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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 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.

23 Comments

23 Comments

  1. Pingback: GolfWRX Spotted: Never-before-seen Nike Vapor Pro Combo FF iron – GolfWRX

  2. Lefthack

    Jan 28, 2021 at 1:05 pm

    Try finding Nike gear in lefty. Not awful, but also not as easy to find as I’d like. But they made awesome combo iron sets.

  3. Pingback: Where Have You Gone Rory Sabbatini? – PGA Golf Gameday

  4. Pingback: Nike clubs continue to see action on Tour – GolfWRX

  5. Dave

    Sep 16, 2020 at 2:08 pm

    My clubs are wicked dated so I went on eBay and picked up a Sumo2 driver, sumo 3 and 5 wood, and a Sumo 3h and CPR 4h. I got everything for less than $100 and am very happy with all of them. I didn’t play hybrids before getting these.

    I am now looking at either the sumo or split cavity forged irons because a set of left are about $200. That seems like a deal for the forged irons and have good reviews.

  6. Clarence

    Apr 11, 2020 at 9:27 am

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

  7. 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.

  8. Todd

    Mar 27, 2020 at 3:58 pm

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

  9. Egdew Rich

    Mar 27, 2020 at 9:45 am

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

  10. 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.

  11. 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!

  12. 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.

  13. 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

  14. 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!!!!!

  15. 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?

  16. 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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What GolfWRXers are saying about Mizuno’s ST-Z fairway woods

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Entire Thread: “What GolfWRXers are saying about Mizuno’s ST-Z fairway woods”

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