Nike Oven Trip - Part 3
By Kickntrue on 11/13/09
As some of you know, last week I visited The Oven, Nike’s golf research and development facility in Ft. Worth, Texas. Here is the final installment of my 3 part series from my trip. Feel free to read Part 1 and Part 2 first if you missed it.

The Fitting
The rest of my day was spent actually hitting Nike golf equipment and being fitting with a new set of clubs from driver through putter. I met Matt Plumb and he along with Brad (and Gretchen continuing to babysit) walked me through the rest of the day. Both were awesome guys and were very knowledgeable of not only the Nike product line but everything else on the market and how they differed. As you would expect, everything had a Nike slant, but it was great to hear their knowledge of how different things worked. I’m not an equipment guru by any means, so hearing them talk about shaft technology and how different things worked scientifically was very cool. I realized much of the equipment I’ve played my whole life is actually hurting my golf game more than it helps. In this case I don’t mean, “not playing Nike is bad,” but instead things like, “these shafts reduce spin and you need more,” or “this ball isn’t great for your swing physics.” Sure- Nike had an answer for my problems, but so would other manufacturers if I’d have known the fundamental flaws in my equipment choices.

I started by being fitted for my new Method putter. I worked on an indoor synthetic green that was set up to handle high speed cameras and lighting from all directions to capture every movement of the ball and my putter at impact. Despite sinking putt after putt (seriously, it was the most fortuitous moment of my life to actually look good for those 30 minutes), I was quickly shown how much work I was actually putting in to overcome a putter I’d just pull off the rack. Putting- probably more than any other one part of golf can be a unique function to each player- with not too much right and wrong- as long as the ball ends up in the hole. My putter stroke requires some pretty intense work on the lie of my putter because of how I hold it. To fit me properly, they had to bend my putter down 7 degrees (which I was told is ridiculous). I was shown slow mo replay of each putt and each frame was analyzed for my sucktitude. Unfortunately, even I don’t have THAT much pull- and while my measurements are all ready, I won’t take ownership of my Method putter until early 2010.

After a quick lunch, next up was wedges. I went out to the range and set up about 80 yards away from the green. I hit one Victory Red 60 degree wedge after another. I’d hit 3 shots with 60 degree, x shaft, y bounce, then 3 more with 60 degree, x shaft, z bounce. When you hit the exact same shot over and over with just a one change, you realize how big a deal some of that stuff is. I think most people realize there is a difference between 6 degrees of bounce and 12 degrees, but I’m guessing most people couldn’t hit one randomly and tell you what bounce it is just from the feel. It was so cool to feel the difference and after 15 minutes be able to clearly know which one works best and which one you like. We moved through each of the wedges and all of the different shots. I played about 30 balls from a bunker and then a bunch of chip shots from just off the green. Everything was analyzed and noted so my wedges could be made perfect to my game. (I was just rereading my last two paragraphs and realizing how jealous you guys should be.)

After my wedges were perfected- we moved indoors, back into the same building as the putter fitting and they opened up a garage door to the massive driving range. I literally hit from inside- to an outdoor facility. Again- state of the art launch monitors and a computer were there to capture all my data (flaws). The next 90 minutes or so is a complete blur as I was asked to hit more shots than I’ve ever done in one stretch; s VR blade 6 iron, a VR full cavity 6 iron, a 9 iron half-cavity Victory Red iron. Shafts were swapped out, grips adjusted, tears were shed (seriously, blisters on both hands by the time I was done even wearing a glove). I probably hit 200 full shots which is a ton if you think about how many full shots you actually take in a round of golf. By the time they had me figured out- I was exhausted. I actually hit the new Nike SQ irons that will be launched in 2010 and let me tell you… they BOOOMB the ball. I had the choice of being fitting in those but chose to go with VR line because, 1) they could be delivered within weeks, and 2) the feel was a little better for a medium-level player like myself who doesn’t need an influx of distance to my game. Those who do though- please make sure you hit these clubs early next year. You give up a little feel, but oh my goodness they hammer the ball.

