head looks like it will deliver a fast swing with the black club face, all white club head with an orange and gray stripe pattern.  The R1 looks sharp at address and frames the ball really nice.  The club features adjustable weights on the heel and toe with the adjustable face angle positioned towards the back of the sole.  The loft sleeve allows for 12 adjustable settings between 8 and 12 degrees.  In my opinion, the appearance of the R1 is one of it’s best qualities.

Performance

The R1 is TaylorMade’s most technologically advanced driver and can be extremely difficult to find your correct setting.  Therefore, TaylorMade designed a user friendly app called R1 Tuning which is available for download on smart phones.  Follow the prompts by selecting shot options and the tuning app will recommend settings to achieve your desired results.

I tested the TaylorMade R1 with the stock Aldila RIP Phenom 55 stiff shaft.  In addition, I tested the R1 9.5 degree driver with a draw bias and the face angle in a neutral position, 2 degrees open and 2 degrees closed position.  In the neutral position, shots were generally a mid ball flight.  Poor shots tended to miss off to the right and good shots resulted in a straight or right to left ball flight.  Altering the face angle produced different trajectories and results.  The closed club face caught my eye as the most attractive setting.  Closing the club face 2 degrees generally resulted in a higher ball flight with a slight draw.  Again, missed shots typically ended up to the right of the target.  Opening the face angle 2 degrees produced the worst and most inconsistent results.  Ball flight was typically low and resulted in several snap hooks.  I was disappointed in the distance of the R1 driver.  Even good hits felt like the driver lacked any pop and never produced long or exciting drives.  Overall, I was not very impressed with the results and preferred many other drivers over the results of the R1.  

Feel

The slightly heavier club head and lighter shaft feels fantastic.  The Aldila Rip Phenom shaft weighs 58 grams with 3.4 degrees of torque with a overall swing weight of D4.  Impact produces a dull sound with a hard feel across the club face.  In my opinion, the highlight of the R1 is the weighting while any drawback could be the firm feel at impact.  The TaylorMade Stage 2 driver produces a slightly louder sound at impact with a more desirable softer feel across the club face.

Final Thoughts

The idea behind the R1 is outstanding, and several companies released a driver meant to fit any golfer.  Buy one club and make any adjustment necessary to help produce a desirable ball flight.  The R1 will be one of the most popular drivers available for it’s versatility.  The expensive $399 retail price is in line with other technological advanced drivers.  While I think it is an improvement from the previous R11s, I personally did not get that excited about the performance.  The look and feel are outstanding while the results fell short of my expectations.

TaylorMade RocketBallz Stage 2 Driver Review 

Appearance 

TaylorMade made their original RocketBallz clubs RocketBallzier with the release of the Stage 2 line.  The updated appearance features a yellow and gray color scheme on top of the white club head with black club face and sole.  The 460 cc club head looks easy to hit at address with a similar shape of the previous RocketBallz driver.  In addition, TaylorMade positioned a weight behind the club face to lower the CG, promote faster ball speeds with a higher launch and low spin.  The TaylorMade Loft-Sleeve offers 7 standard and 5 upright loft options where golfers can alter add or decrease 1.5 degrees of loft.

Performance 

I tested the TaylorMade Stage 2 driver in the 9.5 degree stock Fujikura RocketFuel shaft in stiff flex.  The Stage 2 driver is designed to produce a high ball flight and testing revealed similar results.  I tried the Stage 2 driver on a number of occasions and never found consistent results similar to the original RocketBallz driver.  If the original RocketBallz driver was in my bag, I probably would not make the upgrade.  Solid hits produced good distance with a fairly straight and high ball flight.  Misses produced a higher ball flight that tended to drift to the right.  Personally, I preferred the Stage 2 over the R1, however, I did not witness a significant improvement over the previous RocketBallz driver.

Feel 

Impact felt really nice and produced a louder sound (than the R1) with very soft club face.  In addition, the softer impact sensation feels like the ball springs off the club face much more than the TaylorMade R1.  The ultra light shaft is designed to promote faster swing speed.  The Stage 2 driver features a D6 swing weight with a lightweight Fujikura RocketFuel shaft that weighs 51 grams with 4.5 degrees of torque.  The lighter shaft makes it easy to feel the club head throughout the swing.  

