IN a surprise move Nike has announced it is moving away from making golf clubs, balls and bags … leaving the likes of Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods without ongoing equipment sponsors.
Nike, the world’s biggest sportswear maker, said it would refocus its efforts on golf shoes and clothing.
The American based company issued a 141-word media press release this week saying it would be “transitioning” out of equipment but would continue forward with its golf shoe and clothing business while partnering with more of the world’s best golfers.
“We’re committed to being the undisputed leader in golf footwear and apparel,” says Trevor Edwards, Nike brand president. “We will achieve this by investing in performance innovation for athletes and delivering sustainable profitable growth for Nike Golf.”
The company, which reported flat to down annual sales in its overall golf business the last two years, has been in the golf business since 1984 but only introduced its first clubs in 2002.
It rose to prominence largely due to its high profile sponsorship of a Tiger Woods in his prime and there was also a much published signing and equipment change for McIlroy a couple of years back.
They and other top golfers on the Nike roster will now be looking elsewhere for their clubs and balls, though the company has not disclosed a timeline for its decision.
Despite its seeming success at the top level, Nike golf equipment, with its often quirky and unusual designs, never really seemed to catch on with the general public as much as other popular manufacturers like Callaway or TaylorMade (though it did still sell US$700 million worth of the stuff last year.)
As one current Nike staff player is reported as saying, “I really love their equipment, but I’ll tell you this: In all the pro-ams I’ve played, I’ve never once seen one of my partners using a Nike club.”