By: GolfWRX Review Panel: Kevin “tpariff”
Thanks to WRX and Nike Golf for providing the opportunity to test these new wedges. Before we get into the review here’s a little background. I’m a 6 handicap and have a decent short game. My current wedge setup is Nike VR Pro 54* and 58* with KBS Tour S shafts, both wedges 2* flat of standard. So I requested the same specs, except I opted for the 56* and 60* wedges in the new Nike VR Pro Dual Sole.
I received the wedges in early December and have 5 rounds and two range sessions with them, enough to provide a review. So here we go…..
Like many here, if the club doesn’t look right at address it’s most likely not going to make my bag even if performs well. That’s not an issue with these Nike wedges. Having obviously played the VR Pro wedges I figured these new Dual Sole wedges would look great…and they do! They have a classic teardrop shape which is my preferred look in wedges.
My only concern out of the gate with these wedges was the potential for glare from the chrome / platinum finish. I prefer a dull look (current wedges are black oxide), but these wedges don’t have much glare. The groove area has a duller finish than the other part of the face and back, so I didn’t notice any significant glare playing in the Florida sun. After some time the face finish becomes more dull looking, which is even better.
These wedges felt great right out of the box. Nike lists the SW at D4 – D6 and both were right at D5 on my Golfsmith scale (not digital, so there could a slight variance). I chipped around the house a bit and really liked the feel and sound. There’s a muted click at impact and nice feedback, not mushy or soft, but not hard….just solid. This feel carried out onto the course for chips / pitches, short shots and full shots.
Feedback across all shots is great. I could tell when I hit it a bit high or low on the face from the rough. It wasn’t a punishing feel, but it wasn’t the same great feeling I got when hitting one on the sweet spot.
I don’t want to do a full blown comparison of these wedges with my other Nike wedges, but will say that the Dual Sole design in a significant improvement over the current VR Pro line. These Dual Sole wedges really shine around the greens when I need to open or close the face for a specific shot. The sole design also helps a bunch from the rough and sand, and from soft lies, because the design of the sole allows the wedge to slide through the sand / turf with ease.
The sole grind also allowed me to open the face on firmer lies without bouncing the club into the ball. The DS grind puts the leading edge of the wedge lower at address when opened, so it’s easier to play these shots when needed.
All shots – full, half, pitches / chips, etc – were a breeze with these wedges.
Since wedges are scoring clubs, I typically don’t focus on distance. But I was surprised to see that I hit these wedges the same distance as my 54* and 58* setup. I didn’t measure the lofts, but assuming they are accurate, it looks like I am able to pick up 2* of loft without sacrificing distance (roughly 5 or 6 yards otherwise). And I picked up some spin, which is always a great thing around the greens.
My only issue with these wedges (if I can even call it one) is that they spun a TON on short shots. This isn’t a bad thing, but was somewhat unexpected because I have been playing Nike wedges with X3X grooves. Only thing I can conclude is that the sole design creates cleaner contact on those shots. It took me a couple of rounds to make the adjustment to carrying those shots a bit further to the target and expecting less roll.
While the grooves provide plenty of spin they do not chew up the cover of a golf ball. In fact I didn’t see any ‘groove rash’ from the full shots I hit with either the 56* or 60*.
These are in the bag and aren’t coming out any time soon. I stopped playing a 60* wedge a few years ago because it got me in more trouble than it helped, but I’m glad to say that I can play this one as well or better than I can play a 58*. It’s not a huge difference, but it gives me a bit more spin and versatility around the green.
Again, a big THANKS to WRX and Nike Golf!!!! Feel free to ask questions.
New (the VR Pro and VR Pro DS are basically the same size, but the perspective of some of the pics makes it look otherwise)
Here is the Nike Press release for more information-
Nike Golf announces crafted Nike VR Pro Forged Dual-Sole wedge
Nike Golf is capitalizing on the success of its VR Pro forged wedges with the introduction of the highly crafted Nike VR Pro Forged Dual-Sole (DS) wedge.
