I had the opportunity to hit the Nike Covert on Thursday during the launch event (Disclosure: I was invited for the event by Today’s Golfer and will be given a Covert driver). Some thoughts from my ‘testing’
1) First impression: I liked the metallic red but it will be bit marmite-esqe for people. Almost the same as when TM introduced the White. When you go to pick it up, it does look like only half a club. This can be demotivating at first, esp when this is probably the first thing you notice about the club (and on the first tee when you take the cover off). After you set up, when you look down on the driver, it looks solid and you will confident – thankfully, it has a ‘traditional’ shaped crown. The words ‘covert’ is cleverly etched on the crown and it is the alignment line. However, the words are in black and small, which means u will need to squint to see it. I am sure once you get used to it, it will be fine. I haven’t seen the size of the head cover, but there were a few oversized ones in Francesco Molinari’s bag.
2) Options: There are few things that you can play with. There are 2 head options; the regular 460cc oversized and a tour 430cc tour version. I came across some video online where in the boffins from Nike say the tour version produces low spin and the pros prefer it. Another diff between the two is the shaft, the tour version comes in a 60g shaft while the proletariat version is a 50g version. (During his interview, Francesco mentioned that he initially used a 70g version, but after more testing he has moved to a 60g version). I assume both shafts provide the normal senior-regular-stiff options. For both versions, the loft & face angle can be adjusted independently which is interesting. The loft goes from 8.5 to 12.5 with 1 degree steps. The face can be set to open-neutral-closed. During my testing, the pros would make setting changes in under a minute.
3) The money shot: My flightscope was showing club speed at anything between 88 to 92mph. I tried both the tour version and the 460cc heads. My first shot was a massive slice, which started in New Malden and quickly made its way across the A3 to Wimbledon. But this is a problem that I am struggling with so can’t blame the tool. It makes a very solid & loud noise on contact – again this is personal preference, though I kind of liked it. It makes the same sound even for non-centre hits, which is a bit disappointing. When I hear a big sound, I hope to see the ball explode and take off to outer space, so when it can be a disappointing when the topped shot just gets on to the fairway. Once I warmed up, I readjusted to grip to negate the slice and there I got my money shot. The ball flew off with a carry of about 210y – which was good for the rainy and cold night.
I then tried various options on head size, loft and face angle. I hit plenty of topped/thinned/fat/slice shots. But we were slowly seeing my dispersion reduce. It looked like the best loft option was 11.5 or 12.5. I have never played with an adjustable club, so mentally struggled to look down on a ‘closed’ face that I was holding square. The 460cc was the best option for me acc to the pro. I did not have many opportunities to try the various shafts, but at my swing speed, acc to the pro, I was borderline between regular flex and stiff, and he would err towards regular. Don’t know if they do semi-stiff but I would love to look at that. We only had about 15 mins of fitting time, and I would love to go back and try more. Overall the driver felt very solid and forgiving.
4) Cavity back: (ignore this section if you are not into the engineering/science behind things) This year I was planning to change my driver, so have been looking into various options from an engineering point of view. This is before the covert came along. Some manufacturers talk about the benefits of moving the weight to the back, some to the front, some to the sides etc so i was wondering which is would be optimum. In my simple mind, (ignoring the ‘trampolining effect’ off the face) I compare the positioning of the weights to my use of a hammer. If you think of the driver as a hammer hitting a nail, I think having the weights in the front would be a better idea than the back. Also since you want to get the ball up, I would assume front & low would be a good idea. Nike has gone with the same approach. Some others have done the same. The big difference is that Nike went the extra step and chopped off he redundant bit and made into a marketing USP. Other big boys would be kicking themselves for not doing the same. My engineer’s brain does wonder if this compromises the aerodynamics of a club head moving at over 90mph? (I would love to see a wind tunnel video of the head)
5) An aside: Nike held a long driving comp, and someone managed to smash it past the 350y mark!!! Given the miserable weather, I think it is very impressive. Someone also managed to hit a 7 iron to a formidable 198y. While waiting for the event, I picked up an R1 and set it on the ground for a swing (Disclosure: I currently play a TaylorMade Burner 2 driver). Two things that I felt straight away. While I love my White Burner, the new warpaint/ 70’s wall paper on the R1’s crown is not my cuppa. More importantly, the weight on the bottom interferes with the setup. It does not let the club rest flat on the ground!! So a bit disappointed with the R1
Final verdict: The Covert VRS is a solid driver and a step up from my current driver. The colours & the sound is a personal preference, but gets a big thumbs up from me. The cavity back may end up being a marketing masterstroke rather than an engineering one. I can’t wait for the mine to arrive and put it in the bag.