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Gear & Equipment

Nike just patented plans for a really intense, interesting camera

Nike applied for and, on March 17, was awarded a patent for a fascinating-looking camera. Quartz, who spotted the patent, describes the camera as "a cross between a boombox and an antique radio."

The camera is designed to be placed at any angle you want, like a regular camera, but it's different because it simultaneously records 11 different sections of the golf swing in high-definition. Unfortunately, no word on when the product will hit the market.


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Gear & Equipment

The story behind the technology hidden in Nike's Method Converge putters

Putters sometimes get noticed more for what people see on the outside. However, it's the materials and structures inside the clubhead and grip that are the game-changers on Nike's new Method Converge.

Each of the four head styles uses a proprietary resin polymer ("RZN") between the face and back to improve how the ball rolls. The company says the polymer material can control sidespin on off-center strikes so toe and heel misses come off the face consistently straighter.


Even more intriguing is what's inside the grip. On the Nike's 35- and 38-inch counterbalanced models (called CounterFlex), a 75-gram weight can be shifted within the 15-inch grip to let golfers adjust how much counterbalance they want.


There are four models in the series, with standard designs ($170) available in May and the CounterFlex ($230) available in June.

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Gear & Equipment

Never mind Tiger's new instructor. Here's what you need to know about the new equipment he'll be playing at Isleworth

It has been well chronicled that when Tiger Woods tees off Thursday at the Hero World Challenge, it will be his first competitive round with new swing instructor/consultant Chris Como. Less well known is that it will also be his first competitive round with most of the equipment he's expecting to have in his bag. 

Nothing is official until he steps on the first tee, but it's highly likely Woods will be using new woods, irons and a new golf ball from when he last played at the PGA Championship in August. The only clubs he isn't expected to change are his wedges and putter.

Below are some of the details on his new equipment, which Tiger offered substantial input with during the R&D process. "That to me is fun, testing product," Woods said during a Nike press event in August. "Especially when I'm playing well. I think that is the best time to test. ... You always want to test when you are playing great, because obviously you can see the differences." 

Clearly he's feeling confident about all of the new gear because there are a lot of changes to his bag. Company officials are touring this as "the first time in Nike history that he has put this much new equipment in play in one week." 

Ball: RZN Black.
This is a big change for Tiger. For the last five years, he's been playing a version of the One Tour D that had been specifically made for him. The core of the RZN is waffle-shaped and made out of a resin polymer that interlocks with the mantle layer. The One Tour D has a synthetic rubber core. Resin is lighter than rubber, which means Tiger is playing a ball that is structurally quite different than what he's been playing for half a decade. 

Driver: Vapor Speed prototype, Mitsubishi Diamana Blue Board 93x shaft.
The drive has a 420 cubic-centimeter clubhead and has 10.5 degrees of loft, a big change from the 9.5-degree driver he was playing most recently. And there were times in the last couple years that he's played an 8.5-degree model. His driver is also glued in, which is different from the adjustable version that will be sold at retail. 

tiger's vapor driver.jpg
(Photos of Tiger's driver: Nike)

Fairway Woods: Vapor Speed 3- and 5-wood
The biggest innovation in these clubs is stability. Two thin pieces of stainless steel run through the cavity -- called Fly Beams -- to add support and stiffness to the back cavity, something Tiger specifically looks for in his clubs. The compression channel in the fairway woods is similar to the one used in the VR series, but it's varied in width and depth.  

Irons: Vapor Pro
One of the biggest alterations made in the development of these irons from the previous ones Tiger had used was moving some of the weight toward the toe. This shift in the center of gravity came from studying the wear pattern on Tiger's clubs. The ball was hitting the middle of the clubface -- which sounds ideal -- but the majority of the clubhead's weight was in the heel. Nike R&D officials wanted to get more of the mass behind the ball (for Tiger and those of his ability level, that would be the center of the face). In early trials, they drilled holes in the toe of Tiger's blades and filled them with tungsten, a heavier metal. 

"We had this idea, if we moved the CG towards the center of the face that it would have more impact and more mass right behind the ball," Tiger explained on Nike's website. "And it worked. I was able to hit the ball a little bit further, it came off more solid, and the amazing thing is the ball flew better."

