VIDEO – Nike Golf’s Tom Stites On Covert Technology

Post image for VIDEO – Nike Golf’s Tom Stites On Covert Technology

The Most Anticipated Driver of 2013

It's fair to say that no driver on the market this season generated the same volume of early buzz as Nike's VR_S Covert. Featuring bi-axis hosel adjustability, a cavity-back design, glossy red paint, and Nike's swoosh semi-prominently displayed on the crown; good or bad, golfers had plenty to talk about.

If there's a marketing issue for Nike it's that their early November announcement made it difficult to sustain their momentum until the drivers reached retail. As you might expect, as new drivers from Callaway, TaylorMade, and others were announced, the early excitement for the Covert was perhaps tempered a bit by the competition. Nike lost a little bit of their mojo.

Nevertheless, the VR_S Covert still owns the title of the most unique, and if Nike is to be believed, the most revolutionary driver of 2013. Nike Golf's President, Cindy Davis, told me that the VR_S Covert is "the most exciting club product we've ever launched".

Regardless of your level of confidence in the technology, the significance of the Covert for Nike Golf is surely not up for debate.

Calling BS on Nike

As anyone who has every tried to launch anything in the golf industry will tell you; with new technologies...with new anything really...comes intense scrutiny, disbelief, and a long line of detractors (some informed, so much) impatiently waiting their turn to tell how completely full of shit you are.

Such is the reality for Nike Golf. We've heard it all...the swoosh is distracting, the cavity does nothing, and most significantly, it's absolutely impossible to decouple loft and face angle.

On all accounts Nike says otherwise.

To the list of things I'm not, you can add physicist, mathematician, and engineer, which is why at this year's PGA Show we cornered Nike Golf's Director of Product Creation, Tom Stites, and demanded he explain how the Covert's cavity actually increases performance, and how exactly he and Nike were able to do the impossible; decouple loft and face angle.

*technically speaking, we didn't demand answers so much as we scheduled an interview. Also, we didn't so much corner him as we chose a suitable area in the Nike both to conduct said interview, but really...doesn't it sound more intense when I paint a picture of confrontation that could have easily began with, "I'm Chris Hansen"?


Watch as Tom and I discuss the Covert's cavity, how the aligning of sine waves allows for the decoupling of loft and face angle, and what the future holds for Nike driver technology.

The Tom Stites Interview

About Tony Covey

Tony is the editor of mygolfspy. His coverage of golf equipment extends far beyond the facts as dictated by the companies that created them.

He believes in performance over hype. #PowerToThePlayer

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Joe Golfer March 24, 2013 at 11:44 pm

I enjoyed this interview. Many of those interviews simply gave the interviewee the chance to market their club, but no tough questions were asked. Although there really weren’t tough questions asked here, other than the one about loft and face angle adjusted separately, it was still a good interview.
I liked Tom Stites statement that one needs a new material in order to see a leap in technology in the next few years.
One recommendation I would make for future interviews: It looks like the Golf Spy interviewer is chewing gum in this interview, as the jaw keeps moving even when not speaking. If that is indeed the case, I’d recommend spitting out the gum prior to the interview, as it would make it look more professional.


cragboy March 21, 2013 at 4:32 pm

I just bought the nike covert driver a week ago. I took it out and play 2 rounds with it. This is the easyiest driver I have ever hit. Miss hits Stayed pretty straight and didn’t lose much distance. I gained 20 to 30 yards over my old driver.
I could not find any bad to say about it.


Paul Murcko March 21, 2013 at 1:48 pm

I received my Nike Covert Performance on February 8th and took it to Georgia with my golf buddies two weeks later. I absolutely hit it twenty five yards longer and MUCH more consistently straight than any driver I have ever owned. I moved it to 11.5 Neutral compared to my Ping Rapture V2 which is set at 10.5 neutral. All of the other 7 guys commented on the difference it made in my game and a few came home and ordered a new Covert. I absolutely was not bothered by the Nike Swish or the red paint job. This driver works for me! I can not wait for the weather here in Ohio to warm up so I can get back on the course.


Ross Bailey March 21, 2013 at 7:52 am

Nike has good leadership and innovative leadership right now with Cindy Davis and NA President Elliott Hill. They think outside the box and allow their designers like Tom to get creative.

I expect we will continue to see good things from this company. Ross


bill henwood March 21, 2013 at 7:39 am

Very good interview with a great guy and good friend, but this just proves there is really nothing new in the industry – just improved (maybe). Tom and I worked on the very first heel and toe, verticle wall driver in 1990, The Toney Penna Innovator. It was not only the first of such it was played by Jack Nicklaus at the 1992 AT&T National Pro-Am. He liked it so much he decided to buy my patent and we formed the Nicklaus Golf Company soon after. We didn’t have beta Ti back then so used another specialized material, Cobalt. It was stronger than SS so walls could be thinner allow us to create a whopping 206 c.c. head. I’m sure with today’s materials and manufacturing processes that Tom has done a great job of improving a breakthrough from the early 90’s. Tom, if you’re listening I’m still waiting for my demo!


