Nike Exits the Golf Equipment Industry

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If Tiger Woods returns to the PGA Tour, he won’t be using Nike golf clubs.

Nike announced Wednesday that it will be ditching its golf equipment line of clubs, balls, and bags. Instead the company will focus on accelerating innovation in its golf shoes and apparel.

“We’re committed to being the undisputed leader in golf footwear and apparel,” say Trevor Edwards, President, Nike Brand. “Will achieve this by investing in performance innovation for athletes and delivering sustainable profit growth for Nike Golf.”

There were rumors about Nike leaving the golf equipment industry. Nobody thought it would happen this quickly though.

Rumors sparked last week when there was a massive price drop in Nike products. Drivers were slashed in price from between $349.99 and $499.99, to $149.99 each. Fairway woods and hybrids were also reduced to $99.99 and $89.99, respectively.

It comes as a shock that one of the biggest global brands in the world couldn’t make golf hardware work. And now there’s a question of what will happen to some of the players Nike still has on their books. Tiger Woods, Rory McIIroy and Michelle Wie, among other tour professionals, will have to find high-dollar sponsorships somewhere else.

Let’s face it. Tiger Woods made Nike Golf what it is today. His celebrity status created the brand and sold apparel to consumers worldwide. Even though a comeback looks unlikely, Tiger will undoubtedly still be draped in Nike clothes. Tiger’s agent confirmed they will just have to find new equipment for his bag.

As for Rory, he signed a multi-million dollar deal to sport Nike products from head to toe for years to come. Where does he go for golf clubs though? Perhaps he will return to Titleist or try Callaway. It’s hard to point to TaylorMade since Adidas is trying to sell the unprofitable brand. TaylorMade has recently been cutting back on its sponsorships.

And what will Michelle do? She signed with Nike just a week before her 16th birthday in 2005. The contract was reportedly worth more than $10 million per year. She’s likely to still wear Nike apparel and footwear but will have find a separate equipment sponsor.

The transition to a new set of clubs will be difficult for the players. But in Tiger and Rory’s case, it isn’t something they haven’t already done before.

As for Nike, golfers aren’t particularly sad to see the company leave the market. People complained that the designs were tacky – the clubs never really resonated with golfers who prefer a more classic, traditional look and feel.

Maybe this is what happens when you make golf clubs silly colors.

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