Nike’s golf equipment never appealed to the masses in the same way as the company’s golf shoes and apparel, leading to the company’s decision to discontinue its production of clubs, balls and bags and focus on soft goods. Its lack of retail success, however, does not mean that Nike didn’t produce excellent golf equipment.
Nike launched its first golf balls, the Precision line, in 1998. Its first line of golf clubs came in 2002. Our staff took a trip down memory lane to remember all the Nike golf equipment produced between then and now. Here’s our list of the best golf equipment Nike ever made.
SQ Sumo2 Driver
Nike’s SQ Sumo2 was one of the most polarizing clubs in company history. Released in 2006 — the height of the industry’s obsession with high-MOI drivers — the SQ Sumo2 used a composite crown and a square head shape to push weight to the back corners of the driver head for added forgiveness on off-center hits.
The SQ Sumo2 was best known for its loud, high-pitched sound, which rang like an aluminum baseball bat at impact. A later version, Nike SQ Sumo2 5900, increased MOI to 5900, while improving sound and feel.
VR X3X Toe Sweep Wedge
All wedges pretty much look the same, right? Not Nike’s Toe Sweep wedge, the brainchild of legendary Nike club maker Mike Taylor that was released in 2014.
The VR X3X attempted to solve the age-old problem of the heel of the wedge getting “stuck” on shots from long grass. Taylor’s solution was to create wedge soles with hardly any mass on the heel side, which also made open-face shots easier. Both Rory McIlroy and Johnny Vegas used the Toe Sweep grind to win on tour.
Split Cavity Prototype Irons
While these irons were never released, they were played by several of Nike’s tour players, and carry a special significance to us. Our founder easyyy scored a set of Trevor Immelman prototypes back in 2005, the year GolfWRX was founded, and hasn’t stopped talking about the Miura-forged protos since.
At the time, the Split Cavities were the standard to meet for all forged cavity-back irons. They were clean in shape, butter soft at impact and great through the ground. Several notable forged cavity-back irons followed, including our recent Nike favorites, the VR Forged Pro Combos.
Vapor Flex 440
For gear heads, the worst part about Nike’s decision to fold its golf equipment division could be the promise it showed with its latest driver, the Vapor Flex 440.
Ever since Nike’s switch to its Covert design platform for metal woods, the company struggled to compete in the realm of low-spin drivers. The Vapor Flex 440 (released in 2016) was different. Sixty percent of the club head was made from Nike’s proprietary, carbon fiber-reinforced RZN material, a weight-saving scheme that boosted performance.
Our sources tell us that Nike’s line of 2017 drivers relied heavily on a RZN construction, and were by far the best-performing drivers in company history. If true, it’s a case of too little, too late.
VR_S Forged Irons
Nike’s VR_S Forged were released in the U.S. after enjoying incredible success in Japan. While intended for mid-to-high handicappers, the irons caught on with low handicappers, as well as many PGA Tour players (including Tiger Woods), who used them as long-iron replacements.
Key to the success of the VR_S Forged was their two-piece forged construction, which merged a 1025 carbon steel framework with a thin club face that was welded to the body to improve ball speed and forgiveness. Despite their bulk, the irons looked and felt premium, and added value to their $999 sticker price with Nippon’s aftermarket 950GH shaft as the stock option. They were one of the best game-improvement irons released in 2012.
VR Tour Driver
Years before slots became a common sight on clubs, Nike released a line of metal woods with something called a “Compression Channel” behind the club face, which was said to increase the size of the sweet spot by making the club face more flexible — particularly the bottom.
The Compression Channel was used on many models, but Nike’s VR (Victory Red) Tour driver, released in 2010, could have been the best. Proof of that showed up just three weeks ago, when Jhonattan Vegas used the six-year-old driver in his victory at the RBC Canadian Open.
The VR Tour measured 420 cubic centimeters, and had a classy, pear-shaped club head free of alignment aids. It was a thing of beauty.
Method 006 (Rory McIlroy’s putter)
Remember the #releasetheputter movement that originated in the GolfWRX Forums? Several sources inside Nike Golf have told us that if it weren’t for GolfWRXers, Rory McIlroy’s replica Method putter would have never been released. Pat yourselves on the backs, folks.
It’s true that most better-player clubs sold at retail are inspired by PGA Tour players, but it’s rare to get your hands on a golf club designed to the exact specifications of one of the best golfers on the planet. That was the case with the Method 006, which was the result of Rory McIlroy’s work with David Franklin, Nike’s renowned putter designer and creator of its Method technology.
Owners of the limited-edition putter, released in 2015, have a carbon copy of the flatstick Rory McIlroy used to win his third and fourth majors: the Open and PGA championships in 2014.
In 2003, Nike released its first set of blade irons, and to many they’re still the most beautiful blades ever produced. They were named simply “Forged Blades,” and were unencumbered by the logos and colors that would be used on future Nike iron releases.
The Forged Blades were used by David Duval to win his lone major, the 2001 Open Championship at Royal Lytham & St Annes.
Released in 2003, Nike’s Slingshot irons were not only the company’s most commercially successful iron model, but also possibly one of the coolest game-improvement irons to date.