Biggi March 20, 2013 at 7:23 pm

Marketing at it’s best…
They’ve increased the MOI.. yet they had max MOI 5900 many years back? And for most high MOI(5k+) drivers it won’t matter to increase it more. MOI is not a linear measurement. The change from 5k to 6k would be pretty much unnoticable.

Having CG futher back does not increase spin. It increases the lengh of the leverage arm, making spin LESS if impact is above the the force angle of the CG and MORE if hit below it. Since total vertical gear effect is about +-700, then moving the CG a tiny amount to create a “low spin head” is marketing talk. “Spin” is a cool word to sell at the moment.

I call BS on the independent loft/face angle, but what a great move to explain that it has plenty of money and some PHD’s behind it.

I´d be minorly impressed if they were able to make that marketing designed cavity design sound good though.

If that’s a “good ineterview”, I´d hate to see a bad one.


Dave S March 20, 2013 at 10:42 am

So I heard Tom say a number of times that the Covert cavity allows for high MOI and less spin for better player… something that apparently wasn’t possible (so he would tell us) before this design.

My question is if someone (me) would not consider myself within the “better players” category… would this not be the driver to get? Would I want one with still a high MOI, but more spin (see Ping G25)? Will I lose distance swinging this?

Also, I know he spoke to MOI, which essentially speaks to accuracy/forgiveness… but have there been any tests done to say whether this driver is more or less accurate than the other new clubs out there? I know Ping’s drivers have always had a rep for being one of, if not the most forgiving driver out there… and honestly id rather hit a few more fairways than blast it 300 yds into the adjacent fairway bunker.

As always, great interview and great insight… keep it up!


AJ March 20, 2013 at 4:12 am

Great interview T
I have the covert in the bag now and after dialling it in for my swing it is an awesome club. Have not had to say sorry yet but it will happen.



frank March 20, 2013 at 3:52 am

Great Job! again changing the face of the product reviews and the website adding another level. each year you guy sgo to the next level.

Which leads me to my final question….WHERE DO WE SEE MGS IN FIVE YEARS? sorry coudln’t resist.


wdgolf March 19, 2013 at 3:52 pm

Great interview Tony, very refreshing to see an interview that doesn’t just ask them to spew the regular marketing gibberish.

I enjoy the nerd gibberish a lot more. Would love to see the papers Tom Stites referred to.


Damon March 19, 2013 at 1:37 pm

Not sure I understand all of it, but definitely interesting hearing how these things come together. I did hit the Covert (regular version) with the Tour stock stiff shaft, and really liked it. I felt the adjustments did make a big difference in ball flight. Really though, it is hard to find a bad driver these days, isn’t it???


Super Tuna March 19, 2013 at 11:42 am

Aside from the neat interview with Stites, something in there really twigged a thought. Is Cindy Davis a giant mastermind or what?

A: She pushes the Nike golf team to get the Covert Tech and the Flexloft tech done immediately and lets them pull resources to do it.
B: She also makes a pitch to Nike HQ that now is when they should go all in via this tech, Rory, etc.

It’s really nice to see someone in Nike Golf management with a clear view they want the division to go and idea’s about how to get there. Very cool.


GolfSpy T March 19, 2013 at 4:33 pm

I’m glad you mentioned Cindy Davis. We shot what I think is the best interview we did at the show with Cindy during demo day. Unfortunately the mic jack misbehaved and the audio isn’t great (understatement). We got it to the point where it’s audible, but it’s nothing we’re comfortable putting on the site (which kills me, because again, it was a great interview).

We might make available for those who ask for it. I’ve considering transposing it, but so much of Cindy’s personality (genuine with a great sense of humor) comes across in the video, and that would certainly get lost in flat text.

To your point, I think Ms. Davis definitely has a vision for Nike Golf, and while it’s very much in line with Nike as a whole (be #1 and the best at everything), she’s clearly not afraid to take risks, and that includes turning a mad scientist like Tom Stites lose every now and again.

I’ve been a fan of Nike equipment for a while, and when you consider the quality of people they have in their golf division, personally, I’d really like to see them do something special in the industry.


dl33tter March 19, 2013 at 11:26 pm

Just post it with subtitles.


TwoSolitudes March 19, 2013 at 9:37 am

Good interview.


Marty March 19, 2013 at 7:56 am

Tom Stites has beautiful eyelashes.


FHymee March 19, 2013 at 7:24 am

the COVERT is the real deal.


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