By John Schwarb, PGATOUR.COM
Following the smashing debut of its RocketBallz metalwoods last year, it was only a matter of time before TaylorMade put some of the same technology – and part of that name – into irons.
On Tuesday the company introduced "RocketBladez” irons, featuring a slot cut in the sole of the iron similar to the slot on the RBZ fairway woods and hybrids. The slot flexes and rebounds at impact, increasing the speed of the face and creating faster ball speed, higher launch angles and higher ball flight, according to TaylorMade.
TaylorMade calls the slot the “speed pocket,” and it is found on the 3- through 7-irons. The two-millimeter slot is protected from the elements by a polyurethane strip. The irons also have a large cavity behind the stainless-steel face to lower the center of gravity and pull it farther away from the face to promote forgiveness and higher launch.
Two editions of the irons are coming to market, the Rocketbladez (arriving at retail on Dec. 3; $799/steel, $899/graphite) and RocketBladez Tour (arriving Feb. 1; $899/steel). The Tour irons have smaller heads, less offset and a less-pronounced cavity.
“We created RocketBladez irons for amateurs, but when our TOUR Staff pros tried it, they wanted it,” said TaylorMade president and CEO Mark King. “We created a Tour version, and they love it. It’s the first distance-oriented iron to be played on TOUR. The genius of the Speed Pocket is that not only does it deliver more speed for more distance, it delivers consistent speed, so shots fly a consistent distance. That combination of speed and consistent distance is what made the eyes of our tour pros light up.”
Sean O’Hair put a set of prototype RocketBladez in play earlier this month at the Shriners Hospitals for Children Open in Las Vegas, the first of probably many sets on TOUR if the RocketBladez prove as popular as the RocketBallz metalwoods.
STROKES-GAINEY PUTTING: Until last week, the book on Tommy “Two Gloves” Gainey was that he was a serviceable putter, not the best on TOUR but not the worst. In 2011 he was 78th in strokes-gained putting, and coming into last week was 86th.
And then the fourth round at The McGladrey Classic got under way.
Gainey, of course, shot the low round of the year on TOUR, a 10-under 60 that vaulted him to the top of the leaderboard. Nearly three hours later, he was a first-time champion. He was plus-5.119 in strokes-gained putting for the round, an amazing figure for an amazing round. (He’s now 66th in strokes-gained.)
He did it with an Odyssey Backstryke Blade, one of the more unusual putters on TOUR from a mainstream manufacturer. The putter has a T-shaped head with a shaft that connects to the rear of the putterhead.
Gainey put the putter in play in 2010 on the Web.com Tour’s BMW Charity Pro-Am and finished second, and since then has stuck with it. His model is 34 inches in length with four degrees of loft and an XG insert.
BITS: Davis Love III finished T4 at his hometown McGladrey, using a belly putter for the first time. He did not anchor it. … Odyssey presented Brandt Snedeker with a gold putter as congratulations for his FedExCup title. Odyssey has only made two gold putters for non-major titles; the other was for Stuart Appleby’s final-round 59 in winning the 2010 Greenbrier Classic.
WINNER’S BAG: Tommy Gainey at The McGladrey
Driver: Callaway Razr Fit (Aldila RIP shaft, 10.5 degrees)
Fairway wood: Callaway FT-I Tour (15 degrees)
Hybrid: Adams Idea Pro a12 (20 degrees)
Irons: Callaway Razr-X Forged (4-PW)
Wedges: Callaway Forged (50, 54, 60 degrees)
Putter: Odyssey Backstryke Blade
Ball: Callaway Hex Tour Black