Early last year I had the opportunity to test and review the 2011 VR Pro STR8-FIT Driver, and I was impressed with the combination of length, forgiveness and shot-shaping control I got from that traditionally pear-shaped driver. Late last year there was a lot of buzz about what would be the next generation of the VR Pro Driver, and on November 1, 2011 Nike Golf released the 2012 VR Pro Limited Edition Forged Driver at retail.
Just before the release date, Nike Golf sent me one of the VR Pro LE Drivers in 9.5-degree loft with a stiff shaft to test and review. Since then I’ve hit it on the range several times and gamed it in several rounds, so I have a pretty good feel now for what this driver can do. I share the results of my testing with you here.
FIRST IMPRESSION: DESIGN/APPEARANCE
Out of the box, my first impression of the VR Pro LE Driver was that of a finely-crafted player’s driver, designed for distance and control. I also immediately noticed there are several differences that distinguish the 2012 VR Pro LE from its predecessor, the VR Pro STR8-FIT. The first thing you notice from the playing position is the absence of the STR8-FIT collar on the hosel, as the driver head is glued onto the shaft in this model. The second difference from the playing position is the slightly smaller 430CC head size — the VR Pro STR8-FIT head size was 460CC. The VR Pro LE has the same metallic paint on the crown as the VR Pro, the same compression channel and sole plate configuration, but the metallic red from the compression channel on the VR Pro LE continues all the way to the rear of the sole, where it faded from black to red on the VR Pro STR8-FIT. The face of the VR Pro LE has the new NexCOR technology icon, and there is a small swoosh on the toe that also distinguishes it from the VR Pro.
Another big difference is the headccover. The VR Pro LE comes with a red, white and black knitted sock headcover with a special VR Pro LE patch on the back and pom-pom on top, a big change from the VR Pro headcover. I really like this old school headcover, and think it was great idea to use it on the VR Pro LE. The VR Pro LE features a Diamana ‘ahina shaft (the VR Pro had a Project X shaft) and comes with a stock VR Tour Velvet grip from Golf Pride.
The look of the VR Pro LE is that of a driver built for players looking for more distance and more ability to control the ball off the tee box.
FIRST IMPRESSION: PERFORMANCE
From the playing position, the traditional pear-shaped look of the VR Pro LE inspires confidence, and the smaller head size immediately says “ball control”. This truly has the look of a player’s driver. And the VR Pro LE is solid, really solid. From the first few swings I could feel pure contact with the ball, I heard the pleasing “thwack” sound at impact, and I saw the ball fly far and where I wanted it. This must be due to the new 4-piece forged construction of the head.
I was really impressed with the distance I got from the VR Pro LE — I picked up about 5 yards over my VR Pro. The ball really shot off of the face, I’m assuming because of the new NexCOR material used in the face. According to Nike the NexCOR face technology maximizes distance for the widest range of players through a new speed-expanding multi face thickness design (read more in Nike Golf’s press release about the VR Pro LE Forged Driver). I was able to produce a mid to high ball flight with the VR Pro LE, both because of the head construction and the Diamana ‘ahina shaft. And not only was the VR Pro LE long, I was able to shape shots right and left with ease.
The VR Pro LE is also very forgiving on mis-hits. The compression channel in the sole also helps maximize the NexCOR face by helping to increase speed in more spots on the clubface. This shows up when I hit one a bit high on the face or low on the heel and the ball still goes surprisingly far.
I was really impressed with the performance of the VR Pro LE. It’s solid, really long, forgiving, it helps me shape shots and most importantly for me it gives me confidence when I stand on the tee box.
I was happy, and a bit surprised at the distance I got with the VR Pro LE driver. I gained about five yards over my VR Pro driver, and when I hit the ball on the sweet spot I gained closer to 10 yards at times. I felt the performance of the Diamana ‘ahina shaft also contributed to the increase in distance I got with this club, as it seemed to me to be a bit stiffer from the middle down to the tip than the Project X.
The VR Pro LE made me feel like I could put the ball in the fairway of the tee, and for me that increased confidence is one of the biggest benefits I got from this club. I was able to swing easier because I was less worried about where the ball was going to go, and as a result I was able to put a smooth swing on the ball and put the ball where I was aiming (and get even more distance as a bonus).
The VR Pro LE is made for shaping shots — moving the ball right and left is a breeze with this club. From the appearance at address I felt I could set up to create a fade or draw and this club would help me make it go there. Better players will really like the shot-shaping characteristics of this club.
The VR Pro LE’s compression channel technology in the sole makes it very forgiving. When I hit the ball thin it went almost as far as a shot hit closer to the middle of the face. Shots hit off-center, low on the clubface or toward the heel went just about as far as solidly stuck ones.
The VR Pro LE continues the VR line’s ability to produce the pleasing “thwack” at impact that its predecessors the VR Pro STR8-FIT and VR Pro are known for. The VR Pro LE sounds as solid as it feels.
The VR Pro Limited Edition Forged driver carries on the tradition of the VR line — that of a player’s club that’s built for performance and distance. The smaller 430CC pear-shaped head design will appeal to the better player’s eye, and also promotes shaping the ball. The 4-piece forged construction of the head creates a solid feeling at impact, and the new NexCOR face technology increases ball speed and makes the ball fly off the face. The compression channel technology adds forgiveness to an already winning combination of characteristics. If you’re in the market for a new driver for the upcoming golf season, and you want one that can not only help you put your ball in the fairway but also push it past the other players in your group, I suggest giving the VR Pro LE some serious consideration.
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.