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Nike VR_S Covert Fairway Woods: Editor Review

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Pros: We love the adjustability of the VR_S Covert Tour fairway woods ($249), which gives golfers five different lofts and three different face angles to choose from. That makes them the most adjustable fairway woods you can buy. The Covert Tour is lower spinning and less forgiving than Nike’s non-adjustable standard model, the VR_S Covert ($199), but both models are pretty forgiving for their sizes.

Cons: They’re not quite as long as their competitors — notably Callaway’s X Hot or TaylorMade’s RBZ Stage 2 fairway woods — because they’re not as low spinning. Some golfers who fit into the standard model will be bummed that it lacks adjustability.

Bottom Line: The adjustability of the Covert Tour fairway woods makes them great for tinkerers — golfers who want to use their 3 woods as a second driver one day and a second-shot club the next. Most PGA Tour players have gravitated toward the standard model, which is higher spinning, more forgiving and has a softer, quieter sound. Both models come with “real deal” Mitsubishi Rayon Kurokage shafts, making them a lot of fairway wood for the money.

Overview

Nike’s VR_S Covert and Covert Tour fairway woods feature the same cavity-back technology as Nike’s VR_S Covert drivers, which allowed engineers to increase the amount of perimeter weighting to make the clubs more forgiving. They also have Nike’s NexCor steel faces, which Nike says creates longer shots across a wider area of the face.

The standard, or “Performance” model, comes in two lofts: 3 wood (15 degrees) and 5 wood (19 degrees) with a Mitsubishi Rayon’s Kurokage Black 60 shaft in regular, stiff and x-stiff flexes. Check out the specs below.

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 Above: Nike Covert “Performance” 5 wood.

Covert 3 Wood (15 degrees)

  • Club Head Size: 181 cubic centimeters
  • Length: 43 inches
  • Lie: 57 degrees
  • Face angle: 1.5 degrees open
  • Head weight: 214 grams
  • Swing weight: D1 to D3

Covert 5 wood (19 degrees)

  • Club Head Size: 160 cubic centimeters
  • Length: 42 inches
  • Lie: 58 degrees
  • Face angle: 1.5 degrees open
  • Head weight: 218 grams
  • Swing weight: D1 to D3

The Covert Tour is also available in two models — 3 wood and 5 wood. But Nike’s FlexLoft system gives each model five different loft settings and three independent face angle settings: N or neutral, which sets up square, R or right, which opens the face 1.5 degrees and L or left, which closes the face 1.5 degrees.

nike covert fairway

Above is the Nike Covert 3 wood crown

They come stock with Mitsubishi’s Kurokage Silver 70 shafts, which are lower launching and lower spinning than the Kurokage Black shafts, and are available in regular, stiff and x-stiff flexes.

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Covert 3 Wood Sole (Cavity) Photo above

Covert Tour 3 Wood (13 to 17 degrees)

  • Club Head Size: 194 cubic centimeters
  • Length: 43 inches
  • Lie angle: 58 degrees
  • Face angle (in neutral): 1 degree open
  • Head weight: 214.5 grams
  • Swing weight: D3 to D5

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Above photos is the Covert Tour 3 wood Face

Covert Tour 5 wood (17 to 21 degrees)

  • Club Head Size: 177 cubic centimeters
  • Length: 42 inches
  • Lie angle: 59 degrees
  • Face angle (in neutral): 1 degree open
  • Head weight: 224.5 grams
  • Swing weight: D3 to D5

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Above: Nike Covert Tour 5 wood.

Performance

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Above: The Covert Tour (left) has Nike’s FlexLoft system, giving it 15 different possible loft and face angle settings. 

According to Nike Product Line Manager Tony Dabbs, the Covert Tour is about 300 to 400 rpm lower spinning, and about 0.75 degrees lower launching than the standard version for PGA Tour players. Neither model is going to be as low spinning as Callaway’s X Hot or TaylorMade’s RBZ Stage 2 fairway woods, two of the longest fairway woods that we’ve tested, but Dabbs said that was by design.

“We have issues with a lot of our tour players hitting 3 wood too far,” Dabbs said. “They’re not looking for a 330-yard 3 wood.”

Dabbs said that the faces of the Covert fairway woods are just as hot as the leaders, but that the company decided to make this version of fairway woods with a little more spin and a higher launch to give golfers more playability and control.

Click here to watch a video on why Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods play the Performance model of the Nike Covert fairway woods.

