It looks like Nike has decided to ditch the square SQ MachSpeed in favor of the Nike VR S fairway wood and its conventionally shaped head. I can’t say I blame them – even though square heads are supposed to be very forgiving, I’ve never liked them on drivers or woods.
The head of the club has a much sleeker, more traditional and (in my opinion) more attractive design than the blocky head of the SQ MachSpeed. And, Nike says the new VR S woods are just as forgiving as the SQ MachSpeed but they deliver even more distance.
So, are you looking for a high level of performance in your new fairway wood? Well, who isn’t? Let’s take a look at the new-for-2012 Nike VR S fairway wood and see what it’s all about.
First, the “VR S” in the name of these clubs stands for “Victory Red Speed.” That’s a good sign. “Victory” is always a good, confident thought for a golfer to have in his or her head , while the color “Red” often symbolizes power, and “Speed” (in the golf world, anyway) usually translates into distance. And, I’m willing to bet you don’t know that the club comes with its own “ninja” (more on the ninja thing later).
Like the Nike VR S driver and hybrid, the head of the Nike VR S fairway wood has an aerodynamic design (square is out, thank goodness) that reduces air drag and promotes higher ball velocities (and therefore more distance). It also uses something the company calls “NexCOR face technology.” NexCOR is a multi-thickness face technology that creates a high Coefficient of Restitution (“spring-like” or “trampoline” effect) across a wide portion of the face. As a result, the ball tends to fly faster and farther even when impact occurs out toward the heel or toe instead of on the sweet spot. But that’s not all - the company also designed the club to have a high Coefficient of Restitution from the center of the face down toward the bottom, because research showed that most shots with woods are hit low on the face. Nike calls this particular design feature its “L-Face Technology.” I don’t pretend to understand the details, but I do know that L-Face Technology involves a precisely-placed weld on the sole.
I suspect you’re still wondering about my earlier “ninja” comment. Well, it relates to the stock shaft of the Nike VR S fairway wood: a Mitsubishi Rayon Fubuki graphite shaft with an “MDT Power Ninja Core.” It has a stiff tip and is designed to reduce spin but prevent the harsh feel that’s normally associated with a stiff-tipped shaft. The stock shaft is available in your choice of extra-stiff, stiff, regular or senior (“A”) flex.
If you’re right-handed, you can buy a 15-degree (3-wood), 17-degree (4-wood), 19-degree (5-wood) or 21-degree (7-wood) Nike VR S fairway wood. Only the 15- and 19-degree lofts are available for lefthanders. I tested a 17-degree 4-wood with the stock shaft in regular flex.
I’ve never understood or cared much for Nike’s previous penchant for square-headed drivers and fairway woods. Personally, I feel much more comfortable standing over a wood or driver with a traditionally-shaped face, like the Nike VR S fairway wood. The club set up nicely at address and it was easy to line up properly. It felt balanced throughout my swings and I never felt like I “lost” the club head.
The face seemed “hot” and when I made pure contact the ball flew long, fairly high and fairly straight. I did experience some loss of distance on my mishits, but that’s to be expected. I was able to hit the club from a variety of lies – off the deck, off the tee, out of the rough and so on. I struggled a little when hitting it off hardpan, but that’s not uncommon for me. I get the club on the ball in that situation, but I rarely pick it as cleanly as I’d like. Instead, I tend to hit behind the ball or strike it thin. And that’s what sometimes happened with the Nike VR S fairway wood when I was hitting off hardpan, but that’s my fault, not the club’s.
The Bottom Line: All in all, I’d give the Nike VR S fairway wood a solid “B.” It’s not my favorite wood, but I’ve hit much worse. Its distance is good, its forgiveness is about average, and it has good balance and a solid feel. When it comes down to it, I guess those are the characteristics I’d want from any fairway wood in my bag.