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Nike Golf club nostalgia

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As time passes, we often look back on prior events and designs with rose-colored glasses. This reborn love for classic designs has taken hold in a number of avenues, from clothing, to cars, and even golf equipment.

In the case of cars, models that would have been considered odd and ugly are now cherished by those that appreciate their origins.

Case in point, below.

Often, these nostalgic cycles are created generationally by individuals who at one point admired a design but were too young or not financially able to afford what they really wanted. Once these individuals reach an age of financial stability they seek nostalgia and are willing to pay good money to rekindle that fond memory.

In the case of golf equipment, over the last five years, there has been a renaissance of golf nerddom on a number of levels. From persimmon enthusiasts looking to capture and enjoy golf the way it used to be played, to other players seeking out sets of modern clubs they idolized as younger golfers but could also never afford. The great thing for those searching for older clubs is that it’s way less expensive than buying a car.

Notable Nike Golf moments

Nike fits well into this cycle of nostalgia, and there are a number of factors to consider, the most important being the resurgence of Tiger Woods as a major champion—even if he no longer uses those clubs. Around the late 2000s and early part of the next decade, it wasn’t just Mr. Woods racking up wins.

In fact, Nike had a number of its athletes achieve big milestones including Trevor Immelman winning the 2008 Masters, Lucas Glover winning the 2009 U.S. Open, Stuart Cink winning the 2009 Open Championship (*we all know you were cheering for Tom Watson), and Charl Schwartzel winning the 2011 Masters with four-straight closing birdies—all with bags full of Nike gear.

Let’s just take a moment to remember that both Glover and Cink won using the square Nike SQ Sumo2 Tour driver—the lower spinning version of the often-mocked SQ Sumo2, and Nike had a number of other very high profile players during this time period.

The retail experience

During this era of Nike Golf, I worked frontline in big box golf retail, and as much as we found Nike gear performed well, it was generally a difficult sell to (vast generalization coming here) older established golfers who were used to looking at the traditional brands. The loud colors we are used to seeing today were forward-thinking and also a turn off to many consumers even if the clubs did perform.

The story of Nike Golf’s life in the hards good space is well documented, so I don’t need to do an entire recap of its exit. It is well known that no matter what you thought of their clubs, the underlying dark horse was always their forged irons and wedges, and that leads us to one man—Mike Taylor.

Once Nike decided to exit the hard goods space, this left a lot of extremely talented people looking for new opportunities, and a small group from Nike went out on their own and created Artisan Golf out of what was previously “The Oven,” Nike’s R&D facility. Mike Taylor, Dave Richey, and John Hatfield, all men with decades of experience hand-building golf clubs from scratch started offering their expertise to anyone looking for a hands-on approach to their own equipment. With their well-documented history working with players, it didn’t take long for Artisan to build a following.

This following and newfound interest in this small team brought with it much deserved notoriety to more general golfers than they ever received while working under Nike Golf. As their well-documented history continues to become more well known, it has created a higher demand for their Artisan products and in turn, has golfers searching for alternatives and looking back with much more fondness to previous Nike clubs.

As a constant consumer of the used club marketplace and lover of forged blades, I have been pleasantly surprised to see how Nike clubs including the VR Forged Blades, VR Pro II, and older forged wedges have held value compared to similar clubs in the same category from other manufacturers. The only logical reason for this increased value is golfers realizing the people behind these clubs are true craftsmen and just as important in victory as the athletes who used them.

In the case of used club shopping, it’s still a relatively inexpensive pursuit compared to other hobbies, and if you are in the market for some classic Nike gear, be prepared to pay a small premium for the right to own some of the best-made forged irons of the last decade.

 

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Ryan Barath is part of the Digital Content Creation Team for GolfWRX. He hosts the "On Spec" Podcast on the GolfWRX Radio Network which focuses on discussing everything golf, including gear, technology, fitting, and course architecture. He is a club-fitter & master club builder with more than 17 years of experience working with golfers of all skill levels, including PGA Tour players. He is the former Build Shop Manager & Social Media Coordinator for Modern Golf. He now works independently from his home shop and is a member of advisory panels to a select number of golf equipment manufacturers. You can find Ryan on Twitter and Instagram where he's always willing to chat golf, and share his passion for club building, course architecture and wedge grinding.

18 Comments

18 Comments

  1. Clarence

    Apr 11, 2020 at 9:27 am

    I wax using Nike slingshot, just upgraded to the VR pro Cavity.. i love them..