For golfers with less swing speed, or those who have trouble hitting their fairway woods high enough, the standard head will make sense. It’s smaller, has a shallower face, and comes with a higher-launching, higher spinning shaft. Players who are looking to reduce spin will favor the Covert Tour, which is larger, has a deeper face, and has a shaft that will offer a more penetrating trajectory.

Golfers who fit in-between the heads will likely be more concerned with appearance and adjustability, which could play a bigger role than launch monitor numbers.

The FlexLoft system on the Covert Tour is a game changer for golfers who have struggled to get the correct loft and face angle combination in their fairway woods. In most models, lowering the loft means opening the face angle, while raising the loft means closing the face angle. The Covert Tour allows golfers to change the face angle independently of loft, meaning that regardless how the loft is set they can still get an opened, closed or neutral face angle at address.

Keep in mind that while the primary purpose of changing the face angle of a club is to influence the starting line of a shot (opened faces start the ball more right, closed faces start the ball more left), those adjustments will also influence dynamic loft — the actual loft of the part of the club that hits the ball at impact. For example, if a club has a more opened face angle, golfers will be forced to rotate the club more closed to square the club face at impact. This will reduce dynamic loft, resulting in a lower launch and lower spin. The opposite is true of closed face angles.

The nice thing about the Covert Tour fairway woods is that unless a golfer is at the upper or lower end of the loft range, he or she can bump the loft up or down to dial in the proper amount of launch and spin for their face angle setting.

Looks/Feel

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Above: The Covert fairway woods at address. Notice the bigger hosel on the Tour model (right). 

The Covert Tour fairway wood is slightly bigger in every respect than the standard model. It starts with the FlexLoft hosel, which had to be made bigger than standard hosels to accomodate the dual-axis mechanism that makes independent loft and and lie adjustments possible. The face is also taller, which will add confidence when the ball is teed up. But it could scare lower swing speed players when they try to hit the club off the ground. It also has a higher-pitched, louder sound than the standard model, which feels a little harsher on mishits.

Both clubs have the same red crown Nike Swoosh logo, but the Tour model has a black finish on the face and the sole that we think makes it look more stealthy.

The Takeaway

The Covert fairway woods aren’t longest fairway woods on the market, but they’re certainly one of the most forgiving — especially the Performance model. Better golfers who want a new fairway wood they can play straight off the rack will enjoy the Covert Tour, which has a stout stock shaft option and enough adjustability to get most golfers the results they want.

Gearheads might be tempted to do what many tour players have done — experiment with heavier, low-spin shafts in in the Performance head. That could ultimately give them the best of both worlds, meaning they could end up with a club that allows them to hit high, low-spin bombs from the tee, fairway and light rough. Of course, the Performance head doesn’t have the face angle or loft adjustability that comes with the tour head, so they better like the way the club looks at address.

Check out more photos of the Covert and Covert Tour fairway woods below, and click here to see what members are saying about the clubs in the forums. 

 

Click here to see what members are saying about the clubs in the forums.

 

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GolfWRX is the world's largest and best online golf community. Expert editorial reviews, breaking golf tour and industry news, what to play, how to play and where to play. GolfWRX surrounds consumers throughout the buying, learning and enrichment process from original photographic and video content, to peer to peer advice and camaraderie, to technical how-tos, and more. As the largest online golf community we continue to protect the purity of our members opinions and the platform to voice them. We want to protect the interests of golfers by providing an unbiased platform to feel proud to contribute to for years to come. You can follow GolfWRX on Twitter @GolfWRX and on Facebook.

9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. dr.eva steinharter

    Dec 20, 2013 at 1:00 pm

    is it true that nike is discontinuing ladies covert
    fairways-woods?

  2. MCM

    Aug 22, 2013 at 9:02 pm

    ?????

  3. Robert

    Jun 10, 2013 at 10:52 pm

    Great review. I’m killing the 3 wood tour. Off the deck or tee its going in the bag now. Sits perfect on the ground and Nike has done an excellent job with this years metal woods.

  4. Sam

    Jun 2, 2013 at 10:10 am

    I never thought I’d own a Nike golf club. After I tried just about every 3 wood at my club this year, I liked the Nike Covert Tour the best.
    It might not be as long as the X-Hot or the Rocketballz but that can be attributed to the fact the shaft is an inch shorter.

    • Adam

      Jun 7, 2013 at 4:03 pm

      I agree Sam. I went to Dicks saying I would never buy a Nike club. But after hitting all the drivers it came down to the nike and the rocketballz. I Choose Nike. I liked the adjust-ability which ultimately gave me straighter drives. The Nike is registered an average of 109 club speed and the rocketballz was 111-12 for me. Oh, and they finally fixed the sound of the nike club. Its very nice.

  5. Pingback: Nike VR_S Covert Fairway Woods: Editor Review – GolfWRX | Golf Products Reviews

  6. Jack

    May 31, 2013 at 5:49 pm

    Crap clubs for the junior wannabes at the local muni. Real players learned a long time ago that Nike retail is junk.

    • Scott

      Jun 1, 2013 at 8:04 pm

      Ignorant comment Jack.

      • Harry

        Sep 16, 2013 at 6:36 am

        Jack, try telling the best player in the world that his clubs are junk.

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Equipment

TaylorMade P Series irons: Talking tour integration

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Now that the cat has been let out of the bag on the new 2020 TaylorMade P Series irons, I wanted to get some intel on how these new sticks will start to infiltrate the major tours and what that might look like.

TaylorMade’s Adrian Rietveld is one of the individuals that players like Rory, Rahm, and a number of the European staff trust to transition into new product.

I had a chance to chat with him this week on all things P Series, and this is what he had to say.

JW: In a general sense, what is the process for you when integrating a new product on Tour?

AR: I never like to do [more than] one product at a time, unless I’m at the Kingdom or off-site. On tour, it’s essential the focus stays in a bubble and we deal with one thing at a time. We typically will speak before any testing is done and I’ll get a sense from them what is looking to be gained or if there are any glaring issues.

The main place to start is going apples-to-apples spec-wise—old product vs new product. At that point we can see what the new product is offering, i.e. where it’s good and also identify what we need to do to get dialed across the board.

JW: Of the main Tour staff, who is testing now, and who will be testing after the season is over?

AR: Can’t answer exactly who is currently testing because all players test at different times, but I know our U.S. and European core staff players all have sets including non-staff players that also have our equipment in play.

The cool thing is the players who have had the time to test put them in play quickly which is a good sign.

JW: Rory put the P7MB in play quickly. What did he respond to on the P7MB that encouraged the switch?

AR: He did, but by the time, he got them he had been testing with us for a good while. When he got the set he has now, he was already quite familiar with them, so the transition was easy. This iron was designed with a lot of his input (as well as DJ) and both players had very nuanced but similar preferences, so it’s safe to say he was comfortable with them when they came outta the box.

It’s not a huge switch from his 730’s. He liked that he picked up marginal improvements across the board and was particularly pleased of the simplicity of the set—especially in the longer irons with less offset.

JW: What improvements are you seeing so far vs old models?

AR: For MB, using Charley Hull as an example, the 730 for her seemed to turn over a bit and was a bit less forgiving. With the 7MB, she neutralized her ball flight all while keeping her spec identical to her old set.

In the MC the long irons seem to launch a touch higher with a fraction more speed. Every player who has tested has made the switch, and that’s with no pressure to do so. We are patient when players irons hit in regards to player switches. I believe in the next 6-9 months you will see a ton of MC’s in bags, whether its staff or non-staff.

JW: Do you think you will see more combo sets than before?

AR: To be honest most setups these days are combo sets in some way shape or form. What I think we will see are players having the P7MB play further down into the set. For example, the player that was 4, 5, 6 750 and 7-P in 730 will now start to have the MB in the 5 and 6. That little addition of forgiveness will give players enough confidence and performance to make them comfortable.

JW: Using Rahm as an example, what is his process when he is getting into a new product?

AR: He spends a lot of time at The Kingdom and does any major switching there. He’s not a player who tends to tinker at a tournament site. As with most of our staff, his process is about making sure any switch in the bag is a step forward in performance. Since he lives in Arizona, getting to Keith and me in Carlsbad isn’t a long trip and that gives us ample quiet time to focus, test, and experiment.

*according to TaylorMade, eight sets P Series irons have been built for players on the European Tour with seven going into play immediately.

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Best tips for shopping for used golf clubs

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We’re in the middle of the golf season, and there is still lots of time left to lower your handicap, post a personal best score, and have some more fun along the way—but it might require some news clubs to get there. The best part is today, new doesn’t have to mean brand new—it can just be “new” to you.

Before spending any money shopping for used golf clubs, it’s important to pay close attention to a number of small details to save you time—and prevent you from having to spend more money down the road to correct for purchasing mistakes.

Here is our how-to guide to shop for used clubs

Shop the big sellers: Unless you are buying locally and have the opportunity to inspect clubs and know their source, the safest and easiest way to shop is from the big online sellers that inspect and verify the clubs they sell are legit.

