By Jeffrey A. Rendall, Images courtesy of Nike Golf
BEAVERTON, OR – Nike Golf says its new VRS Covert Forged Irons are longer and hotter, and the reason is due to a change of face.
That’s right, a change of face. The new irons have added the company’s NEXCOR face technology (the first time it’s been utilized in a forged iron), which is constructed of High Speed SAE 8655 steel. The “new” face, in concert with a forged carbon steel body, delivers faster ball speeds and a super-soft feel over the previous model (the VRS Forged irons, which we examined last year).
What a difference a face makes. Again, according to Nike, the NEXCOR face (and the deep cavity) contributes up to seven additional yards of distance over the VRS Forged irons.
Seven more yards from an iron is nothing to sneeze at. That’s more than half a club in most instances.
Nike’s former club design guru, Tom Stites (who still consults with the company and is called the “Chief Imagineer”), tells us a little bit more about NEXCOR and why it makes a difference: “In golf, when we talk about distance, the first thing that comes to mind is the driver. We decided to look beyond that and focus on the entire bag from a holistic point of view. We discovered that NEXCOR face technology adds distance and will play a critical role in helping golfers to become better.”
NEXCOR Face Technology maximizes distance for the widest range of players through a speed-expanding multi-face thickness design. The NEXCOR infinity design creates a bridge for ultra-thin, ultra-hot faces and unmatched ball speed from every club in the bag. The location of the NEXCOR technology differs from club to club.
Stites continues, “We conducted impact studies and were able to ‘map’ where consumers tend to hit the ball on the face at impact on every club. Based on those results, we are able to move this NEXCOR technology around on the face. The location of NEXCOR on the face differs on every club. Not every face is identical.”
That’s all well and good, but how does NEXCOR actually work in an iron? Like with metal woods, it amplifies the trampoline effect off the face.
As mentioned above, the VRS Covert Forged irons’ performance was also enhanced with perimeter weighting via a deep, engineered cavity back design.
Nike is known for creating some big irons cavities. We still remember the Nike Slingshot OSS irons from years ago – which was a pioneer in the genre and offered a cavernous cavity. Clearly, the cavity plays a big role in forgiveness.
Pair it with the new NEXCOR face, and you’ve got more distance AND forgiveness in the VRS Covert Forged irons.
Other new innovations in the Covert Forged model include Nippon N.S.PRO 950GH steel shafts, and Golf Pride Tour Wrap 2G grips -- which deliver lightweight, effortless performance with a soft, tacky feel in the hands.
Finally, there are the new X3X 27 grooves, which increase the groove area behind the ball at impact, improving spin control and trajectory consistency in wet and dirty conditions.
It sounds like a lot of innovation is jammed into a small package, which can be hard to understand for those of us at the consumer level.
We asked Phillip Hatton, Nike Golf Product Line Manager, to explain how the new materials allow the irons to perform better on the golf course. “The most notable advancement is in the art by which the premium materials and advanced construction are applied: a high speed cavity back design – with high inertial stability and low, centralized CG – delivers a high and straight ball flight, and is packaged in a clean, oversize chassis that presents a confidence-inspiring profile.”
Confidence for sure. The VRS Covert Forged irons have a very solid look at address – not small, but not oversized by any means. They’re thicker on the topline than a muscleback, but purists won’t recoil at their appearance, either.
There’s also speed in those heads. Hatton says a faster ball speed is the single most effective way to increase distance. “But an increase in distance without feel and control wouldn't necessarily be desirable; hence the VRS Covert Forged blends materials and construction that enhance both.”
Looking at the set configuration, like many “standard” irons sets these days, it lacks a 3-iron. According to Hatton, most golfers now favor hybrids because of their metalwood-like forgiving performance. 3-irons can be ordered individually for those who want to add one to the set (or any set configuration is available through Nike’s custom department).
In addition, the lofts of the VRS Covert Forged irons are stronger (than would be traditional), primarily to optimize launch conditions for average players who want maximum distance from their irons.
The stronger lofts certainly help account for extra distance, a trend we’re seeing a lot these days.
Trying out the clubs, we definitely noticed some additional yards during our examination. We found the VRS Covert Forged irons to be as forgiving as their predecessors (VRS Forged Irons), and just as effortless to hit – some of the easiest we’ve ever tried, in fact.
If we had two words to describe them, it would indeed be “confidence inspiring.” They’re also very easy to get in the air and the ball flight was straight. They’re great to try if you’re looking for forgiving clubs that provide some juiced-up distance.
They’re not as buttery soft as some of the musclebacks we’ve tried recently, but that was to be expected. The topline is also bigger than many forged clubs, another factor to consider in shopping for irons.
But overall, it’s hard to find a single thing “wrong” with the VRS Covert Forged irons. Do your research, and try them out.
That’s exactly what Nike recommends as well. “Prior to visiting the store, research online (Nike Golf website or NG360 App) and/or in golf publications to educate yourself, navigate through products and identify a shortlist of those that best match your needs,” Hatton suggested.
“And when visiting a golf shop, seek the advice of knowledgeable staff to guide you through a demo/fitting session, during which, consider both objective data to measure how a product performs, and subjective preference on feel, profile and aesthetics.”
We find ourselves saying it a lot, but Nike really has come a long way in a relatively short time (they first produced clubs in 2002). The company hires top-notch talent -- and they produce -- putting Nike on par with the other major manufacturers in terms of performance and quality.
Hatton thinks so too. “Behind each Nike Golf product is the history, heritage, values and experience of a committed team at The Oven -- Nike Golf's industry-leading golf club R&D center -- that designs and develops products with input from the world's best athletes, and is dedicated to serve all golfers with the most advanced performance.”
Nike Golf is clearly much more than just Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy. Give them a try, and they might be for you, too.
Nike Golf’s VRS Covert Forged Irons
Available at your higher-end golf retailers and club pro shops.
Check out more information about Nike Golf products at: www.nikegolf.com . Like you’d expect from Nike, the website puts on a good show, too.
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