join

ULTIMATE REVIEW! – Nike VR Pro Tour Driver

Post image for ULTIMATE REVIEW! – Nike VR Pro Tour Driver

nike vr pro driver review

"The numbers say the Nike VR Pro driver is impressively and deceptively long. All 6 of our testers produced A-Level performance scoresI'm inclined to label Nike the most underrated and under appreciated of the "Big 5" OEM's (TaylorMade, Callaway, Titleist, Ping, and Nike).

Nike VR Pro Driver

(Written By: GolfSpy T) We've already looked at a number of drivers this season. As a golf equipment junkie it's reasonably safe to say that I enjoyed testing all of them, but as far as my own personal buzz level is concerned, there wasn't a single driver on my list that I was more anxious to test than the 2011 Nike VR Pro Driver. Considering the driver market is dominated by TaylorMade, and that Callaway and Titleist can claim the bulk of the remainder, I can understand why you might wonder why a Nike driver would be so high on my list. The thing is, I absolutely loved last year's VR STR8-Fit Tour. Well, I mostly, kinda loved it.

The whole of the truth is that I was indifferent about the looks, wasn't in love with the feel, and liked the sound even less. Of course, I also hit it a fairly long way, and found more than my fair share of fairway woods. The latter more than made up for an of the other qualms I had about it, which is why it spent the majority of last season in my bag.

I don't carry the VR STR8-Fit anymore, but there are days (even weeks) that I sometimes miss it, so for very obvious reasons I was interested to find out whether the new model could live up to last year's.

Upgrades, Changes, and the Status Quo

Apart from what's different visually (I'll cover that in the looks section), this year's VR driver features and upgrade to Nike's Compression Channel Technology. The new Variable Compression Channel reportedly increases impact speeds at more spots across the club face. Based on the diagrams, it looks like what Nike has tried to do isn't completely dissimilar to what Cobra has done with the E9 technology; essentially creating sweet spots along the diagonal (low on the heal, high on the toe) that golfers actually hit (or mis-hit).

Last season's Aldila VooDoo shaft has been replaced with a "made for" variant of Project X graphite. As with the previous model, the 2011 VR Pro driver features Nike's STR8-Fit system which allows for 32 different shaft positions. The STR8-Fit system remains unchanged, so the criticism we had for last year's model is still true. I think 32 different settings are at least 16 too many; at least where adjustments at the shaft are concerned. There's such a minute difference in shaft position from one setting to the next that it can be very difficult to truly understand exactly where you're configured. The grip still plays a role in alignment, which we don't like, and even though Nike's battery-powered adjustment wrench is probably the coolest on the market (it beeps when the shaft is secure), it's extremely easy to mar the ferrule when making adjustments. In general I've found adjustability systems that secure the shaft from the sole of the club (TaylorMade, Cobra, Titleist) are much easier to work with.

nike vr pro project x shaft

Shaft: Nike Project X Graphite
Grip: Nike VR Tour Velvet (GolfPride) STR8-FIT

How We Tested

The 6 golfers 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 now viewable in the interactive portion of this review. This data serves as the foundation for our final performance score.  As a supplement to our 6 performance testers, a subset of additional golfers were given the opportunity to test the Nike VR Pro Driver and provide feedback in our subjective categories (looks, feel, sound,  perceived distance, perceived accuracy, perceived forgiveness, and likelihood of purchase).  This information, which we also collected from our performance testers, is used as the foundation for our total subjective score.  Testing was done using a 9.5° and 10.5° drivers in both regular (5.5) and stiff (6.0) flex.

PERFORMANCE SCORING

Distance

In today's world of distance driven marketing it's almost refreshing when a company isn't bombarding you with ads proclaiming their driver is 10 yards longer than their competitors, it's somewhat surprising that a company with pockets as deep as Nike's, for the most part, has chosen to stay out of the big OEM distance wars. The lack of emphasis on distance in their marketing is even more surprising considering how long the VR Pro proved to be during our testing.

Certainly the VR Pro proved to be among the most difficult to fit. Some guys who normally play stiff shafts put up better numbers with the 5.5 (regular flex). I haven't been able to hit a 10.5° driver without ballooning in years, and yet the 10.5° degree head proved to be a better fit for me. My point is that every driver is different, and at least where the VR Pro is concerned, you'll probably need to do some experimenting to find the best fit (even if you're simply choosing from stock selections).

