Though the whole Victory Red (VR for short) name started originally as the TW-inspired branding for Nike's top of the line irons, it was extended last year to include an entirely new, game-enhancing set of drivers, fairway woods, and hybrids. Upon release, it was evident that Nike had produced their most player-friendly, traditional woods to date.
They further cemented that approach in the later months of 2010, as they confirmed that the SQ lineup is catered to game improvement, while the VR line is designed more around the needs of established/accomplished players. The second generation of VR woods and hybrids, labeled "VR Pro" (in line with the recently released VR Pro Blades and Pro Combo Irons) certainly holds true to that approach. All three clubs (driver, fairway, and hybrid) maintain a more traditional appearance and are designed to offer a lot in terms of workability. With that in mind, let's have a look at what's new for this year in the VR Pro hybrids, fairway woods, and drivers.
Nike VR Pro Hybrid
Like the original, the VR Pro hybrid employs Nike's patented Compression Channel, but this year that Compression Channel technology is paired with variable face thickness - a combination that yields up to a 21% hotter face over last year's VR hybrid. This improvement isn't just limited to the sweetspot either, as more speed is delivered across a larger section of the clubface.
The sole has also been improved so that cleaner contact is made from any lie. The sole camber varies among the lofts, with the lower lofted hybrids making use of a flatter sole camber, while the higher lofts trend more towards a deeper camber. The flat camber promotes better contact on tight lies, by keeping more of the club on the ground, while the deeper sole of the higher lofted hybrids allows for more shot options.
From an aesthetics standpoint, the profile of the VR Pro hybrids was shaped to closely match that of the VR Pro irons, obviously trying to keep appearances consistent across the board. At first glance, one might think that the VR Pro looks identical to the original VR Hybrid, but upon closer inspection, you may find that there are a number of subtle differences. The Compression channel now fades from red to black, from the outside of the sole towards the center, as opposed to the all-red coloring in the previous model. The compression channel was also partially covered last year, while this new model leaves it wide open behind the face.
While the original VR Hybrid had a bit of draw bias due to the location of the center of gravity, the VR Pro positions the CG further away from the hosel. Not only is it moved away from the hosel, the CG is also slightly more forward and lower than the first gen model. This is a result of input from Nike's stable of Tour athletes, who wanted a hybrid that was more workable, and produced a lower, more penetrating ball flight.
The VR Pro Hybrid comes with a Project X Hybrid shaft, topped with the Nike VR Tour Velvet grip. The stock shaft is available in five flex profiles, ranging from 6.5 down to 4.5, in .5 increments. The higher flex profile Project X weighs in at 96 grams and produces a low ball flight, while, as you move through the lower flexes, the weight is reduced, torque is lower, and a higher flight is promoted. Four lofts will be offered, starting with a 88cc, 15° #1 hybrid, followed by a 90cc 18° #2, a 90cc 21° #3, and a 100cc 24° #4 hybrid. All are available for both left handed and right handed players except for the 18°, which is only offered for righties. According to Nike's website, price on the new VR Pro Hybrids is set at $169.99. Also know that a number of custom grip and shaft options (some of which do incur an up-charge) can be found on the product page at Nike.com, and custom bending is also available to ensure a perfect fit.
Nike VR Pro Fairway Woods
In terms of technology, the VR Pro Fairway Woods come loaded with the Variable Compression Channel and STR8-Fit Technology. The Variable Full Compression Channel plays a large part in increasing ball speed off of an increased area of the face. As a side note, spin rate has been reduced a bit in this model.
The traditional, pear-shaped club head is what you see at address, but what you don't see is the a flatter sole than the previous iteration. This change, along with an overall lower profile works to help launch the ball easier off of the turf.
The work with our tour staff lead us to a fairway wood which is hotter over a larger area of the face and has a flatter sole for ease off of tight lies. The STR8-FIT Tour adapter allows us to position the head precisely where the player wants it which maximizes visual confidence and performance.Tom Stites, Director of Product Creation, Nike Golf
Of course, the STR8-Fit technology is back, providing the ultimate in customization with 32 different settings, allowing the player to have the club fit perfectly. One of the common criticisms of the STR8-Fit Technology was the aesthetic appearance of the components of this technology, particularly the polished shaft sleeve, which noticeably stood out and was called a distraction by some. Nike listened to this complaint, and as you can see from the accompanying pictures, that sleeve is now black, and blends much better with the appearance at address.
Among the other visual differences is the black shading of the Compression Channel, as opposed to the red fill of the previous version. Like the VR Pro Hybrid, the Compression Channel can now be seen across the entire width of the sole whereas last year the channel did not extend all the way across.
Again, the stock shaft comes in the form of a Project X graphite, and is topped with the VR Tour Velvet STR8-Fit Tour Grip which serves as a guide to the position where the club is currently set. This shaft will be offered in four different flex options, starting with 6.5 on the stiff side, and 5.0 on the softer side. The weight of the shaft decreases in increments of three grams, starting at 79 grams (6.5 flex) going down to 70 grams (5.0 flex). The 6.5 produces a low launch, while the other three are more of a mid-launch shaft. Four loft options are offered, starting with a 13° strong 3 wood, followed by a 15° 3W, a 17° 4W and finally, a 19° 5 wood. The 3+ and 4W are offered in right handed models only, while the other two are available to both righties and lefties. A number of custom shaft and grip options are available, and the entire collection can be seen at Nike's VR Pro product page. Expect to pay $229.99 when they hit stores February 3rd.
Nike VR Pro Drivers
Rounding out the new VR Pro line is of course, the VR Pro driver, continuing the trend of the original VR drivers, the new VR Pro serves as Nike's offering to the more skilled player, as well as those looking for a more traditional shape and appearance. The pear shape of the head also helps to optimize the location of the center of gravity by providing a framework that allows for discretionary weighing in specific areas. The four piece forged head also underwent a change in how the pieces were welded together, which ultimately leads to an increase in CoR across the face.
The Variable Compression Channel is featured here in the driver, as it is in the fairway woods and hybrids. It extends across the entire length of the face, and produces increases in ball speed, regardless of whether you're going straight or trying to bend it. The dimensions of the channel have also been changed for this year in order to maximize its effectiveness.
The Compression Channel was designed to give tour players increased ball speeds for their 'go to' shots; these shots are not always in the center of the face. The channel action delivers a similar ball speed as the center of the face.Tom Stites, Director of Product Creation, Nike Golf
Like the fairway woods, the VR Pro Driver comes equipped with Nike's STR8-Fit Technology, and allows for 32 different variations. This equates to a whopping 45 yards of side to side variation in the shape of your shots. The driver's implementation of STR8-Fit also benefits from the same cosmetic enhancements seen in the fairway woods - the shaft sleeve is now a much less visible black as opposed to the polished finish of previous models.
Again, the Project X graphite serves as the stock shaft here, which comes wrapped with a VR Tour Velvet STR8-Fit Tour Grip, and measures up to 45.75" in length. This shaft comes in your choice of four flex profiles - a 71g, low launching 6.5, as well a 66g 6.0, a 63g 5.5, and a 61g 5.0 (all of which are more of a mid-launch shaft). Two head sizes are available as well; a 440cc 8.5° and 9.5°, plus a 460cc 9.5°, 10.5°, and 11.5°. The individual heads weigh in at 205g without the shaft. If the Project X shaft, or VR Tour Velvet grip arent your thing, cruise on over to the product page where you can check out a number of custom options. The Nike VR Pro Driver, as well as the fairway woods and hybrids of the same name will all be available February 3rd, with a MSRP of $479.99.