NGF TOP 100 BUSINESSES IN GOLF
Nike, with its signature swoosh, remains one of the top golf apparel companies in the United States. The company’s clothing side of the golf business was largely unaffected by a decision to halt production of clubs and balls.
In pulling out of the equipment market in 2017, Nike said it was focusing instead on its strengths, reaffirming a commitment to be the undisputed leader in golf footwear and apparel.
Golf is the smallest category at Nike – the world’s largest supplier and manufacturer of athletic shoes and apparel — yet the division still had more than $700 million in revenue in fiscal 2016. It also has partnerships with many of the sport’s top professionals, including Tiger Woods, Jason Day, Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka and Michelle Wie.
“Actions speak louder than words,” Nike Golf President Daric Ashford said during a Nike event the week of the 2017 Masters Tournament. “We think our actions have said we love the sport and we want to be in the sport.”
In addition to the re-focusing, Nike in some respects underwent a rebranding in a more casual direction. It introduced golf shoes inspired in part by basketball shoes, polo shirts with very low-profile “blade” collars and flat-brimmed hats.
“You realize this isn’t going away, this is only going to get stronger and better,” said Koepka, who won the 2017 U.S. Open. “You see it in the style, which has broadened a bit. They stuck with what they know best, and they are the best at it in the world.”
There was a mistaken impression in some circles that Nike had gotten out of the golf business entirely because they stopped making clubs and balls after more than 16 years in the equipment category. Others wondered whether eliminating production of equipment Woods used for more than a decade was the first step in Nike’s exit from the sport.
The reality is that Nike remains as committed to golf as ever, pulling out of hard goods to accelerate its apparel business. Within the past two years, Nike signed both McIlroy and Day to new long-term deals that are reported to be worth more than $100 million.