Nike moved on from the tungsten plugs, and calls its final iteration "Modern Muscle technology." The new geometry produces the same result as the plugs, without using tungsten.

The change in his clubs, coupled with the changes in Woods' swing, seems to be a part of a new Tiger -- or at least a different Tiger -- one that age and injury has forced him to become. 

"We all have to make adaptations as athletes, and we have to make adjustments," Woods said Tuesday. "And I'm no different. As I've explained to you guys many times, [it's] like when M.J. [Michael Jordan] created a fadeaway. He couldn't jump over everybody anymore, and he created a new way to score and get points. I'm the same way. I can't blow it out there with some of the longer guys anymore. ... But there's other ways to go around a golf course."

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Gear & Equipment

Nike tour staff with early debut of Vapor fairway woods

Nike recently made a splash when Rory McIlroy switched to Nike’s Vapor Pro driver at the Ryder Cup. Less visible, but key to the company's continued quest to become known for its equipment was some players putting its Vapor Speed fairway woods in their bags at the Open. Scott Brown, Kevin Chappell and Jhonattan Vegas all had at least one Vapor Speed fairway wood in play at Silverado Resort and Spa. 

Nike announced Monday not only the Jan. 30, 2015 availability of the Vapor Speed at retail, but its Vapor Flex fairway woods as well. The Vapor Speed has a 25-percent larger footprint with a lower and deeper center of gravity than previous Nike models. It also features a compression channel to boost ball speed and a cavity-back design on the sole. The non-adjustable clubs (lofts of 15 and 19 degrees) will be priced at $199 each.

“Athlete insights drove significant chassis refinement in the Vapor fairway woods.” said Nate Radcliffe, director of engineering for Nike Golf. 

“Our athletes wanted tighter but forgiving leading edges, fuller profiles and added ball speed. … Athletes including Tiger Woods requested larger face profiles in fairway woods, but it was vital that we do that without compromising ball speed or optimal launch conditions. We successfully modified the chassis by sloping the crown to lower the CG which optimized launch characteristics across the family.”

As for the Vapor Flex ($249), the club incorporates most of the same technologies found in the Speed model, but on a more compact chassis and with the addition of adjustability through Nike’s FlexLoft 2 system that provides 15 different settings covering five lofts (13 to 17 degrees in the 3-wood and 17 to 21 degrees in the 5-wood) and three face angle settings. For those who have Nike’s previous Covert fairway woods, those shafts with the original adaptor can be used in the new fairway woods as well.

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Gear & Equipment

Winner's Bag: What Rory McIlroy used to win the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational

By E. Michael Johnson

loop-rory-winnersbag-bridgestone-518.jpgAs was the case during his British Open triumph last month, Rory McIlroy won the WGC-Bridgestone Invitational thanks in large part to his Nike VRS Covert 2.0 driver. The new World No. 1 led the field in driving distance at Firestone CC (334.8 yards) and finished 12th in accuracy (60.71 percent fairways hit).

There were only minor differences in McIlroy's club lineup in his encore victory in Akron, Ohio. Instead of the Nike MM proto 2-iron he carried at Hoylake, McIlroy had a VRS Covert 5-wood (19 degrees). He also took out his VR Pro Blade 3-iron in favor of a third VR Forged wedge, adding the 52 degree to the 54 and 59 degree models he previously carried.

Here is McIlroy's bag in its entirety at Firestone.

Ball: Nike RZN Black

Driver: Nike VRS Covert 2.0 Tour (Mitsubishi Kuro Kage XTS 70X), 8.5 degrees
3-wood: Nike VRS Covert, 15 degrees
5-wood: Nike VRS Covert, 19 degrees
Irons (4-9):
Nike VR Pro Blade; (PW): Nike VR Forged
Wedges: Nike VR Forged (52, 54, 59 degrees)
Putter: Nike Method 006

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Gear & Equipment

Nike's Lunar Adapt shoes will have women wanting to wear them off the course

By Keely Levins

Nike has added the athletic, spikeless Lunar Adapt to its women’s golf shoe line. The two-tone, waffle-pattern bottom is designed to keep your feet close to the ground to help maintain traction. The emphasis is on comfort and the idea that golfers like the flexibility of wearing their shoes on and off the course.

loop-nike-lunar-adapt-518.jpgThe shoe, which features lightweight cushioning on the inside midsole to absorb shock during your swing, comes in three color combos: pure platinum/hyper pink-cool gray (left), light ash/hyper grape-ivory and fuchsia force/light ash-medium ash.