The Nike VR Pro Forged DS wedge is developed with a precise forging process, resulting in a wedge that offers accurate shot-shaping performance and a greater propensity for low scoring. Built for Nike Golf Tour athletes, the VR Pro Forged DS wedge features a Dual-Sole grind, ensuring ideal set-up from sand, fringe, fairway or deep rough. The Dual-Sole provides two distinct benefits:
· For normal square addressed shots, the sole has added leading edge bounce, but the trailing edge is relieved. This allows for utilization of the bounce, which helps to eliminate digging but reduces the contact area so the club glides through the turf. The Dual-Sole also prevents bladed shots.
· For open faced shots, a unique relieved heel design comes into play when the face is in an open position. This allows the leading edge to sit low to the ball, especially on short flop shots.
The VR Pro Forged DS wedge features Nike’s high-frequency X3X grooves with a precision laser crosshatch pattern that is applied to the land area between the grooves. This pattern adds three times the surface texture versus conventionally finished faces, creating more spin in all conditions. With Nike’s X3X grooves, there are more grooves (20) that are closer together and deeper on the clubface, which provides more control and consistency in all conditions off of the clubface, while conforming to the USGA and R&A rules.
Finish Options: Satin Chrome; Oxide (NEW); Platinum (NEW)
Loft/Bounce Options: 56/16 dual; 54/24 dual; 60/13 dual (Available in RH)
Golf polos with bold patterns: A quick chat with Bad Birdie golf
Founded in 2017, Los Angeles-based Bad Birdie golf produces some of the most eye-popping polos ever seen on a fairway.
The company’s brazen ambition to “make the most savage golf polos in the world” and its boisterous presence on social media belies an attention to detail and careful pattern curation. It’s easy to make loud, obnoxious clothing. It’s more challenging to produce something that’s at once bold, stylish, appropriately fitted and of high quality. But that is what Jason Richardson’s company has tried to do since entering the market.
I spoke with Richardson about his eye-catching wares.
Before we get into your Bad Birdie offerings, tell me your take on the state of golf wear when you decided to enter the market?
JR: I went shopping for a polo for an upcoming tournament and was hoping to find something a little flashier/fun. I got bummed out when I realized most of the golf polos were generally the same colors/patterns. Solid pastels or stripes weren’t necessarily what I was going for, so I did some research online.
After looking at anything I could find, I realized that most golf polos are almost identical to each other. The only thing that’s really different is the branding or tech fabric. There’s a couple brands making a few edgier patterns but they still have a middle-aged, Tommy Bahama feel that’s not necessarily relevant to the younger golfer.
So building on that, what was the opportunity you saw?
JR: I saw an opportunity to make polos for the younger/trendier/bolder golfer whose style doesn’t fit into the traditional golf trends of pastels and stripes. We have a saying we use on some of our ads: “Your dad called and wants his polo back.” Most young/millennial guys who love golf are having to get their apparel from the same place their dad does. Bad Birdie sees an opportunity to fix that.
Cool. What’s your background in golf?
JR: I’ve worked in golf for a lot of my life. I started caddying when I was 12 at Forest Highlands in Flagstaff, AZ, during the summers, so learned the game while working. During high school, I worked for an eBay store that sold golf shafts that were left over from all the club fitters in Scottsdale. After college and before starting Bad Birdie I worked in advertising.
What’s Bad Birdie’s competitive advantage?
JR: There’s no other brands making performance golf polos with styles like we do. Our team is in their 20s and early 30s so we’re right in our target demographic and have a great network of friends/golfers we can bounce ideas off of. Being based in Los Angeles doesn’t hurt either, as we see a lot of the new fashion trends first.
Who’s your target consumer, and what has the response been like?
JR: 18-35-year-old males (and their significant others who buy Bad Birdie as gifts). The number one customer email we get is guys telling us how surprised they were by the number of compliments they got while wearing their Bad Birdie. Love getting those.
Any upcoming releases, plans we should know about?
JR: We have some new polos dropping in July you’ll want to keep an eye out for.
Who’s the best-dressed golfer on the PGA Tour?
JR: Until someone is wearing a Bad Birdie it’s tough to say.
