Last year Nike Golf announced its new 2015 equipment line with much fanfare at a special event at Liberty National Golf Club featuring none other than Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Jimmy Fallon. You can read about my Vapor launch event recap here and here.
The Vapor line of irons come in three different designs — the Vapor Pro irons for better players, the Vapor Pro Combo irons for low- to mid-handicappers and the Vapor Speed irons for mid- to high-handicappers. The Vapor line incorporates Nike’s Modern Muscle technology, which was revealed in its MMProto irons that were unveiled last summer (MMProto is short for Modern Muscle Prototype).
The Vapor Pro irons currently represent Nike Golf’s “players iron”. In the past, this has been represented by the VR Pro Blade, the VR Forged TW Blade, and the Forged Blade from 2005.
Nike Golf sent me a set of the new 2015 Vapor Pro irons to test and review — and as sad as it is to admit that it’s taken me this long to get a proper review up, I do have a good reason. At the end of this winter my wife and I had our first child! Now that she is almost six months old, I am starting to get out more and really put the Vapor Pro irons in play.
FIRST IMPRESSION: DESIGN/APPEARANCE
As Bob mentioned in his review of the Vapor Pro Combos, out of the box you immediately see the Modern Muscle shape from the MMProto irons. The Vapor Pro irons have a brushed finish which is a big difference from my VR Pro Combos which have a chrome finish. Also of note is how small some of the heads are. And there is practically zero offset, and for a moment I wondered how I would hit the long irons! It had been some time since I got to hit the Vapor Pro irons at Liberty National and they were truly a beautiful sight to see again.
As with all irons in the Vapor series, the back of the iron features the Modern Muscle design, which moves material to the heel and toe for increased perimeter weighting, stability and feel at impact.
At the launch event, Tiger Woods mentioned that this design moves helps move the sweet spot to the toe area, where he wanted to see more forgiveness. The machined forged steel faces feature Nike’s X3X groove technology, which has also been incorporated into several of Nike’s previous iron models. The stock shafts are Dynamic Gold S300, and the stock grips are Nike Tour Velvet by Golf Pride.
In seeing some of the photos from the MM protos, I can say that the Vapor Pros are pretty much identical to that except the muscle cavity is black with a volt swoosh.
FIRST IMPRESSION: PERFORMANCE
It took some getting used to the Vapor Pros, which were a pretty big change from my VR Pro Combos. Even seemingly little things, like the finish of the club, were something I needed to get used to. I think the biggest thing about performance was that the clubs required a lot more concentration to hit well than my old gamers.
In addition to that, the most distinct aspects in terms of performance for me were sound and feel. The sound had more of a click noise when struck well, and this is similar to the sound that I here when I go to tour events. In terms of feel, you definitely feel more of the club, so there’s that feedback factor, but when you hit a bad shot, you definitely know it.
The Vapor Pros had a similar or lower ball flight than my VR Pro Combos, which I thought was a good thing. Workability was good too, although I had an easier time hitting the high fade than the high draw.
Overall, the feel of these irons is good, and the feel of a well-struck ball greatly differs from that of a poorly struck one. Performance will reward those who can consistently find the sweet spot on each shot.
APPEARANCE AT ADDRESS
Can you say “butter knife”? That’s how I felt when I had the 3 iron in my hand. With virtually no offset (the PW has actually a .060” offset), the appearance at address had me questioning my own abilities. But the irons are truly beautiful. With straight leading edges and thin toplines, it is no wonder why better players prefer this look.
I am not the best shaper of shots, and admittedly, I am better/more comfortable hitting a baby fade when I need to. Draws are a little more challenging for me. With the Vapor Pros I definitely had more confidence to hit shaped shots. Honestly, the best “playability” aspect for me was hitting ¾ swing knock down shots or low 6-irons out and around trees. People always assume playability means cuts or draws, but I really felt that the best benefit I got out of working the ball was the ability to hit solid low shots.
The Vapor Pro irons promote a lower ball flight throughout the set. In speaking with the club technicians at the launch event, they said that while the flight should be a little bit lower, those with very high swing speeds will have no issue getting the ball high. Unfortunately, I don’t have the highest swing speed, and the launches felt similar to my VR Pro Combo.
Accuracy was the most difficult part in adjusting to the Vapor Pros. A lot of my shots were pushed right. I am not sure if this was due to the offset, but it was likely an alignment issue that I had. In trying to fix it I would pull balls to the left. It took a long time to get acquainted with the Vapor Pros, which I think is fair for anyone making an equipment overhaul.
All I can say is that the feel is pure. You just need to be consistent. Those who have a “digger” swing will really enjoy these. I think those with more of a “sweeper” swing may have a more difficult time getting used to these. Forgiveness is not super high in these irons, as is the case for most, if not all, blade shapes.
I mentioned this before but the Vapor Pro irons have almost a more clicking sound than my VR Pro Combo, which I can’t really describe. I am in no way comparing myself to Patrick Reed, but I remember seeing him in the Barclays a couple years ago where he hit a 3 iron and the sound was similar. His impact also made the ball sound like it was exploding, which I cannot replicate, but to give you a sense of acoustics, it is definitely more of that clicking noise.
The Vapor Pro irons represent an innovative iron design from Nike Golf. Nike’s new Modern Muscle technology is a new take on the traditional muscle-back iron that we saw in the previous blade shape models. What I like about the Vapor Pro is that it is not so crazy in one direction or another. To me, it’s the right balance of technology with a classic look.
To be perfectly candid however, one must be an excellent ball striker to reap the full benefits of the Vapor Pros. That means that ability to make contact on the sweet spot over and over, and the ability to shape shots on command. It’s a low-handicap iron, that I would peg somewhere between 5 and lower.
Have you tried the Vapor Pro irons yet? If you have, let us know what you think in the comments below.
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.