TaylorMade SpeedBlade irons

Friday, March 28, 2014

LAKE FOREST, Ill. – At Conway Farms Golf Club, site of this week's BMW Championship, TaylorMade unveiled its SpeedBlade irons, which succeed the RocketBladez irons and feature an enhanced "Speed Pocket."

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PHOTOS: The new TaylorMade SpeedBlade irons

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Among the most noticeable features of the SpeedBlade irons, which arrive in stores Oct. 4, is the slot cut into the sole of the 3- through 7-irons. The RocketBladez irons also featured a slot cut into the sole, but the new model's Speed Pocket is 3 millimeters longer. It's also slightly wider and extends back in the heel and toe areas. TaylorMade says this updated design allows the clubface to flex more effectively at impact, broadening the sweetspot. The result? Golf balls hit across a larger portion of the hitting area fly about the same distance for more consistency, according to the company.

In addition, the SpeedBlade's lower center of gravity and clubface functionality not only stretches the sweetspot wider, but effectively pulls it down, TaylorMade says. That should help many golfers.

According to Brian Bazzel, TaylorMade's product creation manager, 72 percent of iron shots hit by golfers with handicaps between 5 and 25 are struck below the center of the clubface.

"It's incredibly important to build a club that allows the bottom of the club to move, because that's where people are actually hitting it," Bazzel said. In fact, he says the SpeedBlade long irons (3-5) flex almost 20 percent more than the RocketBladez long irons.

The 8-iron, 9-iron and wedges in the SpeedBlade irons do not have slots in the sole because golfers don't compress the face on those clubs, Bazzel said.

The long irons are cast from Carpenters steel for strength while the mid- and short irons are cast using 17-4 stainless steel, which is softer, to enhance feel.

Making the clubs more consistent across a larger portion of the hitting area was a major goal for the SpeedBlade, but TaylorMade also focused on improving the clubs' ability to provide feedback.

"We needed this iron to sound better and to feel better [than RocketBladez]," said Sean Toulon, TaylorMade's executive vice president. "A lot of people might say that things like sound and feel are subjective, but they're not and they're measureable. Almost everything that you like the sound and feel of, I'd like as well."

Added Bazzel: "What I think everyone is going to notice right away is the feel of this product. We spent a lot of time getting the sound right, because sound is feel. The structure, the badging, the filler – all of that works in unison to not only perform great, but feel really good."

While the SpeedBlade's thicker toplines and wider soles should instill confidence for mid- and high-handicap golfers, Toulon says that accomplished players will benefit from the technologies designed into the new irons.

"We had PGA Tour players that played the [RocketBladez] long irons… and a few guys played full sets, but there really wasn't too much use," Toulon said, "It was really 8- or 9-handicap players and above who would play it. We wanted to design this club so that we'd keep all the people at the high-end of the handicap range, but bring it down so that more players could experience it."

The irons come with a proprietary SpeedBlade 85 steel shaft for $799 (8 clubs); a set with TaylorMade SpeedBlade stock graphite shafts costs $899.

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PHOTOS: The new TaylorMade SpeedBlade irons

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