The fine folks at Nike golf reached out us with some of their latest products to review, specifically the highly regarded Nike VR_S Driver.
What Nike has to say about the VR_S Driver:
Fasten your seatbelt for the fastest drive of your life. The tour-inspired Nike VR_S Driver features a bigger clubhead, a deeper face and exclusive NexCOR face technology, all to produce more speed at impact for greater distance.
Club Features (Per Nike’s Website):
1. Nexcor Face Technology – NexCor Face Technology maximizes face speed for the widest range of players through a new speed-expanding multi face thickness design. The NexCor infinity design creates a bridge for ultra-thin, ultra-hot faces and unmatched ball speed on every club in the bag.
2. Adjustable Launch Angle – The new Nike STR8-Fit systems offers a 4-degree of face angle adjustability, optimizing ball speed, distance, and accuracy.
3. Greater Swing Velocity – Generate more swing speed with an aerodynamically engineered head design and longer, lighter 45 3/4 inch Fubuki shaft
Test Club Specs & Testers:
Nike VR_S Driver, 9.5 degree, Stiff, 57g Nike Fubuki K Shaft
Tester 1 – Ian, Handicap 13, Current Driver R11 TP
Tester 2 – Sean, Handicap 15, Nike Dymo
Initial Feedback: Ian
Looks pretty smoking right out of the box. That new driver out of the box always makes you a little giddy regardless of the stick your taking out. $359.00 msrp sticker on the shaft will put your wallet on red alert for sure. Nice crown design and color, with an almost glitter painted look to the top. Nike did as their usual flare to the top with some random graphics and a swoosh, however they are pretty muted and you really don’t even notice them when you stand over the ball.
As with any new club you get in the mail, it was an immediate run to the driving range to see what this rocket can do. First thing I notice is a big difference in the general make up and weighting of the club compared to the R11 TP I have been playing. The shaft has more flexibility even though it’s labeled as a stiff and the club head seems to snap through the hitting zone. During this first session I can’t say I was peppering the ball…I was late a lot, and I though it was unusual that the ball didn’t fade/slice more. It was more of a power push…the ball still traveled very well and provided some good distance even though I had hit it square. That’s going to be an important plus for me as this honeymoon continues…I mean come on, I’m a 13 handi.
Play Testing: Ian
Before passing the VR_S to Sean for his testing I was able squeeze in 3 rounds with the new toy. Easily the biggest thing that stood our during all the play was how forgiving he club was, specifically in the toe area. I have a tendency to miss on the toe with the driver and with the VR_S I was still able to hit drives that had very little side spin, still had a bit of pop and stayed in the field a play. Any stick that I can miss and keep the ball in play is going to have a happy little home in my golf bag. When flushed you will certainly know it. The club has a very good crack when hit solid with a nice penetrating ball flight. Most important for those in the market buying a driver…yes it’s long. If I was going to make a comparison to my current driver (R11) I would say its every bit as long when crushed and the misses are just a bit shorter, than a miss with the other driver.
For a personal preference I like a fairly heavy driver. The lighter they get, the faster I get and that usually doesn’t go to well. The more I played with it, the harder I swung and the less accurate I got. Getting fast and coming over the top of it isn’t going to produce good results for anyone and that’s where I ended up. If you’re someone who likes a lighter style club that encourages a faster swing speed you should love this thing. I would be very surprised by anyone who put this into their bag and didn’t swing it faster than their previous driver. In the end it ended up not being the greatest fit for me, however that’s a product of the golfer not the golf club. I was a huge fan of the Nike Machspeed Black driver and to me this thing is very very similar and just goes longer.
Play Testing: Sean
Having hit just about all of the current drivers on the market (Ping G20 and i20, R11 and R11s, RocketBalls, Adams Straightline, etc) I was excited to get my hands on the new VRs. I didn’t have the opportunity to hit the VRs off a launch monitor, but having a good idea what is usually going on based on ball flight, taking it to the range and playing a round with it, gave me some interesting feedback.
First thing I noticed was the stiff flex Fubuki shaft. It felt a little floppy the first time I picked it up and waggled it around, to my surprise, it was just the opposite. Swinging between 100 and 105, I need a stiff shaft, but not too stiff, and this thing was perfect; A nice little snap just before impact and it really drives the club head through the ball. A touch heavier than what I’m playing now, 55 from a 51, but I felt that little extra weight gave me a little more control.
Secondly, the club head and its generous sweet spot; I tried to hit a few off the toe, heel, up high and down low and for the most part, I had a hard time missing. Dead center obviously went further and felt a little better, but even spread out across the face, my shots went mostly straight. It took something pretty terrible in my swing or impact location to get this thing squirrely.
Lastly, the feel; The weight in this club is very well-balanced and as I said, I feels ads to my swing control and in turn, consistency. Off the club face, I didn’t notice much difference from dead center until the ball hit on the extreme edges. Not a ton of feedback in that regard, but that just makes me feel like the sweet spot is just that large. For me, it lands somewhere in between the i20 (very little feedback) and G20 (you know when you hit it solid) and very similar to the Adams (however I didn’t like the extra stiff Fubuki shaft it came with).
During my round, I pumped it out there 250-260 with not too much trouble. Slapped at a couple later in the round and spun a few OB right, but that was a swing issue not a club issue. However, definitely more spin off this club than the Pings I’ve used but far less than the R11s and RocketBalls, at least when I hit them.
It seems that year after year Nike Golf improves the quality of their driver offerings. I had the Dymo in my bag for a season, loved the Machspeed Black and am impressed with the improvements put into this club. This driver has the all the basics covered; its as long as all of its primary competitors, it’s very forgiving which is a requirement for us mid range handicappers and the ego part…it certainly won’t embarrass you when you take it out the bag. At $359 retail I think the price is a bit steep, but how many new release drivers out there don’t have a whopper of a price tag associated to them. It wasn’t enough to get me to make the switch but Sean is certainly a happy camper that it has found a home in his bag.
For more information on the Nike VR_S driver, check out Nike Golf’s website at: Nike VR_S
Pictures of Nike VR_S: