THE END OF AN ERA

Joel Tad­man analy­ses the rise and fall of Nike Golf’s hard­ware busi­ness

Golf Monthly - - Rory Mcilroy -

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

FTiger Woods won’t be us­ing Nike clubs on his even­tual re­turn to golf

It was all smiles for Rory when his Nike deal was an­nounced in 2013

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