THE END OF AN ERA
Joel Tadman analyses the rise and fall of Nike Golf’s hardware business
or a brand with the slogan ‘Just Do It’, when it came to golf equipment Nike just couldn’t any longer. On the one hand, the announcement that it would no longer be producing golf clubs, balls and bags, and would focus only on golf shoes and apparel, came as a big shock to me. I was just starting out in golf when Nike came on the scene, and I remember the excitement of finding a rare Tour Accuracy in the rough in the late 1990s. More pertinently, Nike has invested millions of dollars in its golf business – the R&D facility at The Oven in Texas, not to mention the multi-million-dollar endorsement deals. But when you look at its dwindling market share in a stagnant industry, it shouldn’t really come as too much of a surprise.
Nike was a relative newcomer to golf when it signed Tiger Woods in 1996 for a record $40m, five-year endorsement deal and his ‘Hello World’ line became famous. It signalled the brand’s intent to move into hard goods, having already become established in shoes and apparel since the 1980s. Nike’s clubs received some stick in their early years, famously from Phil Mickelson, who claimed Tiger was using “inferior equipment”. But the level of success that ensued would suggest his Nike gear wasn’t holding him back one iota.
Don’t get me wrong, Nike made mistakes when it came to product, but
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