  2. Hardy

    Mar 27, 2020 at 5:02 pm

    I have Nike blades (the VR Pro II – LOL), hybrids, and putter that I may sell if the price is right.

  3. Todd

    Mar 27, 2020 at 3:58 pm

    The sq 2 fairway was super legit. I wish I had never parted with it

  4. Egdew Rich

    Mar 27, 2020 at 9:45 am

    Vapor Flex driver..have two of them..were far ahead of their time!

  5. Cliff

    Mar 27, 2020 at 9:28 am

    Have an orange, black and white Nike bag with a sumo2 driver. Ignite 5 wood. Slingshot 4 & 5 hybrid and Ignite irons and Nike wedges. Only club in the bag not Nike…. Odyssey putter. Love my Nike sticks.

  6. Benny

    Mar 26, 2020 at 12:30 pm

    Last year I got a sick set of RAW Nike Tour Blades in Recoild X Prototype shafts. They were a steal and just assumed they wouldn’t be something I would game. Especially just after getting rid of raw MP68’s that I was dissapointed with.
    These Nike blades were so small and tiny ut I went on one of my best summer runs in years. Not long and could only draw/hook them but I shot some of the lowest scores in 5-6 years and got myself back down to a 3.7 index.
    Unfortunately I started to “hosel-rocket” them adter 6-7 weeks which put me into a side spin. Especially when I was playing against better players who use p790’s and PXG’s that were 2x clubs longer.
    I agree with this. Nike made irons and wedges!

  7. Greg

    Mar 26, 2020 at 9:33 am

    Good article but you missed an entire category where Nike still has a very loyal folllowong (including chasing/collecting unique clubs built at The Oven)…. their putters.

    I am gaming a Mod 90 and you will have to pry this putter from my cold, dead hands.

    • Ryan Barath

      Mar 26, 2020 at 2:04 pm

      100% The putters were highly underrated!

      My personal favorite before the Methods came along were the Unitized. Classic shapes, heavy heads… gone but not forgotten.

  8. jgpl001

    Mar 26, 2020 at 6:07 am

    I was never a big Nike fan, but the VR Pro II irons and the Vapour MB’s were cracking clubs

    Some Nike balls were very good too

  9. Lewis

    Mar 26, 2020 at 12:15 am

    Last year i picked up a set of the old Nike TW VR forged blades in excellent shape. I was expecting to love the things but it just never happened for me. This article has me wishing they werent 900 miles away in my in-laws basement so i could pass them on to a fellow WRX member. Also just realized my all time favorite driver is in the same bag with those irons….. IDIOT!!!!!

  10. BillyG

    Mar 25, 2020 at 10:36 pm

    Still playing a full set of VR Pro II blades, wedges, driver, and fairway. I also have a couple of hybrids which don’t have that draw tendency like many. These clubs are all really great to play because they are classic. Even the Method 001 gets to hand in the bag, too. How many pros still keep some form of Vapor Pro club in their bags?

  11. Frank

    Mar 25, 2020 at 9:20 pm

    Why do people repeatedly call the VR pro blades the “vr pro II”?

    • Jens

      Mar 26, 2020 at 2:19 pm

      Thank you, Frank!

    • BillyG

      Mar 26, 2020 at 3:30 pm

      Because that is what is on the club. Duh!

      • Jens

        Mar 27, 2020 at 11:40 am

        It’s there for aesthetics/design purpose. You don’t read “Vr-II-Pro-Swoosh” just because it’s on the club, do you?

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Equipment

Is the R&A coming for drivers?

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R&A chief Martin Slumbers has issued a stark message which could bring an end to the likes of Bryson DeChambeau’s recent dismantling of golf courses – and it could also spell big changes for manufacturers.

Speaking to the Daily Mail, Slumbers unveiled the areas which the game’s two governing bodies are focusing on to help prevent golf courses being overpowered by today’s professionals, and hinted that significant changes could be on the way for modern driver technology.

“It is too simple just to say change the ball. Way too simple. You can do things with the ball. But it’s the relationship between ball and club which is most important, to me.

 The fundamental change in the golf ball since 1999-2000, with the introduction of ProV1 technology, is the ball spins less. And drivers have been designed so it spins even less, which makes it go further.”

Bryson DeChambeau’s unprecedented length off the tee has been a hot topic of discussion since golf’s restart. While Slumbers hailed the 26-year-old’s “extraordinary” ability to combine that power with accuracy, the R&A chief declared that he would be coming back to the issue to address the current lack of balance between skill and power in the sport.

