Nike recently announced it will no long manufacture golf equipment. Since the announcement, other golf-club brands have been wooing the two most prominent Nike golfers. Rory McIlroy, who signed with Nike in 2013, and Tiger Woods, who has been with Nike Golf for 20 years, have both been inundated with clubs and balls from other golf equipment providers hoping to sign a major player.
Equipment providers are sending clubs not just to McIlroy’s home but his parents’ home in Ireland as well. “I haven’t been home, but apparently my parents’ house has been inundated with golf equipment from different manufacturers. I haven’t asked for it, but it’s there,” McIlroy said in an press conference on Golf Channel. Friend of Woods Notah Begay says Woods has also experienced a deluge of complimentary gear from eager manufacturers. “I walked into [Woods’] dining room and it was like going into a PGA superstore now that Nike’s equipment line no longer exists,” Begah said on Golf Channel. ““Every single manufacturer had sent equipment in there.”
As of yet neither McIlroy nor Woods has committed to a label. McIlroy said he plans to use the clubs of his choice, perhaps from a number of different brands, in coming tournaments, and has asked Nike to send him three year’s worth of golf balls. Woods is reportedly testing equipment from various brands to determine which clubs and balls will best suit him moving forward. Though Woods missed the 2016 golf season due to injuries, his is still the most widely recognized name in golf and a highly desirable name for golf brands.
Other golfers that previously signed contracts with Nike Golf and are now available to sign with other labels. These golfers include Michelle Wie, Tony Finau, and Brooks Koepka. McIlroy, Woods, Wie, Finau, and Koepka are still obligated to wear Nike apparel, but are free to use the clubs and balls of their choosing. Golfers Jason Day, Dustin Johnson, and Sergio Garcia will soon have similar freedom when Adidas sells TaylorMade. Adidas is actively trying to sell TaylorMade as well as the club label Adams and apparel line Ashworth. Both Nike and Adidas will continue to make shoes and apparel that their contracted golfers will continue to wear during tournaments, but those golfers will need clubs and balls from other providers.
Though the number of golf manufacturers seems to be shrinking and Callaway may soon be the only publicly traded golf-club maker, the sought-after golfers are in no rush to choose a label. “I’m not going to commit to anything,” McIlroy said. “I might start tinkering a little bit in the offseason and see what else is out there, but I don’t really expect to sign with anyone next year.”