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ULTIMATE REVIEW! – Nike VR_S Driver

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Nike VRS Driver Review

The combination of more distance and obscene accuracy offered by the VR_S had our senior tester more excited than he’s been since Viagra hit the market.  You might not know it but this is the driver review you’ve been waiting to read all year…trust me!

Nike VR_S Driver

(Written By: @GolfSpy T) Can we talk about me for a minute? I don’t know how you answered that question, but regardless, we ARE going to talk about me for a minute. Spending a day at the annual PGA Show demo day sounds like a golfer’s dream. And I suppose in a lot of respects it is…unless you’re me. With all the picture talking and talking to people I need to do, there’s barely any time to actually hit any of the 10′s of thousands of clubs that are on hand. At the 2011 show I hit one club…that’s right, one. At this year’s show I set more time aside for fun. I hit 3. The club at the top of my list, and the one I hit first was the Nike VR_S driver…and that was before I had even heard of a Speed Trial.

So why would a Nike driver be at the top of my list? I don’t have a rational explanation (what’s rational about golf), but Nike drivers just seem to perform well for me. Really, really well. I bagged the first Victory Red STR8-Fit for nearly a season (a lifetime for me), and only put it away because I didn’t exactly love the sound/feel aspect of things. I hit last year’s VR Pro lights out, but didn’t love it (again…golf…not rational). But…I’ve had the VR Limited in the bag since last fall (and love the feel). So yeah, given my personal history with Nike drivers, I was anxious to see what the guys at the Oven had cooked up for me this time around.

So back to demo day…Despite not bothering to get lose, I piped my first swing right down the center of my target line. And then, with GolfSpy X watching, I did it again, and again, and again. Not wanting to spoil a good run, I put the VR_S back in the bag and walked away. I’d seen enough. Of course, as most of you know, what we think we see, and what the numbers say actually happened are often two completely different things. So in the interest of not getting to caught up in my own perceptions, I decided to leave the VR_S alone until our demo clubs arrived. Maybe I hit it well, but even if I did, there’s not a chance that 4 others guys would have the same experience, is there?

Hmmm…maybe there is.

The Marketing Angle

It’s said that a picture is worth a thousand words, so in the interest of saving several hundred of them, here’s the simple version of what you need to know:

Moving on…

How We Tested

The 5 golfers (Tim is still unavailable due to injury) for whom we collected detailed performance data were asked to hit a series of shots on our 3Track Equipped simulators from aboutGolf.  As usual, testing was done at Tark’s Indoor Golf, a state of the art indoor golf facility located in Saratoga Springs, NY.  Detailed data for each and every shot for which we collected data is viewable just below the performance section of this review.. This data serves as the foundation for our final performance score.  Our testers were also asked to rate the Nike VR_S Driver and provide feedback in our subjective categories (looks, sound & feel,  perceived perceived forgiveness, and LOP (likelihood of purchase)).  This information is used as the foundation for our total subjective score.  Testing was done using 8.5°, 9.5°, 10.5°, and 11.5° drivers in , A (Senior), Regular, Stiff, and X-Stiff flexes. All drivers were outfitted with the stock Fubuki K shaft (and yes…it’s most definitely the “Made For” kind).

PERFORMANCE SCORING

Like the the last several driver tests we’ve conducted, tests of the VR_S were conducted under our updated testing protocols. Full details of our testing and scoring procedures can be found here. The short version is that scores are calculated based on a point system. Points are determined per shot using a formula of distance minus accuracy. Based on previous test results, we’ve assigned each of our six testers a theoretical maximum point value. The percentage of that maximum theoretical score that is achieved by each individual tester represents the individual score for the Nike VR_S Driver. The total performance score is determined by the average score for our testers.

Distance & Launch

How we got there wasn’t necessarily pretty. We saw some lower than standard launch numbers, and couple of drives that produced more roll then we usually see, but when all the data was crunched the numbers that matter (total distance & accuracy) were stellar.

Our testers averaged 257.44 yards of total distance (244.80 carry). When we yank our soft hitting senior tester out of the equation, the overall average distance number jumps to 269.88. As I’ll explain below, these numbers are likely slightly inflated due to Tim’s absence, but even if he had participated and posted numbers in the ballpark of his averages with previous drivers, the overall results would still be excellent.

Looking specifically at launch angles we see that our testers as a group averaged 10.43 degrees, which is a bit lower than we’d like. There are some mitigating factors in play (I hit a stiffer shaft, and lower lofted head to help control spin, and Nick hit low bullets – long, but low – all day), but I wouldn’t read too much into it.

Take the lowest launching golfer out of the equation, and averages creep up to 11.26 degrees. Interestingly, other than myself, our testes used the same loft as they normally would play, and yet not a single tester managed to get above 12 degrees. It’s not a significant point, but it does suggest that if you can control your spin, you might want to look into a higher lofted VR_S  than you might otherwise play.

Accuracy & Spin

Distance is nice…and it’s certainly what sells clubs, but I can promise you that in the grand reality of golf, accuracy is infinitely more important. With that in mind, I can’t underestimate the significance of a group average of 11.84 yards offline. The guys were absolutely dialed in. Most of our testers hit at least 2 other drivers on the same day, and nearly to a man, the Nike VR_S Driver was the most accurate of the lot.

11.84 yards is well beyond impressive, but when we drop our least accurate tester, group averages improve to 10.45. Now I hate to try and explain away a great result, but just so everyone fully comprehends how we got to the lowest number we’ve seen to date (best the last driver we tested…the guys are on a roll), here’s what happened.