The Lunar Adapt is available now at retail for $100.

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Gear & Equipment

Winner's Bag: What Rory McIlroy used to win the British Open

By E. Michael Johnson

HOYLAKE, England -- There was something about Rory McIlroy that was lost in the glare of the glitzy unveiling of his mega deal with Nike last year in Abu Dhabi.

When it comes to equipment, he's a bit of a gear head.

The fact was evident during a sitdown with him last month to discuss his Nike clubs.

"I was really into different shafts and everything," McIlroy said. "I guess now I've got a little more to think about and worry about than just being focused on new equipment. So I let the guys that know more about it than I do help me on that. I let them put the stuff in my hands that they think is going to work, and then we go forward from there."

Not that McIlroy doesn't provide valuable input into the process. "This is really the first time I've worked with a manufacturer where I've been so involved," he said. "We might discuss something, and the guys will come back a couple of weeks later and right away we're working on how does this look, how does it feel, is it what you imagined it to be like. I've worked really hard with the guys on developing stuff that's going to work for me."

Those clubs worked quite well for the newly crowned British Open champion at Royal Liverpool, specifically his Nike VRS Covert 2.0 Tour driver.

loop-rory-equipment-driver-518.jpg"I remember having a conversation at the Barclays last year at dinner," McIlroy said. "We talked a lot about Covert 2.0 and what it was going to be like and what I'd like to see in the driver and what sort of things I'd like to change from the current model."

And what did McIlroy want to alter? "Everything is related to the details," he said. "I want it to look a certain way. I want the face to sort of look a little longer so I can square it up at impact. Then there's the technical: Why they do certain things like a cavity back in the driver. It all makes sense to me now."

Enough sense to get the third major win of his career. Here's the clubs and ball McIlroy had in his bag at Royal Liverpool.

Ball: Nike RZN Black
Driver: Nike VRS Covert 2.0 Tour (Mitsubishi Kuro Kage XTS 70X), 8.5 degrees
3-wood: Nike VRS Covert, 15 degrees
Irons (2): Nike MM Proto (3-9): Nike VR Pro Blade; (PW): Nike VR Forged
Wedges: Nike VR Forged (54, 59 degrees)
Putter: Nike Method 006

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Gear & Equipment

Why did Michelle Wie fool with her putter before playing Pinehurst? We'll let her explain

By E. MIchael Johnson


Michelle Wie won the U.S. Women's Open with a bag full of Nike golf equipment. I caught up with the first-time major winner by phone shortly after her victory to talk about the clubs and balls she used, including a putter that underwent a significant alteration -- and allowed her to go all 72 holes at Pinehurst No. 2 without a three-putt.

I understand you made an adjustment to your putter this week. What was it?  
I did. I flattened the lie angle 4.5 degrees on my Nike Method 006. David Leadbetter suggested the change about three weeks ago, but it usually takes about a month for me to listen to him. The Nike guys were here this week, and since I had a backup with me it was a good time to make the change. I really wasn't planning to put it in play, but it felt so good I put it in the bag.

You've used blade irons for most of your career but now have a split set. Why?  
I have played blades for the most part. My grandmother gave me a set of blade irons when I was very young, and those old clubs, especially the 3-iron, looked like butter knives. But it made sense to go to the split set. I still have the VR Pro Blades for the 7-iron through PW, and those are great for the shots that I'm really trying to dial in. But I thought why not take advantage of the technology available to me so I have the Pro Combo irons for the 5- and 6-irons. It's really helped me with those longer irons.

Why did you add the VR X3X Toe Sweep wedges?  
Those are my absolute favorites. I started with just the 60-degree and fell in love with it immediately. It's just so good from everywhere -- sand, rough, into the grain. The toe sweep [a wider sole out on the toe area and narrower in the heel] really makes it easy to play a variety of shots, and I've added the 56-degree as well.

