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Review: Nike VR Tour & STR8 Tour Driver

The club we want and the club we need.
It has often been said how important it is to distinguish between wants and needs.  We do it all the time each day, almost every purchase we make we would be wise to figure out if it just something we want or something we need.  I will admit, that buying golf clubs can often be the same way.  There are times when we need a club and other times we just want something new and shiny.  To top that all off, we might buy the club we want to like, even though we need something different.  I think Nike’s VR drivers fit that description.

I’ll start with the club we all want.  The Nike VR Tour.  It is the exact same club that the pros are playing.  I talked with the designers at Nike, the guys who work at the Oven and those who work personally fit the PGA players and there is virtually no difference between the VR Tour off the shelf at any golf store and the VR Tour that the pros play.  Obviously the pros get fit and the shafts get tweaked for their exact specs, but no different head.  Nike followers have been asking for tour clubs for years.  Going back even to the Ignite line of drivers, we all knew about the tour heads, but had very little access to getting those heads.  While we finally have the tour club we’ve wanted for years.  With that said, I’m going to guess that less than 5% of the golfing population would be best served by hitting this head. (Thankfully it fit me perfectly.) 

Here is why I think many golfers aren’t going to reach their full driving potential with this club.  The very first aspect will be the open face.  Mine sat about 1* open.  This will promote a left to right ball pattern (slice) from most golfers, especially since so many struggle with an over the top move and hit banana balls already.  This will only make it worse.  The second aspect is going to be the 420cc head.  It is compact with a deep face, but not the wide face that many golfers need.  Finally the low spin head paired with the Project X low spin shaft will cause many golfers to lose distance because of the lack of spin needed to keep the ball up in the air.

But if all those aspects appeal to you, as they do me, this thing is a cannon.  It is no longer a want, but a need.  I’ll admit for the most part I’ve been driving the ball well this spring.  Long and straight has been pretty common up to this point in the season.  But since the VR Tour has been in my bag it is longer and just as straight.  I play many of my rounds with Mr. Divots.  He regularly out drives me on normal drives by about 25 yards.  He will typically push 300 while I’m more in the 275 range, only once and a great while will I stretch close to 300.  But with the VR tour in play I’ve hit 300 at least twice every round I’ve played and even hit a few past Mr. Divots on good drives by both of us.  I’m getting great carry and tons of roll.  I’ve been hitting 5 to 10 yard baby fades with confidence and consistency. 

The VR Tour also brought the sound down to more normal muted ranges.  Still a tiny tinny, but so much better than the previous Nike lines.  The PowerChannel is the big new technology in Nike’s VR line.  I have no way of testing it or feeling it, but my on course results have been outstanding. 

If my swing gets fickle and takes a break, I would have no problems dropping the VR Tour Str8 driver in my bag.  This club is going to be what most golfers need.  Immediately you can tell the difference with the less pear-like shape and more rounded 440cc head and the STR8 hosel with 32 different settings.  With so many options where does one start.  It was very easy to use the new wrench with lights up and beeps when it is tightened properly.  The adjustment card is helpful picking the exact specs you want out of the 32 options. I decided that since my miss is typically a fade, and even though I hit the VR tour with the 1* open face really well, I would set the VR Tour Str8 to 1/4* closed.   It’s not much and it looks basically square to my eye, I was ready to rock and roll.  This face is just a little wider.  This driver has a little louder sound than the VR Tour, but still better than past lines.  I started hitting this thing down the center all day long.  I was short of the VR Tour by about 20 yards on good drives, was equal to poorer drives, but almost always finding the fairway.  What I really liked about this head was the confidence it inspired.  I was able to step up to the tee and know that I had the face just a little closed; I couldn’t hit the banana ball.  The ultimate test came on the 10th of a local muni.  I was making the turn and the starter pushed me off in front of about 35 high school golfers and their coaches.  There I am all by myself, teeing off as they had to wait for me.  The course had a pond that I had to fly on the right side and some trees on the left.  I’m not sure I’ve ever hit a more intimidating tee shot.   After a smooth confident swing the ball just exploded off the face right down the middle landing about 275 and rolling to a stop at 285.  I couldn’t have asked for much better.

When it comes to spec comparisons here are the differences

VR Tour Str8                 VR Tour
440cc                           420cc
9.5*                             9.5*
D3                               D3
No alignment aid           No alignment aid
VooDoo VR6 Stiff           Project X 6.0
45.5”                            45.5”
VR Velvet Grip               Tour Cord
VR Headcover                VR Headcover

I found the Project X shaft to be really stable smooth with a high kick point.  It played with really low spin and I felt like I had great control of the club.  The Project X is definitely a spin and launch killer.  The VooDoo VR6 is a mid kick shaft that felt a little looser and clearly had more spin.  But I was impressed how straight this shaft hit the ball drive after drive.  I think golfers should stay with their normal loft in either driver.  If you are on the border go up a loft with the VR Tour, but stay the same with the VR Str8

I also liked the new headcovers a little better than past versions.  The top was easy to get on the head and instead of clipping to the shaft, the new magnetic flaps closed nicely around the  shaft protecting it from the other clubs in your bag.

If you’ve got game to play the low-spin, open face, smaller head driver, I’m not sure you’ll find a better driver on the market than the VR Tour, but if you need to adjust the face angle and could use a little more forgiveness, then you will be pleased with the VR Tour Str8.  Just because you can get a “tour” head, doesn’t mean you need one.  Be honest and get the one that fits your needs.  But if you can game the VR Tour, thank Nike for finally giving us what we wanted, and rest can get what they need in the VR Str8.

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