That said, our testers in general produced lower launch angles than most any club we've tested to date. While it can sometimes be easy to get caught up in a detail like that, what's more important is that our testers also produced some of the best distance scores we've seen this season. Aided by our big hitters (CJ and Dan), our testers combined for a raw distance average of just a hair over 254 yards. When we calculate our scores (which we normalize based on swing speed), we find that all 6 of our testers produced A-Level performance scores.  As they often do, the big hitters posted scores above 97.  Two more testers posted scores above 95, while the bottom two managed scores above 92.

Though as we'll discuss in the subjective section, our testers perhaps didn't realize (or want to realize) exactly how far the their shots were traveling, the numbers say the Nike VR Pro driver is impressively and deceptively long.

MGS Distance Score: 95.16

Accuracy

Accuracy scores will certainly never be as high as distance scores. I think most of us would agree that it's a hell of a lot easier to hit a golf ball far than it is to hit one straight. Although I'd have to go back through and look at each review (I hope to post that comparative data soon), I believe the average distance from the center line for the drivers we've tested this season is somewhere in the 18-20 yard range. Framed in that context, the accuracy results for the Nike VR Pro driver were a bit of a mixed bag.

3 of our testers missed by an average of 22 to 25 yards. 2 more missed by between 15 and 18 yards. And finally there's me. Just as I did with last year's model, I posted by far some of my best accuracy numbers. My average miss was just under 9 yards, which is significantly better than I've done with any other club this year. In fact, in the 2 seasons I've been writing reviews for MyGolfSpy, the 3 drivers that performed best for me have been the Adams 9064LS, and the two Nike Victory Red drivers (2010 and 2011 models).

When we crunch the numbers (which involves dropping the best and worst), we find that our testers missed by an average of just over 20 yards, which it turns out is, well...average.

MGS Accuracy Score: 86.57

Consistency

Just as was the case for our distance scoring, every one of our testers posted A-level consistency scores. On the low end was a just under 92, while two scores of roughly 98.5 were posted on the high end. With that in mind, it shouldn't surprise you to see (as our interactive data shows) that the Nike VR Pro driver produced some of the tightest grouping of shots (per tester) that we've seen. Yes, a tester or two did spray the ball around a bit.  That always happens, but as a whole our testers produced consistent and repeatable results (relatively speaking, of course).

MGS Consistency Score: 95.75

Overall Performance

When it comes to Nike golf clubs, and particularly their more conventionally shaped drivers, it's probably about time I (and the rest of you) stopped being surprised by excellent performance results. Last year's VR Pro driver was among the very best we tested all season (I'd rate it #2 overall), and while for reason's you'll see below Nike still has some work to do, where drivers are concerned anyway, I'm inclined to label Nike the most underrated and under appreciated of the "Big 5" OEM's (TaylorMade, Callaway, Titleist, Ping, and Nike).

MGS OVERALL PERFORMANCE SCORE: 91.35


SUBJECTIVE SCORING

My sense of things is that Nike, as a golf brand, has been somewhat polarizing. With what could be called the "Tiger Effect" many golfers flocked to the brand because they wanted to play what the best in the world played. Of course, I would suggest that golfers in equal, if not greater numbers, appeared put off by the brand as though Nike hadn't earned its spot on the pro shop wall.

A half a dozen generations of clubs later, the Tiger Effect has dissipated as quickly as the man has tumbled down the world golf rankings, and even if golfers don't speak of Nike with the same reverence as other brands, we're finding that biases on either side or dissolving, which makes asking for measured subjective feedback on a Nike driver a more reasonable proposition than it would have been 2 years ago.

Looks

A couple of things should probably be clarified out of the gate. Nobody at Nike has told me as much, the VR Pro driver, though it carries the VR name, and features a Compression Channel, doesn't really look the part of a direct replacement for last year's VR Tour STR8-FIT. In fact, in my mind, it's more an attempt to bring a 460cc footprint, and STR8-FIT technology to last year's smaller "Tour" model (which coincidentally also featured a Project X shaft).

