Archive for the ‘Golf’ Category

The second I heard that Nike Golf was releasing another combo iron set I was instantly intrigued and when the brand new Nike Pro VR (Victory Red) Combo irons hit the market I was going to test them out.  Well that test turned into a purchase and that will turn into another review of a great iron set as I received a lot of great feedback about my review on the Taylor Made Burner 2.0 irons.

Why did I make the switch?  I loved the Burner 2.0s and still recommend them to anyone looking for added distance, forgiveness and overall technology built into a top iron but in the end they weren’t for my bag and I wanted more of a players iron going forward.  The offset in the Burner 2.0s was nothing I couldn’t get used to or play on a regular basis but I guess I just didn’t want or need that much extra “bulk” on my irons for forgiveness.

The Nike Pro VR Combo set comes in 3-iron to pitching wedge so I will have to put my gap wedge back in the bag but it’s a Cleveland CG14 and it is still in pretty good shape.  The irons are broken up smartly with the harder to hit 3 and 4-irons a full cavity with some added help for some launch and forgiveness, which is a good idea for these types of irons that you need it for.

There is not much offset in either the 3 or 4-iron (less offset than Titleist AP2s) but you can slightly see the cavity when you address the ball, again, it is only slight but that could turn some golfers off.  To me, I know it is there to help so I accept it and move on.  These clubs require a fairly skilful player regardless of a cavity however and the 3-iron as always takes a solid swing each time, though a lot of players will simply replace it with a hybrid of choice.

There is a split-cavity on irons 5 through 7 and these look stunning in the bag and at address, very reminiscent of the Titleist CBs in my opinion and you will end up loving hitting these clubs in particular.  A lot has been written about people wishing that Nike would potentially offer an entire split-cavity set and I can definitely see that set being a success.  A lot of talk on Twitter about this as well, follow me on twitter  (@tdotsports1) if you have any questions or want to discuss further!

Now for the great part a full muscle-back blade for the 8, 9 and pitching wedge irons.  No fooling around, not much technology just a true beautiful blade, and boy are they beautiful.  Bring your A-game as always when striking a blade as they offer little in the way of help or forgiveness.  I must say I shanked my first 8-iron when I went to Nike demo day in my area (in front of an attractive female rep too – doh!).

Once I grooved my swing and bore down I got the hang of it but it had been a while since I played a true blade, short iron or not it took some adjustment.  These started to fly pretty nicely and I was surprised at the distance I could get out of them on a solid strike, I could work them nicely high or low, draw or fade, which was expected from a blade.

LOOKS:

These clubs are stunning in my opinion and look absolutely beautiful in my bag.  A shiny chrome finish and simplistic understated appearance and you think you are playing a Titleist blade set (outside of the Nike swoosh, which I didn’t mind). 

At address the 5-iron through to the pitching wedge are classic and beautiful and inspire a lot of confidence with little offset and blade appearance.  I compared looks at address to the Nike Pro VR Combo irons with the following sets and found almost zero difference: Titleist AP2s, Titleist CBs and Srixon Z-TX.  All looked great when looking down at the club(s).

Lots of pictures out there.

FEEL:

I will break this up in terms of type of club – cavity, split-cavity and blade.

Cavity (3 and 4-iron)

These had a pretty solid feel and though there is some help on the back of the club you still need to put a great stroke to get a good result from the 3-iron.  The 4-iron was a bit easier to hit.  Feel was solid and there was some feedback and miss-hits as well as a little forgiveness.

Split-cavity (5, 6 and 7-iron)

These felt smooth, soft and just plain nice.  These will quickly become trusted and favourite clubs in your bag.

Blade (8, 9 and PW)

The 8-iron will definitely take some adjustment and reading a few other reviews I don’t think I am alone in stating this.  The feel is typical with a blade, when you hit it on the screws it feels so buttery smooth and when you are off a bit you feel it, a slight vibration.

PERFORMANCE – DISTANCE/ACCURACY/WORKABILITY:

These aren’t going to go as far as the Taylor Made Burner 2.0s and I wasn’t expecting them too, the face isn’t as hot and the lofts aren’t nearly as supped up.

