Nike Golf announced Wednesday that it will no longer make golf clubs, golf balls and golf bags, choosing instead to focus on golf apparel, including footwear.
“We’re committed to being the undisputed leader in golf footwear and apparel,” says Trevor Edwards, president of the Nike Brand in a statement. “We will achieve this by investing in performance innovation for athletes and delivering sustainable profitable growth for Nike Golf.”
This comes as a shock in the golf business, as Nike Golf sells approximately $700 million in the business each year. However, the company has always struggled to gain traction with its hard goods, particularly its golf clubs and balls, which, while played by the likes of Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy, never gained mass appeal compared to the likes of Callaway Golf, Titleist and TaylorMade Golf.
What remains unclear is what this decision will mean for Nike’s staff, which has uniformly committed to the company on the condition that they play Nike Golf equipment in addition to sporting Nike Golf apparel. Obviously, the staffers will be free to play the equipment of their choice, potentially signing equipment-specific deals with other companies while maintaining an apparel deal with Nike Golf.
This announcement also puts into perspective some recent events.
One is Charl Schwartzel’s seemingly sudden, mid-season change from Nike Golf to PXG just ahead of the Open Championship. The move confused many in the golf world as equipment changes and deals are usually done at the end of the calendar year.
The other is a piece of news from 2002 PGA champion Rich Beem, who made the cut in last week’s PGA Championship. He was speaking to Newstalk in Ireland, and he was discussing a new Scotty Cameron putter Rory McIlroy had, but couldn’t use, at Baltusrol.
“I did see something,” Beem said. “His locker was right across from mine during the week and he came in on one of the days. He’d just gotten a brand new Scotty Cameron putter which looked exactly like the one he won with at the U.S. Open in Congressional and I said ‘can I see it?’ I said, ‘Man, that thing is pretty’ and he goes, ‘Yeah, isn’t it?'”