Sporting goods giant Nike has announced that it will no longer be manufacturing golf equipment under the Nike Golf brand. This move leaves top endorsers Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy up for grabs should a competing brand wish to take advantage.
According to a report by Bloomberg, Nike Golf will cease to manufacture golf clubs, balls and bags. However, they will continue their golf apparel line, which includes clothes and shoes. The decision to let go of the golf equipment business does not come as a big surprise after revenues continued to decline over the past couple of years.
The Nike Golf brand has been built largely around Tiger Woods, who enjoyed massive success throughout the early 2000s. Unfortunately, a slump in his career took place in 2009 after his car accident and infidelity scandal. In 2013, the brand took on another big name in the form of Rory McIlroy.
With Nike Golf folding, two of the sport’s biggest names are now available for sponsorship. McIlroy will likely be in high demand, with a possible return to Titleist. Their previous partnership won him his first major tournament back in 2011. Woods has not enjoyed much success in recent years and his PR nightmare could make it more difficult for him to secure a new, lucrative deal. Naturally, both players would have to tread carefully. Changing clubs would mean months of adjustment, which could damage a season. Both of them had to go through a slump back when they made the switch to Nike in the past.
Adidas is also reportedly keen on offloading their golf brand TaylorMade. CNBC speculates that Callaway could be the big winner in the end. The brand already holds the biggest market share for club sales in the U.S. With competitors folding left and right, Callaway could look forward to market dominance. ‘For those of us with commitment, momentum and specialist focus in the equipment space, we see it as an opportunity,” said Callaway CEO Chip Brewer.