Club Burner 2.0 Nike VR Combo
3-iron 19* 21*
4-iron 21* 24*
5-iron 24* 27*
6-iron 27* 31*
7-iron 31* 35*
8-iron 35* 39*
9-iron 40* 43*
PW 45* 47*

 Loft isn’t everything of course, but just look at the difference at the Burner 2.0s they are a nearly a full club stronger on each iron.  If distance is what you crave, you can’t go wrong with the Burners.  The Nike Pro VR Combo’s have a standard loft specification for the most part, on par with nearly every other “players” iron.

My accuracy and distance control was definitely better with the Pro VR Combo’s in comparison to my Burner 2.0s but again this is to be expected as on my approaches I will be hitting (hopefully) only 100-165 yards out and will require the use of either a split-cavity 6 or 7-iron or a bladed 8-iron to pitching wedge – and these clubs proved to be deadly accurate when struck soundly.

I found I could do what I wanted with the ball in terms of shaping the ball flight and I hit some high fades, lower draws and knockdown shots with relative ease.  These clubs can be worked if you need to do so.  I didn’t find the average trajectory to be high or low, just a boring mid flight but a lot of that could have something to do with the weather (cool-ish), wind (fairly windy) and condition of my lies at the range (suspect).

A good video review of the Nike Pro VR Combo irons, a trusted source.

OVERALL: 

This is a great overall set and exactly what I was looking for in terms of a player’s iron with the hope they force me to continue to work on and improve my overall swing and keep me sharp.  These look great, feel amazing and the combo aspect where you get three sets in one is a smart feature and the new Nike Pro VR Combo set is one I was more than happy to put in my bag.

As I did with my Taylor Made Burner 2.0 review I will be sure to update you on my progress as I continue to practise and play with the new iron set.  For what it is worth I was debating between the Nike Pro VR Combo set and the very popular Titleist AP2 set but in the end I just found the Pro VR Combo’s to be the perfect set for me, I encourage you to get out and try all the latest new (and used) clubs to see what is best for your game and golf swing.

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So I got to play a couple of mid-November golf rounds recently, which in Canada is a serious bonus.  The weather was gorgeous (nearly 70*) and the conditions were perfect so I decided it was time to give my brand new Taylormade Burner 2.0 irons their first on course testing.  I was absolutely itching to play and looking at these beauties in the basement is torture so I played two rounds in the span of three days and I thought I would share my thoughts on how the clubs performed for me.

To discuss the Burner 2.0s further and/or discuss clubs I have tried or clubs you want to try/review, follow me on TWITTER @tdotsports1 – join the ongoing conversation now!

I played at Tarandowah in Southern Ontario and I while I have played it before I must say it is an absolutely beautiful course – a hidden gem.  It is links style golf with a real rustic appeal, you almost feel like you are teeing it up for the final round of the British Open.  It plays over 7,000 yards from the tips though I decided to play from one tee block inward as it was my first round with the irons and well, my game really hasn’t been sharp.

Look at address:

For a game improvement iron they did not appear “clunky” or huge by any stretch and there wasn’t anything jetting out where it shouldn’t have been (in a distractive sense) so that was the first positive.  They have a beautiful finish and they definitely inspire confidence when about to “unleash the fury”.  They get more streamlined as you go up in loft and the 8-iron through to my attack wedge looked amazing.

The guy I was playing with noticed these were the “new Burners” and was pretty impressed I was already hitting with them.   I almost felt obligated to let him try one out – almost.

Grips:

The grips were ok but they were a bit slick at times even wearing a golf glove.  A lot has been made about the grips by some reviewers and while they weren’t the greatest, they weren’t the worst.  I will give strong consideration to having them re-gripped however, if that tells you anything.

Feel:

The Burners have a nice feel at impact, much better than I had anticipated when I had first tested them.  I hit all sorts of shots on the course, with a tee, from tight fairway lies to being buried in the fescue.  The feel was almost always superb and definitely not an issue or negative factor with the Burners.

