Nike Golf’s new SQ MachSpeed line has been in retail stores for two months now, and includes driver, fairway woods, hybrids and irons, all geared towards helping average players with their game. Nike Golf now has two distinct product lines — the Victory Red line (including driver, fairway woods, hybrids and irons) that is targeted primarily to better players (but also includes forgiving clubs for average players such as the higher-lofted drivers and the full cavity irons) and the SQ MachSpeed line that is aimed at mid- to high-handicappers who can take full advantage of the advanced game improvement technologies in these clubs. It’s easy to tell the lines apart not only by the distinctively different club designs, but also by their color schemes — the VR line has a distinct red and black color scheme while the SQ line picks up the familiar yellow and black color theme from previous years.
A few weeks back Nike Golf sent me the SQ MachSpeed driver to test and review, and I share the results of my test with you here. I headed over to the range at my local course Stonecreek Golf Club, and along with the new MachSpeed driver I brought my previous SQ Dymo driver for comparison. Both drivers feature Nike Golf’s STR8-FIT technology, and both have 10.5 degrees of loft and the stock shaft in stiff flex. I hit about 50 balls with the new driver using three face angle settings — square, 1 degree open and 1 degree closed — and I hit about 15 balls with each setting, plus a few with my old Dymo driver to compare. Here are the results of my test and my opinions about the SQ MachSpeed driver:
FIRST IMPRESSION: DESIGN/APPEARANCE
Out of the box you can’t mistake the look of this driver — it’s technology all the way. The square head shape is only the beginning — the driver head features an aerodynamic channel (the powerbow diffuser) on the front and trailing edges, as well as the distinctive diffuser in the sole plate, both designed to reduce drag and encourage maximum acceleration of the clubhead during the golf swing. The combination of materials, textures and finishes in the clubhead, and especially the sole diffuser (a cool detail is the paint edging on the sole diffuser that gradates from black to gold), gives this club a futuristic look.
The glossy black paint finish on the crown and sides is similar to that of the previous SQ Dymo STR8-FIT driver, as are the stock UST Mamiya AXIVCore shaft and Nike grip featuring the STR8-FIT dial diagram on the butt end of the grip. Of particular note is the headcover, which is a vast design improvement over the previous STR8-FIT Dymo headcover. The cover features a magnetic closure at the neck and elastic at the underside of the top opening that keeps the headcover in place when it’s on but makes it very easy to get on and off. The silver sheen of the top material is very attractive, and there’s better integration of the pocket for the adjustment wrench on the back of the headcover. The sides feature a black foam material with the MachSpeed logo on one side and Nike swoosh on the other.
FIRST IMPRESSION: PERFORMANCE
The first swings of this driver on the range brought to mind two words: speed and straight. I could really notice the aerodynamics in the clubhead, and it really seemed that the clubhead moved faster and more easily through the air during the swing compared to my Dymo driver. It felt like the diffusers helped to guide the clubhead throughout the swing.
The other noticeable difference to me was how “straight” the clubhead feels. This starts when you sole the club on the ground — the square clubhead sets up virtually straight to the target line (my Dymo tends to set up open to the target and I need to tweak it back). Throughout the swing the increased weighting at the corners (in addition to the advanced aerodynamics) helps keep the clubhead square to the swing arc, and the square shape and the lines of the clubhead just seem to promote its traveling straight through the ball towards the target.
Like its predecessor the SQ Dymo STR8-FIT, the SQ Machspeed features eight face angle options, ranging from 2 degrees open to 2 degrees closed. And like its 2010 counterpart the Victory Red STR8-FIT Tour driver, the SQ Machspeed is very easy to adjust — with a few turns of the included STR8-FIT wrench I was able to remove the head and move it to one of the other face angle positions in under a minute. An enclosed card has a diagram showing all 8 positions, and there is a Velcro marker on the inside flap of the headcover wrench pocket to keep track of the most current face angle position. But it’s very easy to tell which position the clubhead is in by using the diagram on the butt end of the grip in relation to the arrows on the fitting at the end of the shaft.
The most remarkable feature of this driver for me was how straight I hit the ball with it (see ‘Accuracy’ below). That being said, it is easy to work the ball with this driver, especially with aid of an open or closed face angle position. I wouldn’t say it’s quite as easy to shape the ball with as the VR or (round) SQ Dymo drivers, but I was able to effectively draw the ball (with the help of the 1 degree closed face position) and hit a fade (with the help of the 1 degree open face position) with the SQ MachSpeed.
The distance increase with the SQ MachSpeed driver was remarkable for me. I hit my SQ Dymo driver about the same distance as I did my previous SQ Sumo driver, maybe a few yards further. But with the MachSpeed I gained 10 to 15 yards on both of those (about the same increase as the VR driver). And especially when I hit the ball on the sweet spot, the ball just took off from the clubface.
Now I know why this driver is so good that Justin Leonard had to steal it from The Oven.
Regardless of the distance I gained, for me this is where this driver really shined. Whether it was the high MOI or the advanced aerodynamics helping to keep the clubhead straight through the hitting zone, the majority of my shots with this driver went virtually straight. And when I did miss, it felt like the SQ MachSpeed did not compound the miss, but rather helped to straighten it out — I definitely noticed that my misses were less severe with this driver. If you’re like me and sometimes struggle with finding the fairway, this driver is worth checking out.
In addition to the directional forgiveness of this driver mentioned above, when I mis-hit a shot the ball traveled almost as far as a solid shot. Of course the further I hit a shot from the center of the club face the less distance I got, but if I hit the ball anywhere near the middle of the clubface I got surprisingly good distance out of the shot.
The SQ MachSpeed driver has a sound similar to its square predecessors the SQ Sumo2 and the SQ Dymo2 — the acoustics are unique to the square driver head shape, and I’d say a bit louder than that of its round counterparts (I have the SQ Sumo and SQ Dymo round models). But the sound is by no means distracting, and I did get used to the unique sound very quickly. I’d also say the technological benefits of this driver far outweigh any questions one might have about the acoustics of this driver.
Overall the SQ MachSpeed driver is a hands-down winner in my book. The distinctive design of this club makes it one I’d be excited about having in my bag. The increase in distance alone makes the SQ MachSpeed worth considering, but the increased accuracy really sold me on this driver. If you struggle with not only distance, but with accuracy as well, you should definitely give the SQ MachSpeed a test drive. I was very glad I did.
Editor’s note: The product reviewed above was supplied by the manufacturer to the reviewer/author free of charge for reviewing purposes only. The reviewer/author was not paid for this review, and the opinions expressed in the review are strictly those of the reviewer/author.