2011 is shaping up to be an exciting year for Nike’s Iron line. Most notably, the VR Pro Combo is an exciting addition which re-invents one of the most popular Nike irons ever,
the original Pro Combo’s. This year’s VR Pro Combo irons progress from a blade in the pitching wedge to a full pocket cavity in the long irons, creating a set composition that allows more players to get the shot-shaping of a blade with the forgiveness of a cavity back all in the same set without having different club models in your bag.
First impressions are everything with an iron like this, and it doesn’t take long for anyone to see a noticeable change from almost every other iron on the market. The 2011 VR Pro Combo irons feature Nike’s new X3X High Frequency Grooves. Although these irons do conform to the USGA groove rule, Nike has added more grooves to the face. Thus, this technology gives players the ability to better control distances from shot to shot. But would having this number of grooves produce too much spin? In fact, all irons tested were in line with desired launch and spin values when applying ball speed. (See figure 1 below).
Nike has also developed Linear CG Mapping, a design principle that allows for consistent launch conditions throughout the set in order to maintain distance gaps. The only way to test their theory was to put these irons into action. The testing process consisted of 20 shots each with a Pitching Wedge, 6 iron and 4 iron. Generally I am a player who struggles with launch angle, so this type of technology really appeals to me.
|Club||Ball Speed||Launch Angle||Spin Rate||Smash Factor|
When swinging the irons for the first time, they certainly felt like a traditional forging. The 1025 carbon steel used is generally considered to be one of the softest in the industry, and that is certainly so with the VR Pro Combos. Shot shaping was as progressive as the iron set, which I think will be a good thing for most players. The pitching wedge and 6 iron were easily workable in both directions while the pocket cavity in the 4 iron seemed to prevent too much curvature left or right. The good news is most players shouldn’t find themselves needing to hook or fade 4 irons much more than 5 yards. Therefore, I believe that the forgiveness benefits of the pocket cavity far outweigh the negatives.
In looking at the data provided by my test on TrackMan, I find that my ball speed numbers are a little better than some other forgings I’ve tried in the past. The progression from blade to split cavity to pocket cavity really seem to hold up when looking at the numbers. The X3X Grooves did not cause a notable rise in spin rates compared to clubs at the same loft. For that matter, I noticed that each of the three clubs tested showed little variation when factoring in shot shape. All in all the consistency of each iron as well as the set as a whole seem to be quite promising.
When players look at iron sets such as the Nike VR Pro Combo’s, they want custom options. In recent years, Nike has expanded their custom options for both shafts and grips greatly and this year is no exception. The stock shaft is the True Temper Dynamic Gold, offered in R300, S300 and X100. Options such as Dynamic Gold SL, Dynalite SL, Dynamic Gold HL and Rifle are offered at no extra charge. To supplement this, Nike also presents many other shafts such as Project X and Nippon, as well as a nice array of graphites. All of these are offered at modest upcharges. With Miles of Golf’s interchangeable head and shaft fitting system from Nike, any player is able to test all of these shafts before making their final decision.
All in all, the 2011 Nike VR Pro Combo irons look great, feel great and, most importantly, perform well. Their classic design and progressive performance are a nice blend that should be tested by players looking for a forgiving forged iron without any length or loft gimmicks. The overall performance offers a greater number of players to benefit from the workability as well as the progressive forgiveness throughout the set. Moreover, the custom options and unique fitting tools promise that this set can fit this wide array of players.