Nike’s new product offering for 2015 is the Vapor series which is available in drivers, woods, hybrids and irons. Within each of these groups are subsets if you will. For example three Vapor drivers are available: the Vapor Pro, Vapor Speed and Vapor Flex. Woods and hybrids are offered in either a Speed of Flex model and irons can be bought in 3 different models: Vapor Pro, Vapor Pro Combo or Vapor Speed. One line of clubs with many different models, each one enhancing a different part of your game. Choosing which set is best for you is something best left to the experts at a Nike Performance Fitting Center. Listings and maps to these Performance Centers can be found on their website. This review will focus on three clubs: the Vapor Pro driver, Vapor Flex 3-wood and Vapor Speed hybrid.
Regardless of the type of club and model you choose, they all have several new features in common; features that offer subtle enhancements over the previous generations:
FlexLoft 2 Technology – using the two adjustment rings on the hosel, you can adjust the clubface angle from 8.5° – 12.5° and set the face angle to 1.5° left, neutral or 1.5° right. The FlexLoft 2.0 adjustable hosel is also 5 grams lighter (every little bit helps) than its predecessor and is compatible with previous drivers, meaning you can swap heads with existing Nike shafts. This makes the Nike Vapor series one of the most adjustable clubs on the market.
FlyBeam Technology stiffens the back cavity structure of the club head for improved launch and playability.
Covert Cavity Back Design redistributes the weight towards the heel and toe for maximum forgiveness.
NexCOR Face Design incorporates variable face thickness for a faster, hotter face and more ball speed at impact.
Compression Channel Face Technology: Nike has re-introduced the Compression Channel which was a feature in the Nike VR drivers back in 2010. As it turns out, their manufacturing process could not support both a cavity and a channel in the same clubhead, but, after some retooling, Nike found a way to make it work. The Compression Channel works in conjunction with the Covert Cavity and the NexCOR Face design, creating a trampoline effect at impact for increased flex in the club face and faster ball speeds. The channel is wider in the heel and toe, but narrow enough in the center to conform to USGA regulations.
Vapor Pro Driver
This is the driver Rory McIlroy has been playing of late. The Nike Vapor Pro driver comes fitted with a Mitsubishi Diamana S+ Blue Board 60 gram shaft which is available in three flexes: regular, stiff and Xtra stiff, and a Golf Pride Tour Wrap 2g grip. Although my game is not something that compares to Rory’s – especially off the tee – I did find that the ball came very hot off the face of the Vapor Pro driver, producing extraordinary length on hits that were far less than perfect. I was amazed at how the ball just continued to sail and then how far it ran after touching down. At impact, the club provided good feedback and did not produce an ear-splitting sound.
At address, the club sat as close to neutral as you can get and the pear-shaped head will produce different ball flights depending the player’s swing. The center of gravity sits lower and more forward in the face of the club, producing a slightly lower launch and spin, allowing for increased control. This club will be more appealing to better players. The color scheme is definitely geared towards a younger crowd. The Vapor Pro driver retails for $399 while the Flex – and its 30 adjustment settings – goes for $499 and the Speed sells for $299. A women’s model is also available.
Vapor Flex 3-Wood
What separates the Vapor Speed and Vapor Flex line of fairway woods is the adjustable hosel. On the flex models, the 3-wood is adjustable from 13° to 17° and the 5-wood can be changed from 17° to 22°, both in 1° increments. Additionally, there are three face angle settings, allowing you to open or close the face by 1.5°. That’s 15 different settings, so you can alter the trajectory of your shots in a very subtle way. With the Vapor Speed fairways, what you buy is what you get.
When you look closely at the hosel, it appears very cumbersome, because of all the variations it affords. However at address, it blends in nicely with the color of the clubhead and is barely, if at all noticeable. I actually liked the look of the Flex better than the Speed, which has a very thin hosel, although the Speed has a silver face, which does not show all of the marks like the black-faced Vapor Flex.
When stacked up against its predecessor, the Covert Fairway wood, the Vapor Flex has a slightly smaller head and taller face. At address, the top line gives the appearance that the club is open, which I am told is something better players prefer.
The Nike Vapor Flex 3-wood comes fitted with the new Mitsubishi Diamana S+ Blue Board 70 shaft, which helps the average player gain distance and control as well as a Golf Pride 2G Tour Wrap grip, that is gray in color to match the shaft. Available flexes in the shaft are regular, stiff and extra stiff. The Vapor Flex 3 and 5-woods retails for $249 while the Vapor Speeds goes for $199.
Nike Vapor Speed Hybrid
The combination of the Covert Cavity, Compression Channel and NexCOR face help the Nike Vapor Speed hybrids produce extreme distance, without sacrificing forgiveness and accuracy, regardless of the loft setting. The Vapor Speed hybrids have a low center of gravity, producing a higher launch and lower-spin rates, while the Covert Cavity Back design redistributes weight towards the heel and toe which maximize forgiveness.
When producing a set of hybrids, many companies simply change the loft. But Nike has gone a step further and also change the head size which gets smaller as you go up. They have also changed the face height which increases as you go up. Apparently the folks at Nike wanted a 2 hybrid to look and feel like a fairway wood and the 3,4 and 5 hybrids to be more like driving irons. Nike claims that on average, a golfer will pick up 4 yards over last year’s Covert hybrids.
The Nike Vapor family of hybrids have deeper heads, meaning the center of gravity has been moved back. This helps to elevate the ball quickly and easily. The overall weight of the club is light and produced a high ball flight with no ballooning. Standing at address, this is a good looking club with the sliver top line of the face acting as an alignment aid. When you set up, the club may seem a little open but with solid contact, produces a straight ball flight. With a couple of minor adjustments, the club can be easily worked left or right. If you are having trouble with your long irons and are looking for a quick fix, then the Vapor Speed hybrids are your answer.
The Vapor Speed Hybrid comes in a choice of Speed and Flex models. Both are fitted with a Mitsubishi Fubuki Z 70 shaft, available in regular, stiff and extra stiff. The Fubuki shaft provides upgraded stability with higher launch and lower spin. A Golf Pride Tour Wrap 2G grip is also standard operating procedure. Retail price on the Nike Vapor Speed hybrid is $180 while the Vapor Flex is $229.
I found the Pro driver, Flex 3-wood and Speed hybrid all very easy to hit. They got the ball in the air quickly and produced a very penetrating ball flight. The ball seemed to stay in the air longer and just kept going and going. All three clubs were easy to work the ball left and right with a few minor adjustments and very forgiving on my miss hits.
The neon green color on the sole and logo may put off some people but that is a small price to pay for clubs that will help you gain more distance and control. I would highly recommend taking a look at the new Vapor lineup. For more information, visit your local golf retailer or the Nike website at www.NikeGolf.com.