Last month at the inaugural THP Golf Outing, I was able to demo and put into play for a round one of Nike’s newest club offerings for its 2010 line, the Nike VR Str8-Fit Tour driver. The results were surprising and here is my review for the impressions that this driver left on me….and continues to do so.
About The Company
In 1995, Nike signed emerging superstar Tiger Woods to a 20-year, $40 million endorsement contract even though the company did not have a line of golf equipment or golf balls. Nike Golf was formally established in 1998 at a time when Nike was among the top five marketers of golfing apparel, primarily on part to Tiger’s immediate name recognition with the Nike brand. Nike Golf was formed to also to manufacture and sell golf clubs and balls in order to cash in on the growing golf market. Nike Golf certainly has done this in addition to becoming a leader in golfing technology.
Visually the look is functional. A new player may notice the larger than normal hosel which incorporates the Str8-Fit technology but that quickly gets accepted and is forgotten quickly. Nike has chosen a more traditional ‘pear shape’ for the VR Str8-Fit Tour and offers it with a 440cc head. You notice the slightly smaller head as opposed to the more familiar 460cc drivers but you certainly don’t miss the other 20cc’s. A 460cc head is available in a 10.5 and 11.5 loft. In fact I thought the 440cc head was more pleasing to the eye at address, it was easier to line up, and also felt more comfortable during the takeaway portion of my back-swing due to the smaller head. The face angle is also open 2 degrees to allow more workability of the ball and to assist with shot making. The lie angle I tested was 9.5 and the shaft length is 45.75 which is available with an Aldila Voodoo shaft that comes standard. Flexes include X, S, R, A and the R shaft was the flex tested. When you turn the club over you’ll notice a red concave channel, or Compression Channel, that is positioned near the face of the club. This is the ‘soul’ of the club and is the heart of all its technology and performance.
The previously mentioned Compression Channel is what powers this club. It acts like a trampoline and ‘springs’ the ball forward once the chamber compresses. This produces increased ball speeds across the redesigned face technology found on all of Nike’s drivers. Next is the Str8-Fit Tour Adjustability feature. If the Compression Channel powers the club, then the Str8-Fit technology steers it. There are 32 different possible face angle combinations which is more than enough for the most discerning golfer. This includes 15 options for either left or right ball flight and 2 for neutral ball flight which means multiple options for shot-creation. The setting I used during testing was ‘neutral upright’ meaning the face position was square with an extra degree of loft. Generally I thought changing the face and head alignment to be simple and straight forward to use but once you find a setting you like, I suggest you leave it. That being said, I was pretty impressed with the results of this setting but found it just as impressive to use the Torque Wrench that comes with the club. The Torque Wrench provides a sound and a LED indicator to signal when the shaft and Str8-Fit adapter are fully secured.
WOW! This was one of my favorite drivers at the Outing and I was fortunate enough to put it through it’s paces on Day 2 at a course that was fairly narrow. The VR Str8-Fit Tour has just enough mass to let you feel the club-head all the way through from takeaway though release. The face was extremely hot and even a little forgiving for a Tour model. Even shots that were hit on the toe of the club still managed to go 225 yds and straight! But when you catch it on the designated sweet spot, it goes a long way. I was consistently getting 250+ yd drives with minimum shot dispersion ( less than 5yds to either side) and had no issue with hitting driver on any hole that may have required it. Trajectory was consistent and predictable with a middle to middle-high ball flight. All of this was possible despite an unexpectedly disappointing shaft. If there is one weakness in this well constructed package it’s the stock Aldila Voodoo shaft. I felt that the R flex of the shaft was a little to ‘whippy’ for me but overall it’s a small complaint given the success and results I experienced with the VR Str8-Fit Tour.
This was the first time I had ever used a club with any sort of customization features and I was pleasantly surprised. I had always thought it was a gimmick but it truly does work. Is it a cure all for the worst of slices and the nastiest of hooks? Probably not but this may help minimize the severity of those types of misses. I struggled a bit on the range with it and then took it out on the course to give it another chance. Once I found a setting that allowed me to ‘get dialed in’, the results spoke for themselves. So much so that I bought one when I returned home from the outing. I’m still searching for a shaft to meet my needs but I continue to use it and achieve the same results I first saw last month. Since putting the Nike VR Str8-Fit in my bag full time, I’m able to shorten par 4’s and par 5’s like I never could do before with repeated consistency. If you’re still in the market for a new driver for 2010, you’d be cheating yourself to not hit the Nike VR Str8-Fit.