In 1996, Nike set up a separate unit, Nike Golf. Nike marketing executives were asked to look
into the future for the company‟s next big sponsorship. Everyone was waiting for who Nike would
sponsor, following their success with Michael Jordan.
They decided to sponsor a young top amateur by the name of Tiger Woods. Tiger had just won
the NCAA individual golf championship and became the first golfer to win three consecutive U.S.
Amateur titles. Tiger Woods saw that he had a great future ahead of him in the golf world and dropped
out of Stanford University and turned pro. At the time Tiger Woods joined Nike, the company was a
$120 million business that was primarily based on apparel and footwear sales. Today, Nike golf has
become a full line golfing company and with 2008 annual revenue of $720 million.
Nike Golf is a separately run division within Nike and has come a long way in a short time;
completing the transition from an apparel company with an interest in golf to a marketing machine with a
full line of golf equipment. Clubs are the key for Nike Golf to be considered a legitimate equipment
company. Nike Golf had a couple of options when it got into the club business that were to either get
someone else to make them clubs, buy an existing club company or a combination of the two. Nike
decided to acquire Impact Technologies and, through Stites, develop its own brand
Investors had good reason to be skeptical about Nike Golf. Golf is a notoriously hermetic
industry, dominated by a handful of top club makers with the advantage of years of tradition and a loyal
customer base. But over the past decade, Nike Golf has introduced 10 lines of clubs, 10 series of balls,
several styles of golf shoes, and an array of course-worthy golf apparel worn by the 22 swoosh-wielding
players on the tour. With the number of golfers in the U.S. flat over the past several years, the only way
for equipment makers to increase their revenue is to grab market share from rivals. While still small, Nike
Golf is one of the fastest growing brands in the sport.
Sustaining that appeal will only get harder, but Nike's mass-marketing accomplishments and
global reach could give it an advantage over its golf only competitors. Nike Golf is already well
represented in major retailers, including sporting goods chains, and is steadily adding accounts in golf-
course pro shops, where its market penetration is about 50%. Nike Golf has opened 75 stores in China,
and it has its eye on South Korea as well. To show that it can compete with the high end service of its
competitors, Nike plans later this year to provide custom fitting, a feature that had been available only on
a limited scale.
Nike has become aware of the recent public trend of being environmentally conscious. They are
releasing the “Nike Considered” line of products to the masses; giving their eco-friendly consumers an
option as well. In the near future, Nike plans not only to have their apparel lines but also their equipment
from recycled goods.
The bigger challenge for Nike will be figuring out where to make its next big bet, now that Tiger
Woods has more than proved to be a smart investment. Nike won't have to look further than the fastest
growing segment of the sport, female golfers. Nike Golf signed Michelle Wie, to a $4 million to $5
million deal in 2005, and is launching a line of women's clubs next fall. This is a great strategy as it will
attract the women customer base also a whole line of merchandise for them. With this strategy we believe
Nike has gotten more diverse and is going to expand at a much faster rate now that they can attract a
larger customer base.
While Tiger Woods is one of the main reasons for Nike Golf‟s enormous success, he‟s not the
only reason the company is thriving. With Nike Golf expanding into Asian markets and into the female
demographic, Nike plans to remain an innovator of the golfing industry.
Origins and History
Nike‟s principal business activity is the design, development and worldwide marketing of
high quality footwear, apparel, equipment, and accessory products. NIKE is the largest seller of
athletic footwear and athletic apparel in the world. They sell products to retail accounts, through
NIKE-owned retail including stores and internet sales, and through a mix of independent
distributors and licensees, to over 180 countries around the world.
Nike, originally known as Blue Ribbon Sports, was founded by University of Oregon
track athlete Philip Knight and his coach Bill Bowerman in January 1964. The company initially
operated as a distributor for Japanese shoe maker Onitsuka Tiger, making most sales at track
meets out of Knight's automobile.
In February 1972, BRS introduced its first line of Nike shoes, with the name Nike
derived from the Greek goddess of victory. In 1978, BRS, Inc. officially renamed itself to Nike,
Inc. Ilie Nastase was the first professional athlete to sign with Nike, the sponsorship of athletes.
