Ball tested: TaylorMade RocketBallz Urethane
Specs: Cover – Cast urethane; Construction – Three-piece; Core – High-speed; Dimples – 360 in LDP (Low-Drag Performance) pattern
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.
Price as tested (new): $29.99 per dozen
Ball notes: Don’t confuse this ball with its companion model, TaylorMade’s original RocketBallz (or RBZ for short). The title-referenced urethane – that’s the cover material – makes a major difference.
While the first-generation RBZ features a firmer iothane cover, the urethane version is meant to deliver softer feel and better greenside spin. The RBZ Urethane replaces TaylorMade’s TP3 high-performance “tour” model and fits just below the Lethal (played by TM’s staff tour pros) in the brand’s hierarchy.
With the thinnest cover of all TaylorMade golf balls, the RBZ Urethane features low compression and a large core to further boost distance and feel. Golf Digest awarded it a 2013 Hot List gold medal.
Sound and feel: Think of urethane as the balata of the 21st century. It’s simply a softer, “stickier” surface than surlyn, as the RBZ Urethane model proves. While the difference is less noticeable on full shots, you can really tell on wedge shots, chips and putts. This RBZ is definitely less “clicky” than its forerunner, which should appeal to golfers who typically play tour balls.
Off the tee: The RBZ Urethane cedes little if any distance to the original. The low-compression core proved a great match for our 95 mph test swinger, who pounded a series of longer-than-his-average drives. The ball has a penchant for flying straight, too, curving only mildly in either direction.
From the fairway / rough: Engineered for high spin off the irons, the RBZ Urethane showed commanding stopping power. A few full wedges zipped back several feet, which could cause players who generate excess spin to balk. Hitting small fades and draws was a cinch with the RBZ Urethane, which launched and flew high but proved stable in a light wind.
Around the green: Here’s where any comparisons between the original RBZ and the urethane version end – abruptly. The new model is far more responsive when you need a chip, pitch or bunker shot that checks up quickly. Unlike its sibling, the RBZ Urethane listens when you bark, “Bite!”
Bottom line: We have to agree with TaylorMade vice president of golf ball R&D Dean Snell, who said of the RBZ Urethane, “The performance is absolutely fantastic at this price point.” For low to mid-handicappers looking to max out their driving yardage with a ball that delivers ample spin from inside 150 yards, this one is tough to beat. High-spin players might find it difficult to control on approach shots, but very few golfers fit into that category.
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