First, two of our testers were slightly more accurate than their historic averages. Above and beyond that, I cut my average yards offline (the best number I’ve posted since the first VR STR8-Fit, I believe) basically in half. Most significantly, our senior tester posted a ridiculous number. Because he’s the shortest hitter in the group, his drives tend not to stray quite as far off the center line anyway (which is why these old bastards always take my money – turns out short in the fairway is better than long into the tree line), but his 6.7 yards offline average would be solid with an 8-iron. With a driver it’s other-worldly. Needless to say, the combination of more distance and obscene accuracy offered by the Nike VR_S Driver had our senior tester more excited than he’s been since Viagra hit the market. I feel a little uncomfortable.

With regard to spin, our testers averaged 3029.66 RPM of backspin. Our senior tester led the way (which is what we want), while our highest handicap tester actually produced less than ideal spin (1992.20 RPM). For my part, I kept my numbers in check for a change (2666.60) which suggests that the swing changes I’m working on, coupled with a stiffer shaft (and likely the lower lofted club as well), are starting to pan out.

Side spin numbers were exceptional almost across the board. The group averaged 463.26 RPM, but that includes our senior tester who consistently played the fade he’s known for. Drop him out of the equation and the group improves to a staggering 286.73 RPM. Yeah…the Nike VR_S Driver is a spin killer that flies almost dead straight, which certainly explains why our testers blanked the middle of the fairway with their test shots.

Overall Performance

All cards on the table, yeah, it’s reasonable to assume that like some of the other clubs we’ve tested recently, Tim’s injury and consequential absence from our last few tests has probably bumped scores up slightly. That said, it would be foolish to look past some of the best distance scores, and THE best accuracy scores we’ve ever seen just because one guy had a sore elbow. We’ve had an absolute banner crop of drivers in so far in 2012, and there’s a case to be made that the Nike VR_S Driver might just be the absolute best of the bunch. It certainly should be on your must-try list.

MGS OVERALL PERFORMANCE SCORE: 93.06

The Interactive Data

The charts below show the individual and group averages (black dotted line) for each shot our golfers took during our test of the the Nike VR_S Driver. If you click on the “VR_S – Test Range tab, you can see where each shot came to rest on our virtual driving range. Hovering over any point will give you all the details of that particular shot. You can use the filters on the right-hand side to show and hide individual golfer based on handicap and clubhead speed. Clicking on the ” VR_S – Raw Data” tab will show you the individual numbers and group averages for our testers.

SUBJECTIVE SCORING

We’ve got a bit of a history here with Nike clubs, and more specifically Nike drivers. With the exception of last fall’s VR Limited Driver (my gamer as of this writing), Nike drivers, despite consistently excellent performance numbers, have been absolutely brutalized by our testers on our subjective rating scale. Interestingly, while “Looks” scores have steadily increased with each release, Sound and Feel, and LOP scores have remained consistently low. Is the VR_S the first adjustable Nike driver (the VR Limited features a traditional (non-adjustable, glued) hosel), to break through our tester’s wall of hostility? Let’s find out.

Looks

It’s almost amusing how quickly golf companies have transitioned away from radical geometries, like square and triangular drivers, back to subtle variations of the tried and true, and arguably timeless pear-shaped design. While the VR_S remains slightly roundish, and perhaps slightly elongated, its more conventionally shaped than any previous STR8-Fit enabled driver. At address there’s very little not to like…at least where the shape is concerned.

If there’s one thing that consistently irks me it’s when I have to talk about ridiculous things like “Crown Graphics”. In most circumstances it’s usually in reference to an alignment aid. With the VR_S, however; Nike seems to have taken a page out of TaylorMade’s book, and has gone about the business of trying to spruce things up a bit [Shaking my head violently].

Though they are certainly muted, and only visible when light hits them a certain way, Nike decided to include some bizarre crown decoration. I’m not completely sure what they were getting at, but it has an almost tribal appearance; as if the design would feel right at home on Mike Tyson’s face [still shaking my head].

While they chose not to mark the crown with any sort of alignment aid (+1), the did add the Nike swoosh to the rear of the crown.

Finally, as with previous incarnations of Nike woods, rather than use a traditional black paint (either flat, or glossy), Nike once again went with what I’ve taken to calling charcoal glitter. It doesn’t bother me, though some have told me the don’t care for it at all.

As with the VR Limited, the face features what I call Nike’s infinity graphic, which has replaced the gear graphic found in previous generations. Overall the face is very similar to the Limited across the board. Score lines are more pronounced, and “NexCOR” is printed high on the toe (or as I like to call it, my sweet spot).

The sole graphics are much more muted than I’ve come to expect from Nike. The traditional red of the VR Series has been replaced by a much darker maroon, and has been reduced to an accent color. While no Nike design would be complete without the Swoosh. While the package is perhaps not as sophisticated as some of the other designs we’ve seen, by Nike graphic standards, the VR has been toned down quite a bit.

Most significant is the absence of Nike’s Compression channel. The technology has been replaced by the NexCOR face (my guess is the inclusion of both would have pushed them behind COR limits). Performance not withstanding, it feels a bit like I’ve lost an old friend.

The mostly silver and black color scheme is a near perfect match for Nike’s Fubuki K, which (you guessed it) is also silver and black. If nothing else, Nike has created a near perfect driver for Oakland Raider fans.

While I did have a single tester tell me he absolutely loved it, he’s admittedly the guy who loves nearly everything else. Most everyone else, really, really likes the looks, which was more than enough to keep the score at an A-level.

MGS Looks Score: 92.45

Sound & Feel

This is normally the part of the driver review where I tell you that it’s really a shame that the Nike driver is too loud, and too aluminum batty (yes, that’s a real adjective) for our testers tastes. Oddly enough, it didn’t happen this time. Surprisingly (not because I don’t agree, but because well…our guys never like the sound and feel of Nike drivers) there weren’t any complaints. If anything, we actually heard what could be described as accolades.