By 1980, Nike had reached a 50% market share in the United States athletic shoe market, and the
company went public in December of that year.
Nike produces a wide range of sports equipment. Their first products were track running
shoes. They currently also make shoes, jerseys, shorts, baselayers etc. for a wide range of sports
including track & field, baseball, ice hockey, tennis, Association football, lacrosse, basketball
and cricket. As Nike enters the fiscal year of 2009, they are well-positioned for the future.
NIKE continues to grow in relevance and influence. They are focused on six key categories:
Each category team is immersed in its sport‟s culture, connecting with consumers and building
deep relationships. These connections are the source of insights we use to create the innovative
products that fill our pipeline. NIKE is a premium brand, and they earned that reputation by
delivering experiences that surpass the expectations of our consumers.
History of Nike Golf
In 1996 Nike was the largest sports apparel company throughout the world. They were
looking to expand into new areas and markets, golf being one of them. A group of Nike
marketing executives gathered in the fourth-floor conference room at the company's Beaverton,
Oregon, campus and looked into the future. On the whiteboard were the names of five
possibilities for the company's next big sponsorship push. The idea that they came up with has
revolutionized the sport of golf.
The Nike executives decided to go with a young upcoming golfer that had just recently
turned pro, Tiger Woods. In 1996, Woods won the NCAA individual golf championship and
became the first golfer to win three consecutive U.S. Amateur titles. After two years, he dropped
out of Stanford and turned pro. When the company announced that it had signed a multiyear,
multimillion-dollar deal with Woods, the reaction was swift--Nike stock fell 5%.
When Tiger Woods came on board with Nike Golf in 1996, the company was a $120M
business, based primarily and apparel and footwear sales. Fast forward to today, 12 years after
Nike Golf signed Tiger Woods. Nike has become one of the dominant players in clubs, golf
balls, and apparel.
Nike believed the idea to tag on to a promising new athlete was extremely successful
with Michael Jordan, and wanted to build a similar image with Tiger Woods and golf. Tiger‟s
first contract with Nike was for $40 million dollars, more than he had ever won playing golf. It
was a 5- year contract but by 1997 Tiger proved his worth by winning the Masters. After that
Nike had found its image.
Golf was a very traditionalist sport and even the world‟s most recognizable sports brand
was not guaranteed success. Golf was not a sport where people walked around in sneakers and
sweat suits. Consumers were not interested in wearing the latest edition of golf shoes in a bright
new color way. Nike‟s usual formula of footwear and apparel did not apply. Technology was the
key to success in the sport. Golfers were serious sportsmen who were only interested in products
that could aid them in their game. Nike was a company with a household name but no
technology as of yet. Nike did have great marketing and the money to back it up and so they
made the decision to step on to the market hand in hand with a new face and once again Nike
made yet another smart move.
One of the first Nike commercials featuring Tiger Woods was a montage of old
family videos and clips of his amateur career featuring a repetition of the phrase: “Hello World.”
Throughout the commercials they featured all his achievements and a remark about how he was
still not allowed to play some golf courses due to the color of skin. The marketing implications
were genius for Tiger and for Nike. They were declaring themselves but also setting themselves
apart. Nike knew this was necessary since it wasn‟t a traditional golf company like Titleist and
needed to bank on its innovativeness. They were attracting amateur golfers that would be willing
to buy their apparel and building on their well-known brand image while simultaneously
attaching themselves to professionals. When Tiger won the Masters, the following year, Nike
knew they were off to a good start.
Developing Nike Golf Products
In 1998 Nike marketing executive Bob Woods set up a separate unit for Nike Golf
located in a separate building about a mile away from headquarters. The unit had its own staff
dedicated to mobilizing the brand. It still took two more years for Nike to actually come up with
anything that Tiger could use.
