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|Nike Golf's new Victory Red Forged Split Cavity is for "players" and "almost players." (Courtesy of Nike Golf)|
For many years, the only forged irons on the market were blades. It is a sad fact of golf that blades, the coolest-looking irons, are too hard to hit for anyone but the lowest of low-handicappers.
Recently, equipment companies are discovering that forged, cavity-back irons have a distinct niche in the market: low-mid handicappers who want classic looks and delicate feel but who do not always hit the ball on the sweetspot.
The tricky bit, though, is designing cavity-backed forged irons that are not too good for us slightly above-average players.
Nike Golf's new Victory Red Forged Split Cavity irons (MSRP $1,000) are the first of these "players' cavity-backs" I've tested that successfully straddle the line between low and low-mid handicap.
I normally test a set of irons during a few rounds and then a few times on the range before writing about them. But the VR Split Cavity irons took longer. When I took them out of the box, I thought, "Drat. Too good for me." They have compact heads and thin top lines, and I was worried that my hands would sting and my teeth would rattle on my first off-center contact.
When I actually began hitting balls, though, I felt nothing but buttery softness on center-struck shots. On less-than-perfect shots (of which I have many), however, I felt a definite difference but no pain. There was a loss of distance but not nearly as much as I had expected. The ball flight was a bit lower, but over all, poorly struck shots were not as butt-ugly as with any of the "performance" irons I have recently tested.
It is difficult to say for sure if the slightly wider sole and lower center of gravity should be credited for this surprising and welcome playability or if there is something alchemic about the soft 1025 forged carbon steel. All I know is that I tested these irons extra-long and extra-carefully, waiting for the inevitable bone-jarring clanker.
It never came.
These are the closest thing to a "player's" iron that a low-mid handicapper will find. Despite a clubhead that is smaller than most mid-level irons, the ball went just as far for me and just as high. The only criticism I would have is that I found the custom VR grips to be not terribly comfortable. (I prefer a softer grip.)
Most interestingly, perhaps, is that several PGA Tour pros have put the VR Split Cavity irons in their bags, including Lucas Glover and Paul Casey. Casey, with #3-5 Split Cavities in his bag, even won at the Abu Dhabi Golf Championship.
If you can afford the comparatively high price - whether you're the best of the best or would just like to feel like one - the VR Split Cavity irons are worth serious consideration.
For true blade aficionados, Nike also offers the VR Blades ($1,000), and for high-handicappers who need the full compliment of game-improvement engineering, Nike offers the Victory Red Irons (full cavity, $800).
For more information, visit www.nikegolf.com.
February 23, 2009
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, Ill. Read his golf blog here and follow him on Twitter @GolfWriterKiel.
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