During our January visit to the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando this year we got to listen to Justin Leonard and Tom Stites talk about the new Nike MachSpeed irons and the technology that was put into them to assist amateur golfers get more out of their clubs. We had previously seen pictures of the irons and must admit that we thought they looked more like transformers than any golf club we were ready to play with. Requests came in after our show coverage to review the set, so THP reached out to Nike Golf and they were kind enough to send us a set of men’s irons and a set of ladies irons to take a look at. For that, we are calling this review “Happy Belated Valentine’s Day”.
“With MACHSPEED, we’ve developed a very fast iron through new and dynamic construction that works,” said Tom Stites, Director of Club Creation for Nike Golf. “This iron is all about helping golfers increase their ball speed in order to generate distance. Our patented PowerBow technology allows golfers to launch the ball high and increase distance – a perfect combination to improving your game.”
Speed and Distance
To achieve speed and distance, the two-piece SQ MACHSPEED irons have a higher CT (Characteristic Time) in the wider areas on the face resulting in faster ball speeds and longer distance. The new game-improvement Nike irons feature a combination of AM 355 alloy and an off-the-face weld construction that creates a thinner, hotter face and a wider sweet zone. The new SQ MACHSPEED construction offers an extremely hot center area that expands lower on the face where the ball is more likely to be in contact to prevent a decrease in distance.
Stability and Forgiveness
The SQ MACHSPEED irons provide stability and forgiveness because of Nike’s PowerBow technology. Nike’s innovative PowerBow technology was first introduced in its earliest SQ product, the groundbreaking Nike SasQuatch driver in 2006. The Nike PowerBow creates an extremely deep center of gravity and provides a wider sweet spot.
Launch and Functionality
Completing the three key functions of the Nike SQ MACHSPEED irons is the launch capability. The SQ MACHSPEED features a deep undercut behind the face, which repositions 50 grams of weight out and back to the PowerBow for high launching shots that travel far and land softly.
Men’s: 4-PW, AW; Steel: S,R,A; RH/LH; MSRP: $839.99 MAP: $699.99
Men’s: 4-PW, AW; Graphite: S,R,A; RH/LH; MSRP: $959.99 MAP: $799.99
Women’s: 5H, 6H, 7-PW, SW; Graphite: W (RH); MSRP: $959.99 MAP: $799.99
As mentioned above, the pictures made us think more of a transformer than that of a golf club, but once you have them in your hand, the looks grow on you rather quickly. The graphics in the cavity may look “different” but up close in person they have a modern, edgy appearance. Sharp lines with quite a few color contrasts (black, gray, and gold) that look busy, but very sleek. The topline is not too thick like many game improvement irons and the sole has a good balance. The face has the grooves outlined in white and it is something that we grew to really like, not sure why really, but all of us really liked it. The ladies could not stop talking about how much they loved the white shaft they said it really made the entire club stand out and gave them confidence when setting up to the ball. There was one complaint about the looks of these clubs and it was minimal but still a minor issue. Nike has moved the number from the bottom of the sole to the area where the toe meets the sole and while it looks sharp, it adds frustration. For years we have looked at the bottom of the iron to pick the club, now I found myself bending down next to my cart to be at eye level of the bag to see what iron I was choosing or pulling out 3-4 clubs to guess which one was right. But it is a minor issue and one that you learn to live with pretty quickly.
THP brought a set for the ladies and a set for the men up to a local range for testing and we were able to get a large amount of golfers to try each set out.
Men – The golfers were really excited to try this out after we explained the technical features and when talking about the looks, the same word was thrown around quite a bit. It was “futuristic” and that kind of nails it. One by one players of all skill levels took turns hitting irons and comparing them to their current set. Not a single golfer had any complaints about the performance of the clubs. The launch is very high, so if you struggle getting the ball up in the air, this could be a perfect set for you. But the real “superstar” in the range testing was the forgiveness and what the golfers were calling the “miracle toe”. Hitting the ball off the toe was showing the same straight ball flight and the kicker was that virtually no distance was lost. It had most of the amateur golfers pretty excited and I had not hit them yet, but was eager to get out there and try them.
