Rory McIlroy speaks about the “death” of Nike Golf

Nike’s announcement has shocked us all.  The sports giant will no longer produce clubs, bags and balls, instead choosing to focus on apparel and footwear. “We’re committed to being the undisputed leader in golf footwear and apparel,” says Trevor Edwards, President, Nike Brand. “We will achieve this by investing in performance innovation for athletes and delivering sustainable profitable growth for Nike Golf.”

Why did none of us see this coming? It’s hardly a secret that golf manufactures are struggling as the market continues to contract. Even the “Secret Tour Pro,” self-proclaimed “man on the inside”, had no idea of this announcement, nor did any of their athletes.

This decision will drastically alter the direction of golf equipment. It was once reported that Under Armour would enter club manufacturing in 2020, but they will probably reconsider.

Rory McIlroy tweeted his support for Nike staff as the rumours started circulating about what club changes he will make. Nobody is quite sure what his 10-year, $150 million Nike contract involves, but we can expect an outcome similar to that of Jordan Spieth. One where Rory will adopt a brand in exchange for minimal exposure.

Take a look at Nike’s accounts and you’re confronted by an ailing, unprofitable part of their global offering. Golf and soccer were the only negatively performing branches of their overall operation. Golf’s revenue fell 2% last year and when you consider this morning’s stock increase – Nike enjoyed a 0.5% boost – you start to appreciate why this decision has been made

We haven’t seen many Nike wins in the last two years, Taylor Made have enjoyed a small resurgence and Callaway’s stock value jumped 6.5% this morning. This all explains Nike’s decision.

The Vapor range will be their last product line, and their athletes are likely to make the change over the next 12 months. This left us wondering…where will Rory go for his clubs?

Most people think he will return to Titleist, his old sponsor. Others are saying he will play PXG – the ludicrously overpriced niche brand for millionaires. I can’t see Rory’s agent letting this happen. Signing for a brand that targets people willing to pay $5,000 for a set of golf clubs is bad for business.

PING obviously have no chance. How about TaylorMade? Adidas’ current affiliation will make this a no, plus they already have DJ and Jason. What about Callaway? They’re not the favourite, but it does leave you wondering if they want to join Titleist and Taylor Made with a top-four player.