Review: 2011 Nike Machspeed Black Driver

Long Distance Spy Driver
The SR-71 Blackbird is the military’s long-range spy plane.  It has these incredible sweeping lines, it is all black and is said to be one of the faster planes in the military.  Now whether the bottom cut-out/speed channels of the MachSpeed driver are designed to look like that on purpose or if they have some other symbol or really were meant to be no symbol at all, to me they looked like a the SR71 Blackbird.  And in many ways, this driver has some very similar qualities.  It is fast, long down-range, nice sweeping lines and has great all black looks.
The Machspeed Driver is not a new concept.  The lighter, more aerodynamic drivers have been around now for a couple of years, but the Nike MachSpeed Black is the best version at this point in time.  It simply out performs the other brands of drivers that I have tried up to this point.  Now that is not saying I picked up some crazy distance like 20 yards or something like that.  I have very good fitting drivers in my bag already, but I seemed to gain about 3-5 yards on average, and found a couple more fairways a round. 

So I’ll start from the bottom and work my way up.  I’ve already mentioned the sole of this driver.  It has these interesting grooves/channels on the bottom that everyone seems to see something different in the shapes.  While it is busy, being all black, it really doesn’t look bad at all.

The face on this drive is also black and has 2 vertical scoring lines that work absolutely perfect for alignment.  They are painted white and frame the ball nicely.  The face is on the taller side, although not as tall as the VR Tour or some of the other drivers on the market.  It is rather wide, which offers great side to side forgiveness, which by the way is one of the great features of this driver.  It is very forgiving.  My fall swing has been great and awful at the same time.  With less play, colder temps and sometimes many layers of clothing, it seems my swing was a little inconsistent for a round or two.  But even on those days, this driver performed better than expected.  I still kept the ball in play and even found the fairway often. 

The availability of the round Black MachSpeed made me really excited to try this driver.  The previous version of the MachSpeed was only available in the square version in the US.  I happened to see the Round MachSpeed that was available in Asia, but it never made it stateside which was extremely disappointing.  While I understand the MOI of the square heads, there is still something to be said about a little more traditional looks.  I am pleased that Nike offers both this time in the US.   Another nice feature about the crown is the lack of alignment mark.  It just clutters the look if you ask me and with the scoring lines on the face, it would be unnecessary. 

In a head to head driver distance comparison, this on average was my longest driver.  When the stars align, the VR Tour is longer, but on average, the Machspeed beat the VR by about 5 yards(along with more fairways.)  In comparison to the TM SuperFast the performance is almost exactly the same, with just a tiny edge (2 or 3 yards tops) to the Nike Black Machspeed.  But the looks department is the reason that this driver is kicking out the SuperFast TP driver, the Nike Round Black Machspeed blows it away.

The one feature that has kept many from gaming a Nike Driver in the past is the sound.  Thank you Nike for muting this driver and creating a pleasant sounding driver.  While it is still Nike, it is more like the VR line, but just a little different tone than that too.  So now you can have a great performing driver and not be embarrassed by the sound.  As we all know the feel is closely connected to the sound and thus the feel is better too.  It really has a great pop at impact.

But maybe the surprise for me with this driver was the all black Fubuki.  I’ve struggled hitting the aftermarket Fubuki shaft in all its various weights.  It just didn’t do it for me.  So when I saw that the Black Machspeed has a “made for Nike” 50 gram Fubuki I was skeptical.  But this shaft for me was actually better than the original. It has MDT so it is not really watered down. The lightweight shaft was surprisingly stable.  I never felt like it was whippy or loose.  I think the tip section must have been beefed up just a little bit.  The balance on the shaft felt great too and the performance was all Fubuki.  I hit mid-high drives over and over that carried and then rolled out nicely. 

While it does play 45.75” inches at D2 and topped with a Nike Tour Velvet grip, I had no problems controlling it.  It was consistant and forgiving.  Also having the black STR8 Fit hosel made adjustments for my swing a piece of cake.  Upon arrival I just went out and hit it, but I had many drives low toe side.  After playing with Mr. Divots he mentioned how upright the driver looked as I was swinging.  Sure enough, I had it in the upright neutral.  I got the wrench out (not until 18 holes later) adjusted the head waiting for the light and sound to inform me everything was tight in the neutral flat position.  Just like that, I hit the center of the face more often.  There are a total of 8 positions from flat to upright and left to right.

But lest I give the impression that this driver is perfect, there are two tiny little issues I have with it.  The first is the headcover.  It looks great, matches the club design, protects the head and shaft, it is just too hard to put on.  The elastic opening to slide the head into the top, is just too small.  It really was more difficult than necessary for a driver headcover.  Most often I use a leather cover anyways that matches my bag, but the stock headcover could be revamped/replaced with something easier to put on.  The other is the fact that the STR8 Fit adapters are not available to the public or even clubfitters.  Sure the Fubuki worked very well for me, but I’ve got a whole bunch of other shafts in my shop that I would love to try in this driver, just to see the results.  Dear Nike, please start selling STR8 fit adapters, WE WILL BUY THEM.

So if you have to stand in line this black Friday in order to save some money on Christmas presents for the kids, treat yourself with the saving on your other purchases to a Nike Black MachSpeed driver.  This SR-71 Blackbird Driver is long, fast, forgiving and looks great in all black.

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by: Ryan Heiman
Independent Golf Reviews