It’s roughly the size of a Mini Cooper, rings like a cowbell and delivers a tremendously satisfying result on the golf course, provided you can get past everything that’s unconventional about its shape and its sound.
And that’s not even the square version. [photopress:Sumo_500_1.jpg,full,alignright]
The SQ Sumo 5000, which hits Canadian stores alongside its boxier cousin, the 5900, this Saturday, is the more traditional of the two latest long-ballers from the ever-adventurous folks at Nike Golf _ and it’s nothing if not eye-catching.
Elongated like a stretch limousine, the 5000 has a dramatically more pronounced “PowerBow” — a grey crescent moon of weight that wraps around the back of the head — than the one that debuted on the Sumo’s more conventionally shaped, slightly less massive predecessor, the original SasQuatch driver.
It’s that grey matter which gives the non-square SasQuatch and SQ drivers their low centre of gravity and moment of inertia, or MOI. In the case of the SQ 5900, it’s that unmistakable square shape that gives it what Nike bills as the highest MOI in golf.
High MOI, in case you’re not up on your golf-tech buzzwords, essentially means straighter and longer results when club meets ball somewhere other than in the direct centre of the Sumo’s rather substantial clubface _ which, for most of us mortals, is pretty much most of the time.
And in golf, as in life, some form of sacrifice is necessary. Highest possible MOI means putting up with a square clubhead, at least as far as modern golf club design is concerned. It also means long, straight tee shots, albeit at the expense of workability.
If you struggle off the tee, though, it’s a safe bet you won’t care.
For a more experienced player, the 5000 offers a more traditional shape, even if it does rival a Volkswagen Bus in proportions, and the flexibility to move the ball at will, whether the hole demands a high cut or a low, smoking draw.
The black paint job on the crown stands out against the grey PowerBow, creating the illusion of a smaller, more traditional clubhead shape. But there’s no mistaking the size of the thing, or the clang of impact, both of which take some getting used to.
It’s impossible, however, to argue with the results.
A well-struck ball rockets effortlessly off the clubface, while off-centre hits still provide perfectly serviceable drives. There’s little doubt it’s a long-ball hitter, too, although the 5000’s true hallmarks seem to be forgiveness and fairway-finding.
It’s a club that does allow a better player to work the ball, but probably not to the same degree that a real shotmaking practitioner might demand _ hence the reason Nike centerpiece Tiger Woods was wielding an 8.5-degree Sasquatch Tour during his impressive win at the Buick Invitational last week.
Golf these days seems to be all about finding balance _ between power and finesse, distance and accuracy, looks and performance, tradition and technology. Regardless of where you find yourself on that continuum, the search for your next driver has to include giving Nike’s Sumo family a close, careful look.