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The Nike Engage wedge is the latest offering from the Swoosh, featuring three different sole options designed alongside some of the greatest players to play the game like Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy.
When you have the greatest golfer of all time in Tiger Woods, and possibly the next in Rory McIlroy, along with one of the greatest athletic R&D programs in the world, you undoubtedly have the tools to create good equipment. The new Nike Engage wedges were designed based Team Nike’s needs (read Tiger and Rory) but with an array of options – both grinds and lofts – to give the golfing community as a whole a wider selection to pick the wedge best suited to their game. As Nike has raised the bar for their equipment over the past decade, so have the expectations from the public looking for superior equipment. This review will let you know if Nike was up to the task with their new Engage wedges.
The two most immediate features to notice on the new Nike Engage wedges are the different sole grinds and the unique geometric features on the back of the club. The Square and Dual soles aren’t that different from traditional sole grinds, but the Toe Sweep sole has a unique look with a wide toe and a narrow heel that allows you to lay the club open without raising the leading edge.
The soles of the Engage wedges melt into the back of the club where the cavities have a geometric, art-deco look to them. Aside from having a crazy look, this is a strategic concept aimed at centralizing the center of gravity on the wedge for more consistency.
At address, the Engage wedges have a medium round shape with a rough blasted finish on the face. As their Tour players favor raw finishes and the patina they eventually produce, Nike has brought this same characteristic over to retail, and it’s sure to make many golf nerds like us swoon.
Another interesting note is that the wedges come packaged in a colored wax based on what grind you choose (see picture at the top of this article). This packaging protects the raw finish of the wedge but also serves as a way of separating the options on the racks. Additionally, there are small tags attached that list the playing characteristics of the wedges to make choosing the correct wedge a little easier.
Sound & Feel
The raw and rough finish of the Nike Engage wedges have very direct impacts on the sound and feel of the club. At impact, when you can hear the club hit the ball rather than the thump or slap from the ground interaction, there is a very quiet click…almost a pop off the club face.
In regards to feel, I would almost say that it felt like the clubs had a lot of grip, and you were throwing the ball with them. The Engage wedges are very soft and responsive all over the face and felt especially good driving through the turf across all three different sole grinds.
The Square Sole Nike Engage is a nice straightforward wedge that I actually enjoyed quite a bit. The Square Sole I tested was a 52º gap wedge and is designed basically to be used for shots with a squared up face. For me, the gap wedge is typically best for the distances between 100 and 115 yards, and I was able to hit these shots well. I actually found I could get a little more distance (about 5 extra yards) out of the Engage gap wedge than I could get out of the gap wedge I would normally bag.
Honestly, I think the Toe Sweep is one of the most interesting sole grinds I have ever seen. The purpose of the Toe Sweep sole is to give the golfer more versatility in different shots whether it’s a deep lie in the rough, a tough bunker shot, or a tight lie on the fairway. With this grind, you’re supposed to be able to lay the club open and keep it open through impact because of its extreme relief. Naturally, we tested this by laying the club absurdly open and trying to hit big flops from all sorts of lies. Impressively, it worked well, and I think there’s potential for above average players to be able reduce the number of wedges in their bag because of the Toe Sweep’s versatility.
The Dual Sole grind is a more extreme take on the “tour” grind that most manufacturers offer. Nike says the Dual Sole is heavily inspired by the grind used on Rory’s and Tiger’s wedges to give them “the widest array of shots from any lie.” There are two soles to play from so you can hit a typical squared face chip, or open the wedge up for a little more pop into the air. At 58º, this Dual Sole performed as a solid lob wedge and was good for soft shots around the greens.
A lot of equipment manufacturers will tell you they have a million different sole options to help you hit different shots in different conditions, but the differences in the grinds are minimal and don’t have the great impact they claim. With the Nike Engage wedges, the sole grinds are very extreme and there is a noticeable difference between the performance across the three different grinds. Personally, I’ve played the same style of wedge for the past six or seven years, but my time with the Engage wedges was eye-opening and has me considering a new direction for my wedge setup going into next season.
RE-Engage – Updated Thoughts:
Over the 2015 golf season, I have continued to struggle in my wedge game. While I believe most of it to be completely mental and user error, considering I have been using the same style wedges I have been using for years, I don’t think I was open enough to the possibility of a big change. After playing one of the most difficult courses I have ever played, with some of the most difficult green complexes you will see, I began to think of my wedge woes and explore different alternatives in my head which brought me back to the review cycle for the Nike Engage wedges. I remembered how the wedges felt and performed for me, so I took the chance and threw them in my bag for my next round.
Honestly, it was like a magic bullet putting the Engage wedges in my bag. While I still have to adjust to the performance and feel a bit, I’ve found myself able to hit shots I’ve been terrified of for years and made good contact on every wedge I struck. Interestingly enough, I had much more spin off of these wedges as well, almost to the point I struggled to get them to release (which I’ll adjust to). As far as I’m concerned, I feel confident over the ball again and my wedges are once again scoring tools rather than a club that will ruin a round for me.