Nike entered the golf industry back in 1984, but only with golf shoes. They got involved with hardware in 1998 a year after Tiger won his first major and realised the massive potential there was with the hottest golfer in the world being a part of their stable.
The long and the short is that even though they were around in the hardware business for 15+ years, they never really made a massive impact in any of the particular club or ball categories.
Nike Golf Brand Profile
- Founded: 1998 (Nike Golf)
- Founders: Phil Knight
- Headquarters: Washington County, Oregon, USA
- Revenue: $700 million (2016)
- Major Professional Endorsements: Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Paul Casey, Francesco Molinari, Thorbjorn Oleson, Tommy Fleetwood, Michelle Wie
- Website: www.nike.com
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Nike Golf - Brief History
The legendary Seve Ballesteros and Curtis Strange were two of the first golfers to sign with Nike back in 1985 and donned the shirt and cap. A few years later Strange went on to win back to back US Opens wearing the Nike brand and creating huge exposure in the golf market. The best however, was yet to come.
Tiger Woods turned professional in 1996 and signed a deal with Nike for $40 million which would turn out to be one of the best things Nike could ever have done. The greatest golfer of all time with huge pulling potential for any brand was marketing Nike without even trying. His presence and crowd pulling abilities would have the golfing world crazy about the brand now being involved in their beloved game.
In 1997 Tiger won the Masters by a record breaking 12 shots at the age of 21. Soon after this Nike released their first set of forged irons that were still prototypes.
In the same year, they released their first line of golf balls being the Precision Tour Control, Spin Control and Distance Control. A year later they manufactured the Tour Accuracy which filled up the line of golf balls.
Tiger soon after put the Tour Accuracy ball into play for the first time officially moving from Titleist to Nike. He then completed the famous “Tiger Slam” holding all four majors at one time, but not in a calendar year.
In 2001 David Duval became the first player to win a tour event using Nike irons and that happened to be the Open Championship. In 2002 Tiger followed suit by putting a full set of Nike clubs in the bag and also signed a new 5 year deal for a reported $100 million.
In 2003 Nike released the Ignite driver and two years later the somewhat ugly SasQuatch came onto the scene. Together with this the Nike One Black and Platinum golf balls were released to the retail market. 2007 saw the unveiling of the world’s first square driver, the Sumo2 which again wasn’t aesthetically pleasing on the eye but was definitely a unique selling point.
In 2008 the Victory Red was released and was available in three separate sets of irons and was the penultimate line of irons the company manufactured. The last line was the Vapor which was available in two models – the Vapor and Vapor Pro.
Tiger Woods and newly signed professional Rory McIlroy worked together in designing the new line of irons. Their input was an undoubted improver in the aesthetics department. Speaking of McIlroy, he signed a deal for $200 million for 10 years in 2013.
In the same year, Nike reported annual turnover of $792 million which was their peak up until this point. Two years later in 2015 this figure dropped to $769 million and in 2016 it fell to $706 million and this is when the decision was made to exit the hardware and golf ball market focusing their attention on solely footwear and clothing.
Today golf fans will notice an injection into their golf apparel sponsorship budget now kitting out a vast number of players both on the PGA and European Tours.