Performance:

Considering this was my first couple of rounds with a brand new set of irons I’d say they were a great success.  I was hitting a lot of quality iron shots and the clubs really responded well.  On miss-hits I was still blown away by the lack of punishment on distance and accuracy and when I really hit one flush they were long gone, these sticks are long.

I use a long iron a lot off the tee and now I wish I actually had the 3-iron as well because I was absolutely crushing the 4-iron off the tee.  I played with a couple older gentlemen who were hitting around 240-260 with their drivers and I was not much behind them with my 4-iron.  One of them commented if he could hit a 3-iron like that he wouldn’t use a driver either, when I told him it was actually a 4-iron he got pretty quiet!

My distance control as expected was awful and I did not get dialled in at all and that will be my next challenge to really utilize these amazing clubs.  I was a club, club and a half longer with every iron.  The lofts are strong of course but these are easy to hit and do exactly what they claim – which is going a mile.  I might even look into getting a 2 or 3-iron if one is available in my area and just say goodbye to the driver forever.

I hit a nice 5-iron approach from about 205 yards and put it to the back edge of the green.  With my Mizuno MX25s that would have taken a massive 4-iron so again they are about a club stronger (strong lofts do play a role) overall.  It does something for your confidence when standing over a ball knowing you are taking a full club less and might not even have to hit it flush to get the required distance.

I also felt I was pretty accurate with the shorter irons but again I really was almost shooting blind in terms of distance and feel given this was my first couple of rounds.  But this was my biggest struggle in terms of distance, control and accuracy.  However that is nothing some good old fashioned range sessions can’t help.

Overall:

Considering the substantial distance control issues and overall foreign feel of my new Burner 2.0 irons I would have expected to shoot a lot worse but I was right around my recent scoring average.  My general opinion is that these clubs helped my game based on how I was swinging and will continue to maximize the level of talent I have once I really get dialled in and my swing is where it needs to be.

If you are in the market and you are considering testing out a few irons I would highly recommend adding these to your list.

Check out my review of the brand new Nike Pro VR Combo irons!

Not sure how many golf fans are out there but I happen to be a huge fan of the game and have played since I was six years old thanks to my grandparents.  I played consistenly until I was 15 years old, even played a few junior tournament circuits but my parents moved us from my local course (beautiful course) and we didn’t join another club in our new town so I left the game for about 8-10 years (only playing 1-2 times a summer max). 

Well, I have returned to the game I love recently and have found that old passion as I realized how much I missed it.  I have my handicap around 12-13 and am hopeful to really start working on my game (time  permitting) next golf season with a full golf season to work with.  The swing still feels solid but I find myself fighting it more than I used to with the limited amount of practise/time over the past ten years so it might take a while, patience is going to be needed needless to say!

From time to time I thought I would do a piece or two on the game of golf whether it is a PGA Tour article, a player profile or like today’s piece a review on golf equipment.  Hope there are some fellow golf fans out there who might enjoy the occassional golf content, it’s a great game and with Tiger Woods struggling on the PGA tour trying to find his groove and swing there are some excellent young (and old) golfers coming to the forefront of the sport.

Some of the rising stars include Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Hunter Mahan, Rickie Fowler , Paul Casey, Justin Rose and Matt Kuchar.  While the veterans who are still more than capable of winnings like Phil Mickelson, Steve Stricker, Jim Furyk, Ernie Els, Lee Westwood and Luke Donald to name a few.  In short, this is actually an exciting new time in the history of golf and I think we have all learned it is foolish to count out Tiger Woods who is still lurking and working hard on his game (oh, and still ranked number one in the world, for now).

Sooo, I tested the Taylormade Burner 2.0 Irons today and well, these clubs are by far the worst club I have ever tried, in my life.  Actually, I just finished cleaning them in my basement as I took the plunge and purchased them today after a nice demo session, I even had a nice lengthy range session afterwards.

Let’s discuss these Burner 2.0s further and other clubs you have tried or want to try on TWITTER, follow me @tdotsports1

To my quick review.

