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Nike Vapor Pro Driver Review

This Nike Vapor Pro Driver review is going to take a closer look at the club and determine whether it lives up to its own hype.

For keen golfers, Nike has always been a bit of a marmite brand. There are plenty of players who love its products – and there is no denying that the manufacturer can put out quality drivers – but there are others who find the starry, glitzy approach a little off-putting. So many celebrity faces can take thefocus away from the practical features of the products at times, but it is always worth keeping an eye on what Nike is doing. The Vapor Pro Driver is just one example of why this is such a good idea.

What Nike Golf Says

In typical Nike style, one of the first things that the manufacturer was keen to impress is the fact that Rory McIlroy is a big fan of the Vapor Pro. This is the driver that he used, for the first time, at the 2014 Ryder Cup and it was here that he brought home the title for the European team with a late stage victory. The thing about this kind of endorsement is that it doesn’t necessarily mean much for the regular player, beyond telling them that it is a very good driver.

Getting to Grips with the Technology

Covert Cavity Back Technology

First things first; the trademark Covert Cavity Back feature is a prominent part of this driver, as it was the Nike Covert 2.0. This is, in some ways, a surprise, because Nike is known for moving quite quickly when it comes to design innovation and talk has focused on exactly when it will feel confident enough to replace this system. On the other hand, if it isn’t broke, why fix it? The Vapor features the third commercially released iteration of the Covert Cavity Back and it works wonderfully.

The cavity is designed to redistribute weight and move it closer to the face of the club. This makes it easier to find that sweet spot and strike with a lot of precision and force. It is a simple addition, but it makes a huge difference. The result is significantly less spin and a more predictable launch angle and distance. The cavity is crossed by two silver FlyBeams and they add strength and stability. This boosts the moment of inertia by repositioning weight to the perimeter of the club head.

While the Covert Cavity is nothing new, the FlyBeams are a major change. And, to be honest, you can’t fully understand their power until you’ve taken the Nike Vapor Pro out on the green. They stiffen the shell of the club head, which greatly lowers the potential for twisting in the face when striking off centre. Overall, the driver is extremely solid and consistently brilliant. Even if you don’t like the aesthetic of the cavity, you’ll find it hard to deny its influence on play.

Compression Channel

With the release of the first Covert driver and the initial Covert Cavity feature, it seemed like Nike had completely done away with the compression channel. As this was, for some time, one of its most popular and successful design features, a lot of fans of the brand were disheartened. The fear was that it wouldn’t ever work alongside the Covert Cavity and that one or the other would have to be the choice.

However, after another namedrop (Tiger Woods allegedly helped with this) and a review of the Covert drivers, Nike did the seemingly impossible. To maintain the influence of the compression channel and ensure that the club met CT guidelines, they employed a variable depth. The compression channel is now shallower at the middle of the club face. The sharper square edge also slopes, as a way to stop maximum CT from being passed.

Around the toe and heel ends, the upgraded compression channel provides a substantial depth expansion and this boosts CT, in accordance with the spots where strikes are most likely to miss on the club face. According to Nike itself, the Vapor Pro Driver has the ability to both open and compress (in other words, flex either way), in relation to how the face makes contact with the ball. It is, in many ways, remarkable and only serves to reinforce the unshakeable reputation that Nike has earned with each successive release.

FlexLoft 2 Adaptor

Unsurprisingly, its loft adaptor can’t be faulted either. It is one of the best on the market and it gives players a simple way to dial in their flight patterns. For the most part, the adaptor is the same as it was on the previous release, with only a few minor tweaks. The material used is slightly different and it knocks five grams of weight off the Vapor Pro. It could be that this feature was intended to be experimental because it wasn’t originally available on any other Nike drivers, but it is now.

Appearance and Visual Features

The official name of the colour used for the Vapor Pro is ‘volt’ and it is the kind of word that you know is going to make some players cringe and others get excited. It is definitely characteristic of Nike though, with its penchant for edgy, out there designs and concepts. And, there is no getting around it; this driver is bold and unapologetically bright. While it doesn’t translate to a visually unappealing stick, per say, it is unfortunate that many older players won’t give this impressive (but loud) driver a look.

The Volt colour is most prominent inside the Covert Cavity and around the Nike swoosh logo positioned towards the heel crown (most noticeable at the point of address). The cavity itself can’t actually be seen at address so that loud yellow isn’t as much of a distraction as you might expect. If you’re used to the seamless flow of the original Covert, it’s going to be a big change, but give it a chance and you’ll likely warm up to it. If nothing else, you can rest assured that compromises on aesthetic are more than worthwhile for the performance of this driver.

Distance/Forgiveness

This is the area of the Vapor that is most noticeable improved when compared with the Covert 1.0 and 2.0. The Pro offers notably enhanced ball speed and an impressive ability to sustain it too, even on misses and unclean strikes. In fact, an average of 3-4 mph more is retained when shots are not made on centre. This is primarily due to the interplay between the Covert Cavity, the compression channel, and those nifty silver FlyBeams.

The solidity and consistency of the club head – on misses or otherwise – is substantially better. Of the strike patterns, it is off centre shots made low that result in the biggest loss of distance and height, but this isn’t a huge deal in light of the performance elsewhere. For most players, it is the lateral misses that will really thrill, because the Vapor Pro Driver is exceptional in this regard. Overall, for forgiveness and distance, it is easily one of the best on the market.

Sound and Feel

One of the most common criticisms of the earlier Covert sticks was a distinct lack of sound/feel. Fortunately, this is something that the Nike team has worked hard on for the Vapor Pro and you can really hear the difference from the off. The sensation at impact is firm and satisfying. It doesn’t have the lingering resonance or metallic twang that used to frustrate players and the distracting echoes are gone too.

Interestingly, the impact sensation is not quite as explosive as it could be, even though it would be a stretch to consider is soft or unresponsiveness in any way. The ball certainly doesn’t appear to be running ahead of itself or lagging behind. So, if acoustics are important to you, rest assured that the Nike Vapor Pro is, again, one of the best commercial drivers around. This is in spite of a few minor weaknesses and flaws.

The Bottom Line

Major Pros

While it often takes a decently firm cut to get the ball up and out, the driver is very effective at high speeds. Catch a ball in the right place and you’ll send it flying an impressive distance. On-target shots are likely to keep moving for a considerable distance after hitting the ground as well. The Nike Vapor Pro performs very well when it comes to lowering sidespin and account for directional misses. The great strikes move like bullets – unwavering and strong – and the untidy ones only deviate a little.

Major Cons

It comes to something when the biggest downside to a driver is its visual design. It definitely implies that the rest of the stick must be pretty great. And, to be fair, the loud ‘Volt’ design and colour scheme is going to appeal to just as many players as it puts off. According to some users, it can be tricky to get the ball moving, so keep this in mind if you often have trouble creating that initial force and energy.

The Final Word

There is far too much talk about how the Vapor Pro looks when you consider how impressively it can perform. Yes, the design is loud (even garish, in some regards), but it is a small compromise for what is an extremely high-quality driver. Whether you love or you hate Nike, it is hard to argue with the products that it puts out, year on year.