Although thanks to a very concerted effort by OEMs to mostly eliminate counterfeit gear, it can still find its way into the marketplace and big sellers help stop the spread and prevent you from wasting your money. Also, most of the big sellers use photos of the actual clubs you are buying – not representative photos so you know exactly what you are getting.
**(We also have a great Buy/Sell/Trade board here on GolfWRX too)**

The telltale signs of counterfeit clubs are

  • Badge and brand colors slightly off
  • Poorly installed shaft bands (the stickers on steel shafts)
  • Awful smelling grips – they can feel thin and smell like very cheap rubber or solvents
  • Club weight seems very off – for irons and wedges they might feel extremely light and for drivers and woods they can feel a lot heavier because of the extremely poor quality graphite shafts being used.

Confirm specs: You don’t need to have a shop worth of tools to quickly and easily take some simple measurements to make sure you and getting clubs that match the right spec you are looking for, although a very specific tool is needed to check lies and lofts.

Specs you can check without tools – irons and wedges

  • Lengths: If lengths arent stated and you are buying in person, just simply bring a few of your own clubs to compare.
  • Grips: A quick check that all of the grips match for size and style can save you money, and make sure they feel good when you go to use them. Don’t forget though, grips are an easy and affordable way to make used clubs feel new again.
  • Matching shafts: A quick visual inspection to make sure the shafts match up will make sure you are getting what you pay for. Along that same line, checking to also make sure the ferrules match will show whether any club in the set was potentially repaired at some point.

Shopping for used clubs can feel like a treasure hunt and is a lot of fun—it’s also a great way to save money on equipment. Just be sure to not get caught up in what might seem like a deal too good to be true and take your time when evaluating what you are buying.

Happy (used golf club) shopping!

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Korea’s AutoFlex Shaft: Challenging the conventional wisdom of golf

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We are creatures of habit, or so I’ve been told. And God knows old habits are hard to break. Just ask my right leg that simply refuses to stop reverse-pivoting, despite my best intentions.

Equally hard to break are pre-conceived notions and superstitions. There are hundreds of them to be sure, but I want to focus on one particular idea in golf that seems to be largely unchallenged for its conventional wisdom: The more flexible the shaft, the less accurate it is.

You may have heard a similar version of the same idea. Stiffer shafts offer straighter shots, faster swingers need stronger shafts, and whippier shafts result in more slice. But a recent find has caused me to challenge this well-established notion—that an ultralight, super flexible shaft (44 grams) is claiming to be not only straighter but longer as well.

My first reaction: “NO WAY”. The shaft would practically be a fishing rod. There’s no way that it would stand up to my normal swing speed of 98~100 mph.

But the kicker was that the makers of this ‘breakthrough’ shaft doubled down on me by claiming that their fishing rod-esque shaft can hold under swing speeds of up to 150mph! That’s up in the territory of world long drive champions-and they are practically inhuman! Now I was scoffing out loud—time to put the money where their mouth was.

(Jung-hwan MOON, member of Korean National long drive team, testing out the new AutoFlex FS505 shaft)

The new shaft is named AUTO FLEX. Sounds a little cheesy, until you realize that Dumina Inc., the South Korean shaft manufacturer, also makes AUTO POWER shafts that have caused a local sensation on the KLPGA and elite amateur circles over the past few years.

Autopower shafts have proven itself to be effective, largely due to a wide range of 50+ shafts offering a much smaller gapping of about 5-10 CPMs between shafts. It allowed golfers to dial into their particular swing speed more effectively. Its use of their proprietary weaving pattern and as-yet-undisclosed material KHT (Korea Hidden Technology!?) also did what it said it would. Smooth feel, mid-high launch, and great accuracy/forgiveness.

FLEXING SOME MUSCLE

Enter AUTO FLEX, the new generation of shafts that Dumina claims will make the game of golf easier and more enjoyable for all golfers. By allowing golfers to swing more easily and smoothly with a much lighter shaft, golfers will not only feel fewer aches and pains but that their scores will improve as well.

Oh, and did I mention that there are only 3 shafts that are supposed to fit all levels of swing speeds from 65 to 150mph?

“NO WAY”, you say? I told you so.

Autoflex SF305 shaft / 38 grams / approx. 170cpm / Ladies / SS 60~80mph
Autoflex SF405 shaft / 44 grams / approx. 180cpm / Men / SS 80~95mph
Autoflex SF505 shaft / 51 grams / approx. 210cpm / Pro / SS 95~120+mph

According to the specs provided, I was fit for the SF405 shaft. The SF stands for ‘Spec Free’ meaning that these shafts do not follow the conventional labeling system of R, S, X, and weight. The first few waggles and I was at a loss for words.

