More and more, I think manufacturers are doing all they can to help us score better. Their biggest challenge isn’t developing more forgiving clubs, but getting us to pay attention. Let’s face it- egos can sometimes get in the way when it comes to golf and the equipment we choose. So when it comes to getting people to play forgiving clubs that might actually help them score better, manufacturers are using the “hide and disguise” tactic; kind of like burying green vegetables under melted cheese for the kids. Nike Golf has released their CCi and Ignite Hybrid irons sets, and they have done a fine job of “disguising” clubs that are “good” for us -with a little flash so we don’t realize it.
Nike CCi Irons
Let’s now explore the Nike CCi irons. This is Nile’s new cast set. I would imagine the CCi’s are meant to bridge the gap between the Ignite irons and the upcoming CCi forged set. Again, in keeping with the “hide and disguise” tactics, there is a lot of technology incorporated into a clean design.
When were the Nike CCi Irons Released?
Released date: 2007
At address, the CCi cast irons are a midsize design, again featuring a medium topline and progressive offset through the set. A chromed finish provides some flash to the soft 431 stainless heads. The sole widths are quite wide and again provide a safeguard against “fat” shots. Inside the cavities there are tungsten weights surrounded by a polymer “mold” -if you will. The idea behind the cavities is to lower the center of gravity while dampening vibration. One very unique feature of the CCi irons are a pair of “dampening plugs” that are located heel and toe in the soles of the heads, and actually are cut into the soles and travel up to the cavities. This is said to further dampen impact vibrations.
At impact, feedback of the CCi is soft, due to the softer 431 stainless steel, and the Carbon Cavity Insert seems to do well to muffler impact vibrations of well-struck shots. The feeling of the ball leaving the face is very smooth. It was on off-center contact that I was quite surprised at just how well these irons let you know that impact was less than perfect. The shot performance suffered very little, with very good dispersion on off-center contact. The feel was surprisingly, shall we say, close to that of forged. Hit these off center on a cold day and you will feel it. In this sense, the shot feedback is very good; it just might surprise you much like it did me.
The ball flight of the CCi cast irons was high, as their design would tend to hint at. I liked that the set came as a 4 iron through gap wedge (or AW “attack wedge” as it is marked.) This leaves room for a hybrid in lieu of a 3 iron, and the gap wedge, which is essentially a pitching wedge for modern iron sets, is already included. The offset was minimal enough to leave room for shot shaping, with the ability to hit the straight ball being their forte. The Dynalite Gold shafts were of a good weight at a low to mid 120-gram weight, and their lower kickpoint design helped to elevate shots quickly and easily. This set was easy to get along with, while at the same time, had a look of authority behind the ball that inspired confidence.
Pros and Cons
My only complaint with the CCi cast irons would be that they felt a little harsh on mis-hits. On flushed shots they felt great, but this high level of feedback on mis-hits could take some by surprise. Overall, they are an excellent next step above the Ignite set, which offered absolution for just about any swing. They had a look that was all business and was quite tasteful at address. The cavities may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but they are not visible from address, so I found it to be a moot point.
Nike Ignite Hybrid irons
Let’s take a look at the Ignite Hybrid irons. I have to admit, I really was not expecting a whole lot from this set going into the review. As a single digit handicapper, I tend to look at more of the “players’” style cavity back and combo irons when choosing a set. After a few range sessions and a couple rounds, I was pleasantly surprised that I would not mind putting the Ignite irons in my bag. There was a very healthy dose of forgiveness in their design that allowed me to get away with mis-hits. But they are not in any way bulky feeling or overly offset. Consisting of deep undercut cavity back irons in the 4 iron through pitching wedge, and a hybrid 3 iron replacement, there is ample absolution for not-so-pretty swings throughout the set.
The undercut cavities of the Ignite irons allow for high launch and ease of use. The cast club heads are made from 431 stainless, and have a very soft feel at impact. The toplines are of medium width, and are really quite pleasing to look down upon. The soles are wide with ample leading edge radius to prevent “fat” shots. Even though this set is aimed at mid to high handicap players, I was able to work these clubs some, as the offset amount is relatively small for irons that feature this much forgiveness. The ball flight was high, and getting the clubs airborne came easily thanks to the low center of gravity. Due to the open-backed design of the heads, there was a slight hollow sound at impact, but the feel was never lacking.
The set’s accompanying hybrid was a hoot to play. It was draw-biased to help eliminate slices, but the performance was definitely there. Leaving the face with a unique “tonk” sound at impact, the hybrid is easy to elevate, with high, soaring trajectories the norm. A tungsten weight is used to lower the center of gravity, which likely contributes to the club’s unique sound. The only surprise to me was that the set comes with a 4 iron instead of a second hybrid. While the 4 iron was quite easy to hit, the hybrid would make the most sense for the mid to high handicap players this set is designed to cater to.
Pros and Cons
The Ignite iron set I tested came shafted with True Temper steel shafts in “Uniflex.” This is my only real complaint about the set. Although they did perform well, being able to hone in the proper flex for one’s swing should not be overlooked, no matter one’s handicap. Judging by the step pattern on the shafts, they are a low kickpoint design that is meant to aid in hitting the ball higher. They work well in that regard, but you may want to explore shaft options with Nike. Don’t overlook this set based on the shafts alone. The feel and performance of the club heads is there. I recently saw a picture of Nike staffer Rory Sabbatini testing these clubs on the range at a Tour event. That alone speaks volumes about the potential of these club heads when properly fitted to the correct shafts. I would classify the Ignite iron set as a very pleasant surprise. Do not overlook them in the Nike lineup.
Overall, my experience with the CCi cast and Ignite Hybrid iron sets from Nike was a positive one. I entered to review not expecting a lot to be honest, being these are supposed geared toward higher handicappers, and came away pleasantly surprised. Both sets will offer enough forgiveness to be friendly enough for most anyone to hit, but will offer more performance once your game starts to improve. It’s always nice to feel as though an iron set can carry you a few years until a new set is needed, and in this instance, both sets are very good to improve with and aspire to greater shot creativity without feeling like you are “stuck” with a bulky game improvement design. With Nike Golf, the “Swoosh” seems to get better and better as new designs are developed, and these new cavity-back sets answer the call when it comes to performance and forgiveness.