Nike VRS Covert 2.0 driver

BEAVERTON, Oregon -- On the outside, the 2014 VRS Covert 2.0 driver looks mostly the same as the 2013 VRS Covert model. The clubhead is still a deep red, although a splash of white has been added in the club’s back cavity.

On the inside, however, the new driver is significantly different.

How so? The Covert 2.0 takes advantage of something called Fly-Brace technology in the hollow internal cavity. Because this cavity cannot be seen, Fly-Brace cannot be seen.

Fly-Brace is a support brace inside the clubhead that runs from the crown on top to the sole on the bottom. Nike says it creates a rock-solid union between the two.

Yes, there was a version of Fly-Brace in the 2013 Covert, but it was not nearly as strong as the new brace. The angle and thickness have been changed in the Covert 2.0, and the result is a clubhead that is significantly stiffer.

Stiff, in this case, is a good thing. It means more stability and less energy loss, particularly in the rear portion of the clubhead. Nike says this creates a more efficient energy release in the face of the driver.

Tom Stites, the longtime Nike club designer who recently retired but was here at Nike’s 2014 product summit called Innovation Unleashed, is a champion of Fly-Brace. It was Stites who invented the perimeter-weighted Covert driver, and it was Stites who pushed for the augmented Fly-Brace concept.

“The design makes sense,” Stites said. “You can’t argue with physics.”

PGA Tour player Kevin Chappell, also attending the summit, certainly isn’t going to argue. He is using the Covert 2.0 driver and characterized it as a driver that is “really long and goes where you aim it.”

He supported that statement with a personal reflection: “I think more Tour players are trying to hit the ball straight off the tee rather than curve it. I see this as a trend in golf.”

Chappell also likes the sound. “I would call it persimmon-esk,” he said. “We got rid of that softball sound. Golfers are really going to like this.”

Rory McIlroy and Nick Watney are among the players who have joined Chappell in using the new Covert 2.0 driver.

For 2014, Nike engineers have altered drivers more than any other clubs in the company’s lineup.

There are two versions of the VRS Covert 2.0: the regular Covert 2.0 (nicknamed the Performance model) and the Covert 2.0 Tour model. Both have faces that are substantially larger than the faces of the corresponding 2013 models, the Tour driver growing by 15 percent and the Performance driver up by 7 percent.

This face redesign was accomplished through a new version of NexCOR face technology, which features variable face thickness.

Nike’s patented FlexLoft system offers the same adjustability used in 2013. Lofts can be adjusted from 8.5 to 12.5 degrees, and face angle can be modified with three positions. All this is intended to optimize launch and spin conditions for individual golfers.

The second generation of Mitsubishi Rayon’s Kuro Kage shafts are standard on both models -- Kuro Kage Silver TiNi 60 graphite, featuring Titanium Nickel fiber in the tip section, in the Covert 2.0 Tour, and Kuro Kage Black HBP (High Balance Point) 50 graphite in the Covert 2.0.

The drivers are scheduled to be available at retail Jan. 31. The cost will be $399 for the Tour model and $299 for the regular model.

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