“I was surprised by the feel of this club. I enjoyed swinging it” – Lou Y.

“Nice, sweet sound”Mark C.

“Good feel, but the shaft seemed slightly light”Nick B. (there’s one in every crowd)

Nick’s point about the shaft is worth discussing. Like so many others, Nike has moved to a light (not quite ultra-light) shaft as the stock offering on the VR_S. For some it will actually produces increased distance. For others lighter can mean harder to control (particularly if you have a faster tempo and a quick transition).

I’m generally one of those lighter is bad guys. Me and lighter go together like hot cocoa and sugar peas, but I must say that Nike’s Fubuki K is more controllable than most. I say that with the admission that  to help offset the impact of the lighter shaft, I tested with a lower lofted head (8.5°) and stiffer shaft (X-flex) than I might otherwise use (although I am coming around to thinking that an X-Flex is probably going to be a better fit in general for me anyway).

MGS Sound & Feel Score: 93.53

Perceived Forgiveness

Let me preface this by saying I truly appreciate the guys who come out and test for us. We pay them nothing and still have the audacity to ask them to take time out of their lives to hit golf balls for us. We couldn’t do this without them, but…

What a bunch of oblivious, possibly mentally challenged, [f-bombing] numb-nuts these clowns are. Seriously. We’re talking about a group of guys who put on up distances numbers as good as nearly anything else, and who has a group missed the target line by an average of  11.84 yards (and that includes our least accurate tester). Everybody was less than 18 yards offline. Basically these numbers are unheard of, and yet a couple of these guys (who shall remain nameless) actually had the audacity to circle a 7 on their sheets.

Long and straight always = 7? This is what happens when you serve beer at your testing facility. I’m cutting these jackasses off.

Tester Perceived Forgiveness Score: 83.85

Likelihood of Purchase

Don’t let the forgiveness scores fool you. While our testers are clearly are incapable of recognizing forgiveness in a driver, the apparently know a good one when they’re swinging it. When I see that the lowest LOP score is an 8, it’s clear to me the manufacturer (Nike, in case you’re just waking up) has pretty much nailed it. The more people they can get to try this club, the more golfers are going to walk away pleasantly surprised (and often with a VR_S in the bag).

Tester Likelihood of Purchase: 95.68

Adjustability (Not Scored)

While it might be unkind, it’s certainly fair to say that pound for pound, Nike’s previous implementation of STR8-Fit technology was probably the most unwieldy on the market. No doubt 32 different positions sounds like a hell of an idea, but in practice dialing in a precise alignment required making minute adjustment to find a shaft alignment position that was next to impossible to isolate.

Sure, I love that the old wrench beeped when everything was as tight as it should be (lot’s of fun on the teebox), but a slip of the hand, and it wasn’t just easy to damage the ferrule, it was a relatively common occurrence. And all of that is before we start talking about the extra bulk that came with the hosel design.

While the individual adjustment details aren’t quite as easy to comprehend as some of the other systems out there, use of L and R rather than a degree designation does make it relatively simple to grok on a higher level. Need the ball to go right, set it somewhere on the R side. For Left…well you get it.

Unlike a couple of the other adjustable systems, the VR_S doesn’t have any movable/adjustable weights. Like every other system out there now, adjustments are managed through a screw on the sole of the driver.

Perhaps the biggest improvement is the scaling down of the hosel area. As I said, previous STR8-Fit designs were bulky. The latest incarnation isn’t significantly larger than a traditional, glued hosel.

Overall, the system isn’t perfect (it’s arguably still the most complex on the market), but it’s a huge improvement over the previous system

TOTAL SUBJECTIVE SCORE: 92.29


CONCLUSION

We are on an absolutely astounding run of fantastic drivers. Well, two in a row anyway, and we’ve got a 3rd in the pipeline that looks like it’s probably going to join the top handful of drivers we’ve ever reviewed, but you can make an argument that the Nike VR_S Driver is the best of the bunch. I definitely have concerns about how well the light shaft would stand the test of time with my swing (though 2 for 2 in testing so far is a fairly good rate), but that only speaks to what we’ve been saying at MyGolfSpy from day 1. Go Get Fitted! Off the rack is for chumps.

Of course, off the rack performance for the Nike VR_S Driver is stellar. The numbers speak for themselves

MGS TOTAL SCORE:  93.06


 

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Review Summary

A
93.06

{ 64 comments… read them below or add one }

stevenhw8 April 12, 2012 at 7:12 am

I tried this one in 9.5* during an outdoor Trackman session I booked with a local pro.
Total distance 280 yards (Trackman confirmed) with optimal launch angle and spin numbers.
I LOVED that thing!

Tomorrow I will receive a RBZ clone with the SAGA shaft I won thanks to MGS and Harrison and will take it out for a spin on the range with Trackman again. If this one fails, I’ll install the Shotmaker in the VR S and see how it does.

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Jim Lee April 12, 2012 at 8:33 am

Yep, I’m a chump. Bought off the rack (9.5* S-flex), used it. Hate the shaft. Too light and too soft. Making the head a little heavy. The sound has improved a lot. It’s not always straight for me. Could be my swing.
Thanks for the review. Love what you have done.

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Ping45 April 12, 2012 at 8:58 am

Yea, it’s always nice to hear what the testing shows…but I’m currently out of funds to do much about it. Soooo, with that in mind, is it possible for you to recap what each of your testing of different drivers has resulted in determining? I mean, could you compile any sort of list showing each club and your general pluses and minuses for each one…. Maybe you have that and I’ve missed it, but when I’ve tried to find any info on them I seem to be all over the place… Anyway, good job as usual and keep up the good work!
Doc

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GolfSpy T April 12, 2012 at 9:02 am

Doc,

The short answer is that something is in the works. We’re thinking of a simple table/chart that shows individual category scores for all of the clubs reviewed under the newest system. We just need to figure out what data to present, how to present it, and come up with proper filtering capabilities. Hopefully we’ll have it hammered out in the next week or two.

