One of the best golf purchases I made this offseason is a Players Club Plus pass at the local PGA Superstore here in Chicago. For $99, you get to use their simulators and practice bays as much as you want for 30-minute increments (and as long as no one is waiting, you can keep rolling over session after session). I've been able to go about twice a week since November, usually with one of my kids in tow. It's been a great way to stay loose over the offseason, spend time with the kids, and hit a bunch of golf equipment.
The PGA Superstore uses simulators from AboutGolf (http://www.aboutgolf.com/) and though I really have no idea as to the accuracy of the numbers, they seem to be in the ballpark and there are a bunch of them. Numbers and golf are probably my two favorite things, so I'm like a kid in the candy store with this software. Until I can convince my wife that we need to install one of these in our basement (it's an investment in our kids, honey!), I'll keep making the 15-minute drive to Lombard to hang out with my boys Milo, Steve and the gang who roll their eyes and graciously start setting up a bay whenever they see me walk in the door.
Earlier this week, my buddy and fellow lefty Wego and I hit the Schaumburg store together and took turns testing out some of the demo clubs. Being left-handed, it's generally hard to test new equipment. As a result, I generally don't buy clubs that often. When trying to find Wego a driver to test out, I stumbled on a demo set of TaylorMade Rocketbladez (non-tour) irons in lefty, something the Lombard store didn't have yet. I grabbed a 6-iron in both regular and stiff shaft and took them back to the simulators.
The Rocketbladez are the next big thing (or 'this little thing' if you follow their marketing and social media campaign) in TMAG's arsenal of clubs. Similar to the Rocketballz hybrids and fairway woods that have a speed pocket in the sole, the irons have some sort of magical flubber injected into a slot in the clubhead to increase ball speed and thus distance. The early buzz on these clubs and distance claims were almost too good to be true, though it's difficult to know what's marketing schtick vs. true performance. As details started coming out, we came to realize that the lofts are 3* strong, with lighter and longer shafts. That combination was almost guaranteed to make the ball go farther.
So after explaining all of this to Wego, I stepped up and let the bulky, offset 6-iron fly.
It carried 227 yards and 236 yards total. Whoa. As in Brent Musberger Whoooooa!
Next ball: 226 yards carry, 235 yards total. 6-iron!
The next five balls were all about the same, averaging around 225 yards. We were laughing about the distance and the ridiculousness of the all. While Wego took a couple cuts, I grabbed a 4-iron and PW to see how far those went. I hit a 4-iron 265 yards. Pitching wedge 180.
But despite those distances, I still wasn't a believer. They felt pretty solid, but who wants to hit a pitching wedge 180 yards? I just got three new wedges for Christmas. I'd have to get two more to fill in all the gaps between 105-175 yards.
One caveat: these demo clubs were graphite shafts. I'd never hit graphite-shafted irons before but initially thought that was all they had. It wasn't until we were leaving that I saw some steel shafted demo irons. So I vowed to come back and test them out side-by-side with one of my current clubs, a Mizuno MP-32 (these are my backup clubs. I play with old Mizuno MP30 irons that I keep out in Colorado. I got these MP32's on ebay a few years ago. I believe they have Project X shafts, but the stickers have come off so I don't know the stiffness.)
I was able to do the side-by-side showdown earlier this evening. I don't really know what all these numbers mean, other than it's a good thing I have a decent short game! The Rocketbladez were about 14 yards further on average, with slightly lower launch angle and lower spin rates. I can miss +/- 15 yards with the best of 'em no matter what bat is in my hand.
I'll be making my virgin trip to the PGA Show in Orlando in a couple weeks, and hope to get my hands on some of the Rocketbladez Tour irons with less offset and more traditional topline (Dustin Johnson just won with them in Hawaii). I'll be interested in comparing those numbers side-by-side. For now, my long-term marriage with Mizuno's is still intact. But the Rocketbladez are a little bit like A.J. McCarron's girlfriend. Part of me wants to take them to get wings and then to King of Diamonds after a sim session.
Champion: Mizuno MP-32 6-iron
Challenger: TaylorMade Rocketbladez (non-tour) 6-iron
The Shot Chart