Ball tested: TaylorMade RocketBallz
Specs: Cover – Iothane; Construction – Three-piece; Core – High-speed; Dimples – 360 in LDP (Low-Drag Performance) pattern
Price as tested (new): $26.99 per dozen
Ball notes: The firmer of two RocketBallz (or RBZ) models, the original pairs a thin iothane (surlyn) cover with TaylorMade’s React core and Speedmantle inner layer. The goal: Superior driving distance with above-average iron spin and greenside control.
Introduced in January 2012, the RBZ welcomed a sibling the following year in the RBZ Urethane. The newer ball is designed for softer feel, added spin and improved short game performance.
Some manufacturers do not reveal or emphasize the compression ratings of new golf balls. Some models are now designed and marketed to fit and appeal to a golfers preferences for price, distance, spin, feel and control.
Sound and feel: The RBZ is fairly soft, though far from the marshmallow-like texture of a “tour” category ball, or even some others in the “premium” range. Golfers accustomed to the sensation of a “distance” model, like the Pinnacle Gold, will find the RBZ cushier than their usual ball. Those who play urethane-covered balls may consider this one a little “clicky.”
Off the tee: It’s long, and it’s straight. To reiterate, the RBZ is long and straight. If you struggle with distance and/or accuracy with the driver, this ball is definitely worth a try. In our test, the ball launched high and carried beautifully down-range. Sidespin was minimal, even on obvious miss-hits and off-line swings.
From the fairway / rough: Seeking more backspin with the irons? The RBZ probably isn’t the ball for you. While well-struck fairway shots stopped with adequate promptness, miss-hits tended to take long bounces and roll out. Same for shots from the rough. Precision players will prefer the urethane version’s performance in this area. If you tend to hit a lot of run-up approaches, however, the RBZ is a good option.
Around the green: Not bad, but nothing to write home about. We were able to produce sharp spin from firm bunkers; otherwise, the RBZ is more suited to a chip-and-run technique where spin isn’t paramount. Putts rolled nicely, with no discernible “jump” off the face.
Bottom line: Did we mention the RBZ is long off the tee? How about straight? Those are definitely this ball’s best qualities – and those are pretty important to most golfers. It’s not the softest ball out there, nor the one that spins most. TaylorMade’s RBZ Urethane is a better bet in those departments, and a more well-rounded (pardon the pun) product overall.
Value/Recreational/Distance – Designed for mid- to high-handicap golfers with swing speeds below 90 mph; typically feature two-piece construction and firm covers; promote greater distance over high spin rates. Examples: Pinnacle Gold, Slazenger RAW Distance
Premium – Designed for low- to mid-handicap golfers with swing speeds of 90-99 mph; typically feature multi-layer construction and medium-soft covers; happy medium between Value/Recreational and Tour categories for distance and spin qualities. Examples: Titleist NXT Tour, Callaway HEX Diablo
Tour/Advanced/Performance – Designed for low-handicap and professional golfers with swing speeds in excess of 100 mph; typically feature multi-layer construction and soft covers; promote greater spin rates and enhanced feel over distance. Examples: Titleist ProV1, Bridgestone Tour B330