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Phana24JG April 12, 2012 at 9:09 am

Damn, ANOTHER club I hate to hit this weekend. My previous attempts at Nike drivers were more suited to Caddyshack than Eagle Crest, but with numbers like these, it rates more than a few mintes of my time.

I STILL do not understand any concern with looks, feels, sounds, etc. I mean who gives a damn? If I can light up a launch monitor with a hickory shaft, I will bag it.

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Rob April 12, 2012 at 9:11 am

I am shocked by these results! I had my Speed Trial and loved everything about the driver except how it hit the ball. Below I’ve posted my results. The “other” in each case was:
Driver-Adams Fast12LS with X-flex 8.5 Matrix Black Tie 6M3.1
3wood- Tour Edge Exotic CB4 15* Stiff
Hybrid- Adams XTD Super 19* Stiff (These results also shocked me as I expected better.)

The corresponding Nike’s all had the same loft and flex shaft as above.

Rob S.
Thanks for participating!
Here’s a breakdown of the distance
you could gain with VR_S in your bag.
Total Yards Gained -11
Yardage Gains Breakdown by Club
Nike VR_S Driver 258 yards
Comparison Driver 273 yards
Nike VR_S Wood 243 yards
Comparison Wood 247 yards
Nike VR_S Hybrid 231 yards
Comparison Hybrid 222 yards

As you can see the Adams took the VR_S behind the wood shed. I couldn’t control a shaft with 7.0* of Torque! Everything was Fore right! The Adams was about 5 yards off line to the right and the Nike was about 30! I hope others see better results than I did! Maybe my results would have been better with a better shaft in the Nike.

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maxi April 12, 2012 at 2:47 pm

Yeah, put a low spin x-flex shaft in the Vr S and add about 30 yards!!!

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Phana24JG April 13, 2012 at 5:15 pm

Rob, what launch monitor did they use for the “Speed Trial?”

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Rob April 13, 2012 at 6:35 pm

I’m not sure what type of simulator it was. It is whatever they use at the PGA Tour Superstore (http://www2.pgatoursuperstore.com/services.aspx). They don’t name it, but you can see the setup in the link. I’ve found it to be pretty accurate to my on course experiences with distances and direction. It would be interesting if I could could hit the Nike VR_S with a similar shaft to the Adams Fast 12 LS. However, for me to put a Fubuki alpha into the VR_S gets me to $575 out the door and the Adams is $399, hence, I bagged the Adams.

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KFlare April 12, 2012 at 9:32 am

Hmmm, I don’t like you challenging my preconceived notions, MGS…

Is it just me or is the adjusable hosel less bulky than previous Nike’s? THAT would also be a nice improvement…

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mygolfspy April 12, 2012 at 9:38 am

Here is the quote from the review:

“Perhaps the biggest improvement is the scaling down of the hosel area. As I said, previous STR8-Fit designs were bulky. The latest incarnation isn’t significantly larger than a traditional, glued hosel.”

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KFlare April 12, 2012 at 9:43 am

Oops! Sorry about that. I read the other portions, I swear! I must have blacked out when I heard a Nike driver sounded decent :)

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mygolfspy April 12, 2012 at 9:52 am

Just bustin your balls KFlare…lol.

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KFlare April 12, 2012 at 9:55 am

Usually driver lie angles don’t vary with loft models. Is Nike saving money using a single casting to create all 5 loft models by adjusting the hosel and face angle during welding? If so, might that lead to increased manufacturing variation due to welds, bending, hand polishing, etc.?

Not trying to hate on Nike, because I’m excited to try this driver. However, I’m also an engineer who overthinks when I should just swing the damn club.

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blstrong (SeeRed) April 12, 2012 at 10:34 am

Hot cocoa and sugar peas? Great review and an entertaining read. Will be attending a local Speed Trial to pit the Nike against my beloved Ping i20.

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O April 12, 2012 at 11:04 am

Love the reviews but need a point of clarification – how can a shaft with 7.0 degress of Torque provide those kind off accuracy numbers? I presume that all of the Testers don’t have Els Tempo and Rythm.

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GolfSpy T April 12, 2012 at 1:14 pm

It’s hard to know what to make of the 7.0 number. Every manufacturer measures torque differently, and just like with flex there is no industry standard. Some manufacturers will even list the torque of aftermarket shafts differently from the OEM.

The stated torque is the highest I’ve ever seen, but as you can see by the numbers it didn’t cause any real problems. I think the weight is going to be the bigger issue for more golfers.

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Golfspy Matt April 12, 2012 at 1:08 pm

One more driver I need to try…

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Phana24JG April 12, 2012 at 2:02 pm

Interesting note from the interactive data. Of 30+ drives struck 250 yds or greater, not ONE shot had a smash factor of greater than 1.42, and were very consistent in the 1.38-1.41 range. That shaft must be killing the head. I would expect even by accident to have a couple of 1.45s from distances like that.

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GolfSpy T April 12, 2012 at 2:08 pm

Don’t read too much into the low SF numbers. That’s common. The aG simulators overcook swing speed numbers a bit, and this test was conducted with the older balls. Our smash factor numbers are always low, and I’m 99% certain it’s because head speed numbers get inflated by a few MPH.

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Phana24JG April 13, 2012 at 5:17 pm

Yeah, thought that might be the case, but did not want to start another launch monitor threadjack.