“Bryson, I’m fascinated by. I’m not sure I can remember another sportsman, in any sport, so fundamentally changing their physical shape. But what is extraordinary is that Bryson isn’t the first one to put on muscle in golf. How he’s able to control the ball, with that extra power, is extraordinary. All credit to him, he’s a true athlete.

But I still come back to the belief that golf is a game of skill. And we believe we need to get this balance of skill and technology right. Once we feel that the industry is stable again, which isn’t going to be tomorrow, because we don’t know what’s going to happen over autumn and winter, we will be coming back to that issue in great seriousness.”

Part one of the R&A and USGA’s Distance Report concluded that the increased gains from the bombers off the tee in the game was “detrimental to the sport”. Per his interview with the Mail, Slumbers reiterated that the desire for a balance between skill and technology would head stage two of the report.

“My view is very much that golf is a game of skill. It’s important to have a balance of skill and technology. We did intend to publish the next stage in March, sending out to manufacturers our specific areas of interest. Specific topics we wanted to evaluate before considering what equipment changes we would – or would not – put in place.

It’s all been put on hold because the world has a lot more to worry about. And we were conscious of the golf industry having the time to recover. But we will bring that topic back – because it does need to be discussed.”

 

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What GolfWRXers are saying about the optimal equipment strategy for a beginner

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In our forums, our members have been discussing the best equipment-strategies for beginners taking up the sport. WRXer ‘Used2PlayAlot’ asks members what their nuggets of advice would be, and WRXers have been sharing their top tips for beginners in our forums.

Here are a few posts from the thread, but make sure to check out the entire discussion and have your say at the link below.

  • MattGolfs: “Id try to find a used set locally with bag and everything included. As a beginner, you just need to get out and start playing to figure out what you like and dislike equipment-wise IMO.”
  • rkillian: “My brother in law more recently got into the game. I found him a used set on craigslist for $150. My dad is getting back into it as well. He has slowed down and needed some irons that are a little lighter and a newer more forgiving driver. Also found stuff for him on craigslist—$ 120 for irons and a driver. My wife and daughter wanted to have their own clubs when they come play a par 3 with me. Found my wife a used box set on craigslist for $50 and my daughter a little junior set for $20 on the Facebook market place. You should be able to find what someone new to the game needs on craigslist or Facebook.”
  • tomg1969: “I just did this for a friend. I went to eBay and found a nice set of Ping G5 irons for $100. I also picked up two nice, older Adams a12 hybrids for $50, and a Ping driver for $60. I gave him one of my older putters, and old stand bag and a sand wedge. For $210 (Plus the things that I gave him from my “junk pile”) he has a pretty nice and forgiving set up for a beginner.”
  • kmay_: “Yep look on local classifieds, Facebook marketplace etc. A buddy of mine at work wanted to get into playing, so I sold him an old set of irons I had, a stand bag, and an old 3 wood. Found him a driver on Kijiji, he picked up a 60* and a putter and now he’s playing more often than me the bugger. Has an exec course across the street from his house, so he bought a membership there and has been playing a ton. Cheap full set would be the way I would go, get the guy into it and then if he wants to continue playing, he can start putting together a better set with your guidance.”

Entire Thread: “Optimal equipment strategy for a beginner?”

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What GolfWRXers are saying about cult classic irons

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In our forums, our members have been discussing cult classic irons. WRXer ‘pingnewbie’ kicks off the thread with his two choices of Mizuno’s MP-33 irons and Nike’s VR Pro irons, and asks fellow members for their picks.

Here are a few posts from the thread, but make sure to check out the entire discussion and have your say at the link below.

  • ScottsTots: “MP-32’s for me! I think at some point the JPX 900 Tour might hit that status if Koepka runs off a few more majors over his career!”
  • cgasucks: “Obviously the Ping Eye 2s and the 845s.”
  • celebros: “Cleveland TA3 Form Forged.”
  • gwelfgulfer: “Nike original blades, 32’s and 33’s (prefer 33’s), ’05 TP CB’s (Jpn version if you can find), RAC Lt, 300 Forged, R9 TP B’s, Eye’s, I5’s, ’07 X Forged, Adams MB2’s plus many more.”
  • jplroper: “Titleist 962 and Tommy Armour 845’s.”

Entire Thread: “Cult classic irons”

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