Before the VR_S Covert Driver officially hit the retail market back in February, we saw a series of promotional and launch events to announce it’s arrival. First was the official VR_S Covert product announcement at the Nike Golf Innovation Summit back in November. Then in December we began to see the driver appear in the bags of several of the Nike Athletes. Finally in January we saw the official launch of the VR_S Covert line of woods, hybrids and irons at the PGA Merchandise Show in January, with the VR_S Covert Distance Challenge taking place at the Wednesday Outdoor Demo Day event.
All of this advanced publicity was not unwarranted, as the Covert line’s groundbreaking technology is a first for the golf retail market. Leading the way is the VR_S Covert Driver, whose bright red crown conceals its new high-speed cavity back technology underneath. It also features a new FlexLoft adjustability system in the hosel that allows you to adjust the loft, lie and face angle in 15 different combinations (more on the technology below). It’s been well received by the golfing public and has received rave reviews on Twitter and Facebook.
Just after the February 8th release date, Nike Golf sent me one of the new VR_S Covert Performance Drivers with a stiff shaft to test and review. Trusted retailer and NGN partner Global Golf (who I have bought many Nike Golf items from throughout the years) has also sent the VR_S Covert Tour Driver to both Damian and Alan to test and review, their reviews will follow this one on the blog in the coming months. Since I received my Covert I’ve hit it many times on the range and have gamed it for a few rounds on the course, and I’m excited to tell you how this driver has performed for me. I share the results of my testing with you here.
FIRST IMPRESSION: DESIGN/APPEARANCE
The first thing you notice is the actual box that contains the driver, which is has the printed VR_S Covert pattern on the outside, and a bright red color inside. Out of the box, you can’t miss the bright red metallic finish on the crown, as well as the large white swoosh toward the heel — both contribute the very unique appearance of this club. The head size of the Performance model is 460CC (the Tour model features a slightly smaller 430CC head), and the Covert name appears as a small alignment aid on the top of the club head. Turn the club over and you’ll see a sole configuration I’ll bet you’ve never seen before. Under the back of the crown is the large cavity back that is lined with a polymer insert with the VR_S logo. The red Covert “wing” design can be seen from the middle to the back of the club head, and the mass of the clubhead has been moved towards the heel and toe, as well as closer to the face in the middle of the sole.
The hosel contains the FlexLoft adjustability system, which consists of two plastic collars with which you can adjust the loft and face angle independently in any of 15 combinations. The loft can be adjusted between 8.5 and 12.5 in 1 degree increments and the face angle can be set left (closed), neutral (square), right (open). The adjustments are made by loosening the shaft screw in the bottom of the sole with the included wrench (the same one as the previous VR_S driver), removing the shaft, adjusting the collars and reattaching the shaft, all of which can be done easily in a minute or so. The face has a large hitting area that features Nike Golf’s NexCOR face technology, which makes the edges of the face thinner than the center, resulting in a larger sweet spot. This creates faster ball speeds across a wider area of the face and results in longer shots.
The headcover features the VR_S Covert design pattern seen on the box (and the new VR_S staff bag) — a very cool design detail is when light hits the patterned headcover material in low-light conditions (like a camera flash) it reflects the light and gives an opposite pattern effect (the materials looks white in flash photos — see photos of the headcovers here, and photos of the staff bag here). The headcover has a full sock to protect the shaft, which differs in design form last year’s VR_S driver headcover. The stock shaft is the Mitsubishi Kuro Kage Black (50 gram) and the stock grip is the Nike Tour Velvet by Golf Pride. Overall my first impression of the VR_S Covert Driver is one of a very eye-catching new club that features many interesting technological and visual design details.
FIRST IMPRESSION: PERFORMANCE
It was apparent to me from my very first swings on the range that this driver is very different from any driver Nike Golf has previously released. The first thing I noticed is the VR_S Covert’s solid feel at impact — when I struck my first few shots I was impressed by the “heaviness” of the hit, the substantial feel of the club head through the impact zone. The acoustics mirrored the feel, the Covert gives a solid “thwack” (almost a “thud”) at impact, with no tinny or “plink” sound at all. I think the movement of the CG closer to the face is responsible for the Covert’s solid feel — the overall sensation is the club just powers through the ball as it sends its on towards the target.