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Paul April 12, 2012 at 7:04 pm

No access to Nike… Great! Just another driver I’ll never get my hands on…

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TonyC April 12, 2012 at 7:28 pm

I just picked one of these up after the VRS blew away everything else in the store on the launch monitor. Glad to see it wasn’t just me. Contrary to the article, though, I went down in loft, from 10.5* to a 9.5* in the VRS, which scared me because I’m usually a fairly low-ball hitter. But my backspin numbers were so much lower/better with the 9.5*, I went for it. So far just one range session, with 18 hole rounds tomorrow and Sunday. Range session was solid – it is straight, and not issues with the loft. Couldn’t get a read on the distance due to a headwind and my crummy vision/depth perception. Can’t wait to try it tomorrow and see how it stacks up where it counts, on the course.

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rob harrand April 12, 2012 at 8:02 pm

Can someone rank this Nike, the Razr FIT and Bridgestone J40 for the super hard swinger, please. These are the all time best reviewed on here I believe.

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Phana24JG April 13, 2012 at 5:18 pm

Rob, a “super hard swinger” would be completely wasting his money buying ANY driver off the rack.

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luke murphy April 13, 2012 at 6:41 am

come on Nike, 7* of torque on an X? No doubt it is a great driver and one I want to hit again (esp if it is as straight as you are saying) but I know I could never control that shaft.

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GolfSpy T April 13, 2012 at 9:53 am

As I said, I’m not concerned about the torque since everyone in the industry measures their own unique way. Nike’s 7 could very well be somebody else’s 3.5. Regardless, it is a curiosity, so I’ve got an email in to Nike to see if we can get some some additional information on the subject.

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robmailman April 13, 2012 at 11:33 am

you will definitely need a shaft upgrade with this one, got one as soon as it came out and hated the stock variant, instead of an upgrade i just traded it in for a custom cleveland classic 270, which i destroy the ball with, back to the nike, the new str8 fit system is alot easier to figure out and more effective for all you gearheads that like these adjustable toys,now go have fun and get your ass to a club fitter !

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rev-swann April 13, 2012 at 2:52 pm

I am fortunate enouth to live in Atlana where we have the PGA Superstores (no real connection to the PGA except for the money they pay to use the name) where they stock almost every factory offered club and option. I went to an open Nike test at the Kennesaw GA Store with my Adams F12 LS to test directly. My Adams has the Matrix Black Tie S shaft in it with a 10.5 loft. The Nike was embarassingly short compared to the Adams F12 LS and I’m an old fart. I blame the Fubuki Shaft, which Adams offers as their stock shaft in the F12 LS also. It was and is too weak a shaft for good golfer, I do not have the money to try the Nike with a Matrix Shaft but I’d estimate that with a quality shaft in it the Nike would be at worst comparable to the F12 LS.

Clearly there are a lot of golfers here who know more than I do, but why do manufacturers continue to offer top quality heads with dime store shafts? The Nike Rep told me on the side that the Production Fubuki shaft works for most golfers, I tried to get him to admit it would work a lot better if they would just put a good shaft in the driver to start with. He took the Factory position that the Fubuki shaft was a “good” shaft. A couple of guy watching me try the Nike demoed the Adams F12 LS with the Fubuki shaft and hit it slightly longer. One hit my driver about 30 yards longer before they asked me not to allow other people to hit my driver.

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Chris April 13, 2012 at 3:34 pm

Nice review as usual. I was at my local Golf Galaxy this evening and they were doing the Nike Head to Head Speed Tests with this driver. Basically hitting your current driver against this new Nike Driver. My distance was about equal but a lot of others were seeing big increases in distance. I did like the club. More so than my old Ping G20. I am not currently in the market for a driver because it is going to take an amazing new driver to kick my Geek Drivers out of my bag. If anyone has a chance to sign up for the Speed Test you can possibly win a full set of these new Nikes. Besides, it is always fun to try and kill a few balls on a simulator!

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robmailman April 13, 2012 at 5:16 pm

hi everybody, i want to ask a ?, why are the stock variant shaft’s different from the factory production model’s? what’s up with that bullshit ? everyone that i have tried over the year’s is awful @ who make’s this crap ? ( and why should it be a so called upgrade to get the same shaft with the same name on it, minus the factory logo? ) that is assbackward, we need to start a complete revolt over this nonsense because your wasting your money(, to which is what they want, no doubt about it,) it’s time to get your money’s worth ,oem manufacturer’s need to be bombarded with these type of request’s to put a stop to this dumbass greedy practice once and for all . i apologize for the profanity , but i feel this issue need’s to be addressed so help me out

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Golfspy Matt April 14, 2012 at 2:33 pm

The bottom line is this: the OEMs want the buzz/hype of having hot shaft X in their driver, whether that’s a Diamana, RIP, etc. They also want a shaft that will perform for the average golfer (and something cheap). Hence, you get shaft manufacturers selling/licensing the name to OEMs or producing watered down variants for them.

The people who care enough about golf to read a site like this are NOT your “average” golfers. In general, I think that MGS readers likely are A) better players than average and B) more particular about their equipment. Most people don’t care that’s the shafts are not “real,” so OEMs can continue to get away with this.

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rev-swann April 14, 2012 at 4:32 pm

Matt, that is the real shame of TM buying Adams, they offered the real shafts, not watered down versions. Adams went the extra mile offering other premium shafts withour an upcharge. That will be the first thing Taylor Made Changes

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GolfSpy T April 15, 2012 at 7:34 am

Some of this outrage about watered-down OEM versions of shafts is ridiculous. Most of the OEMs are smart enough to realize that with limited floor space in pro shops, they need to outfit their drivers with the shaft that provides the best fit for the highest percentage of golfers. It has much less to do with cost than many believe (Adams for example pays pennies on the dollar compared to retail for their stock Fubuki shaft – which is why they can put a $300 shaft in a $300 driver). TaylorMade, Nike, whoever…could have very easily done the same, but it doesn’t make good sense from a fitting standpoint. Talamonti, XCalibur, and others produce a high quality shaft for under $100. Mitusbishi-Rayon, Oban, Matrix…if anything their costs are the same or less…they simply can charge more at retail because of the name recognition.