While we described last year's model as being shaped a bit like a softball, this year's is as traditional in design as any Nike has ever made. The visible remnants of Nike's PowerBow technology that gave the rear of the crown a two-tiered look are gone; giving the VR Pro a blemish free look that is as smooth as a baby's bottom.

It's just my 2 cents here, but the sole graphics (which shouldn't matter anyway), are perhaps my favorite in the industry. I think the Compression Channel looks cool (actual technological merits aside), and the logos and paint-fill are just very well done. Those details alone were enough for me to rate the looks a 9, while another tester gave it a perfect 10.

Of course, there's no pleasing everyone. Some testers mentioned the lack of an alignment aid, while others commented on how bulky the STR8-FIT hosel looks at address. This little detail has come up just about everywhere Nike drivers have been reviewed, so hopefully at some point Nike engineers will do something about it.

Overall it was a mixed bag, with one tester absolutely less than thrilled about the looks (4). Most everyone else rated the club an 8+, which to me, sounds fair enough.

MGS Looks Score: 86.00


Feel

Nike drivers traditionally have a very solid (hard) feel to them.  While we do find an occasional tester who really loves what I'd describe as more of aluminum bat feel, the majority of testers tell us they prefer the type of feel more commonly associated with TaylorMade or Titleist drivers.

Once again I'll bring up last year's Tour Model for comparison purposes. Unlike other drivers in the Nike lineup, that model featured a traditional, non-adjustable, glued hosel. In my opinion, that was the best feeling driver Nike has ever made (somewhere between a Callaway and TaylorMade where feel is concerned), and I'm admittedly disappointed the VR Pro doesn't match it. I have absolutely no proof, but I suspect the STR8-Fit hosel has a fairly dramatic impact on feel, and if Nike ever decided to product a lower priced, glued model, the results would be better.

MGS Feel Score: 73.10

Sound

If it feels like a bat, it should come as no surprise that it sounds like a bat. Even those testers who were ok with the feel mostly rated the sound a point lower. I personally rated last year's model a 7 for sound, and while I had hoped this year's would improve dramatically on what I think is one of the few downsides to Nike's drivers, the reality is, it didn't. It's no worse, but it's no better either, and our testers almost to a man, agree.

MGS Sound Score: 68.80

Perceived Distance

In almost every review I've written this year, I try and point out the inherent flaws is our testers perceptions about distance and accuracy. Manufacturers appreciate it when testers say a driver is 10 yards longer than anything else (even if it's not), but they certainly don't appreciate it when a tester says a club is 10 yards shorter than anything else (even if it's not). So with that in mind, I want to share a quote with you from one of our testers:

"I found the distance [of the VR Pro] 5-10 yards short of others on the market" - Mark

Now normally this is the type of quote that might cause an OEM to withhold equipment from future reviews. Fortunately for us, Nike has never been one to take a heavy-handed approach to MyGolfSpy. It also absolutely has to be pointed out that Mark is 100% wrong.

Mark has tested every single club we've had in for review since I came on board at MyGolfSpy, so I've got a lot of data to look at, including every driver reviewed thus far in 2011. As it happens there are drivers with which Mark produced better distance numbers (Tiger Shark's PowerPod II chief among them), however; it's also true that he awarded a 9 and 10 for distance to two drivers he didn't hit as far as the Nike VR Pro. I'm not singling Mark out. This type of thing happens all the time. It's exactly why we believe in the importance of collecting actual data for our reviews.

Though the numbers say otherwise, for whatever reason (I believe feel has a lot to do with this), our testers simply didn't think the Nike VR Pro driver was as long as others they have tested.

Tester Perceived Distance Score: 73.10

Perceived Accuracy

My average miss with the Nike VR Pro Driver was less than 9 yards from center, so you can be assured I rated it very highly for accuracy. Though the numbers suggest it should have been otherwise, no other tester rated accuracy higher than an 8. Based on the data, for some that's probably accurate, for others, however; I'd argue the rating deserve to be higher. Once again, perceptions contrast reality.

Tester Perceived Accuracy Score:  70.95

Perceived Forgiveness

In what I'd consider a bit of an anomaly, our testers actually rated the Nike VR Pro driver higher for forgiveness than they did for either distance or accuracy. Two testers (including myself) rated it a 9, while several others rated it an 8. As always, there were some dissenters, who rated it as low as 4. Toss in some 6s and 7s, and things shake out a bit below average.

