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|The Nike SQ Sumo2 is a big, loud bruiser of a driver. (Courtesy Nike Golf)|
LA JOLLA, Calif. - Nike's much ballyhooed and equally lambasted SQ Sumo2 driver ($480) is leading the charge into the engineering breach, pushing the limits of golf equipment. This behemoth club's size (460c), shape (square) and moment of inertia (or MOI; nearing 5,900 g-cm2) are all pushing the USGA's specified limits on design.
In fact, a widely publicized recall of Sumo2 drivers was recently announced by Nike because an undisclosed number of clubs that exceeded USGA MOI limits had been shipped to stores. The company promised to test all returned clubs, stamping and returning the ones that passed testing and replacing the ones that failed.
In response to a recent request for an estimate of the percentage of returned drivers that failed the testing, a Nike spokesperson stated, "We can't disclose those numbers."
Leaving squabbles about MOI aside, there is no doubt that the Sumo2 epitomizes a fundamental shift in the game.
Gone are the days of bandy-legged gentlemen in plus-fours and ties swatting balls into felicitous positions from which to attack greens via artful run-up shots.
Today, muscular youths in skin-tight mock turtlenecks flex their biceps and launch missiles to within lob-wedge range of quivering flagsticks.
And herein lie both the good and bad of modern golf: Technology has allowed the average golfer to hit the ball farther than ever before, making some courses obsolete - but, by golly, it feels good to crush a drive, doesn't it?
Let us just get this out into the open: There is nothing graceful or subtle about the Sumo2. Nothing.
It is brash, with its wedge-shaped head and bright-yellow sole plate.
It is abrasive, producing a noise at impact that has been likened to both a bursting light bulb and an aluminum baseball bat connecting with a fastball. But, in reality, it is more reminiscent of a pile driver pounding a steel beam into the rock-hard ground.
It is bold, delivering drives with low backspin, high trajectory and, above all, breathtaking distance.
However you describe the Sumo2, though, a few things are undeniable.
It is not pretty; it is more sci-fi than golf.
It is almost uncomfortably loud, especially on mis-hits. Steve Flores, a single-digit handicapper from Temecula, Calif., put a hand up to his ear after just such a mis-hit and said, "That is the loudest club I have ever heard. Nike might get sued for ruptured eardrums."
It is exceptionally forgiving and long. Even contact off the sweetspot results in impressive distance. Matt Anderson, of San Diego, hit a drive a bit thin that ended up next to where an earlier flushed drive with his Callaway came to rest. (Anderson also mentioned that the enormous head made the shaft appear shorter than it really is.)
Simply put, this club gets the ball airborne and keeps it there for a remarkably long time.
We tested the Nike Sumo2 (10.5-degree loft) with the stock Diamana stiff-flex, designed exclusively for Nike. Despite the unwieldy shape and the ungodly clatter, this driver produced a remarkably consistent ball flight and carry distance both on the course and on the range, despite the often inconsistent swings of both yours truly and other testers.
The Sumo2 embodies all that is great and not so great about the game today, but, most of all, it makes teeing it up and swinging for the fences fun. And perhaps unbridled fun is, after all, the best thing about modern golf.
For more information, visit nikegolf.com.
May 15, 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.
Paying $79.17 for a dozen golf balls may sound steep. But, Kiel Christianson writes, "there is absolutely no doubt that Clear Golf Balls occupy the upper echelon of premium golf balls."
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