Adams is the company everyone likes to talk about when it comes to offering “real” shafts. And for the most part they do, but I would submit that their choice of the Fubuki A as the primary stock shaft for the Fast 12 LS, and the XTD fairways and hybrids is less than brilliant. Simply put, it’s not a shaft that’s going to fit a high percentage of golfers well (from Adams stock offerings, the Grafalloy is probably the one that should be on shelves). But many golfers have at least heard of “Fubuki” in passing (which is right in line with Matt’s point – golfers what the “IT” shaft), and many still believe there is one “BEST SHAFT” as opposed to the best shaft for each individual. Grafalloy doesn’t sound nearly as sexy as Fubuki, does it? And so everyone wants the Fubuki…even if only 15% or so are actually a good fit for it.

From what I know of Matt’s game, he and I are on the opposite ends of the fitting curve, the best shaft for me would likely be a detriment to his game. A “real” Fubuki K reads like a great fit for me…it reads like a lousy fit for Matt…the “Made for” option splits the middle, and like any bell curve, the middle is where the highest percentage lives.

In a perfect world, Off-the-Rack wouldn’t exist. Every OEM would have at least 3 “Stock” (no-upcharge) offerings, and fitting carts would be well-outfitted with a dozen or so upgrade offerings. In that same perfect world, every pro shop would have a reliable launch monitor, and wouldn’t charge an extra $100 for a decent driver fitting.

The thing is, this world isn’t perfect, and while it’s trendy to blame the OEMs for watered down shafts, and clubs that don’t fit us they way they should, the reality is it’s the consumer that has dictated the terms of the modern golf equipment world. Custom takes time, and we want our new gear immediately, which means the huge percentage of golfers will be more satisfied with being able to try a club, and take it home that same day, even if it means the “fitting” is little more than a salesman (who may or may not actually know anything about club fitting) standing behind them saying “that looks good to me”.

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Phana24JG April 15, 2012 at 9:23 am

T, I think most complaints have to do with how difficult and expensive it is for a reshaft/ upgrade, than with the original offering itself. As the “average golfer” demograpghic gradually skews older, we are slowly but surely seeing somewhat softer shafts as the stock offering with an attempt to disguise the move with a “name” shaft. However, I think you are right when you imply that far too many golfers want to visit the local shop and go home with their toy that day.

People have to find a happy medium between the impulse buy based on what made the GD Hotlist or even a vastly superior MGS review, and the outrageous and tortured algorithm that myself a few other obsessive MSGers go through to buy a club. Perhaps we could have an MGSer who is both a quasi-club ho and involved in retail (I know there is a guy like that here somewhere) start a thread on this on the forum.

Ping45 April 13, 2012 at 6:02 pm

Everyone on here sooner or later seems to implore others to “get fitted”…as if thats the final answer to all our problems…Well, maybe for some of you it is..I for one finally broke down and spent some hard earned $$$ to up-grade my new Cleveland Classic (as per the request of the “Professional fitter” at a very famous instruction location in SoCal). They tested me out and determined without any question I would gain much distance if I spent $$$ to upgrade. I so far have lost about 15 to 20 yards with the new shaft, except for a few “perfect” hits…plus much faith in my fellow-man. My only consolation at this point in time is they have advised me to work on a couple things for another couple weeks. So far, I’m back to using my old driver …suddenly it’s not too bad! Unfortunately, I’m still out several hundred $$$ and can only hope they will ulitmately find a way to help me on the “new” Blue shaft.

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Phana24JG April 14, 2012 at 7:20 am

Ping, I hear ya loud and clear. I got nailed on the “custom fitting” game several years ago. Guy was an experienced Wishon fitter, but he was using a POS Zelocity monitor indoors and GIGA. Now you might look back and see me tell Rob Harrand not buy “off-the rack” for a driver. Seems like I am playing both sides. I would NEVER, EVER spend a lot of money w/out hitting the balls OUTDOORS, so I can see the flight and observe the real distance and dispersion. If I am going to buy a driver or iron set, that means Tman or FS-2 numbers based on an outdoor fitting. Not sure how far you are from San Carlos, but check out the blog from this fitter (ignore his website in general, he never updates it) http://calgolflab.com/blog/dashboard/

I keep telling my wife I have pressing business in San Carlos, but she ain’t buying it.

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robmailman April 13, 2012 at 7:08 pm

i hate to tell you this, but my cleveland classic has the same shaft i have been playing for year’s, @ guess what ! i bomb it! maybe you should try your old shaft in that, instead of listening to those moron’s , they just want to sell you whatever they can get away with. my suggestion, an aldila dvs , your flex, try it , you might sleep more cozy at night with wonderful dream’s !

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MikeG April 13, 2012 at 8:44 pm

It’s probably just me, but because they gave Michael Vick millions AFTER prison, I will NEVER buy a nike product.

Great review as always.

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GolfSpy T April 16, 2012 at 1:45 pm

Here’s the response from Nike regarding the torque rating on the Nike Fubuki K. It comes from Gidge Moody, Product Line Manager, clubs:

“The design of the VR_S Fubuki K shaft is a “lighter weight” version Fubuki K. It is the lighter weight combined with a more active tip section that gives the shaft an incredible kick at impact. A bi-product of this design was also a slight increase in torque which we were definitely okay with since the performance and weight of the shaft met and exceeded all of our targets”.

My feeling is torque is largely an arbitrary number, and it’s the performance that actually counts.

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KFlare April 16, 2012 at 1:56 pm

Spoken like a salesman: “Don’t look at the numbers! Just come hit it!”