Check out Bad Birdie’s wares here, or check them out @badbirdiegolf on Twitter.
I tried the great Golfboarding experiment… here’s how it went
Corica Park Golf Course is not exactly the first place you’d expect to find one of the most experimental sports movements sweeping the nation. Sitting on a pristine swath of land along the southern rim of Alameda Island, deep in the heart of the San Francisco Bay, the course’s municipal roots and no-frills clubhouse give it an unpretentious air that seems to fit better with Sam Snead’s style of play than, say, Rickie Fowler’s.
Yet here I am, one perfectly sunny morning on a recent Saturday in December planning to try something that is about as unconventional as it gets for a 90-year-old golf course.
It’s called Golfboarding, and it’s pretty much exactly what it sounds like: an amalgam of golf and skateboarding, or maybe surfing. The brainchild of surfing legend Laird Hamilton — who can be assumed to have mastered, and has clearly grown bored of, all normal sports — Golfboarding is catching on at courses throughout the country, from local municipal courses like Corica Park to luxury country clubs like Cog Hill and TPC Las Colinas. Since winning Innovation Of the Year at the PGA Merchandising Show in 2014, Golfboards can now be found at 250 courses and have powered nearly a million rounds of golf already. Corica Park currently owns eight of them.
The man in pro shop gets a twinkle in his eyes when our foursome tells him we’d like to take them out. “Have you ridden them before?” he asks. When we admit that we are uninitiated, he grins and tells us we’re in for a treat.
But first, we need to sign a waiver and watch a seven-minute instructional video. A slow, lawyerly voice reads off pedantic warnings like “Stepping on the golfboard should be done slowly and carefully” and “Always hold onto the handlebars when the board is in motion.” When it cautions us to “operate the board a safe distance from all…other golfboarders,” we exchange glances, knowing that one of us will more than likely break this rule later on.
Then we venture outside, where one of the clubhouse attendants shows us the ropes. The controls are pretty simple. One switch sends it forward or in reverse, another toggles between low and high gear. To make it go, there’s a throttle on the thumb of the handle. The attendant explains that the only thing we have to worry about is our clubs banging against our knuckles.
“Don’t be afraid to really lean into the turns,” he offers. “You pretty much can’t roll it over.”
“That sounds like a challenge,” I joke. No one laughs.
On a test spin through the parking lot, the Golfboard feels strong and sturdy, even when I shift around on it. It starts and stops smoothly with only the slightest of jerks. In low gear its top speed is about 5 mph, so even at full throttle it never feels out of control.
The only challenge, as far as I can tell, is getting it to turn. For some reason, I’d expected the handlebar to offer at least some degree of steering, but it is purely for balance. The thing has the Ackerman angle of a Mack Truck, and you really do have to lean into the turns to get it to respond. For someone who is not particularly adept at either surfing or skateboarding, this comes a little unnaturally. I have to do a number of three-point turns in order to get back to where I started and make my way over to the first tee box.
We tee off and climb on. The fairway is flat and wide, and we shift into high gear as we speed off toward our balls. The engine had produced just the faintest of whirrs as it accelerated, but it is practically soundless as the board rolls along at full speed. The motor nevertheless feels surprisingly powerful under my feet (the drivetrain is literally located directly underneath the deck) as the board maintains a smooth, steady pace of 10 mph — about the same as a golf cart. I try making a couple of S curves like I’d seen in the video and realize that high-speed turning will take a little practice for me to get right, but that it doesn’t seem overly difficult.
Indeed, within a few holes I might as well be Laird himself, “surfing the earth” from shot to shot. I am able to hold the handlebar and lean way out, getting the board to turn, if not quite sharply, then at least closer to that of a large moving van than a full-sized semi. I take the hills aggressively (although the automatic speed control on the drivetrain enables it to keep a steady pace both up and down any hills, so this isn’t exactly dangerous), and I speed throughout the course like Mario Andretti on the freeway (the company claims increased pace-of-play as one of the Golfboard’s primary benefits, but on a Saturday in the Bay Area, it is impossible avoid a five-hour round anyway.)