Ladies – If you think the men were impressed, the ladies were even more so with the performance of the clubs. The graphite shafts seemed to be in perfect harmony with the club heads and the players were remarking on seeing a straighter ball flight because of it. Once again, forgiveness was the star, as the female golfers were talking more about the shots they missed than the shots they hit dead center. Another point that was brought up by almost every tester was the amount of distance they were gaining in the irons because of the higher ball flight. A lot of the female testers struggle with slower swing speed and the ball was still getting up and staying up to produce longer shots that landed softly. While the men did not test the hybrids, the ladies had them as part of their set. While the love for the irons was apparent, the hybrids shined even more if that was possible. Every single player that hit the hybrids said that they would put them in their bag that day if given the opportunity and that the forgiveness and distance was again the deciding factor. There was a small complaint from a few of the ladies though and that was the grip. Almost all felt the grip was a little hard and rough on their hands and it was unanimous that they would replace it if purchasing this set.
Both Golfer Gal and myself put these irons in play for close to 10 rounds and TONS of range sessions and came away with something unique and a first time for THP in all the reviews we have done. By the time we finished reviewing these clubs, both of us put them in our bag as our gaming irons. That has never happened before and we were not paid by Nike (never have been) to do so. A few weeks back on THP Radio, we discussed this very thing in a short segment and if you have not heard it, it is worth a quick listen. The Nike MachSpeed irons have an “it factor” that few irons have had for us in the past. Describing something like this is extremely difficult, but what we mean is that these irons seem to have everything that a game improvement iron should have. Good feel, incredible forgiveness, and a nice high ball flight and these irons have all of that and a little more. More you ask? What we mean by more is that they offer an easy transition for golfers. Most players looking at this kind of iron will be able to pick it up and seamlessly transition to them. Part of that is the design and the Powerbow that we spoke about earlier. Most amateur golfers are not going to hit the sweet spot with each swing, and the technology in these heads makes it so that the misses are far less noticeable in both feel and performance. The other factor for us is that the shafts for both the men and ladies seem absolutely perfect for these irons and will play a major role in feel and ball flight. In fact Golfer Gal could not get over how much higher her ball flight was. She thought she was doing something wrong because she had never seen a ball flight like that before. She also really liked that the club was incredibly forgiving but at the same time gave her enough feedback to know where her miss hits were. For an amateur that is very important to understand why you are miss hitting something and the Nike MachSpeed Irons provided that feedback.
As mentioned before and also in our THP Radio segment, the Nike MachSpeed irons have an “it factor” that we have yet to put our finger on. If your goal is moving the ball with fades and draws, this set will not be the ideal set to look for, Nike has sets such as the Nike VR Split Cavity that we reviewed last year that are better suited for that game. With that being said, the “it factor” has brought these two reviewers to really enjoy these irons and the game improvement performance that they bring to the table.
Happy Belated Valentine’s Day seems to be the perfect name for this his and hers set from Nike Golf. The MachSpeed has everything someone would want in an iron geared towards amateurs that want a little assistance. The ball flight is nice and high on both sets and for our female testers, this was their favorite part of the set. The looks were futuristic and loved in person despite us not caring for them that much in pictures. The feel is solid and at the same time still offered us feedback when we do miss the sweet spot and the forgiveness is something special. Despite getting that feedback, the forgiveness says it all as in testing, the performance on misses is almost equal to that of the hitting them dead on. THP has been critical of Nike Golf equipment in the past (2008 line), but they have been rock solid recently and this set continues with that trend. Both the mens and ladies MachSpeed irons are available now and should be on your radar if you are in the market for a set that will help take your game to the next level. For more information on these irons or any other Nike products, check out their website at www.nikegolf.com.
Till Next Time