Kundgol Nike’s announcement that it’s getting out of the golf club business was nothing new to me. Six of the clubs in my bag—a 16-degree Sumo Squared driver and six Sumo Squared hybrids—are clubs that Nike stopped selling years ago:
Two of those six clubs are among the greatest ever made. The most magical is the highest-lofted club in the group, the 34-degree 7-hybrid. I bought mine at the urging of my friend Tony, and, as he promised, I hit it longer, higher, straighter, and more consistently well than my 7-iron, which I’d had custom-fitted in Arizona a couple of years before. Not long after that, Tony and I played a round with a visiting friend of his, and we used our magical clubs on a 150-yard par 3. We both hit high draws to within six feet of the hole, and the friend said, “Gee, you guys could play on the LPGA Tour.” He meant to be devastating, but I’ve adopted his remark as a swing thought. And I carry four other Sumo Squared hybrids, too, even though they all go pretty much the same distance.
The other magical club in my bag the 16-degree driver, which Nike called the Sweet 16 and I call Baby Driver. I carry a regular driver, too, but Baby Driver is indispensable in certain critical situations: long par 3s, short par 4s, and tight holes of all lengths on which a hooked or sliced drive would be lethal. It’s basically a strongish 4-wood, but with a head that’s too big to slide under a teed ball—a consideration for those of us who occasionally make less than perfect contact. I sometimes hit it from the fairway, too.
I once asked a Nike rep whether the company didn’t have a few old Sumo Squared clubs stashed away somewhere, maybe in a storeroom or on a shelf in a closet or under a table in the employee cafeteria. I was thinking that I’d offer to buy the lot, to keep on hand as spares, but he said Nike hadn’t saved anything—not even a few heads. He also claimed, preposterously, that the company had never sold a 34-degree hybrid—denying the existence of one of the greatest golf clubs of all time! No wonder they’re calling it quits.