While there is some truth that we get too wrapped up in specs, torque is not some fuzzy concept like “Stiff” flex. It’s a physical property that has a significant effect on shaft performance and is definitely an objective measure (just subject to different companies’ test standards).

While there’s no rule for whether a torque value is good or bad, to say it’s arbitrary is stupid.

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KFlare April 16, 2012 at 1:56 pm

Thanks for passing along, T!

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GolfSpy T April 16, 2012 at 2:01 pm

I disagree. While flex itself is arbitrary, and torque, as you say, is a physical property, it’s very much like flex in that the industry as a whole has not come to any sort of agreement on how its measured. When one company’s 3.5 is the same as another’s 4, or 6, or whatever, the value itself becomes arbitrary as a result.

Torque is just another variable golfers like to use to express how mighty they are. I swing 130 MPH, carry the ball 315 (and roll it out to 350), so I’m obviously too mighty for a shaft with a 7.0 torque rating. It sounds like a really great driver, it’s just a shame Nike doesn’t offer a shaft with a torque rating closer to 1.0…or something like that.

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Phana24JG April 16, 2012 at 2:55 pm

OK, sort of like some golfers announcing OMG, a game improvement iron. EEEEEWWWWWWWW….what kind of loser do I look like???? I ONLY play blades.

Sorry I just could not resist.

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Bear June 16, 2012 at 6:08 pm

That may be true KFlare but until there is some industry standard they you can’t use the torque number to make any definitive conclusions.

If the spin, launch and shaft weight are withing the parameters, it is essentially an arbitrary value. The most arbitrary measure of all is feel.

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mikerio April 17, 2012 at 2:55 am

T I hope your taking the p#ss there is no way you hit it 350……anyway I recall once buying a club of the rack…..oohhhhh ‘why you fool’ I hear you say. I done this crazy thing….I looked down at itand liked it…..i then…..practiced at the driving range……it worked like magic…I got used to the club….no fitting charge just good ol practice….torque…my arse! Oh and still no way T hits it 350….x

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Phana24JG April 17, 2012 at 4:02 am

Mikerio, I think you missed the sarcasm in T’s post. If you check out the original interactive data, T posts all his swing speeds, ball speeds, distances, etc, and has done so ever since they began this system. I know that on other forums, especially the one sponsored by that infamous magazine, a 130 mph SS and mere 315 carry pedestrian, but around here we are usually connected to the truth.

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JHoughLaw April 20, 2012 at 4:56 am

Based on this review, I bought one on eBay for $160 with a senior shaft. I’m a senior and was hitting an R11S about 220 and hitting 8-10 fairways. I tried it yesterday and am delighted. After a few holes I got the face angle adjusted right and was hitting every fairway iabout 230-235. Awesome!

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Greg April 23, 2012 at 1:42 pm

I understand the accuracy was amazing so I assume none of your ‘shorter’ testers had any trouble with the fact that the shaft is 45.75″…but just wondering if it might be – I’m 5’6 without golf shoes. What would cutting the shaft do to the characteristics of it? Thanks.

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GolfSpy T April 23, 2012 at 1:57 pm

One of our testers is only 5’4″, and ever since we did our MyGolfSpy labs article about shaft length, he’s played his driver at 43.75″, and makes it a habit of chocking up 2″ on nearly everything we test. Generally speaking, when you cut down your shaft you’re going to drop the swing weight. As an example, that same tester cut his Cobra S3 down from 45.5″ to 43.75″. The 1.75″ change resulted in the swing weight dropping from D5 to somewhere in the ballpark of C7.

This is actually one of the reasons why I like drivers with movable/interchangeable weights. If you have a driver that allows you to add weight to the head (without resorting to lead tape, tip weights, hot melt, etc.) you can bring your driver back up to a more natural swing weight without having to mess with too much. Of course, when you add weight to the head you soften the effective flex of the shaft, so it’s all a bit of a balancing act to get things right.

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bill burke May 19, 2012 at 11:18 pm

tried it three times. bought it on the trird try. its the real deal”. distance and accuracy. and i never liked nike drivers.

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Mike Stock aka " June 10, 2012 at 8:26 pm

So I made a trip to the range today and hit a bunch of drivers outdoors where things like flex, torque, spin rate and launch angles aren’t displayed on a monitor. They’re displayed on the ball flying down range which to me is the ultimate test. I went in with the premise that I didn’t care about brand, cost or hype. I wanted to see if there was a driver out there that was a tangible upgrade from my Ping Rapture.

After a light warm up I hit what was left of a large bucket with five different drivers taking around 5 swings with each. The only commonality was that they were all a stiff flex. I tried the Ping , Razr-fit, TM R11-s, TM RBZ, Tour Exotic XCGV and Nike VR-S. Based I my experience, I’d rank them: Nike, Ping, Tour Ex, Razr and RBZ. This is based on my swing, my impact, my dispersion, my distance and my overall impression.

I don’t care wp what the torque numbers say, the Nike blew the other drivers away. I’m put th

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Mike Stock aka " June 10, 2012 at 8:29 pm

Sorry, premature posting….don’t laugh it happens! :P

Anyway, what I was finishing with is that the Nike had the best overall feel and performance of all of the drivers. The owner of the range then said some thing that blew me away, he said “take it, go trying it for a couple of rounds and let me know what you think”. I simply didn’t know what to say. So it’s in my back this week and if I hit it on the course the way I hit it on the range my playing partners are gonna lost their lunch money.

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Phana24JG June 11, 2012 at 7:29 am

Mike, I think what you are explaining is what those of us with a clue try and do with any club purchase. However, and I believe this is emphasized with a driver, given that you could theoretically hit thirty drivers, and your swing speed and quality will begin to deteriorate at some point, how do you decide what clubs to hit? That is where the review comes in.

