Nike has been in the iron business for a while now and have had the chance to release a few generations of clubs. While Nike doesn’t have the long history of other club manufacturers, they are producing some very good equipment, some of which is used by the best players in the world.
Stewart Cink and K.J. Choi have in their bags Nike’s new CCi Forged irons. Built with minimal offset, a thin topline, a high level of workability, and the classic forged feel, these irons are a good complement to their cast counterpart.
Can their performance match the slick brushed-steel look? I have had a chance to give these clubs a whirl for the past several weeks and I’m ready to send their report card home in the mail.
Design and Technology
Nike golf has been in the equipment business for long enough to explore design and carve out a niche. The golf club market-share war is hard-fought, so when Nike entered the fray they entered into battle with entrenched companies with loyal fans. Leveraging the “Nike” name alone wasn’t enough – Nike needed to deliver solid products.
The CCi irons take their name from what Nike is calling a “Composite Cavity Insert“. This insert, low and stretching from heel to toe along the back side of the club, “enhances forgiveness and feel” according to Nike. Unlike a traditional blade iron, which has more mass positioned midway up the iron-head, the CCi positions more weight toward the sole. Nike engineers are counting on the lower center of gravity to aid players in getting the ball in the air quickly.
These CCis are forged from 1025 Carbon Steel and are designed to provide pleasing feedback. This softer metal is meant to transfer vibrations better than a cast iron, though debates are still hot whether the actual creation process matters these days.
According to Nike, the forged CCis have a “CNC Milled Face for more predictable distances and shot patterns.” Several putter makers have used CNC milled faces to ensure a more uniform surface, which in turn produces a straighter roll. Nike incorporated this technology into the production of the CCi Forged iron. While I think it is a nice touch, I couldn’t tell you if a non-milled CCi Forged would be any less predictable or accurate. I can tell you that the milling marks are visible if you take a close look at each iron’s face.
The CCis are available right- or left-handed and with Dynamic Gold steel shafts in regular, stiff, and extra-stiff. The stock DG steel shafts are designed for players seeking a low, penetrating ball flight. They come stock with ribbed Golf Pride Tour Velvet grips.
After having the CCi Forged irons in my bag for a while, I must say I really like the look of them. They are understated, set up wonderfully at address, have a sexy and traditional boxy toe, and minimal offset.
Truth is, these irons look better in person than they do in pictures. My initial impression (before seeing them in person) was that they were little more than Ping S59 look-alikes with a garish sole insert and over-the-top Nike branding, but the sole insert and branding blend in more in person and the look grew on me.
The CCi’s glare-busting brushed finish is divine. This satin/brushed look is different enough from other irons on the market to make this a unique attribute. The brushed finish complements the extremely thin topline to provide an incredibly uncluttered, simple look at address.
My initial impression was that the CCis had a bit harsher feel than Titleist forgings I’ve played (the 804.OS and 690.CB), but the feel grew on me. Unlike Cody, who reviewed the Cast CCi irons, I really came to enjoy all that the CCi Forged offered. They provide a good deal of feedback – it’s just different – a bit firmer and harsher – than what I was used to. In fact, I played Titleist Pro V1s during testing, so I was definitely expecting a mildly softer feel with these clubs and that ball.
The CCi’s sweet spot is smaller than “players irons” with a more generous cavity – my Titleist 690.CBs seem a touch more forgiving than this offering from Nike. Perhaps that’s as it should be – the CCi Forged is more muscleback than cavity-back, after all, but you will want to be a more consistent ball-striker to get that flush feeling frequently. I got the general impression that the butter feel is a groove or two further up the clubface than I’m used to.
True to form, contact off the center of the clubface results in a harsh, clanky feeling. That’s simply the matter of the beast – these aren’t game-improvement clubs. A game improvement club will mask misshits – the CCis will not. If you catch it way out on the toe, you’ll lose distance and your hands will buzz. I enjoy a club that lets you know when you’re not getting center contact, and a forged and more blade-like club tells you where your swing is. That makes it tough to get away with poor swings – something that even I appreciate as a bogey golfer. Of course, conversely, you’re rewarded for sweet-spot contact with that pleasing forged feel.
