It’s no secret, Nike Golf is making a huge splash this year with its VR_S family of woods, hybrids and irons, and it’s been well documented here on NG Nation. From the VR_S launch event at the PGA Merchandise Show in January, to the Speed Trials that are going on through May 13th (which I will be officially taking in the next week or two), Nike Golf is getting the word out about this amazing new line of equipment.
Just after the February 3rd release date, Nike Golf sent me one of the new VR_S Drivers in 9.5-degree loft with a stiff shaft to test and review. Since then I’ve been gaming it in every round I’ve played, and have hit it many times on the range, so I can give you a good idea how this driver has performed for me. I share the results of my testing with you here.
FIRST IMPRESSION: DESIGN/APPEARANCE
My first impression of the looks of the VR_S driver was that this is a really well designed game improvement driver. From the playing position the crown is deep, giving the driver a big footprint, but not an excessive one. It’s deeper than the VR Pro LE, but still retains some of the pear shape of a player’s driver. The STR8-FIT collar is much more integrated into the hosel than the previous iteration in the SQ MachSpeed Black driver, and does not draw attention from the playing position. The crown has a metallic dark gray paint finish with a subtle design pattern that mimics the design motifs found in the VR_S irons. From the playing position this is a great looking driver.
The face has a large hitting area, and has the new NexCOR icon in the center. The sole incorporates several design elements from its predecessor the SQ MachSpeed Black, including the diffuser plate and the aerodynamic channel around the back of the crown. A new addition to the sole is the new configuration of the STR8-FIT adjustability system, which is now accessed through an opening in the sole near the neck of the club. The VR_S has a different wrench than previous STR8-FIT models, which is easy to use and loosens a nut inside the head that releases the shaft from the head. The stock shaft is a Mitsubishi Fubuki, and the grip is a Nike VR Tour Velvet from Golf Pride. The headcover features the same configuration as the SQ MachSpeed Black’s, with elastic just under the head and a magnetic closure at the bottom that closes around the shaft (one of the better headcover designs I’ve seen), with foam on the sides and vinyl VR_S graphics on the back.
All in all the VR_S driver is a good looking game improvement driver that does not stray too far away from the look of a players driver — less so in my opinion than some of the other game improvement drivers on the market today,
FIRST IMPRESSION: PERFORMANCE
From the first swings on the range, to my first rounds on the course and every round since, this driver is long — really long. Using a launch monitor on the range I was hitting the ball an average of 10-15 yards extra total distance (8-12 yards carry distance), and I gained 4-5 mph average in ball speed in comparison with the driver I was testing it against, the SQ MachSpeed Black. The NexCOR face technology really delivers — the ball simply rockets off the face of the club. The face is designed to be forgiving towards the heel and toe, as that’s where mid to high handicappers tend to miss (rather than the top or bottom of the face). I noticed that mis-hits, most predominantly out towards the toe for me, went just as far as shots hit in the center of the face.
Like the MachSpeed Black, the diffuser plate in the sole and the aerodynamic channel at the back of the crown help reduce drag on the downswing, helping to increase clubhead speed. This combined with the NexCOR face technology helped me gain distance on most of my drives. The new configuration of the STR8-FIT adjustability system makes it easy to change the club face to any of the 8 available positions, allowing the player to quickly set the club to favor a fade or draw.
The bottom line for this driver is speed — its design promotes an increase in clubhead speed, and for me that equaled a significant increase in distance.
As mentioned above, this is my main reason for gaming this driver. Gaining an average of 10-15 yards extra total distance (8-12 yards carry distance), and 4-5 mph average in ball speed has been enough of a reason for me to keep this driver in my bag since first testing it.
My driving accuracy has also improved with the VR_S driver, mainly because I feel like I can swing smoothly (and not overswing) and still get great distance with this club. There’s nothing like the feeling of hitting it long (relatively in my case) and being the only one in my foursome to hit the fairway.
The STR8-FIT adjustability system lets me adjust the face angle to be open or closed, flat or upright, in any one of 8 different positions. The system lets me set the club up quickly and easily to promote a fade or a draw, helping me to create a particular shot shape, or help prevent a slice or hook. This makes the VR_S driver not only long, but great for shaping shots too.
The NexCOR face technology in the VR_S driver makes this club extra forgiving. With the sweet spot extended towards the heel and toe (where most mid to high handicappers miss on the face), mis-hits go just as far as shots struck in the center of the face. This forgiveness inspires confidence, and for me confidence results in better golf swings.
The VR_S driver has great acoustics — it has a pleasingly solid sound when striking the ball. It has just the slightest hint of a “plink”, which is very minor and by no means distracting. Some of the other game improvement drivers I’ve hit have that hollow, tinny, aluminum sound — the VR_S sound is much more solid than that.
The VR_S driver is a great looking game improvement driver that hits the ball a long way. I experienced total distance gains of 10-15 yards on average, and that was enough to make it my gamer to this day. It sounds great, and the STR8-FIT adjustability system allows me to set the club to promote a fade or draw and help me shape shots when I want to. If you’re looking for a new driver that will help you hit the ball farther, I highly recommend you check out one of Nike Golf’s Speed Trial events at your local golf retailer to see how much distance you gain over your current driver. I’m sold on the VR_S driver, and if you try it for yourself I think you will be too.
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.