However, let me make one important observation that you cannot see w/out a launch monitor. Can you accurately determine spin rates and angle of descent on your own? If you optimize those figures with another shaft, you can give yourself several more yards, maximize your accuracy, and get the very best bang for your buck.

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Mike Stock aka " June 11, 2012 at 8:32 am

Phana,

I think those are fair points. You’re absolutely right, the numbers don’t lie but the one thing that is a constant variable is my swing. As with most golfers, some days it’s just better than others.. We suffer from loooooooooong winters and it’s rare that I get to swing every day so even with most exhaustive shaft fitting is not going to remove that variable. I think what I was looking for was an overall satisfaction of launch, climb, carry, overall distance and dispersion. I considered all those factors and then adding the most important to me, feel. Some drivers just feel better than others. What’s really interesting is that when you’re hitting four or five different drivers on the range, you can actually see all those variables come together. For me, it’s an overall sense of satisfaction with the choice. Fortunately, I still get to go out and play a couple of rounds and really put the stick to the test!!

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Mike Stock aka " June 13, 2012 at 6:03 pm

Ok, so I went to my local Golf Galaxy today to look at the hard numbers on the Nike driver and also several others. As I said earlier, I don’t mind dropping several hundred dollars on a new driver providing that is a definitive upgrade from what I’m currently using. I hit the Nike again and compared it to the R11s, RBZ, Amp and the new Adams but I can’t remember, I think it was Fast 12.

The numbers don’t lie, my spin rates with the Nike were between 2100 and 2600. My launch angle fluctuated between 12 and 15 degrees. Best of all, my dispersion never went higher than 18 yards. Those numbers are based on around 20 drives with the Nike compared to about 10 with the other drivers.

I had a nice conversation with the clubfitter and shared with him my concern about some of the prior Nike drivers. He said he felt that the new Nike line is really a step up. We also talked a bit about the high torque numbers on the stock shaft and his comment was “do you care what a spec sheet says or what the numbers on the launch monitor say”. Hard to argue with that logic. He was telling me that guys come in all the time with a specific driver in mind that they want but very often, the leave with something completely unexpected. He said his experience has showed him that every single golfer has one or two drivers that fit them. I’m now a proud Nike VR_S owner! :)

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Cory June 13, 2012 at 9:14 pm

Just had a driver fitting and was fully expecting to walk out out with a Titleist D3, Ping I20, or TM R11. Those were the drivers on my radar, as I had just hit a bunch the week prior. The fitting specialist had me hit all of those, as well as the RBZ, the Cleveland Classic, the Cobra Encore and the Nike VRS. I hit around a dozen balls with each club, And let the computer sort it all out. To my surprise, the two clubs that stood out were the VRS and the Cobra. It wasn’t even close. I tend to hit pretty long and high, but erratic. The VRS was the straightest, and only the Cobra beat it on length (barely). I was hitting a VRS with 9.5 loft, adjusted 1 degree open, with stock Fubuki x-stiff shaft. The only change I made was to get the shaft shortened 1/2 inch (the standard length of most other stock drivers). Can’t wait till it arrives! FYI I tested at a 105 swing speed, 155 ball speed

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Frankie July 11, 2012 at 7:34 pm

I bought this driver to add some distance to my drives. It did just that but the shaft felt unpredictable to me. I decided to put a UST Axivcore tour 69 s black shaft in it and low and behold became a completely different club. I can carry it 270 when needed and run out as well. “Bomber”
Swing speed 100-105.
6 index
47 years old

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Salmon Man July 24, 2012 at 8:18 pm

Attended a Nike Demo Day in Colorado. Old Nike driver was 6 years old. Didnt want to change it because it still flew 265. Decided to check out VRS. Tried different shafts and different heads. Ended up hiting a strange combo. 11.5 degree with stiff shaft. I added about 15 yards on my drives and this club flew them straight. was amazed. I keep the head neutral after trying different degrees L & R.

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thahn101 October 5, 2012 at 12:13 pm

I bought one off ebay after reading this review. I paid $90 with S&H too good to resist! Took it out today and really liked it. I’ve read the concerns with the shaft and that worried me as well. I’m a 10 handicap and swing around 105mph. My tempo really is an issue, but I’ve been working on it. I pulled 3 drives (too quick) but other than that, I hit it really good! On good drives I hit it about 10 yards further than my old trusted cobra L4V with a aldila RIP.

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Gremlin December 8, 2012 at 3:16 am

In relation to the shaft issues for the Fubuki K in the VR-S Driver would it be best to go slightly stiffer in flex than you would normally use, rg: go from a Reg to a Stiff to get better perfomance and possibly lower the loft angle?

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David March 29, 2013 at 7:37 pm

Thank you for the reviews. I just recently picked one up at a great price. Very underrated driver. Very nice feel and long. Bad hits are not as far off. It will have to alternate time with my RF for awhile. Thanks again.

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scott May 6, 2013 at 9:48 pm

what setting should I have on my VRS driver if I have a right slice

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Owen August 6, 2013 at 12:35 pm

Just picked up this Driver without even getting a chance to hit it before buying but at $150 brand new who could resist!!!! Living in Cabo San Lucas and being a lefty leaves me with no option to test clubs so I had my wife pick it up when she was up north and bring it down with her. There is no where to buy them and I can not test any of my friends clubs (remember I shoot left). That all being said I do really like this club, even though it is right off the rack! So far my only complaint is that it is loud. Almost to a point where I want to put an earplug in my right ear when I go to the range. In the clubs defense I am coming from an old driver with a very underwhelming muffled sound. All in all, for the $150 it costs me am incredibly happy with this purchase. If you are lucky enough to get a price like I did give this club some serious consideration.

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