And now- for the grand finale, the fairway woods and driver. This is almost anti-climatic because I’m so lame and was so exhausted. I hit about ten shots with a 3 wood and then literally just three shots with the new 2010 VR Driver. I asked if they had what they needed (fortunately I hit the driver great in those three shots) and they realized I was going to be useless the rest of the fitting and they allowed me to beg out of more. Thank God. I’ll be waiting until earlier 2010 for my driver since it won’t be available until then- and I’m happy to wait! The launch monitor had me hitting about 270, a number I’d be happy to live with. I started off sinking putts and ended hitting the driver great. I’ve already forgotten about all of the shanks in between.

Wrap Up
I have to give a lot of thanks and credit to Matt and Brad for their work on my fitting. Realize, they’re used to fitting Pros (plus handicappers) all the time- and then they had to deal with me for a day. While their adjustments and changes are usually small with a lot of the feedback coming from the player, I was generally ignorant in their hands and they had to figure out everything on their own- to help me the best they possibly could. Their samples of data and numbers on their computers changed from shot to shot and they did an awesome job not making me feel like a complete hack while collecting the pieces they needed to make an educated fitting choice. I think for most oobers- this is probably the key in fitting, finding a person who makes you feel comfortable despite your swing flaws.

Realistically, 99% of you will never have the chance to be fitted like I was but that doesn’t change the importance of taking the time and spending the money to have it done if you’re serious about improving your golf game. Even if you know some of your stats like swing speed and the amount of spin you put on the ball, there are just too many details a fitting pro can help you flesh out and discover that you’ll miss. I realize it is expensive- and I’m about as thrifty as they come, so here is my suggestion; get to the point in your golf game where you can justify the one-time expense and make sure you get all of your numbers and variables printed out- so anytime you ever order clubs again you have a starting point. Sure- over time your swing will change- but it’s better than starting from stock. Learn your swing speed. Learn what lie angle you need, not just for a specific club, but overall- so you can employ those characteristics on all of the clubs you ever buy going forward. Even if you have to buy stock to save money- you can take them to a golf shop and have them bent to your specs after.

I’m really appreciative to Nike for the opportunity and had a great time while learning a ton. They provided a top-notch experience from start to finish and let a schlub feel like a star for a day. I’ll have plenty more for oob about specific aspects of Nike and their products and I’ve been promised by Gretchen that we can expect gear and giveaways from the Swoosh so stay tuned!


[ comments ]
Backquak says:
Man that must have been fun!!! So what did you figure out about your swing that you didn't know? Did you go for the blades or cavities? what shafts take spin off the ball? At your hcp, was it better to play a more forgiving club? or a players club? All those questions that Terry has dicussed just keep popping in my head. I think you will have to go back to all those articles and tell us how your experience fit with them.
Kickntrue says:
@Backquak- I'll do a follow up next week to discuss my actual club options and some of the things I learned.
Banker85 says:
i would love to do that! so jealous, maybe the golf gods will show me mercy one day and let me expereince something similar.........absolutley awesome!
lopezebra says:
I would like to know how your handicap improves after a professional fitting...maybe a before and after analysis
Backquak says:
yep, the pressure is on now. how many strokes will you shave with your new equipment, with all of us watching your scorecards. Those 3 footers just got longer, Andrew... Pressure!!! Don't choke, Nike is now depending on you!!!
Mjw71772 says:
200 shots, that is a normal round for you isnt it? Just kidding. I am begining to get jealous of you, I get blisters from working too hard, you get them from the experience every golf junkie would give his wife and any other non golfing family members for. I guess I will have to make some calls, see what this trip will run me. Do you have any comparison basis for the 2010 VR driver and the r7 Limited? If so could you share with me. Thanks for all the time you have put into this.
Panerai111 says:
Thanks for sharing your trip to The Oven. Amazing stuff.
[ post comment ]
    Cigar Lounge
Most Popular: