A few weeks ago, I found a balata ball in my bag. Ignoring the provenance that might have caused it to be there—and knowing that I’d hit whatever emerged from the pouch—I teed it up and swung away. I played that Maxfli for a few holes, and while it may have flown a little shorter than my usual high-tech pellets, there was one noticeable bit of upside: a soft feel that is very hard to find in even the best balls today.
I bring this up because I’ve been enjoying another softness in my game lately, thanks to Nike’s new VR Forged wedges that have won a place in my arsenal.
After working with some of its pro staff, Nike brought out an array of VR Forged wedges, which are made from soft carbon steel and etched with the company’s X3X grooves—of which, as you can see below, there are more, closer together, and deeper than on other clubs—as well as a laser-crosshatch pattern that is supposed to create spin in all conditions.
But what’s most valuable, at least to me, is the choice of sole grinds, as shown above, that can promote very different results from different sorts of sand, fringe, rough, and even normal fairway grass.
The standard grind (available on wedges from 48–60 degrees in two-degree implements; and in 52-, 56-, and 60-degree models for lefties) was inspired by Tiger Woods, and sets up in what most people would consider normal without having to manipulate the face.
The dual narrow grind (in 56, 58, and 60 degrees, right-hand only) has a much thinner sole and higher bounce, and at the request of European Tour player Paul Casey sits low to the ball at set-up.
My favorite is the dual wide grind (in 56 and 60 degrees, right-hand only), which has a broader sole. A number of Nike’s Euro Tourists chimed in on the creation of this one, looking for something to handle wetness from rain to morning dew. I’ve used it everywhere except in the wet, relying on the 56-degree version from sand, long rough and even longer junk, and just about everywhere else with great results. According to Nike’s clubmakers, this is the easiest grind from anywhere around the green, and I can’t argue with its versatility.
And there’s the feel. The soft sound and softer sensation have been wonderful to behold and have restored confidence to my short game. I’m still not ready to go with an entire set of forged irons, no matter how technologically improved I’m told they’ve become. But around the green, I’ve become an old softie.
Nike VR Forged Standard, Dual Wide, Dual Narrow Grind wedges are available in tour satin and black oxide finishes. $129.99 each
By: James A. Frank