I’ve been meaning to review the Nike SQ Machspeed STR8-FIT driver for a while now, but until recently I’ve haven’t had the opportunity to test one. It’s been out for two or three years, and I had to wait until a used club popped up at the pro shop.
Because this driver isn’t a current model, it’s possible to pick one up fairly inexpensively. For example, Global Golf (www.globalgolf.com) has these clubs on “final clearance,” priced at $129.99. And that’s their price for a brand-new Nike SQ Machspeed STR8-FIT driver, not a used club. The original list price of this driver was $360, so that $129.99 clearance price represents quite a savings.
Okay, so you can buy one of these drivers pretty cheaply. But should you buy one? Is it a good alternative to other, more expensive adjustable-face drivers? Well, that’s the purpose of this review – to give you the information you need to decide whether buying the club might be a good choice.
First, let me tell you that I remember when this club first hit the market. Its shape and aerodynamic properties got a lot of buzz almost as soon as the club made its first appearance. Despite being an unconventional, square-headed driver, the Nike SQ Machspeed STR8-FiT driver made its way into professional golfer Justin Leonard’s bag almost immediately.
Nike says the square shape makes the club longer, more stable at impact and more forgiving by shifting weight out to the corners. The square shape is only the beginning of the story, however. A lot of the design features of this driver are intended to make the club more aerodynamic, promoting faster swing speeds and longer drives.
The head has a “powerbow diffuser” – a fancy name for a channel on the head’s front and trailing edges. A diffuser is also in the sole plate. The powerbow is intended to make the club more aerodynamic by smoothing the airflow around the club head during the downswing. Acting together, the powerbow and sole plate diffusers reduce aerodynamic drag and encourage acceleration. Faster club head speeds during the downswing are the ultimate goal of the design.
In addition to aerodynamics, the Nike SQ Machspeed STR8-FIT driver emphasizes adjustability. Nike’s STR8-FIT technology uses a torque wrench (included with new clubs) to adjust the hosel to one of eight different face angles. Settings range from 2 degrees closed (to promote a draw or combat a tendency to slice) through neutral to 2 degrees open (to promote a fade or combat a tendency to pull the ball). The STR8-FIT technology lets you “dial in” your preferred club head bias with a few twists of the torque wrench. Once you get the hang of it, making face-angle adjustments is easy, and in theory, dramatic shot shape corrections are possible. Manufacturers that make adjustable-face clubs like the Nike SQ Machspeed STR8-FIT driver contend that changing the club’s face angle is much more effective at changing the ball flight than using adjustable weights.
So, does the Nike SQ Machspeed STR8-FIT driver fit the bill for golfers looking for an affordable adjustable club? I tested a 10.5-degree Nike SQ Machspeed STR8-FIT driver fitted with a UST Mamiya SasQuatch ProForce AXIVCore graphite shaft in senior flex. The club also comes in 8.5-, 9.5-, 11.5- and 13-degree lofts. Here’s what I learned during the two rounds I played with the club.
First, I realized just how much I don’t like the looks of drivers with square club heads. I just couldn’t get used to the look of the Nike SQ Machspeed STR8-FIT driver at address, and it put me right off. You might feel differently, but I’ll take a classic pear-shaped driver every time.
Second, the hosel adjustments are easy to make once you figure out how the STR8-FIT system works. When you buy the club it comes with a torque wrench and there’s a card with a diagram showing all eight positions. The face angle can be adjusted in less than a minute. I made a few changes, took a few hits, and ended up setting the face at neutral.
Third, although I was very pleased with the distance and ball flight I got from the driver, I hated the sound at impact. It wasn’t as bad as the horrible sound of the old Cobra drivers, but it definitely “clanked” instead of “clicked.”
The Bottom Line: Long and straight, the Nike SQ Machspeed STR8-FIT driver definitely delivered performance-wise. But I’m not sold on adjustable drivers to begin with, and I can’t help being turned off by the Nike’s square head and peculiar sound at impact. Is it a good choice for an inexpensive adjustable-face driver? Maybe - if its looks and sound don’t bother you.