In 2000 they finally introduced the Nike Tour Accuracy Golf Ball. Due to some contract
renegotiations Tiger was able to test out the ball in his tournaments for 2000. Nike was finally
making headway into the technology of the market. One ball was clearly not enough and so in
2001 Nike made more serious changes. They hired Tom Stites, an industry veteran to come in as
head of the design. Stites had worked in engineering for tour-champion Ben Hogan and had
designed hundreds of clubs for several companies before he decided to sign exclusively with
Nike. He set up shop in the Research and Development facility in Fort Worth, Texas. He arrived
more than ready to innovate with a set of prototype clubs. It was time for Nike to truly begin
The first set of clubs Stites designed, the ProCombos, were specifically targeted at the top
2% of golfers. Nike needed to gain the trust of the world‟s best players and start building a solid
reputation since banking on their brand image would only lead them so far in the golf world. By
gaining the trust of the best players Nike would simultaneously gain the trust of the average
players as well who looked to the champions for guidance in their game. With these new
decisions Nike was taking itself from a marketing company to a production company. By 2002
Tiger Woods was using the new irons competitively in the American Express Championship and
Nike was gaining speed.
Nike followed their Pro-Combo line with the Slingshot series which accommodated more
average golfers. In 2006 they followed up with unconventional SuMo2 or “SuMo Squared”
Drivers which were squared-shaped; the first of their kind. This driver was part of their
Sasquatch line and fit in perfectly with Nike‟s “rogue” personality in the golf industry. The
driver was used by K.J. Choi, a Nike Staff player who recorded three PGA tour victories with it.
Many critics had problems with the visual of the driver and the way it sounded but Nike released
an improved version of the club last year. With everything that Nike was creating there was a
simple formula: to stand out. Even Tom Stites‟ office had a white board with the words:
„Innovate or Die” as a headline.
Nike Financial History
Nike was already well established being the #1 sports apparel in the world. Branching off
into Golf was a risky decision that today has paid off. When Nike first introduced their Nike
Golf apparel line in 1996, they generated $120 million in revenue. Today, Nike offering a
complete line of golfing products has increased their revenue to $720 million in 2008.
Nike Golf is considered a separate division under Nike, Inc not a subsidiary. So therefore
the only real information on Nike Golf that is on the company financial data is annual revenue.
Nike golf increased its revenue from $600 million in 2007 to $720 million in 2008. That is an
annual increase of over 16%. Nike as a company has experienced tremendous growth since Nike
Golf was developed. The NYSE stock price in the beginning of 1996 was $25. The highest it
has been over the last 52 high was over $70. Today Nike the stock price is $56.
Nike has grown over the last 5 years from $12.2 billion in 2004 revenue, to $18.6 billion
in 2008. Over the last 5 years, the return on capital investment has been over 20% each of the 5
years. 2008 was highest being just under 25%. Nike EPS went from $1.75 in 2004 to $3.75 in
2008. Nike overall performance has increased 3 times greater than the S & P 500.
Nike Golf two main competitors are Callaway Golf, Adidas/Taylor Made, and Acushnet
Company. Callaway is the #1 golf club maker in the world with 2008 revenue of $1,117 million.
Adidas recently bought out powerhouse Taylor Made which was the #2 golf club maker in the
industry. Adidas also poses as a major threat with the apparel industry of golf since they are
targeting similar customers. The 2008 annual revenue for Adidas/Taylor Made was $812
million. The other top competitor is the Acushnet Company which owns Titleist, Cobra and
Footjoy. Titleist is the #1 golf ball, and footjoy is the #1 golf shoe maker. The 2008 revenue
was $480 million.
There are many other smaller competitors such as Ben Hogan, Mizuno, Pinnacle, etc. that
each has a small piece in the golf industry. Nike was once one of the smaller competitors but has
grown at a tremendous rate to be one of the dominant players in the industry.
Nike's marketing strategy is an important component of the company's success. Nike is
positioned as a premium-brand, selling well-designed and expensive products. Nike lures
customers with a marketing strategy centering around a brand image which is attained by
distinctive logo and the advertising slogan: "Just do it". Nike promotes its products by
sponsorship agreements with celebrity athletes, professional teams and college athletic teams.
