About a month ago, I was asked to participate in the Nike Golf 8 > 9 challenge. Nike put together this “friendly” competition where they reached out to us totally awesome golf bloggers (and others?) and asked us to hit the Nike Str8-Fit and Taylor Made R9 drivers side by side and report on which we liked the best.
Let me start out by saying, this was a REALLY difficult challenge for me, I felt like a kid who’s parents were getting divorced and I had to choose which parent to live with… I’m a big fan of both companies and I’ve only owned either TaylorMade or Nike drivers (currently wielding an the SuMO)…
Anyway, on to the review!
Both the Nike Str8-Fit and the TaylorMade R9 have adjustable clubheads that give you access to eight unique head positions. There are three open, three closed and two neutral positions for you to choose from. Depending on what type of swing you’re prone to (slice, hook, fade, draw), you would adjust the clubhead to compensate for that.
I’m prone to a slice, so for my review, I hit both clubs neutral and 2 degrees closed.
Before I get into the performance of the clubs, I’d like to discuss the various components. To begin, let’s start with how to identify the face angle of the club.
Here’s a picture of the top of the grip on the Nike Str8-Fit (see left image). When you first receive the driver, the club is set to neutral and the yellow arrow is on the top. I’m going to need you to stay with me here, but let’s say you’re a left handed golfer and you want to close the club face two degrees.
You’d think it would be a simple matter of unscrewing the clubhead and turning the clubhead two degrees to the right and re-attaching it. Well, you’d be wrong.
For the Nike Str8-Fit, you have to reference the top of the grip and visualize that it’s a steering wheel of a car. So, if you want the ball to go right, you have to turn the shaft to the right, which will cause the R on the grip to be on the top (see right image).
I don’t know if it’s just me, but it took me a while to get a handle on it. Not only that, but it’s a little annoying to have to keep checking the other end of the shaft each time you adjust the clubhead to see what the setting is.
The TaylorMade R9 does a better job of identifying the lie, they label each setting directly on the shaft where the club face attaches.
I suppose the natural progress would be to talk about the tools used to modify the lie of the club.The TaylorMade R9 has a bolt on the bottom of the clubhead that is unscrewed using a screwdriver (I think they call it a wrench, but come on…).
I saw on the website that the screwdriver/wrench can be conveniently stored in your golf bag for easy access… To me, that means, inconveniently misplaced or lost.. 😉
I’ve gotta say that the Nike Str8-Fit does it better, they have a more traditional wrench and you can store it in the headcover. There’s also a Velcro lie indicator on the top flap of the head cover that serves as a reminder of either what your club face is or was set at.
I also think that the Str8-Fit has a sexier head cover 🙂
Regarding the grip, the TaylorMade R9 has a solid black grip and the Nike Str8-Fit is very similar with one (in my opinion) very confusing trait. I apologize for the bad picture, but I didn’t think to grab a better one at the time and I’m too lazy to break out the camera and take a better one….
Alright, so on the Nike Str8-Fit Driver, there’s a yellow arrow on the grip itself that shows where the neutral setting is. If you take a look at the picture to the left, you can barely make out what I’m talking about.
Well, that arrow had me hating this club when I first started swinging it. Here’s what I was doing. I was closing the club face incorrectly (turning the clubhead to the right and not the shaft) and then I was ensuring that my lead hand thumb always rested on that yellow arrow. The result was a very awkward clubhead angle that resulted in some funky shots for a while. It took a trip to Golfsmith to get this sorted out.. 🙂
Now hear me out.. doesn’t it almost make sense that if you alter the lie of the club and you set the club down at “rest” that it would almost undo the lie? It made sense to me until the associate described to me that the grooves are angled differently.
So, back to my point, if you decide to give this club a try and you modify the lie, disregard the little yellow arrow, it serves no REAL purpose, other than to confuse unsuspecting bloggers.. 🙂
The TaylorMade R9 also sports three adjustable weights in the clubhead called movable weight technology (MWT). This was a HUGE selling point for me. There’s one 16 gram weight and two one gram weights. Coming from a hacker who has difficulties closing the clubface on impact, putting that 16 gram weight in the toe of the club was helpful in bringing the clubface around.
Now, for the most important part of the challenge, the clubs performance. I was hitting the Nike Str8-Fit square head 10.5 degree driver with a regular flex shaft and the TaylorMade R9 10.5 degree driver with a regular flex shaft.
I found that I was getting more distance off the tee with the Nike Str8-Fit but I was more consistently in the fairway with the TaylorMade R9. Regarding aesthetics, I like the look of the Nike Str8-fit more than the TaylorMade R9, but hands down swinging the R9 was definitely alot smoother than swinging the Str8-Fit.
So the verdict…… Both clubs are awesome and the technology is great, but for me, the TaylorMade R9 Driver gets my vote. It was tough decision and it was a close race, but I think what ultimately sold me was the MWT.
Also, Nike is using Trevor Immelman as their spokesperson and TaylorMade is using Nick Faldo…
So 8 < 9 and Immelman < Faldo
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