The next thing I noticed was the distance and accuracy. Last year I was really impressed with the length and distance gains I got from the VR_S driver (see my review here). For me the VR_S Covert is as long, if not a bit longer than the VR_S driver — the NexCOR face technology is responsible for the Covert’s extraordinary distance. But the most significant thing I experienced with the Covert was the accuracy. It is much straighter than the VR_S — my misses aren’t nearly as off-line and my shots are much more on target. This is because of the Covert’s remarkable stability at impact, caused by the movement of the club head’s mass to the heel and toe, which reduces twisting of the club head at impact.
Another improvement the Covert offers is increased forgiveness on off-center hits. Shots struck away from the center of the club face go straighter and farther with the Covert — the NexCOR face technology’s variable face thickness (thinner the farther you get away from the center) gives amazing distance on mishit shots, and the movement of the mass of the club to the heel and toe creates perimeter weighting that offers improved stability that keeps the club more square when you miss the middle of the face, producing straighter shots from less than ideal swings.
Finally, the FlexLoft adjustability system is very easy and intuitive to use. Removing the head is simple using the included wrench, and changing the loft and face angle combinations with the two adjustable collars can be done quickly and easily. It’s pretty cool knowing you actually have 15 clubs in one with the 15 different loft, lie and face angle combinations.
Overall I’ve been really impressed with the performance of the VR_S Covert driver. Specific notes on the Covert’s performance attributes follow in the sections below.
Although I didn’t use a launch monitor, I hit the VR_S and VR_S Covert side by side — the VR_S Covert is very long, as long for me as the VR_S, if not a bit longer. The speed of the ball leaving the NexCOR face and watching the ball being launched straight at the target is very satisfying,
For me the Covert has a medium ball flight. My understanding is the Performance model that I tested has a higher ball flight than the Tour model, which is reported to have a lower, more boring ball flight. But we’ll need to wait for Damian’s and Alan’s reviews to confirm that.
The Covert is very accurate, and produces very straight shots due to the club’s weight being located towards the heel and toe. I feel confident that when I aim at my target, the Covert will send the ball there.
The Covert has great feel, and I can shape my shots when I need to. The FlexLoft adjustability system adds to the playability of this club, allowing me to change loft to raise or lower my ball flight, or close or open the face to create a specific shot shape.
The Covert is very forgiving on mishit shots — the NexCOR face gives shots hit off-center just about the same distance as shots struck in the middle of the face. The perimeter weighting keeps the club head from twisting on shots hit towards the heel and toe, producing straighter shots from less than perfect swings.
One of the more significsant characteristics of the VR_S Covert is its acoustics. The sound at impact is a distictively solid “thwack” (almost a “thud”), the sound of a very solid shot. There is no tinny aluminum sound or any hint of a “plink” at impact.
The VR_S Covert driver is a truly revolutionary driver with cutting edge technology that delivers superior results. The solid feel at impact and superior acoustics immediately stood out to me. The distance and accuracy I get with the Covert are exceptional. And the forgiveness on off-center hits is extraordinary. If you are in the market for a new driver — and even if you aren’t but might just be curious — you owe it to yourself to try out the VR_S Covert driver. I think you’ll be surprised, if not outright amazed by the performance of this groundbreaking new driver, just like I was.
One final note: If you are looking to buy the Covert driver, I highly recommend buying from Global Golf — as I mentioned above I’ve bought many Nike Golf items from over the years, I have always been happy with my experience buying from Global Golf and I know they’ll treat you right.
Editor’s note: The product reviewed above was supplied by the manufacturer to the reviewer/author free of charge for reviewing purposes only. The opinions expressed in the review are strictly those of the reviewer/author.
Editor’s note: This post is sponsored by Global Golf.