Dumina claimed that after three rounds with the Autoflex, I would be well adjusted and that results would be prominent. I began by hitting a few shots with the 43-gram shaft and immediately noticed that the shaft had something much more than meets the eye.

Once I got over the initial doubt that a whippy shaft would not be able to square up to the ball at impact and started to swing normally, the shots flew straight with a bump up in launch angle. The higher launch (from 9º up to 13º) gave me more carry distance over my previous gamer, but I thought it might be increasing my backspin. But a quick check with a launch monitor showed an average of 2,000-2,100 RPM, which was about the same as before.

But the most noticeable numbers were from the total distance, which was about 5~7 yards farther than my usual average. This was surprising because I felt I was swinging a little slower and smoother than before (it may be from the fear that the whippy shaft may cause a duck hook), but the average ball speed increased from 62~63mph to about 65.

I venture that because the shaft is more flexible, it causes the head speed to increase, kind of like cracking a whip of sorts. This somewhat fits into my current belief that a more flexible shaft hits the ball longer (at the expense of accuracy).

Pretty darn good numbers for me, but ZERO side spin means a straight as an arrow shot and 1.50 smash factor.

 

The numbers on the launch monitor were impressive for my standards and usual play. But it needed to be tested out on the course.

At the time of this article, I have played some 10 rounds with the new AutoFlex shaft on my Cobra F9 driver (10.5°, 45.25 inches at D2) and I couldn’t be happier with my results. My driving accuracy has significantly improved over the conventional shaft (HZRDUS Smoke 6S).

I’ve played in both fair and very windy conditions, and the results were the same. I was finding a lot more fairway than ever before. That pesky little draw at the end that rolls the ball into the left rough has all but disappeared.

To be frank, I didn’t see much change in the overall distance as well-struck shots from both my old gamer and new shaft tended to go about the same distance. However, it was the frequency of how often I was able to hit the sweet spot with the new shaft that made me feel much more confident in swinging the driver on the tightest of fairways.

I am still searching for the right words to explain it, but the driver feels whippy on the backswing and yet it feels like the entire length of the shaft firms up on the downswing and at impact. At times, I was certain that the shot completely missed the center of the face and a quick check confirmed that I struck the ball on the heel or toe, well outside the center. But the resulting ball flight is either a slight push or pull with a small distance loss of about 10 yards. Yet, no bananas or duck hooks that I’ve come to associate with such mishits and feedback to the hands. What sorcery is this?

But the most beneficial factor for me was that I was swinging the club much easier and with less energy exertion than I would have done with a heavier, stiffer shaft. I had a lower back disc surgery five years ago that prevents me from making a full turn and a limited finish. Playing with longer-hitting friends invariably leads me to try to swing harder at a faster tempo, usually leading to ballooning scores.

With AutoFlex, once I dialed into the new reality with an adjusted belief about whippier shafts, I was able to maintain both accuracy and distance for the whole round and not feel as tired. And I was better able to maintain my balance with a smoother swing and not have to worry about losing distance. Perhaps this is what let me hit the face center more often. Just like the namesake, it was as if the shaft was automatically trying to help fix my swing flaws to provide maximum forgiveness.

Whatever it is, I was sold.

I now have the same spec AutoFlex shaft in my 3-wood as well. If I had trouble getting my fairway woods up in the air previously, no one would suspect that of me now.

I would love to replace all of my shafts, irons and all if I could afford it, but unfortunately, the shafts are quite expensive. The company tells me that the “hidden technology” material and the manufacturing process is quite costly (nearly seven times over regular shaft manufacturing cost), and they are available in limited quantities at 950,000 KRW (about $775) each.

For me, the proof was in my new-found fearlessness with the driver and wood. I get a kick out of waggling my driver on the first tee to the shock of my playing partners and then bust a drive down the middle. Some still can’t come to grips with the shaft despite trying for themselves. And the makers of the shaft are keeping their lips sealed on what makes the shaft behave differently than the commonly held perceptions. In fact, Dumina has not applied for a patent at all, stating that once their secret is out, it will change the way we play golf and limit their business from copycats. So whatever KHT is about, it will remain undisclosed for the time being.

What do you think? Do you have any ideas on how the AutoFlex shaft works or what are its component materials? I would be interested in hearing from other gear heads out there!

 

 

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