I’m not a big shaper of the golf ball, but I can conjure a low cut from time to time if I’m trying to punch a shot around some trees. I did this easier with the CCis than I’m used to with my own clubs and did so much, much easier than with any game improvement clubs I’ve played or tested. My attempts to work the ball in any direction were, swing issues aside, reasonably impressive. The clubs are responsive and don’t seem to fight to correct sidespin.
For example, one time I had driven the ball right on a dogleg par four and bent the ball around the corner to just shy of the green with a seven iron. That was fun. These clubs will give you the versatility to move the ball in any direction if you’ve got the swing in your arsenal.
Nike promises a piercing ball flight with these CCis. They do have a very nice trajectory and produced a piercing flight that was, on average, a little lower than the Titleist 690.CBs I regularly play. Based on that, Nike’s promise of a piercing flight is true.
While the CCi Forged’s ball flight was a little lower than I’m used to, I didn’t lose anything in the spin department. The ball stopped within three or four feet on greens with the middle irons (6, 7, 8) and within one or two feet with shorter irons. I generally play on softer greens out here on the West Coast, which helps, but I would expect these clubs to perform as well as most in the spin department. Given their lower trajectory, they still stopped as quickly as my 690s. Perhaps this has something to do with the fact that CCi lofts are closer to traditional than many new iron offerings. Combined with the lower center of gravity, these clubs will still get in the air, but they’ll do so with a static loft measurement on the pitching wedge measuring 47° and 21° on the 3-iron. Thank you for reasonable lofts, Tom Stites!
The CCi’s short irons matched the look and general feel of my wedges and were great for bumps and runs, chips, and pitches in the scoring zone. I love a more blade-like iron for creative/feely shots around the greens and for punching out from under trees, so the CCi Forged fit the bill and performed admirably.
I believe these clubs will complement a “picker” more than a “digger.” If you’re accustomed to taking beaver pelts out of your course’s fairways, the CCi Forged may not have enough sole width to keep you from digging to China. While the CCi Forged irons do have a thinner sole than my 690.CB irons, the bounce is a degree or two greater than the 690.CBs. In other words, I didn’t notice a substantial difference in performance compared to my regular irons if I hit them marginally thicker than I should have.
The CCis sliced through rough quite easily. They are not a miracle club out of the deep stuff (no club is), but they perform much better than game-improvement irons manage to do. This is a very clean and low profile iron which is a tremendous help when you’re hacking out of the hay.
Specs and Pricing
Nike’s CCi Forged irons have Dynamic Gold shafts by True Temper installed stock in regular, stiff, and extra-stiff. Golf Pride Tour Velvet ribbed grips come stock. Loft, lie, and offset, as mentioned before, are quite traditional:
Club Loft Bounce Offset ---- ---- ------ ------ PW 47° 9° 0.080" 9I 43° 8° 0.080" 8I 39° 7° 0.080" 7I 35° 6° 0.095" 6I 31° 5° 0.110" 5I 27° 4° 0.125" 4I 24° 3° 0.140" 3I 21° 2° 0.155" 2I 18° 1° 0.170"
You can purchase the Nike CCi Forged Irons at Edwin Watts Golf for $899.99.
I believe that Nike has produced a great set of clubs in the CCi Forged irons. They look great, are quite workable, produce a piercing ball flight, have crisp turf interaction, and offer a good amount of feel on both partial and full shots. These irons do what irons should do in the hands of a golfer who appreciates a player’s iron.
If you are in the market for a player’s set of irons, I encourage you to try the Nike CCi Forged irons. They strike a good balance between a blade and a cavity-back iron. You may, like me, find that they fit your eye both at address and in the bag.
These irons have nothing to worry about: the report card is clean and full of high marks.