Final Thoughts

The TaylorMade Stage 2 driver retails for a standard $299 price.  In my opinion, results were typically more consistent and felt better than the more expensive R1 driver.  However, in comparison to other models, I felt other drivers available produced better results, including the original RocketBallz driver.

TaylorMade RBZ Stage 2 and Stage 2 Tour Fairway Wood

Appearance

TaylorMade continues the tradition of their non-glare white crown with the RocketBallz Stage 2 fairway wood line.  In addition, the grey and yellow graphics add a trendy twist to the appearance.  The Stage 2 fairway wood is designed with a black club face with only three lines of grooves.  In fact, the contrast of the white crown and black club face do a nice job framing the ball at address.  In the address position, the club face appears slightly closed.  The club head design is similar to the previous RBZ fairway wood, however, the Stage 2 fairway appears slightly shallower than the original RBZ.  TaylorMade designed a thinner face and positioned the Speed Pocket on the sole of the club, directly behind the club face.  The RocketFuel by Matrix shaft is black with some of the same colors from the club head incorporated in as well.  Overall, the color scheme is unique with an attractive club head design.

The TaylorMade RocketBallz Stage 2 Tour fairway wood features a very similar club head design, a standard loft at 14.5 degrees and a slightly shallower appearance.  The Tour model features an adjustable club head that offers 7 standard and 5 upright loft options that increase loft to 16 degrees or decrease loft to 13 degrees.  In addition, the Tour fairway wood appears to set up slightly more square, while the regular fairway wood appears slightly closed in comparison.  The club face is designed with five lines of grooves while the regular fairway is designed with only 3 lines of grooves.

Performance

TaylorMade advertises 17+10 for the new Rocketballz Stage 2 fairway wood.  Therefore, TaylorMade claims the Stage 2 will travel 27 yards farther than my current fairway wood.  Personally, I really enjoyed the original RBZ fairway, so I was excited to try the new Stage 2.  I tested the Stage 2 15 degree 3 fairway wood with the stock Matrix RocketFuel 60 gram shaft in stiff flex.  The Matrix RocketFuel shaft has 4.5 degrees of torque produced a mid to high ball flight.  The Stage 2 fairway produced solid results with typically a straight ball flight or slight draw.  Obviously, the question is if the Stage 2 created an additional 27 yards.  The RBZ Stage 2 produced a nice pop and a few extra yards from the tee.  However, results yielded about the same distance as the original RBZ off the turf.  On a positive note, the design of the club head makes it extremely easy to launch the ball in the air and produce a straight golf shot.  I was a little disappointed I did not see the additional 27 yards, but the Stage 2 is easy to hit and produces solid and dependable results.  Similar to the original RBZ fairway, the Stage 2 is a great club.

I tested the 14.5 degree 3 fairway Tour Rescue with a stiff RocketFuel shaft. Results yielded great results that were slightly longer than the regular Stage 2 fairway, especially off the turf.  Both fairway woods are extremely to hit and consistently produced a straight ball flight.  The Tour fairway generally produced a mid ball flight on the majority of shots.  Overall, I preferred the Stage 2 Tour fairway wood.

Feel

The weighting of the TaylorMade RBZ Stage 2 feels heavy in the club head with a lighter 60 gram shaft.  However, the fairway wood feels solid and is easy to hit.  I really enjoy the softer feel the entire Stage 2 line produces at impact.  In addition, impact produces a muted sound.  The ball rebounds off the club face and creates a nice sensation with the shallower and thinner club face.

The Stage 2 Tour fairway wood feels heavier with a D4 swing weight.  In addition, the RocketFuel shaft weights 70 grams.  Impact produces a similar muted and soft impact sensation.  Both fairways are extremely easy to hit, forgiving and produce a fantastic feel and result.

Final Thoughts

The Rocketballz Stage 2 fairway features an innovative color combination with solid results.  The Stage 2 fairway is labeled with high expectations due to the superior results of the previous Rocketballz fairway wood.  While I did not see the additional distance as advertised from TaylorMade, the club performs very well and is extremely easy to hit from the tee or off the turf.  The TaylorMade RBZ State 2 fairway wood retails for $249.99, which is slightly higher than the average fairway wood.  Regardless, with the reputation of TaylorMade the Stage 2 fairway wood will be a top seller, especially for those who did not pick up the original RBZ fairway wood.

