When rumours began to surface several years back that Nike was attempting to become a major player in the golf club industry, many of us working in the business were skeptical. Sure they may have had Tiger Woods on their playing staff but at that time he could have won tournaments using hickory shafts and a featherie ball.
Besides, everyone knew that the Nike clubs he was using were no different than the Titleist clubs he was using earlier in his career except for that magical little Swoosh. When Nike Golf introduced their first set of clubs, the forged blades, many of us felt vindicated. The clubs were nearly impossible to hit, way overpriced, and sold only moderately well. Things improved slightly the following year with the Pro Combo irons, a progressive cavity set with great feel but still a player's club and not forgiving enough for the average player. Then came the Slingshot irons. This could prove to be the club that launched Nike into the upper echelon of golf club manufacturers. The Slingshot is easy to hit and hits a nice price point.
The Slingshot irons feature a wide sole to prevent digging and a wide top line to give the average golfer more confidence at address. They have a large oversized head with a deep hollow cavity to increase perimeter weighting and give the club a huge sweetspot. The Slingshot irons also feature a lightweight shaft (both the steel and graphite are relatively light) to increase club head speed for more distance. The most recognizable feature of these clubs however is the Slingback. This is the steel bar welded across the back of the club head. The Slingback design increases the perimeter weighting and pulls the centre of gravity away from the face resulting in a much higher launch angle. But that's not all; as with the progressive offset the Slingback is also progressive, it moves lower and deeper in the long irons to help get the ball airborne while in the shorter irons it moves higher and closer to the face to produce a more penetrating ball flight with higher spin.
Since it was introduced, the Slingshot has received great reviews from club testers and customers. Many of the customers I dealt with didn't mind the somewhat large and bulky appearance of this iron and were willing to put it in their bags because of its extreme forgiveness. The lightweight shafts that come stock in this set work well too, helping to generate added distance. The price for a set of Slingshot irons is much lower than the forged irons that preceded it, another turn-on for most consumers.
Despite all of the positives about this iron there are several downsides. The first is the lack of feel. Because of its huge size and perimeter weighting the Slingshot iron lacks feel at impact making it tough to tell if you have made solid contact or not. The second is the aesthetics. This iron is ugly. Although the design of the Slingshot serves its purpose, it is boxy and bulky and would have trouble finding its way into a traditionalist's bag. Even though Nike Golf says the Slingshot is an iron for everyone, I can't see a more experienced player using these clubs mainly because of the feel and look of them. The third downside is the price tag. Even though the Slingshot is moderately priced compared to prior Nike offerings it still can't compete with the Callaway Big Bertha or the Hogan CFT in the value department. The fourth major downside is Nike's lack of custom fitting options. The company claims they are improving their custom fitting department but they are still well behind other competitors like Ping, Callaway, and TaylorMade.
Overall Rating – 70%
Target Handicap – 15+
Ball Flight – High
Offset – Progressive
Finish – Satin-Chrome
Construction – "Cold-rolled" Custom 455 Stainless Steel face, body unknown
Stock Shafts – Constant Weight Speed Step steel, Constant Weight Slingshot graphite