However, Nike's marketing mix contains many elements besides promotion. These are
In 1982, Nike aired its first national television ads, created by newly formed ad agency
Wieden & Kennedy, during the New York Marathon. This would mark the beginning of a
remarkably successful partnership between Nike and W+K that remains intact today. The Cannes
Advertising Festival has named Nike its 'advertiser of the year' on two separate occasions, the
first and only company to receive that honor twice (1994, 2003)
Nike Golf SWOT
Tiger Woods Endorsement:
Nike Golf uses athletic icons and to market its company goods. Tiger Woods having an
endorsement deal with Nike Golf is considered a strength because consumers begin to identify
the athlete. The company's main focus is capitalizing on the play of Woods. Woods's
endorsement has been credited in playing a significant role in taking the Nike Golf brand from a
"start-up" golf company earlier in the past decade, to becoming the leading golf apparel company
in the world and a major player in the equipment and golf ball market.
Nike Golf is one of the fastest growing brands in the sport, with an estimated $600
million in sales. Woods has been described as the "ultimate endorser" for Nike Golf. He is
frequently seen wearing Nike gear during tournaments and even in advertisements for other
products. Woods receives a cut from the sales of Nike Golf apparel, footwear, golf equipment
and golf balls and has a building named after him at Nike‟s headquarters campus in Beaverton,
Oregon. By Tiger Woods being the face of Nike Golf the company has the ability to attract and
appeal to younger generations. In addition Nike Golf can utilize word of mouth marketing
through Tiger Woods. "Nike Golf continues to surprise me by raising its game and helping me to
raise mine," Woods said after the victory. The comment is just the sort of word-of-mouth
marketing the company can use to build a reputation for its clubs.
Tiger Woods has become an icon around the world and has even crossed over into other
sports, which allows Nike Golf to promote itself on a larger scale. If Tiger wins a tournament
the ratings will be a lot higher and Nike Golf we'll get a lot more exposure. While Nike Golf
might not have the large stable of athletes that Titleist and Callaway possess, they certainly have
quality endorsers led by Tiger Woods, and followed by Justin Leonard, KJ Choi, Trevor
Immelman, Stewart Cink, Rory Sabbatani and of course Michelle Wie. Nike Golf's endorsers, by
the way, wear nothing by the Nike swoosh on their apparel, footwear and headwear which is a
pre-requisite for any athlete who signs with Nike Golf.
Nike has no factories. It does not tie up cash in buildings and manufacturing workers.
This makes a very lean organization. Nike is strong at research and development, as is evidenced
by its evolving and innovative product range. They then manufacture wherever they can produce
high quality product at the lowest possible price. If prices rise, and products can be made more
cheaply elsewhere Nike will move production.
Nike Golf has invested substantial money in their 31,000 square foot plus Research and
Development facility outside of Dallas. Nike Golf continues to push one unconventional creation
after another, which some purists describe as an affront to their golf sensibilities. Examples
include Slingshot irons that look pregnant, square drivers rather than pear-shaped ones, and its
new all-green IC putter. Nike doesn‟t even package golf balls conventionally, preferring to sell
dozens in cube-shaped boxes rather than flat, rectangular ones. The company‟s unconventional
products may not appeal to the current avid golfer demographic, let alone render obsolete the
sport‟s enduring staples, but if they linger long enough they might morph the perception of
normal. That‟s what Nike Golf is banking on. The golf division‟s obsession to be different isn‟t
just a business strategy; it‟s a trait embedded in Nike‟s corporate DNA. While Tiger Woods is
one of the main reasons for Nike Golf's enormous success, he's not the only reason the company
is thriving. Club guru Tom Stites and golf ball guru Rock Ishi have come up with innovative
products ranging from the SUMO square driver to the Nike ONE golf ball. According to Stites,
Nike put no limitations on materials or styling or anything. His job was to simply make clubs
that the best players in the world could win with and then take those to the people.
Nike is seen as a full line golf company
Nike Golf is a full-line golf company, competing in every major product arena. They sell
metal woods, irons, putters, wedges, balls, gloves, bags, footwear and apparel. Also, with the
debut of the square-headed Sumo2, Nike had become a trendsetter, too. Also Nike Golf designs
and markets golf equipment, apparel, balls, footwear, bags and accessories worldwide. Nike Golf
is passionately dedicated to honoring and respecting the traditions and heritage of the game, and
to providing committed golfers with the absolute best equipment in the game. Nike‟s mission is
to promote golf as the sport for a lifetime.