Gliding along, my feet a few inches above the grass, the wind in my face as the fairways unfurl below my feet, it is easy to see Golfboards as the next evolution in mankind’s mastery of wheels; the same instincts to overcome inertia that brought us bicycles, rollerblades, scooters, skateboards, and more recent inventions such as Segways, Hoverboards and Onewheels are clearly manifest in Golfboards as well. They might not offer quite the same thrill as storming down a snowy mountainside or catching a giant wave, but they are definitely more fun than your standard golf cart.
Yet, there are obvious downsides as well. The attendant’s warning notwithstanding, my knuckles are in fact battered and sore by the time we make the turn, and even though I rearrange all my clubs into the front slots of my bag, they still rap my knuckles every time I hit a bump. Speaking of which, the board’s shock absorber system leaves something to be desired, as the ride is so bumpy that near the end I start to feel as if I’ve had my insides rattled. Then there is the unforgivable fact of its missing a cup holder for my beer.
But these are mere design flaws that might easily be fixed in the next generation of Golfboards. (A knuckle shield is a must!) My larger problem with Golfboards is what they do to the game itself. When walking or riding a traditional cart, the moments in between shots are a time to plan your next shot, or to chat about your last shot, or to simply find your zen out there among the trees and the birds and the spaciousness of the course. Instead, my focus is on staying upright.
Down the stretch, I start to fade. The muscles in my core have endured a pretty serious workout, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to muster the strength for my golf swing. It is no coincidence that my game starts to unravel, and I am on the way to one of my worst rounds in recent memory.
Walking off the 18th green, our foursome agrees that the Golfboards were fun — definitely worth trying — but that we probably wouldn’t ride them again. Call me a purist, but as someone lacking Laird Hamilton’s physical gifts, I’m happy to stick to just one sport at a time.
Review: The QOD Electric Caddy
If you want an electric golf caddy that doesn’t require that you wear a sensor or carry a remote — one that will be reliable and allow you to focus on your game, and not your cart — then the Australian-manufactured QOD is worth checking out.
The QOD (an acronym for Quality of Design and a nod to its four wheels) is powered by a 14.4-volt lithium battery, good for 36 holes or more on a single charge. It has nine different speeds (with the fastest settings moving closer to jogging velocity) so the QOD can handle your ideal pace, whether that be a casual stroll or a more rapid clip around the course.
The QOD is also built to last. Its injection-molded, aircraft-grade aluminum frame has no welded joints. Steel bolts and locking teeth take care of the hinging points. The battery and frame are both guaranteed for three full years. If you need a new battery after the three-year window, the folks at QOD will replace it at cost.
Its front-wheel suspension gives the QOD a smooth ride down the fairway, and the trolley is easy to navigate with a gentle nudge here and there. The QOD is always in free-wheel mode, so it is smooth and easy to maneuver manually in tight spaces and around the green.
The caddy also features three timed interval modes for situations where you might wish to send it up ahead on its own: when helping a friend find a lost ball or when you will be exiting on the far side of the green after putting, for example. The clip below includes a look at the caddy in timed mode.
Another area where the QOD excels is in its small size and portability. When folded, it measures a mere 17-inches wide, 15-inches deep and 12-inches tall, making it the smallest electric caddy on the market.
Folks Down Under have been enjoying the QOD for some time, but it wasn’t until a few years ago when Malachi McGlone was looking for a way to continue walking the course without putting undue strain on an injured wrist that the QOD found U.S. fairways. After first becoming a satisfied customer, McGlone convinced CEO Collin Hiss, who developed the product and oversees its production in Australia, to allow him to distribute and service the QOD here in the states.
The QOD has no self-balancing gyroscope, bluetooth sensor or remote control. Bells and whistles just aren’t its thing — though it does have a USB port for cell phone charging that can come in handy. However, if you are looking for a no-fuss workhorse to move your bag down the fairway, the QOD should be on your radar.
The 2018 model has begun shipping and will be on sale at $1,299 for a limited time. It normally retails at $1,499.
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