Tester Perceived Forgiveness Score: 77.40

Likelihood of Purchase

Though it carries the least weight of our subjective categories, LOP often provides a simple summary of how our testers responded to a given club. LOP scores have the lowest average of any category we track, so smaller numbers are more common here than anywhere else. On the high-end we had a couple of 8s, but we also had a single tester who went all the way down to 1. I guess he felt the club just wasn't for him. Most everyone else floated between 6 and 7, which while not outstanding, could certainly be worse.

Tester Likelihood of Purchase: 66.65

Maybe this is just one guy's opinion (although our testers appear to agree), Nike still has some work to do when it comes to fine tuning the details. Apart from the bulky STR8-FIT hosel, they've more or less figured out how to make an great looking golf club. Unfortunately, whether by design, or by accident, the sound and feel of their drivers are distinctly different from most of what's on the market today. While we sometimes praise uniqueness, most like their drivers to sound and feel a certain way that this one doesn't. Having hit last year's VR Tour, I know Nike can do better.  And I feel that if they could get that part of the equation (sound & feel) right they would have a major hit on their hands.

TOTAL SUBJECTIVE SCORE: 75.36

CONCLUSION

It would be somewhat unfair to get bogged down by the subjective stuff. My take away from this is that Nike is flying a bit under the radar (as much as a company the size of Nike can), and consistently producing what we're finding to be among the best performing drivers on the market today. Because of the sound and feel it may take some time to grow to love a Nike driver, but I think it can happen.

A few weeks ago I was playing in a tournament and noticed that one of my playing partners was bagging last year's Victory Red driver. While I won't go so far as to say I got teary-eyed, I will admit that as I looked at my own driver (which I happen to love), I did feel a bit sad that the Victory Red was long since out of my bag.

While it's far too soon to say whether or not I'll develop that sort of affection for the latest model, I've decided I'm going to spend some time on the course with it to find out.

MGS TOTAL SCORE:  89.75


If you found this review and others useful, please consider making a cash donation to help support MyGolfSpy or a contribution to our Club Recycling Program. We accept credit cards through PayPal. A PayPal account is not required in order to donate.

Choose donation amount:
Anonymous donation

Review Summary

B+
89.75

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

ninetails July 20, 2011 at 3:15 pm

I got better results from this driver than all other major OEM drivers from this year except maybe Ping during couple demo days. I agree that Nike products are underrated.

Reply

DrJ July 20, 2011 at 6:21 pm

You are it is underrated than other companies but I dont really like the look or the sound of the Nike driver…

Reply

deaks July 21, 2011 at 12:48 am

I’ve been a Nike fan for some years but have only found a couple of their drivers which meet all my expectations. Firstly the SQ Sumo 5000 with a Proforce V2 shaft, loved it, long and accurate and felt solid through impact. Secondly the VR II Pro Str8 fit Project X shaft, I like the Str8 fit and have set it up for a slight draw which has gone most of the way to eliminating an annoying fade and when I’m on song I am able to draw the ball for maximum distance. The feel is still quite solid but I think the compression channel takes the harshness out of the impact. I find centre hits are easier to achieve and the resulting ball speed much more apparent. My last driver (Sumo 5000) I sold to a mate and had regrets when he started out driving me but since getting my hands on the VR II Pro I’m back on top and no amount of money will pry this baby out of my bag.
As for Nike’s commitment to their golf brand you only have to see what they are doing at the “Oven” to be convinced they are serious contenders in the OEM market. Their dominence on tour (even without Tiger) is also evidence of their commitment. If they would step up their marketing they could be real contenders for top spot.

Reply

The youth low handicapper July 21, 2011 at 11:46 am

i am only 13 and hit my drives 170. the first time i hit this club at the range they were consistently going at least 220. i love the project x shaft

Reply

Andy Greenwald July 21, 2011 at 3:57 pm

Shhsh….I bought the VR Pro a few months back and I wanted to keep this club under the radar. It is flat out awesome. I found the distance the same as the Callaway Diablo Octane (both have the Project X shaft that I really like), but the adjustability put this one ahead. I can now hit a draw with the VR pro. Excellent review. I really believe in your site’s reviews over every other. This review really proves that out.

