Every golfer knows that TaylorMade have always had a knack of designing clubs that catch the eye, some for good and as we've also found, some for not so good.
The Stealth 2 Plus+ Fairway Wood follows that trend, offering a unique 50g sliding weight track system (from front to back) said to offer "3 fairways in 1". It'd be rude not to take a closer look at how this works and whether you could benefit.
The Stealth 2 Plus+ featuring a heavy 50g sliding weight on the sole, although not having any fixed positions allows for three main settings, each with its own performance characteristics. The middle setting offers most versatility for optimal playability off the deck or off the tee.
Shifting it to the front reduces spin and is said to create a piercing trajectory for added distance off the tee. This setting is also ideal for high spin golfers who want to knock off spin for increased roll out. Positioning the weight all the way back is the most forgiving setting. It is said to add spin and increases MOI for enhanced performance on off-centre strikes.
Forgiveness and speed comes in a form we've seen before from TaylorMade - Inverted Cone Technology. This year, TaylorMade R&D engineers have tweaked it to make the thinnest at true centre and around the edges, with a thicker mantle surrounding centre face. It is made to maximise speed across the face and enhance durability.
The Stealth 2 Plus+ features a multi-material construction blending of lightweight titanium, carbon and steel to optimise weight distribution in a small 170cc head.
Returning again from last year, easy alignment is said to come from the advanced laser alignment system stretching across the top of the face, delivering a subtle yet powerful alignment tool. Placement of the laser-etched pattern allows for a clean and minimalistic look on the crown.
This is also the only fairway wood in the range that features TaylorMade's adjustable loft sleeve, making this one of the most adjustable fairway woods we've ever seen!
On top of this, other technology favourites like Speed Pocket and Twist Face return.
TaylorMade Stealth 2 Plus+ Fairway Wood Review
By the ball, all of the 2023 Stealth 2 fairway woods look mean and the Plus+ model is no different. Be warned however, the 170cc head in today's world of huge fairway woods like the Cleveland Launcher XL Halo and the Stealth 2 HD, looks small down by the ball.
The modern black and red design makes it look fast - like you'd want to give it a good rip. Although the small size may put many golfers off, I actually thought the trademark Stealth design inspires confidence, which is exactly what you want standing over the ball with a fairway wood - especially when hitting off the deck!
Having said that, I have always preferred fairway woods that have a lower profile at address, for example the Ping G430 Max or the Cobra LTDx. TaylorMade fairway woods in recent years have all had a slightly deeper face which again I think may put some golfers off who struggle to flight their fairway woods.
Looks-wise, another thing that may put people off is the sole design of the Stealth 2 Plus. Despite it's supposed benefits I think a lot of golfers will be immediately put off by the potential impracticality of it, worried about getting mud and other course debris stuck in it at impact.
I think some of the major manufacturers forget that not all golfers play in perfect conditions every time they tee it up and in this instance it will affect the club's overall shelf appeal.
The Stealth 2 headcovers are some of the best designed this year and they look great - so they also deserve a mention in the overall looks department.
Firstly due to the extra weight in the clubhead, it's immediately noticeable how heavy this club is which is something worth taking onboard if you prefer lighter woods.
As you'd expect, the Stealth 2 Plus+ felt thick in strike and awesome when caught out of the screws. I love the noise and the bullishness of the strike, it is one of the best sounding fairways of the year no doubt - with the weight in the middle or at the front of the head.
However when you move the 50g weight to the back of the head, it definitely alters the sound meaning you lose the powerful 'thwack' for a more 'tingy', higher pitched, hollow sound.
Overall I found the performance of the Stealth 2 Plus+ impressive. I tested it indoor at HUKD Golf with the moveable weight in the centre of the head (its standard position) and got the following results:
The ballspeeds I generated, averaging at 140mph, are about what I'd expect from a 3 wood, but to be honest from a low-spinning better players fairway like this I expected a little more - this is probably down to the inconsistencies in my strike. My highest ballspeed was 145mph which resulted in 234 yard carry and 255 yard total which is really impressive, but in honesty I don't have the consistency to produce that every time on the course.
I also played about with the weight moving it from front to back to see how much this altered my data and overall performance, and reassuringly the results matched what you'd expect.
With the weight at the back I found my launch angle increased 2 degrees and my average spin changed around 400rpm on average.
On the course with the weight at the front, I really struggled to achieve anything like the above numbers (testing on a cold spring day might not have helped this) - unless I was hitting off a tee. It wasn't necessarily the lower launch I was struggling with, but more the lack of forgiveness meant that I just wasn't getting the most of out of the club in terms of carry - I need the extra forgiveness both mentally and physically.
TaylorMade Stealth 2 Plus+ Fairway Wood Verdict
The Stealth 2 Plus+ Fairway Wood is a really interesting club launch from TaylorMade and one that has certainly got people talking in the golf equipment world.
However I'm struggling to find what type of golfers would really see the benefit of a club like this, apart from tour pros possessing the best ball striking in the world wanting to optimise that low, penetrating ball flight - Rory McIlroy for example who has this in the bag at 13 degrees with the weight at the front.
With this in mind, the practicality of changing the weight, as well the RRP of the Stealth 2 Plus+ make this a pretty niche product offering from TaylorMade. The only way you're going to get the most out of this club is with a thorough fitting process, and despite this club's adjustability and versatility, I can still see the majority of golfers (including elite amateur players) opting for the Stealth 2 model.
Who Are They Aimed At?
I think you'd have to be a player who hits fairway wood a lot to really see the benefits of the Stealth 2 Plus Fairway. When I first had the opportunity to test this club, Nick Dougherty, former European Tour pro and TaylorMade Ambassador was also testing it and it worked perfectly for him due to the lower flight. This is the sort of level of player and swing speed I think you need to be to really make the most of the Stealth 2 Plus+. Good, and when I say that I mean really good.
Would I Use It?
Probably not, although I like the ideology behind this club, I prefer a fairway wood with a little more forgiveness - not to mention the standard Stealth 2 model (without a sliding weight track) is around £80 cheaper RRP, so the gains would have to have been significant for it to really grab my attention.
TaylorMade Stealth 2 Plus+ Fairway Wood Pros & Cons
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