The irons featured a slingshot-esque “bridge,” which stretched across the cavity of the hollow-bodied irons. It enhanced perimeter weighting, and helped golfers hit towering iron shots by moving weight lower and deeper in the club head. Thin, strong, “cold-rolled” 455 Stainless Steel club faces were also added for more distance.
The design was awesome, the name was perfect and the performance was impressive. This was Nike Chief Club Designer Tom Stites at his best.
Tour Accuracy Golf Balls
In the golf world, the year 2000 is synonymous with Tiger Woods’ best golf. It was in June of that year he accomplished his most impressive feat — winning the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach by 15 shots. He then went on to win the next three major championships.
Fueling his performance was a new golf ball: Nike’s Tour Accuracy. The solid-rubber core ball is argued to have given Woods a distance advantage over his competitors, most of whom were still using wound golf balls at the time. It is also said to have pushed Titleist to release its first solid-rubber core golf ball, the Pro V1.
Just last week on Twitter, Woods credited the Tour Accuracy as helping to “put the wound ball into extinction.” No argument there.
Couldn’t play w/o clubs, balls & bag or men & woman dedicated to them. Grateful for their hard work & innovation from an amazing @Nike team
— Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) August 4, 2016
It’s because of these people we put the wound ball into extinction. They helped me win grand slam.
— Tiger Woods (@TigerWoods) August 4, 2016
Lydia Ko WITB 2023 (September)
- Lydia Ko what’s in the bag accurate as of the the Walmart NW Arkansas Championship.
Driver: Ping G430 LST (10.5 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana GT 50 S
3-wood: Ping G430 Max (15 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana PD 60 S
5-wood: Ping G430 Max (18 degrees)
Shaft: Mitsubishi Diamana GT 60 S
Hybrid: Ping G430 (22 degrees)
Shaft: Graphite Design Tour AD HY 65 S
Irons: Titleist T200 (5), ProtoConcept CO5 (6-9)
Shafts: AeroTech SteelFiber fc 70
Wedges: Titleist Vokey Design SM9 (46-10F, 48-10F @49, 54-10F, 58-08F @59)
Shafts: AeroTech SteelFiber fc 70 (46), AeroTech SteelFiber fc 80 (48-58)
Putter: Scotty Cameron TG6
Ball: Titleist Pro V1x
Spotted: Amy Yang’s T.P. Mills Fleetwood putter
This week, we spotted Amy Yang with a rare putter in her bag at the 2023 Walmart NW Arkansas Championship. The putter was made by legendary putter maker T.P. Mills and the head shape is called “Fleetwood.” If you are not familiar with T.P. Mills, the company was founded in 1963 by Truett P. Mills, Sr. who wanted to make a better putter than what was available. His original putters were crafted with basic hand tools in his garage out of of carbon steel. His son David is now crafting the handmade putters after many years learning and working with his father. The company still offers the classic Softtail, Huey, Ming, 8802, and many more putters from his shop in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
The Fleetwood is considered heel-shafted and has a wide flange that blurs the line between blade and mallet. Amy’s Fleetwood features a single sightline on the wide flange and some “snow” stamping on the top of the bumpers. Those bumpers flare up at the toe and heel, pushing weight to the outside for added stability and a balanced feel throughout the stroke. The large back cavity has some snow stamping above “My Wand” text that is stamped and filled with white paint. The topline looks slightly rounded for a softer look and blends in nicely with the width of the putter. A half-shaft offset flow neck is welded to the head while the face features a shallow milling pattern and unique “Mills” stamping near the heel.
The “Super Bullet” sole contains a large oval cavity where material is removed to dial in the desired head weight of the putter. This main cavity is in combination with two additional round cavities out at the toe and heel area. Yang’s Fleetwood is milled from Swiss-German stainless steel, as that is what is stamped into the center of the sole.
A traditional chrome steel shaft is installed and the putter is finished off with a Rosemark 1.52 MFS (microfiber silicone) putter grip in a white and teal.
- Check out the rest of our photos from the 2023 Walmart NW Arkansas Championship (LPGA)
Coolest thing for sale in the GolfWRX Classifieds (9/27/23): National Custom Works wedges (Don White hand ground)
At GolfWRX, we are a community of like-minded individuals that all experience and express our enjoyment of the game in many ways.
It’s that sense of community that drives day-to-day interactions in the forums on topics that range from best driver to what marker you use to mark your ball. It even allows us to share another thing we all love – buying and selling equipment.
Currently, in our GolfWRX buy/sell/trade (BST) forum, there is a listing for a set of National Custom Works wedges (Don White hand ground).
From the seller (@cronejt): “Wedges: 50, 54, 60. Wedge heads. Don White Hand Ground. Raw finish, rust can be removed if desired. Highly Custom 1 of 1 stamping. Paid $1200 ($400 per head) for the heads alone. Took same time as iron set 1. Club build was done by Mike at TXG in Toronto. Asking $1000.”
To check out the full listing in our BST forum, head through the link: National Custom Works wedges (Don White hand ground)
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