The Stage 2 Tour will attract plenty of attention with the ability to adjust settings and dependable performance.  Both fairways are easy to hit, however, the Tour fairway produced a few more yards in the distance department.  With the extra features, golfers will pay a premium retail price of $279.99 for the Tour fairway.  If the Tour model outperforms the original Stage 2 fairway, it might be worth the additional $30.

TaylorMade RBZ Stage 2 and Stage 2 Tour Rescue 

Appearance 

The TaylorMade RBZ Stage 2 RBZ Rescue features a black clubface and sole with a non-glare white crown.  The grey and yellow alignment graphic offers a youthful appearance.  TaylorMade continued with the speed pocket positioned just behind the club face.  In addition, a weight is located directly behind the speed pocket designed to move the center of gravity lower and more forward producing faster ball speeds, higher launch and low spin. Visually, the Stage 2 hybrid attracts the eye forward of the club face.  The RocketFuel shaft is all black with yellow and grey trim.  Compared to the previous RBZ Rescue, the new Stage 2 is not as round.  However, the size and shape appears identical to the Stage 2 Tour Rescue.

The TaylorMade Stage 2 Tour Rescue is adjustable and offers 7 standard and 5 upright loft options that increase loft to 20 degrees or decrease loft to 17 degrees.  Both models set up really nice at address and appear very easy to hit. 

Performance 

The performance and feel between the Stage 2 and Stage 2 Tour are completely reversed.  I tested the TaylorMade RBZ Stage 2 19 degree Rescue with a stiff RocketFuel shaft.  The RocketFuel shaft weighs 62 grams with 3.2 degrees of torque.

Based on my results, the RBZ Stage 2 Rescue produces a piercing mid to high ball flight.  The majority of shots produced a straight ball flight or draw.  Unlike the Stage 2 Tour Rescue, the regular Stage 2 Rescue does not balloon.  The club performs great off the tee and is easy to hit from tight lies or regular length rough.  In fact, it seemed easier to hit from a tight lie than the previous RBZ Rescue.  

I tested the TaylorMade Stage 2 RBZ Tour 3 – 18.5 degree hybrid with a stiff flex RocketFuel 80 gram shaft.  The club was tested in 4 positions, standard, upright, +1.5 degrees and – 1.5 degrees.  The Tour Rescue is intended to produce a higher launch, low spin, faster ball speed and more distance partly due to the CG positioned lower and more forward in the club head.      

In the standard position, shots were high and straight or slight fade.  Switching to the upright position produced a lower ball flight than the standard position, but still delivered a fade.  Switching the position to the 20 degree setting (+1.5 degree) produced a higher ball flight, however, adding the extra loft probably made the club a little more forgiving and produced mostly straight shots.  Surprisingly, the 17 degree setting (-1.5 degrees) produced the best results.  Shots were typically straight or slight draw with a mid to high ball flight.

Overall, results produced a high launch and ball flight.  Ball flight often ballooned and forgiveness was average.  A number of shots missed the target and produced an unwanted fade or slice.  

Feel 

The RBZ Stage 2 Rescue feels solid at impact with a crisp contact.  In addition, it feels harder off the face than the RBZ Stage 2 Tour Rescue.  The RBZ Stage 2 Tour has an incredibly smooth feel and very few hybrids will duplicate the same feeling.  The D4 swing weight is the exact same in both versions.

The Stage 2 RBZ Tour hybrid sets up nice at address and feels comfortable with a heavier 80 gram shaft.  Impact feels great with a ping sound.  Unfortunately, in my opinion the TaylorMade Stage 2 Tour Rescue feels much better than it performs.  Impact feels soft and feels like every shot is struck perfectly.  I preferred the feel at impact of the Stage 2 Tour Rescue over any other hybrid I’ve tested this year.

Final Thoughts

The RBZ Stage 2 Rescue is forgiving and easy to hit.  The piercing ball flight, forgiveness and distance will make the Stage 2 Rescue a popular choice.  On the other hand, the adjustable features, higher launch and ball flight will attract many players to the Stage 2 Tour Rescue.  Both models are competitively priced where the Stage 2 Rescue retails at $199.99 while the Tour Rescue retails at $229.99.  Based on my results, I would save $30 and pick the regular RBZ Stage 2 Rescue that outperformed the more expensive Tour version.  Although the Stage 2 Tour Rescue felt amazing, I just could not get the consistent results the regular model delivered.

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