I recently had the chance to review Nike Golf’s VR Pro STR8-FIT Driver, and to follow up that review I’ve had the opportunity to test and review the VR Pro STR8-FIT fairway wood. I’ve also had the chance to test the VR Pro hybrid, and that review is coming soon. I tested the VR Pro STR8-FIT 15-degree 3-wood, and I’ve hit it on the range several times and played it in four live rounds on the course here in Phoenix. I was also able to test it against last year’s VR STR8-FIT 3-wood, and I’ll make comparisons in the review below.
FIRST IMPRESSION: DESIGN/APPEARANCE
Out of the box the VR Pro STR8-FIT fairway wood is clearly a player’s club. From the playing position it has a traditional pear shape, similar to last year’s VR STR8-FIT fairway wood, although last year’s model was a touch more c-shaped. The crown has the same metallic black finish, and Nike has done away with the powerbow at the back of the crown in this year’s model. The sole again features Nike’s Compression Channel technology, but in this year’s VR Pro model the channel goes completely across the sole (last year’s model had the compression channel covered by the sole plate). The sole plate has also been redesigned from last year, with it residing completely behind the compression channel. The compression channel itself is black this year, fading nicely to red at the rear of the sole.
Like the VR Pro driver, one of the most significant features of the new VR Pro fairway wood is the black SRT8-FIT collar (last year’s was silver), which blends in nicely with the hosel of the club, minimizing visual distraction. The club comes with a stock Project X 6.0 shaft and a Nike STR8-FIT Tour Velvet grip by Golf Pride. The grip has the STR8-FIT diagram on the butt end of the grip showing the 32 club face angle positions. The headcover is similar to that of the VR Pro driver, bit instead of a magnetic closure it has a sock below the main part of the headcover that protects the shaft. The club also comes with three tabs to identify which fairway wood it is (3, 5 & X), the STR8-FIT manual, the diagram showing the possible clubhead positions and the STR8-FIT wrench to remove and replace the clubhead.
FIRST IMPRESSION: PERFORMANCE
My first swings again confirmed that this is truly a player’s fairway wood. The first word that came to mind was “solid” — when striking the ball the VR Pro fairway wood has a very solid feel, and the clubhead has great weighting that allows the clubhead to do the work. I didn’t feel like I had to swing hard to get great distance with this club. Easy swings resulted in long, straight shots.
The VR Pro fairway wood has great playability, and I was able to work the ball both right and left with the club. Also knowing that I can adjust the face to counteract a hook or slice on any given day gives me increased confidence. It has great acoustics, a pleasingly solid “plink” at impact. It is also very forgiving, with the compression channel helping to give shots that are struck low on the face and towards the heel added distance. Thin shots go just about as far as shots struck in the middle of the face.
Like the VR Pro STR8-FIT driver, the VR Pro STR8-FIT fairway woods can be adjusted to any of 32 possible face positions and subsequent lie angles. This allows better players to quickly dial the club in to their specific specifications. 32 positions is probably overkill for an average golfer like myself, but knowing the club can be easily adjusted to offset a hook or slice is a big advantage. This can be done when warming up on the range before a round, and if you are slicing or hooking you can adjust the club to counteract that, which can give confidence going into the round. I am able to take head off, put it back on in a different position and tighten it with the STR8-FIT wrench in a minute or less.
The traditional pear shape of the VR Pro fairway woods invites shot shaping. Better players will be able to work the ball right and left with this club. They’ll also be able to adjust the clubhead position to promote a particular shot shape for a particular day, perhaps for a course with doglegs primarily in one direction. Average players will also benefit from the clubs ability (through its adjustability) to help them achieve a certain ball flight and shot shape, if they happen to struggle with fading or drawing the ball, or hitting the ball particularly high or low. The VR Pro fairway woods can help average golfers shape shots like just like the pros do.
I got great distance with the VR Pro 3-wood. I hit it about 5 yards farther than last year’s VR STR8-FIT 3-wood. Most notably was that I was able to get that extra distance while swinging easier, with the weight of the club doing the work for me. I notice this particularly on long par 5’s, when sometimes I’ll use it for my drive to place the ball in the fairway, and many times I’ll use this club for my second shot where it gives me the ability to put the ball closer to the green for a (hopefully) more accurate third shot — if it’s not already on the green that is!
I’m able to place shots effectively with the VR Pro 3-wood. Sometimes I’ll use this club off the tee when I need to place a drive in a particularly tight fairway. Or I’ll use it on an approach shot on a long par 4 or a second shot on a long par 5 when accuracy is critical. I’m confident in this club, and that confidence allows me to pick a target and (most of the time) put my ball there (or close) without over-swinging.
The VR Pro 3-wood is very forgiving, primarily because of the compression channel technology in the sole of the club which gives thin shots and shots hit close to the heel almost as much distance as a solidly struck shot. I’m confident that if I mis-hit a shot with this club that it will go almost as far and pretty much on the same line as a shot that I’ve struck well.
This club has a great sound at impact, a pleasingly solid “plink” like last year’s VR ST8-FIT 3-wood. The VR Pro 3-wood has the standard sound you would expect from a 3-wood, similar to other metal fairway woods on the market.
The VR Pro fairway wood, like the VR pro driver, is another great club design from Nike Golf. Definitely a player’s club with a traditional club head shape, the VR Pro brings great distance and shot shaping capability to better players and average golfers alike. The STR8-FIT adjustability allows a player to dial the club in to their particular specifications, and adjust the club to counteract a particular swing flaw or promote a particular shot shape. The compression channel gives thin shots almost the same result as solidly struck shots. This club is in my bag for the 2011 season, and if you are looking for a fairway wood that will give you confidence and maybe become your go-to club for pressure shots, I suggest you give the VR Pro fairway woods a try.
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.