You can all thank your lucky stars that you were born in the age of super-forgiving drivers, game-improvement irons, high-MOI putters, and easy-to-hit hybrids. If hitting a 2-iron off the fairway sounds less pleasurable than a visit to the dentist, take heart. There is an answer for you and it may just come in the form of the space-age Nike Slingshot Hybrid.
A fantastic long-, mid-iron or 5-wood replacement, the Slingshot Hybrid provides loads of technology, forgiveness, and accuracy.
I have officially become a hybrid groupie. There are enough options in today’s hybrid market to satisfy the most discriminating golfers with almost every conceivable look, feel, weight configuration, and loft available. How does Nike’s Slingshot Hybrid stack up to other manufacturer’s hybrids? Read on to find out…
Design and Technology
The Slingshot Hybrid has a very low center of gravity. That much is apparent just from looking at the club. The Nike Golf website (which still lacks the ability to link directly to a page) says:
The extremely low CG (center of gravity) of the Slighshot Hybrid is made possible by the weight-saving carbon crown and low-slung Slingback design. These design elements drive 70% of the clubhead mass below the equator of the golf ball.
I can’t think of another club that presents its low CG in as visually apparent a method as the Slingshot Hybrid. Weight is obviously positioned below the equator of the golf ball with this club. With 70% of the weight low, there are really no problems getting the ball airborne. While obviously not a traditional looking clubhead, I got used to its goofy looks quickly. I never found it to be a distraction on the course because it performs so well.
Not only is clubhead mass kept low it is also positioned deep in the clubhead. The Slingback bar positions twice the mass of a similarly lofted fairway wood to the back of the clubhead. This results in a very high moment of inertia (MOI) and good resistance to twisting on off-center shots.
The face of the club is made from Carpenter Custom 455 stainless steel, a very thin and hot steel commonly employed in fairway woods and hybrids. The face produces a different feel than other hybrids I’ve used, and felt very solid at impact.
There is no doubt that this club was designed to take the right side of the golf course out of play. There is enough offset to help any slicer keep it between the trees. The offset is as obvious visually as the low center of gravity. If there’s one criticism I have of this club, it is the offset. I do realize that one man’s criticism is another man’s praise, but an aggressive swing, forward press, or slightly closed face produces hard, low, and left for me. I have to make sure the clubhead is square to slightly open to keep out of any hazards on the sinister side of the course.
Nike hit a home run teaming up with Mitsubishi for the shaft. I am very impressed with the stability and feel of the iDiamana shaft. This shaft makes you feel very connected to the clubhead and isn’t overly stiff or boardy, but solid. With the proliferation of hybrids in the last few years, stock shaft offerings might be a deciding factor in your purchase. If you like a stable shaft this might be the club for you (minus the offset in my case). The Mitsubishi stiff shaft played stiffer than stiff shafts from some other manufacturers. The shaft’s 93 gram weight helped to stabilize the club throughout the swing.
Looks and Setup
The Slingshot Hybrid has a high-tech look. If you prefer a traditional, curvaceous (oh la la!), or soft-looking club, Nike’s offering won’t be your first pick. After having the Slingshot in my bag for a while, I don’t mind it’s space-age looks. Nike’s strategy with the Slingshots, mirroring the design sensibilities of many Japanese companies, is to position all the technology right in out in the open where you can see it. Whether it’s the low and deep center of gravity, sporty sole, or hot face, you get an up close and personal look at how technology is used without every having to swing the Slingshot.
The stamped/scooped out body of the club inspires confidence. If you flip your hands or cast the club in an effort to get the ball in the air the low center of gravity in the Slingshot help you trust the club to get the ball up.
As I said previously the offset is quite obvious. You’ll notice it first thing and may or may not have to adjust accordingly. If you are already playing clubs with generous offset the Slingshot Hybrid will complement your setup nicely.
Ultimately the Slingshot Hybrid performs as a good hybrid should. It gets the ball up in the air and delivers the ball to its intended target softly with less roll and way less effort than a similarly lofted iron.
The 17° club I tested had a very penetrating ball flight that didn’t balloon a bit. I liked the ball flight as much as anything about this club. I give a lot of credit to the iDiamana stock shaft for the nice ball flight.
Once I figured out the offset I found the Slingshot to be a fairway finder. It is much easier to find a fairway with this club than it is with a similarly lofted fairway wood. The more iron-like design and shorter shaft deliver the ball to its intended target very well.
The Slingshot is also reliable from a variety of lies. It is good out of the rough, on tight and exposed lies, or from the fairway. A smooth swing produces a similar ball flight out of every conceivable lie. Like other hybrids it is an excellent chipping or bump and run tool. Grip down and swing it like a putter on links-type courses or whenever the green isn’t protected by too much rough.
The Slingshot is a very reliable tee club as well. On short par fours and par fives or long par threes, the Slingshot performs well. Just tee it up pretty low and swing away. You’ll be somewhere in the middle of the fairway or green.
I give the Slingshot high marks for feel. The clubhead and shaft design produce a very solid feel at impact. The feel is quite different than the Nickent 3DX DC Ironwood that I reviewed recently. There is a hot springy feeling in the clubhead of the Ironwood but a very satisfying deep and solid “thwack” from the Slingshot. I would describe the Slingshot Hybrid as solid in all aspects of feel.
There is a lot of talk about high moment of inertia (MOI) in virtually all clubs today but I found the Slingshot Hybrid to really deliver in the MOI department. This club is truly resistant to twisting and allows you to point and shoot as far as I’m concerned. Misses towards the heel or toe aren’t overly penalized.
In the nitpicking department Nike’s stock grip isn’t my favorite. It felt too slick. I don’t normally play with a glove and prefer tackiness on a grip. A simple and inexpensive grip change is the obvious solution.
The Slingshot Hybrid come in lofts of 2 (17°), 3 (20°), 4 (23°), 5 (26°), and 6 (30°) replacing long- to mid-irons and even a 5-wood. Shaft weights are 92 grams in regular flex, 93 grams in stiff flex, and 97 grams in extra-stiff. All lofts are available in left handed versions.
If you are a fader/slicer and require generous offset this is definitely the club for you. The Slingshot’s feel, versatility from a variety of lies, and solid (and solid-feel) technology make it a strong contender in the hybrid market.
Given the fact that a Nike Slingshot Hybrid would fit right in on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise, it is surprisingly easy to look at. I was very impressed with how this club felt and performed. Judged on feel and ball-flight alone this is one of my favorite hybrids. If you happen to be in the hybrid marked, give either the Slingshot or Slingshot Tour (less offset and smaller footprint) Hybrids a look. You may drop a few shots in the process.