Last year I had the opportunity to review the 2010 VR STR8-FIT driver, and I was impressed with its length and the confidence I got from the adjustability of this traditionally shaped driver. This year Nike Golf has introduced the second generation of the VR driver in the VR Pro Driver, and they’ve taken the technology they put into the original VR STR8-FIT to the next level.
Nike Golf has posted several interesting videos about the VR Pro driver on their YouTube channel, there are links to those at the bottom of this post. They also recently began airing several new TV commercials about the VR Pro equipment line, and you can see the commercial for the VR Pro driver here:
Several weeks ago Nike Golf sent me the VR Pro driver to test and review, so I headed over to the range at my local course Stonecreek Golf Club. I also brought along my 2010 VR STR8-FIT for comparison, and since the range test I have played several rounds on the course with the VR Pro. Both drivers feature Nike Golf’s STR8-FIT technology, and both have 10.5 degrees of loft and the stock shaft in stiff flex.
FIRST IMPRESSION: DESIGN/APPEARANCE
The 2010 VR STR8-FIT driver was traditionally shaped but more rounded than the 2010 VR Tour (glued) version, which was more pear-shaped. The first thing I noticed about the new 2011 VR Pro is the truly traditional shape of the head in the STR8-FIT model — it now has the classic pear shape when viewed from the playing position. Another big change is the rework of the STR8-FIT hosel, which is now black and blends in more with the hosel, so now you can get the adjustability with minimal visual distraction.
The crown has the same metallic black paint as the 2010 model, but the sole plate has been redesigned, and the compression channel is now black, fading to red towards the rear of the sole. The VR Pro features a blue Project X 6.0 shaft and the VR Tour Velvet STR8-FIT Tour grip by Golf Pride with the face angle position diagram on the butt end of the grip. The headcover is similar in design to last year’s, with a magnetic closure and elastic under the head to keep the cover securely in place. This year the side panels are red and contain the words “Compression Channel”, the VR Pro logo is on the top and there is a silver panel across the back that contains the Nike swoosh. The STR8-FIT wrench comes with a nylon bag and stores easily in a pocket in my golf bag.
The overall look of the VR Pro driver is traditional all the way. If you are a fan of traditional design in golf clubs like I am, you’ll definitely want to check out the VR Pro.
FIRST IMPRESSION: PERFORMANCE
When I first stood over the VR Pro, the first word that came to mind was “control”. I was really pleased with the traditional look, and at address I felt confident I could shape shots with this club. After my first few swings I was even more pleased — from my first initial swings the VR Pro really felt like a player’s driver. I really felt like I could control my shots and work the ball when swinging this driver.
The VR Pro has a very solid feel when striking the ball. It has an equally solid sound, a pleasing “thwack” at impact. It’s also long — my initial shots were about 5 yards longer than my 2010 VR STR8-FIT. I was able to shape shots right and left when I wanted to, and by adjusting the face angle using the STR8-FIT system I was able to consistently produce a particular shot pattern (fade or draw, depending on whether I set the face in an open or closed position), which will come in handy on days when I’m fighting a slice or a hook.
It was also forgiving on mis-hits, especially when I hit a shot low on the face and close to the heel. Thanks to Nike’s compression channel technology, which they introduced in last year’s VR driver, whenever I caught a shot thin I got almost as much distance as a solid shot hit near the center of the clubface.
My initial swings and rounds on the course with the new VR Pro driver left me very impressed with it’s length off the tee, shot shaping capability, adjustability and forgiveness on mis-hits.
Like its predecessor the VR STR8-FIT, the VR Pro STR8-FITfeatures 32 face angle options, ranging from 2 degrees open to 2 degrees closed in .25-degree increments. A player can easily adjust the club to their particular specifications to optimize its performance, as well as set the club face and lie angles to create a particular ball flight pattern. A notable change from last year’s model is the black STR8-FIT collar (last year it was silver), which allows it to visually blend in much better with the hosel of the club. The driver 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 of all 32 positions, and it’s easy to tell which position the clubhead is in by using the diagram on the butt end of the grip in relation to the arrow on the hosel.
The VR Pro is truly a player’s driver, and is made for shaping shots and moving the ball. The STR8-FIT adjustability allows you to open or close the face angle to consistently promote a specific shot shape. The compression channel gives you a quality shot when you hit the ball low on the face and toward the heel (where better players most often have their misses on the club face), so you can swing with confidence. The Project X 6.0 shaft is a mid-frequency, mid-weight shaft that is designed to give the lower launch and penetrating ball flight that better players prefer. It gave me a medium trajectory ball flight that seemed to bore through the wind (especially during one particularly breezy round).
I was pleased with the distance increase I got with the VR Pro driver. I gained about five yards on average over the original VR STR8-FIT driver, and when I hit the ball on the sweet spot I gained closer to 10 yards in extra distance. I felt the ball flight produced by the Project X shaft definitely contributed to the increase in distance I got with this club.
The VR Pro gave me confidence standing over the ball, and the result was that I felt I was able to put the ball in the fairway when I needed to. The extra distance I gained allowed me to swing more easily, focusing on my target without feeling I had to swing harder to put the ball out there.
The compression channel technology makes the VR Pro driver very forgiving. When I hit a shot low on the club face or toward the heel, the ball went almost as far as a shot hit closer to the middle of the face. Thin shots went just about as far as solidly stuck ones.
The VR Pro produces a sound that is similar to its predecessor the VR STR8-FIT, a solidly pleasing “thwack” at impact. It doesn’t have the hollow, tinny or aluminum bat-like sound that some metal drivers have, the VR Pro’s acoustics are very solid.
The VR Pro driver is a traditional looking driver that’s loaded with technological advancements. It looks great and performs even better. It’s a player’s driver that allows you to shape shots and work the ball, and the 32-position STR8-FIT adjustability allows a player to tweak the driver to their exact specifications. It also has a lot of forgiveness for off-center hits, which makes this club a solid choice for players with a wide range of abilities. If you’re looking for a new driver for the upcoming season that will help you put your drives in the fairway and past the other players in your group, I suggest you give the VR Pro a test drive.
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.