By the way, I am (or was) a closet Nike hater (for no real good reason – maybe TW related), but this club, the wedges, and even their latest putters have changed my mind.

I am surprised most of the Nike Pro’s are hitting other Nike drivers, but I believe they do not need the adjustability. It just surprises me.

Reply

Nick m July 21, 2011 at 6:24 pm

I’ve been waiting for this review. It’s to bad they decided to go with a made for shaft. I love the look of head top and bottom it is prob my favorite on the market. Just wish they put more emphasis on sound and feel.
I can’t wait for them to take that ugly as hell gear on the face. It’s ugly and serves no purpose at all and looks really bad.

I wish Nike went with a hosel like the titleist. Not as noticeable and easy settings.
That being said I keep hearing that this is one of the longest drivers out there and I am happy to hear that it is fairly forgiving.

I would like to see a slight comparison in forgiveness to other drivers in every review.

Reply

P-Gunna July 22, 2011 at 12:06 pm

I give Nike credit for soldiering on in the battle to be seen as a major OEM. I always turned my nose up at their products, but since “The Oven” started it has been nice to see a company showing its commitment to engineering excellence and innovation. They are always trying new and different things (20XI ball, Method Polymetal putters, etc.) and I definitely respect that.

Reply

The youth low handicapper July 26, 2011 at 12:10 pm

that is the main reason i tried too. i thought they were just a company to just get their licks in on golf but they are acutually a true company

Reply

kafka01 July 25, 2011 at 5:48 am

I tested the driver and FW with 6.0 shafts, which performed very nice. By accident i bought the club with 5.5, and i couldnt deal with it – it balloned on every single shot, which drove me nuts.

Thats where the problem starts – replacing the shaft or buying a new one, is really really expensive – selling the club you´ll probably have to deal with a markdown of over 50% – just because nobody plays Nike (compared to lets say Titleist which achieve much better resale values – on the current models that is).

The last thing that really annoyed me with this club – the grip. I play Tour Velvet myself, and i never had any problems with slippy grips. But the grips Nike put on these clubs are terrible – you hit a couple of shots and it feels like club slips out of your hands (every one of my friends immediately commented about the shitty grips when they tried it) – i dont understand how you can sell your top-end product with such a crappy grip….

Reply

GolfSpy T July 25, 2011 at 5:55 am

Kafka01 – My recommendation would be to get in touch with Nike. If you explain your situation, they may be able to provide some alternatives for you.

Regarding the grip… we did have a few comments about it. Most of the guys liked it well enough (they like the squishy), but I think you’re absolutely correct. With just a little moisture (sweat, water, etc.) between you and the grip and it becomes very slick. Normally grips aren’t a bit deal (easily replaced), but since STR8-FIT system, in part, relies on the grip to help orient the shaft, replacing it isn’t the best option. Of course, our research shows that once somebody finds the shaft orientation that works for them, they almost never mess with it again, so once you’re locked in where you want to be, you can replace the grip, with the caveat, that it will only line up properly in your preferred position.

Reply

Timothy D Watson September 13, 2011 at 10:07 pm

I liked the idea of the smaller 380cc Victory Red Tour driver (the one without the adjustable hosel). I am all for adjustability, but the size of modern drivers is unwieldy to me. Even 380cc is huge to me. I like using drivers of the past that were 300cc or less.

Reply

Robert July 2, 2012 at 12:17 pm

I have owned this driver for about 6 months now and have spent 4 of them with Nike trying to keep it fixed. I First snapped the Project X 6.5 shaft on my 3rd round playing with the club. Snapped right at the hosel. A month later and 4 rounds later I found a crack along the compression channel. Two months later, I set here with no driver after snapping the second shaft in the exact same spot under the furrel at the hosel. Went back to my old club and have two pieces sitting at home, waiting on a Nike’s response. What a headache!

Reply

Greg July 19, 2012 at 1:30 pm

My driver has done me good, love how nike actually uses the real shaft and not a softened one :)

Reply

josh April 24, 2013 at 2:42 pm

I owned this driver and it had been solid for me. About 10-15 yards longer than my previous diablo octane tour driver. The only thing is that it broke while i was hitting on the range. The shaft had snapped near the STRAIGHT-FIT system. Hopefully NIKE can replace it for me.

Reply

Leave a Comment