Ask any technology nerd and they will tell you that it is almost always worth waiting for the second generation of a new product.
Nike are hoping that people will agree that the second generation Nike VRS Covert 2.0 fairway woods are a step up from the original Nike VRS Covert fairway launched in 2013. Rest assured, when the new design has Tiger Woods changing fairway wood for the first time in more than three years, people were going to take note.
We tested both the standard and Tour version of Nike's VRS Covert 2.0 range to make up our own mind on the changes.
In simple terms, we were not the biggest fans of the first generation. They were bold in design and looks, but didn't have the performance, sound or feel we had hoped for.
With a stable of Tour players behind them, Nike's designers went back to the drawing board and tweaked the second generation of fairway woods to improve both the look and performance. Nike say the biggest breakthrough for them was the new Flybrace technology.
Simply put, the FlyBrace is the part of the cavity in the head that secures the crown to the sole. In the VRS Covert 2.0 fairways, this section has been stiffened to pass more energy from the club to the ball.
And truth be told, it made a difference.
The sound and feel off the face were noticeably better than before. The impact felt strong and quick whereas the previous model felt a little soft and hollow. The more we hit it, the more we liked it.
The looks have improved too with some very subtle alterations. The deep, red crown colour is still there, which we thought was a shade darker than before, and Nike have minimised the size and location of its iconic swoosh making it less visible or dominating.
Whilst the look at address, like before, is relatively small, the forgiveness is not. Both off the tee and off the ground, the flight was consistent across the face. Shots struck low on the face perhaps felt weak and spinny, but didn't suffer greatly in terms of distance and accuracy.
We felt the compact shape makes the clubhead look very playable from the fairway.
Our overwhelming view on the VRS Covert 2.0 was that Nike have got back to the design aspects that their early fairways like the Nike SasQuatch II so good: traditional looks, good feel and sound, and solid, high-flying performance.
For all those reasons, it is no surprise that Tiger and Rory have put standard versions of the VRS Covert 2.0 fairway wood in their bags recently.
So what about the Tour version?
Like the Covert 2.0 driver, the Tour version of the fairway wood is designed to be lower-launching, slightly lower spinning and adjustable.
Unlike most Tour versions of woods, the Covert 2.0 Tour fairway wood (right below) is actually larger in size than the standard model. At 164cc in the 3-wood clubhead it is 5% larger than the regular Covert 2.0.
Nike say the new shape of the head has lowered the centre of gravity by 2.5mm and reduced the spin rate by more than 650rpms, which creates a longer, flatter flight.
Other variations include the Tour version being 3 grams heavier in the head, 10 grams more in the shaft options, 1-degree more in terms of lie angle and set to a swingweight of D3 to D5 where the standard model varies from D1 to D3.
Put it all together and we preferred the standard model, and not just because of Tiger and Rory.
The Tour version has still improved from the original VRS Covert Tour fairway, but to us it just felt like the less talented brother of a very good standard model.
It did seem to launch lower, but it was a little harder to control and the forgiveness was marginally less than the regular version. While, on paper, the head size is larger in the Tour version, we felt it actually looked smaller. This is perhaps down to the standard model sitting a little lower in height, creating a wider profile for a higher MOI.
However, unlike the standard model, you can adjust the Tour version for loft and face angle.
The Tour version comes in two heads, one can be adjusted from 13 to 17 degrees and the other from 17 to 21 degrees.
By combining loft and face angle options, Nike offer 15 different settings with each clubhead, which is impressive. Simply remove the head from the shaft, adjust the ring to the loft you want and lock it in with the face angle you prefer, either left, right or neutral.
It would have been nice to see this adjustability in the standard model. With the low spinning/launching performance of the Tour model, the variance in flight throughout the adjustable options felt a little minimised. If you are looking for a lower-launching fairway wood that can be fine-tuned to a faster swing, then it would be worth trying the Covert 2.0 Tour.
Overall, we applaud Nike for the changes they made. The looks, sound, feel and most importantly, the performance were a step up from the original models. It would seem that those nerds may have a point with second generation technology!