TaylorMade introduces RocketBladez, its new line of irons

TaylorMade's new RocketBladez line of irons.

TaylorMade's new RocketBladez line of irons.

TaylorMade has generated plenty of buzz with white metalwoods in the past few years. Now the company hopes to do the same with new irons that company executives say will change the iron landscape.

RocketBladez and RocketBladez Tour irons feature a slot on the sole of the long irons and mid irons that runs from toe to heel and provides a distinctive look. This slot is called the Speed Pocket, the same name used for the sole channel in the company’s RocketBallz fairway woods.

It is the performance, not the looks, that motivated TaylorMade president and CEO Mark King to call RocketBladez a “once in a lifetime innovation.”

Metalwoods have always been centerstage for TaylorMade. Gary Adams founded the company in 1979 with a line of woods that quickly became known as “Pittsburgh Persimmon.” The name stuck. Throughout its 33-year history TaylorMade has been a master of slick nicknames and equally clever commentary.

Irons always took a backseat to metalwoods at TaylorMade. Sure, there were plenty of iron models. There were forged irons for touring professionals and low-handicap amateurs. For everybody else there were explosive, strong-lofted irons made of cast stainless steel, embodied by the Burner 2.0.

But King was dreaming of irons to match the impact of R11 drivers and RocketBallz fairway woods.

Sean O’Hair was the first to test them on the PGA Tour, and he said, “These irons will make me a better player.” It is clear that TaylorMade officials and players have great expectations for the RocketBladez.

These irons, even the Tour model, are made of cast stainless steel and not forged steel. TaylorMade calls this “one-piece cast construction.” Executive vice president Sean Toulon said in this case virtually nobody can tell the difference between cast and forged.

“We’ve tested these irons for everything imaginable,” Toulon said. “They are unbelievably long, the distances are incredibly consistent and most players think they feel exactly like forged irons.”

Why the cast process? Because this allows TaylorMade to construct the irons exactly as the blueprint specifies, including the ultra-slim face that measures 1.6mm at its thinnest. In past TaylorMade irons, the thinnest part of any face was 1.8mm. TaylorMade says the thin face means more distance without losing control of the trajectory and carry yardage.

The improved Inverted Cone design of the face delivers two critical benefits. First, according to TaylorMade, it increases the size of the clubface area that delivers high ball speed. Second, the company says the Inverted Cone technology influences how the face flexes and rebounds at impact. This controls the angle at which the ball leaves the face, promoting straighter shots and a tighter dispersion. TaylorMade stresses “significantly greater accuracy” compared to previous high-speed irons.

King maintains that no substantial innovations have been made in the overall iron category since Ping began popularizing cavity-back irons almost 50 years ago.

The foundation of the irons, Speed Pocket technology, first appeared in 2012 in RocketBallz fairway woods and hybrids. TaylorMade says this Speed Pocket, which incorporates a flexible face that acts something like a trampoline, helped dramatically increase the distance produced by RocketBallz fairway woods.

Listening to King, it is clear the science behind the RocketBallz fairway woods has been directly applied to the RocketBladez irons. In other words, the Speed Pocket should work in conjunction with the face to produce iron shots that are optimized for distance.

Along with this, TaylorMade says the RocketBladez irons produce a consistent carry distance and are not subject to hot spots that might produce irregularities in distance control. The center of gravity is low and precisely centered in each clubhead to produce repeatable results.

The Speed Pocket can be found in the 3- through 7-irons. The shorter irons and wedges do not have the Speed Pocket because accuracy, not distance, is the primary consideration.

Visible on the sole of the iron, the Speed Pocket is 2mm wide. It flexes and rebounds at impact, increasing the speed of the face and providing a higher launch angle.

According to TaylorMade, the Speed Pocket is especially effective on impacts made low on the face. With long irons and mid irons, most mis-hits by amateurs occur below the center of the face. TaylorMade promises more ball speed and distance on those mis-hits.

The technology is identical in the RocketBladez and RocketBladez Tour, although the Tour model features a slightly smaller head and a top line, toe and sole that are a reflection of TaylorMade’s Tour Preferred line of irons.

After O’Hair unveiled a set of prototype RocketBladez Tour irons at the Justin Timberlake event in Las Vegas, golf club geeks were going crazy with speculation about the irons. King was to officially unveil the irons in a glittery Oct. 23 ceremony.

The RocketBladez irons will be available Dec. 1. The retail cost is $799 for a set of eight irons with steel shafts and $899 for a similar set with graphite shafts. RocketBladez Tour will not appear until Feb. 1, 2013. The retail price will be $899 for a set of eight with steel shafts.

A final innovation that will interest golfers who pride themselves on precisely fit irons: TaylorMade designers have placed an external notch and internal notch on the hosel to promote easier bending of the stainless steel head. For all golfers, the correct lie angle is essential in irons, and these notches help simplify the fitting process.

Meanwhile, TaylorMade hopes for a major buzz with its new irons. “We never promoted irons like this before,” Toulon said. “We think RocketBladez will change the way people play golf. We feel that strongly about it.”

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