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|The Nickent 3DX driver offers the same geometry and god-awful noise of higher-priced square-headed drivers. (Courtesy Nickent Golf)|
Nickent Golf has a reputation of delivering massive drives for minimal dough. The company's 3DX and 4DX drivers hold true to this tradition. At just $199 and $259, respectively, they can compete with bigger-name drivers on the golf course, and kick their butts in terms of price.
A dozen years after beginning as a golf club component company, Nickent has quietly become a force to be reckoned with at all levels of the game, even the highest echelons.
Earlier this year U.S. Open winner Angel Cabrera carried a Nickent hybrid in his bag at Oakmont. On the Nationwide Tour, Nickent clubs - from drivers to putters - can be found in more and more bags. The 4DX SE driver, a tour edition of the model reviewed here, is growing in popularity on the Nationwide Tour faster than any other driver.
The reasons behind this impressive move into the mainstream are Nickent's combination of quality, sheer power and affordability. While elite pros probably care more about the first two attributes, the third one certainly appeals to us weekend players.
When Nike introduced the immensely powerful Sumo2 driver, the radical square-headed design caught everyone's eye. But the Sumo2's $500-plus price tag repelled more than a few average golfers.
Nickent grasped the need for a square-headed driver at a reasonable price, one that would offer the benefits of high-MOI without the high cost. The 3DX is Nickent's geometrically advanced offering. With an MSRP of just $199, it certainly achieves affordability.
But how does it perform?
We tested the 3DX with a 10.5-degree loft and a stock UST Proforce graphite shaft (S-flex, 46") on the course and on the range, and found the 3DX comparable on several levels to pricier square-headed drivers.
On the range at Lake of the Woods Golf Course in Mahomet, Ill., the 3DX impressed local Jeremy Davis.
"Wow," said Davis when he first saw the 3DX, "that does look funny." After my first drive with the club, though, he stopped laughing and asked if I always hit the ball that far.
Davis took several swings with the 3DX, too, and despite the fact that the shaft was too stiff (sending several shots drifting right), he was impressed with the distance. "I think it's longer than my driver," he said. "But it would take some time for me to get used to the square head."
One difference between the 3DX and Nike's Sumo2 is the ball flight: Whereas Nike's big stick launches the ball very high, the 3DX produced a much more piercing ball flight, generating 20-plus yards of roll on the course under dry conditions.
One less admirable similarity to Nike's Sumo2 was the ungodly clank produced by the 3DX. For those who've steered away from other square-headed drivers because of the racket they make rather than the price, the 3DX won't be the answer.
The 4DX incorporates draw-bias weighting in its 460cc head, which is more traditional in terms of profile and shape. Besides the weighting, the clubface appears closed a couple of extra degrees, also to promote a right-to-left ball flight.
Truth in advertising here: When I hit a bad shot, it goes way left. So the last thing I want is a draw bias. Frankly, the 4DX scared me at first. Nevertheless, we tested a 4DX with a stock 59-gram UST shaft (S-flex, 44.5") and 10.5 degrees of loft.
On the range, Davis found the 4DX to lessen his left-to-right ball flight, though the stiff shaft still proved problematic. On the course, when I remembered to open the clubface at address, the 4DX proved to be possibly the most powerful driver I have swung this year - at the very least equal to Nike's Sumo2.
At Kokopelli Golf Club in Marion, Ill., hitting the 4DX from the tee resulted in approaches of less than 100 yards to several of the par 4s (and not just the short ones).
Robert McCurdy, a member at Kokopelli for many years, reckoned that the 4DX "could overpower a golf course." At one point, he looked at it and simply said, "This is just one hot driver."
The MSRP for the 4DX is $259, still far under the price of several bigger-brand competitors. And, if opening the face of the draw-biased model is too much to remember, there is also a "T-spec" model that is set up for a more neutral ball flight, along with the SE model, which has taken the Nationwide Tour by storm and by surprise. (The 3DX also now has a Tour version, which will be available to the general public by the end of the year.)
For more information, visit www.nickentgolf.com.
October 2, 2007
Kiel Christianson has lived, worked, traveled and golfed extensively on three continents. As senior writer and equipment editor for WorldGolf.com, he has reviewed courses, resorts, and golf academies from California to Ireland, including his home course, Lake of the Woods G.C. in Mahomet, Illinois. Read his golf blog here.
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