The new Stealth Plus Fairway Wood is labelled as 'your new reliable' by TaylorMade, which could be music to the ears of many amateur golfers who struggle in the department, which the last time I checked was a lot of us.
Like the Stealth Fairway and Rescue, the new Plus+ fairway doesn't feature the 'revolutionary' carbon face which is seen in the driver head, so is this club still worth serious consideration for a spot in your bag or are you better off sticking with what you already have? We put it to the test.
For all the new technology that seems to go into TaylorMade's clubs year-on-year, V Steel is a long-standing feature in their woods and the 80g sole has been engineered to provide even more forgiveness, while improving turf interaction and versatility.
An ultra-strong, thin Titanium Zatech combines with Twist Face technology to push the limits of ball speed, as well as promoting straighter shots on off-centre strikes.
A new laser etched alignment aid is designed to provide a contrast between the face and the crown, with TaylorMade suggesting that this improves directional alignment to inspire greater confidence and a more accurate aim.
The 175cc head has been shaped to satisfy the requirements of the world's best players, but also give plenty of confidence to golfers of all skill levels.
The Speed Pocket design on the sole is more flexible than ever, engineered to maximise ball speeds and produce extra forgiveness on strikes that are low on the face, a common miss for many amateur golfers.
The Stealth Plus is available in 15° and 19°, along with a 13.5° Rocket fairway for right-handers who want to keep the launch lower or find a better fit for the gapping at the top end of their bag.
TaylorMade Stealth Plus Fairway Review
Looks and Feel
I think TaylorMade woods have looked great for quite a few years now, going back all the way to the introduction of M1 and M2, and the new Stealth range does not disappoint at all.
The all-black crown looks fantastic, whilst the chrome sole plate and red colour on the sole is really smart too and improves upon the SIM line in my opinion.
At address, things look really simple with a pretty traditional shape and it sits perfectly square with no offset, which will certainly appeal to better players.
It's a little more compact than the Stealth fairway, at 175cc for the 15° model, but it's still pretty rounded and looks relatively welcoming down by the ball.
Of course, I can’t mention looks without mentioning the fact that there is no red carbon face on any of TaylorMade’s fairway woods or hybrids this year, which is a shame, but the brand insist that this is because the carbon wouldn’t provide any real benefit on a face of this size so we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt this time...
The new laser etched alignment is just about visible at address, although to be honest I don’t think it really made any difference when l lined the ball up besides the fact that it shows a nice contrast between the face and the crown.
The Stealth Plus produces a solid, muted feel at impact. Fairway woods can often be a little tingy in sound but this felt great and really fits in with that 'better player' specification which you'd expect from a low spin, more compact fairway.
I put the Stealth Plus Fairway up against my existing TaylorMade M2 Fairway to discover two things: does the low-spin profile produce the expected results on a launch monitor, and has five years of technology improved performance in the brand’s woods?
Well, based on the data I collected using the FlightScope Mevo+ Launch Monitor, there wasn’t a great deal of difference between the two clubs.
The carry distances were almost identical on average, with the testing also being pretty consistent between both clubs in terms of the number of good and bad shots hit.
An average carry distance of around 215 yards may not sound particularly impressive but on a very cold day (four layers) of testing I was pretty satisfied.
The deviation in carry distances between the best and worst strikes was a little tighter with the Stealth Plus compared to the M2, suggesting that it is perhaps a little more forgiving when you don’t quite catch one out of the screws.
As you’d expect from a more compact, more neutral fairway with a weight at the front of the head, the Stealth Plus produced a lower ball flight with a lower average spin rate, whilst the deviation between the highest and lowest spinning shots was also better.
The New Hzrdus Smoke Red shaft feels solid and easy to swing, although I was a little surprised to see that my clubhead speed had dipped by a couple of miles an hour compared to with my M2 – perhaps that’s because I’m used to that fairway though.
This also suggests that, had my clubhead speed been the same as the M2, I would’ve seen an increase in ball speed and an improvement in carry distance too.
Out on the golf course, the Stealth Plus produces a pretty neutral ball flight which felt both consistent and reliable, it was low enough to get through the wind without being too low as to lose out on carry distance.
Going into this review I was a little worried that the Stealth Plus could be quite hard to hit, particularly as the cold and wet weather meant that I wasn’t going to be swinging at my quickest. I was ok whilst collecting data as I was hitting from a mat, but the true test would be out on the course.
I was surprised (and relieved) to find that the Stealth Plus was easy to launch, and really quite forgiving both off the tee and from the fairway too.
This was proven right away during my testing, as my opening tee shot was hit a little from the toe yet still comfortably cleared the right fairway bunker at around 215 yards away, leaving me with a clear shot into the green.
I felt pretty in control of my ball flight and the fairway felt workable too, which is exactly what users of this club want. Having hit mostly fades during my testing I was able to hit a comfortable draw from the 3rd tee, catching the slope and leaving just a wedge into the green.
If you’re the kind of golfer who worries about their strike when hitting fairway woods from the deck, then the V-Steel sole could ideal as it really does seem to help keep the club moving through the turf at impact.
It’s not going to stop you from catching shots heavy, that’s more to do with your swing, but it should stop the results from being quite so catastrophic.
TaylorMade Stealth Plus Fairway Verdict
TaylorMade state that this fairway wood can become your new reliable and, whilst it was very similar in performance to my current M2 fairway, it felt slightly more forgiving and more consistent overall which suggest that five years’ worth of technology and R&D has produced some sight improvements.
If you prefer the look of the smaller head with low spin, low launch characteristics but you’re worried that it may have been too difficult to hit, then the Stealth Plus is more than playable for plenty of golfers who have enough swing speed to get it up and going.
It looks and feels fantastic too, in classic TaylorMade style, and whilst the lack of a red carbon face is disappointing, the overall performance was excellent so this goes down as yet another TaylorMade success story.
Who Is It Aimed At?
Whilst this fairway shouldn’t scare anyone, I do think that you need to be swinging at around the 100mph mark and above in order to see optimal performance from this club.
If you struggle with losing fairway woods to the left, the neutral setup and even slight fade-bias of this club may be to your taste, and the lower spin and lower ball flight will be desirable to elite or good golfers who are consistent ball strikers.
Would I Use It?
Yes, although the M2 Fairway has been my ‘old reliable’ for the last few years so I may need to do some more testing to be convinced that the Stealth Plus should take its place in my bag!
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