Aug 4th, 2016
Nike quits golf equipment!
No more clubs, balls or bags to be produced
Words: Tim Southwell Photography: Getty Images
Well, that's just great. Nike has announced it is to end its production of golfing equipment. Which means I won't be able to continue my long and successful partnership with Nike which has seen the Pro Combo range frequent my golf bag (also Nike) to average effect over the last 12 years. The big question is where will I go next? TaylorMade? PING? Titleist? The phone hasn't started ringing yet but it won't be long.
It's not great news for Tiger either, for whom things seem to be going from bad to worse. First his body starts giving up on him, taking him out of the game and seeing him plummet to 647th in the world (as of today), then the company that signed him for $40m back in 1997, gives up the ghost on manufacturing his clubs, balls and golf bags.
And where will the likes of Rory, Michelle Wie, Paul Casey, Tony Finau and our very own Golf Nurse Carly Booth go next? And why exactly are Nike quitting the hardware side of golf?
In a statement on Wednesday, Nike said it still plans to produce clothing and footwear for golfers going forward and stressed their intentions to continue to team up with the world's leading players.
"Nike, Inc announced today that it will accelerate innovation in its golf footwear and apparel business and will partner with more of the world's best golfers, the statement read.
"With this new focus, Nike Golf will transition out of equipment - including clubs, balls and bags."
Nike Golf withstood a large downturn during the last fiscal year, which ended in May, with sales falling 8.2 per cent to $706m (£530m) compared with the $5billion generated by its running division. Apologies for this lads, I was quite happy with my existing irons – you made 'em too good!
"We're committed to being the undisputed leader in golf footwear and apparel,'"Nike Brand president Trevor Edwards said.
"We will achieve this by investing in performance innovation for athletes and delivering sustainable profitable growth for Nike Golf. Athletes like Tiger, Rory and Michelle drive tremendous energy for the game and inspire consumers worldwide," said Nike Golf president Daric Ashford.
McIlroy signed a 10-year deal with the sportswear giant in 2013, worth in the region of £155million. Will Nike pay up the rest of the contract or continue on the basis of apparel and shoes?
Mark Steinberg, Tiger's agent at Excel Sports Management, said his association with the manufacturer would continue, according to AP. But he also said Woods likely will have different equipment in the bag whenever he returns.
What happens next we don’t know. What clubs will Rory be using next season, he was always a Titleist man growing up? What is Tiger going to have in the bag when he finally starts the come back? He used Mizuno before Titleist and then Nike started paying him a fortune to use their sticks.
What’s going to happen to the awesome R&D department, The Oven, over in Dallas Ft.Worth, can they afford to just mothball it? Are they pulling out because they've seen a manufacturer they want to buy who could fill the equipment spot? We could go on and on, there is a ton of unanswered questions here.
If you want some cheap new clubs, there are going to be some corking Nike bargains. In the US the Nike Vapor Fly, Fly Pro, and Flex drivers have all been reduced down to $149. Be interesting to see what deals you’ll be able to get here, especially on the accessories side, it's not like a golf bag goes out of date is it?
As for me, I'm still waiting for the bloody phone to ring...
Is it all Tiger's fault?
By Tim Southwell
Is the Nike Golf crusade's collapse intertwined with Tiger's painful and prolonged slide down the world rankings? Probably.
Let's face it, Nike Golf was launched around Tiger Woods and the brand benefited massively from Tiger's incredible rise to prominence and lofty status as 'the world's greatest ever golfer'.
Jack Nicklaus fans may disagree but for a long, long time, that's exactly what Tiger Woods was – the greatest ever player. Even if the sands of time eventually erode this accolade, Nike rode the Tiger Woods band wagon like a golfing freight train that, errm, had loads of brilliant stuff going on all over the place.
When that chip at the 16th at The Masters resulted in Tiger's Nike ball suspended dramatically over the lip of the hole and then disappeared amid complete bedlam around the world, Nike bosses must have collectively dropped their bacon sandwiches.
14 major wins (and golfing records broken seemingly every time he teed up the ball from 1997 to the late 2000s) embedded the image and aura of Tiger Woods and Nike into our sporting consciousness forever. Tiger = Nike. Nike = Tiger.
If Tiger had maintained his journey towards 18 or 19 majors, would Nike still be in the game? You'd have to think so. That was the dream. That was the journey. It won't happen now. Tiger's body is shot and even the most optimistic of us here at GolfPunk have reluctantly accepted the greatest era in golfing history is over.
Signing Rory was supposed to bridge the gap and unleash the next Nike superstar. It's worked to some degree but, let's face it, Rory ain't Tiger.
And so, Nike quietly slips into the golf equipment graveyard. It was nice having them on board while it lasted. And it was amazing watching Tiger Woods blaze that s*^$ up all day long, all week long.
Thanks for the memories Nike. Thanks for the memories Tiger. Especially this one.