The Big Review – Nike VR Pro Blades and VR Pro Combo Irons
The Nike VR Pro Blades and VR Pro Combo sets are the conforming versions of two of Nike's best iron sets. Aimed at the low and low-mid handicapper, these are enhancements to the respective lines rather than any revolution. The VR Pro Blades feature the same profile and grind as the previous generation which puts them in the most "bladey" of blades – small head, zero perimeter weighting, flat muscle back, minimal offset, traditional grind with minimal camber. The VR Pro Combo feature the same 8,9 and PW as the blades but have split cavity in the 5,6,7 and pocket cavity in the 3,4 irons.
The VR Pro Blades are gorgeous irons. As far as classical blades go, the Nikes are right up there with their small heads and minimal offset. The muscleback portion of the blade has changed back to the original version with its straight top where the TW forged blades had a curved muscleback top. There is also the fact that the new versions lack the TW logo – make of that what you will.
Vr Pro Blades – 3,7,PW
The Pro Combos are also a very good package and share the same gleaming chrome finish. The only fly in the ointment would be that the sole of the Pro Combo 3 iron peeks out from the back at address but that is very minor.
Vr Pro Combo – 3,7,PW
From the very first forged blades, Nike's have always been at the very top of the feel charts. In fact the great level of feel was one of the most obvious statements that this sports apparel company were not only serious about golf but they were going to demand the same levels of excellence in their golf clubs as they do in the rest of their line-up.
Like its predecessors, the 1025 forged carbon steel VR Pro blades offer a premier league level of feel. The sort of "sell your granny for the sensation of a flushed long iron" that is normally the preserve of the likes of Mizuno and Titleist. Miss-hits are fine in the short and mid irons but your hands do get punished with the long irons. Since the VR Pro Combo share the same irons, the feel is identical there, with similar feel in the mid irons but long irons feel very different. Even if you pure one, the Pro Combo's feel has a hollowness that is (unsurprisingly) missing from the blades . Where the Pro Combos score highly is when you don't flush it out of the middle – the sensation is an almost perfect mix of feedback that you made a mistake without the painful buzz present in the blades.
One of the most obvious differences between these irons and the previous generation is the new grooves. The X3X High-Frequency Grooves are designed to give a cleaner, more consistent ball flight and spin. The idea is that with more grooves closer together and deeper on the clubface, they ensure more control and consistency in all conditions. The manufacturing process involved in this also had the side-effect of improving the tolerances which should lead to greater consistency throughout the set.
With any blade set, distance control and accuracy are the primary performance metrics and the VR Pros do not disappoint. Short irons are unbelievably accurate an mid irons are exceptionally good too. Long irons are wonderful but the caveat is that you have to be a top class ball striker to get the most out of these. Given the compact head size and the flat back design the sweet spot is correspondingly tiny. Any miss-hit results in noticeable distance loss which can be agonising if you are just that bit off your game. It goes without saying that if you are on your game, these sticks are glorious.
For the VR Pro Combo, as mentioned previously, since they share the same short irons they have the same performance profile. The difference in design in the mid and long irons is very obvious since the performance is very difference than the blades; far more forgiving on miss-hits with more distance for your swing and a lot higher ball flight. The combination and balance of feel, accuracy and forgiveness of the VR Pro Combo means that they span a far wider range of handicaps then the blades and the fact that they have PGA Tour usage shows that there is not a problem for better players.
The principle behind the X3X grooves seems sound enough; with the volume and shoulder radius of the groove reduced by the new rules, increasing the number of grooves contacting the ball should reclaim some of the spin that would otherwise be lost. You would really need a launch monitor to tell how much of a difference it makes but in playing testing there appeared to be minimal difference in spin levels between the X3X versions and the non-conforming versions and this appears to hold true both full and partial shots.
As the 3rd generation of blades that Nike have made, the VR Pro Blades represent yet another progressive increase in an already spectacular set. Previous fans will be reassured by the new conforming versions that have lost none of the Nike magic. For more information, visit http://www.nike.com