Darron Cummings/Associated Press
Nike announced Wednesday it’s planning to eliminate production of golf equipment and will instead focus on apparel.
Kyle Porter of CBS Sports passed along a statement from the company, which didn’t provide a firm timetable for when the equipment operations will cease. That said, the plan is to eventually remove clubs, balls and bags from the Nike Golf brand.
“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.”
The sudden announcement leaves questions about how long Nike’s biggest golf endorsers, Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, will continue to use the equipment. It’s less of a pressing concern for Woods, who’s already been ruled out for the rest of the current season by his agent, Mark Steinberg.
Steinberg released a statement to Jeff Ritter of Golf.com regarding his client’s plan moving forward:
Tiger and I have had multiple conversations about what we’d do, and we have an organized plan in place. The plan is continued rest and rehabilitation and we’ll sort out the equipment thing in due course. I’ll be in the process of doing that, effective immediately. … He’s been a longtime icon of Nike Golf and that’s not going to change one ounce. He’ll remain a loyal and enthusiastic icon of Nike.
NBA star Andre Iguodala tried to read the tea leaves:
Does this mean no more tiger???????
— Andre Iguodala (@andre) August 3, 2016
Meanwhile, the 27-year-old Northern Irishman was once viewed as the next dominant force in golf as Woods’ success faded. He’s struggled to reach those expectations, however, and has now gone two straight years without winning a major title.
James Nursey of the Daily Mirror noted McIlroy, who did win a pair of majors with the Nike clubs in 2014, admitted after making the blockbuster deal with Nike in 2013 that he handled the transition poorly from his prior Titleist equipment:
The thing about new equipment, you can stand on the range all you want and hit balls, but you really need to test it on the course. You need to get out and test it in competitive play. That’s something I didn’t do at the start of the year. I needed to play a little bit more.
If I was to do it all over again, I would have done things slightly differently. It’s hopefully something I’ll never have to do in my career again.
Now, barring an agreement for Nike to continue making his personal equipment, it appears McIlroy will need to switch clubs once again. That could turn into a positive in the long run, though.
As for the financial details, Darren Rovell of ESPN provided the breakdown of revenue for Nike Golf, which hit a peak in 2013 before seeing three straight years of decreases:
Nike Golf Revenue:
2011: $623 million
2012: $726 million
2013: $792 million
2014: $789 million
2015: $769 million
2016: $706 million
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) August 3, 2016
Nike’s continued focus on apparel means McIlroy and Woods, assuming the latter eventually makes it back after an extended layoff, will still be covered head to toe in the company’s gear.
The key question is whether Nike’s decision will require them to change clubs and balls for the 2016-17 season and beyond. That could be another hurdle for Woods’ comeback efforts.