Looks: These bad boys are stunning, one of the better overall looking irons in the shop amongst the newer sets (store I went to has thousands and thousands clubs). They have a sleek yet stealthy look and the minute I saw they had a set in stock, I knew I was in trouble (well, my wallot anyway). They only had one set left which came with the stock shafts (stiff) and I was extra pumped as that was the exact shaft I wanted anyway. When you see them in person, you want to try them.

I went with the idea of test driving the MP58, Srixon Z-TX and maybe the Ping i15 however I bypassed the other’s and just asked for a Burner 2.0 4 and 7 iron and hit the range. The top line wasn’t as big as I thought and as other’s have commented the half gray topline really is slimming to the eye, kudos. The sole is pretty large, one of the bigger I saw at the store at first glance, but really who cares as at address you don’t notice or worry about the sole of the club. The look at address with the 4-iron was very similiar to the MX25 I had been gaming in terms of the cavity showing on the back of the club face, but not noticeably more protruding and didn’t distract shot making.

Feel: I was honestly expecting the feel to be meh or so-so given I play forged Mizuno’s (MX25) and had an older set of PowerBuilt blade-ish type irons prior to that (which I still love) but the feel of these was way above my expectations. A nice feel at impact, not buttery soft with the 4 iron but not clicky or harsh either. With the 7 iron the feel is just butter for a GI iron, they feel great.

Once I bought them and took the entire set to the range I was absolutely in heaven with the 6-AW as they all felt smooth and accurate. This set was sold to me 4-Attack Wedge so no 3-iron, which was actually a bonus in my mind as hitting a 3-iron can be tough no matter how Taylormade is promoting it.  The 4-iron can still be tricky but not ridiculous like some other newer sets.

No issues with the grips, I didn’t notice much of a difference between these and the golf pride grips on the MP25s, but a change could be possible if I have any problems going forward.

Distance/Ball-striking/Performance: The 4-iron has been a strength of my game for years and this is one of the more important factors for judging a new set of irons (for me at least) and after the range session the 4-iron was a solid club most of the time. I have been fighting my swing for a couple of weeks and with the weather in my area recently I am definitely not overly sharp but on good hits the 4-iron took off like a shot with a nice high penetrating ball flight with not much ballooning to speak of.

The conditions at the range were awful, it was very windy (though the temperature was pretty decent – nearly 70 degrees) and the grass I used wasn’t ideal for making solid golf shots. However, the Burners didn’t seem to mind and they cut through the surface nicely to give me fairly solid contact even on some questionable swings. As I stated before from about the 6-iron on down to the AW I was so impressed, even surprised at the accuracy and performance, very impressed.

Hard to tell how far these were going as the markings were terrible and likely not that accurate in terms of yardage and the wind was directly in my face but contact felt solid most of the time even on a few heel/toe shots, again very forgiving. I hope to get the 4-iron mastered early next season as that has always been the best club in my bag and old reliable for me.

I play a natural draw and 4-iron to 8-iron I was playing a fairly controlled draw while the 9-AW were pretty straight – and accurate.  These were very forgiving but even better provided enough feedback to know if you missed the sweet spot and when I did miss slightly I wasn’t punished much at all.  I hit a few and instantly knew I had toed/heeled the shot and that was a huge surprise to me, forgiving plus feedback is just the best of both worlds.

Overall: Way to early to tell and I am hoping the coming cooler weather holds for tomorrow to see if I can get a quick 18 holes in with these beauties otherwise it is going to be a LONGGGG winter indoors before I can actually put these stealth bombers into action.

Early impression is favourable but I will check back in again after some real practise/course time so I can get a better idea of what I am working with.  These irons are supposed to be extremely long and a lot of testers have struggled adjusting to the new yardage (lofts are 1-2* stronger on my clubs FYI) but have enjoyed hitting them, I really want to get dialed in as quickly as possible and see if these can help improve my game.

PART II – A follow-up review after multiple range sessions and on course testing.

See my review on the new Nike Pro VR Combo irons!

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