What do you like about the RZN Black ball?  
Rock Ishii [Nike's director, golf ball R&D] first showed me the ball when we were in Oregon last year [for the Safeway Classic], and I told him I needed to play with it that week, even though it wasn't even out yet. It really was that apparent it was a good ball for me. It's a great ball in the wind, especially, and it helped me a lot when I won in Hawaii.

You only hit driver once on the final nine, but that was a bomb on No. 10. What appeals to you about the VRS Covert 2.0 driver?  
I actually like that you can change the loft and lie angle with it. And I like that it doesn't spin as much as some other drivers. That's very helpful to me. The face is just really, really, fast and that's what you want in a driver.

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Gear & Equipment

Winner's Bag: What Michelle Wie used to win the U.S. Women's Open

By E. Michael Johnson

loop-michelle-wie-putter-290.jpgAlthough not thought of as a great putter, Michelle Wie managed to play 72 holes at the U.S. Women's Open without a three-putt on the devilish Pinehurst No. 2 turtleback greens. One of the reasons: A lie angle adjustment Wie had made to her Nike Method 006 putter just prior to the Open.

Wie had the lie angle flattened slightly, and the move paid off as she made numerous clutch putts, including the five-footer for double bogey at the 16th on Sunday to cling to a one-shot lead as well as the 25-foot birdie putt on the penultimate hole that essentially clinched her victory.

Here's a look at the rest of the bag for the now first-time major winner:

Ball: Nike RZN Black

Driver: Nike VRS Covert 2.0 (UST Axivcore Red 69X), 9.5 degrees

3-wood: Nike VRS Covert Tour, 13 degrees

Hybrids: Nike VRS Covert (18, 24 degrees)

Irons (5-6): Nike VR Pro Combo; (7-PW): Nike VR Pro Blade

Wedges: Nike VR Pro (52 degrees); Nike VR X3X Toe Sweep (56, 60 degrees)

Putter: Nike Method 006

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Gear & Equipment

Honda Classic Champ Russell Henley talks about what equipment he uses, and why

By E. Michael Johnson

Despite being just 24 years old, Russell Henley is a man in tune with his equipment. We caught up with the 2014 Honda Classic champ after his win at PGA National to talk to him about his bats and ball.

Related: Russell Henley Wins Wacky Honda Classic

Ball: I use Nike's new RZN Black. Started using it earlier this year. The biggest difference from the 20XI that I had been using is that it flies a little flatter, not as much a spinny flight. So I'm able to control it in the wind well. But it checks well around the greens, too, and has a softer feel that I like. I used to mark my ball with dots on either side of the number but now I don't mark it like that anymore. I put a line through the RZN Black stamp.

Driver: I'm not in the new Nike Covert VRS 2.0 yet although I'll probably put that in play at some point this year. Right now I have the Nike VR_S STR8Fit [9.5 degrees with Graphite Design HD-7X shaft]. I'm just so confident with this one right now that it makes it tough to switch.


Fairway woods: Last year I used Nike SQ Sumo but last fall I put the new Covert 2.0 fairway woods in the bag. I used the 5-wood a lot today off the tee. It spins a little more so I'm able to get some air under it and it was a big help on 18 during the playoff.

Related: What's In My Bag: Russell Henley

Irons: I've played played a split set of irons since college. It just makes the long irons [Nike VR Pro Cavity] easier to hit. They're more forgiving and I can get some height with them and flight them the way I want. I also gain some confidence from looking down at the bigger head. When I have a 6-iron in my hand I'm not trying to stick it tight most of the time. I'm just trying to get it on the green. That bigger head gives me the confidence I can do that. 

Wedges: I had a new 59-degree wedge for this week. Same model [Nike VR Forged] but the grooves were getting a little dull so I figured I would need some fresh grooves and extra spin around the greens. I had the leading edge dulled a little bit to help with getting through the grass and it has 10 degrees bounce. I like wedges with a lot of bounce.


Putter: I'm still using the Nike Method 006 prototype I've had for a bit. It's modeled after a putter I used in college and has a little longer hosel than regular 006.

Final thought: I went to Georgia and it was a Nike school and being able to stay with the same brand of equipment in the pros was huge. Chris Haack [Georgia men's golf coach] gets a lot of credit. I had played Titleist up to then but he convinced me playing Nike was a good move. My first time playing Nike clubs I shot four straight 66s and I was sold.

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