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Long and STR8 - Victory parade for Nike's new drivers
January, 2010

Paul Casey let the cat out of the bag as regards Nike’s new drivers by raving about them on his blog following a visit to the Fort Worth HQ a few weeks before Munich. Nevertheless, the two versions of Victory Red drivers and the Machspeed model were among the stars of Golf Europe.

Nike VR STR8-FIT Tour Nike VR STR8-FIT Tour
The new Nike VR STR8-FIT Tour model

First impressions of the new Victory Red are that the cosmetics have been considerably toned down, with the bright yellow of the SQ Dymo era now making way for something far more clean and traditional – a real player’s club.

The Compression Channel of the Nike VR STR8-FIT

The technology remains suitably space-age with the head defined by an intriguing deep groove that runs across the base of the sole. “This Compression Channel takes the rigidity out of the sole and provides more flex in the heel,” explains Tom Stites, Nike’s chief club guru. “It makes the drivers more forgiving for the better players when they miss it in the lower zone of the heel.”

The same feature is also designed to provide uniform ball speeds across the entire face – with some at Munich speculating on how it might create a distance-generating ‘spring’ effect – but now inside the main body of the club rather than in the R&A-regulated face itself. We certainly look forward to testing this one in practice, while awaiting news of Tiger Woods’ possible switch from the SQ Dymo.

The VR STR8-FIT Tour offers 32 face angles with its adjustable hosel

Of the two versions, the VR STR8-FIT Tour is the most elaborate, reprising Nike’s adjustable technology but now with a hosel offering 32 face angle positions for exceptional workability and ‘personalisation’ at address. More conventionally, the custom-only Victory Red model has a smaller, pear-shaped head and a traditional glued hosel with no adjustability. Both versions will be available from February, priced at £360.

Meanwhile, for the higher handicapper, the geometrically startling Nike Machspeed emphasises exotic aerodynamics in the quest for greater distance.

While the club retains the square-ish shape of recent Nike models for a high MOI, the distinctive tapering of the heel relative to the toe, as well as deep slots around the perimeter, are important new developments.

Nike Machspeed driver Nike Machspeed driver Nike Machspeed driver

“The number one thing that makes the ball go farther is faster ball speed. We’ve accomplished that through looking at the orientation of aerodynamics throughout the total golf swing, not just a portion of the swing,” said Tom Stites, referring to these strange perimeter ‘slots’ refined in the Fort Worth wind tunnel. “Keeping the airflow smooth and close to the club surface reduces drag and encourages a faster acceleration of both clubhead and shaft.”

The Machpseed comes with a simpler version of the STR8-FIT technology offering eight face angle options (from two degrees open to two degrees closed); and will be available in five lofts from March, priced at £240.

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