Nike brought in key officials from own and other golf companies
Nike Golf recruited former Ping executive Marlin “Cricket” Musch to scout college
prospects. Also Nike Golf added several Nike veterans to its team. Steve Eklund, a 14-year Nike
team member, joined Nike Golf as director of strategic planning. Eklund, formerly COO and
CFO for Nike ACG, guides the subsidiary's international marketing efforts. Nike also named
Mark Sheldon-Allen director of golf club operations. He is responsible for directing golf club
assembly, operations and the development and execution of Nike Golf's custom club strategy.
They also employed veteran craftsman Tom Stites, who is the director of product creation.
Furthermore they promoted Cindy Davis to President of Nike Golf. Cindy has driven significant
growth in revenue for Nike Golf over the past three years, as the GM for the USA business.
Nike has an assembly facility in the U.S.
An assembly facility in the U.S. allows Nike Golf to respond to retail requests and market
trends quickly and cost-effectively, while developing a major custom-fitting operation on-site.
The golf market is valued at about $2.5 billion at the U.S. retail level. Industry estimates suggest
custom fitting makes up as much as 30 percent of club business. By having an assembly facility
Nike Golf is going to compete for a share of that business. Custom club consumers expect to see
a three to five-day turnaround on club orders. Nike is utilizing technological advance to
streamline operations at its facilities, increasing productivity and cutting costs.
The Nike “Swoosh”
One of the biggest strengths of Nike is its brand identification and corporate identity. The
Swoosh resonates in the minds of consumers who recognize that logo as representing quality,
first-rate athletic apparel. Nike Golf has the good fortune of being backed by a parent company
that Business Week ranks as the 29th best brand in the world. Nike Golf can get a blank check
from its parent company Nike Inc. at any time. The opportunities for Nike Golf to tap the
resources of Nike Inc. are countless and priceless. When creating golf footwear, for example,
designers can use Nike Inc.‟s Research and Development lab.
Not viewed as a Golf Company: Yet the inherent advantages that give Nike Golf so much
potential also contribute to one of its toughest challenges – operating, at times, in an inhospitable
U.S. market. Few golf companies, if any, have been reviled more, even ridiculed, by competitors.
The late Ely Callaway once dismissed Nike Golf‟s manufacturing capability, saying it did
nothing more than stamp swooshes on the inventions of others. Such disdain, industry observers
suggest, is rooted in jealousy of Nike‟s resources and a belief the company has bought its seat at
the industry table rather than earned it. A certain contingent of consumers continues to hold the
Swoosh at arm‟s length. Whether it‟s a U.S. Mid-Amateur qualifier or a former female collegiate
player, some traditionalists nurtured on “pure” golf brands such as Titleist and Ping swear they‟ll
never buy Nike equipment. The company‟s unconventional products may not appeal to the
current avid golfer demographic.
Nike Golf‟s relentless envelope-pushing has helped it gain a beachhead on all fronts of
the equipment wars, but it has yet to yield a blockbuster hit. And for all its resources, there are
signs Nike struggles to move all its pieces forward at once. Nike Golf is still struggling to find an
iron that really hits the masses. Nike is already the second largest seller of golf balls and has also
done very well in golf footwear and apparel. However, the company has been slow to win
acceptance from either pros or weekend duffers for its clubs.
For all their talk about recruiting a new breed of golf consumer, Nike executives want to
win over traditionalists, too. They acknowledge that conversion will be a long-term process,
which begins and ends with creating products that appeal to skilled players and having them used
at all levels of elite competition. Nike swiftly has assembled a high-profile cast of professionals
to promote its brand on the PGA Tour. Nike has expanded its scouting staff from seven to 31,
including key managers in Europe and Australia. Nike Golf believes they have to continue to do
a better job of going after young players and cultivating relationships all the way up. The
company wants to focus more on building Nike into an authentic, classic-style golf brand. Nike
Golf wants to promote golf as the sport for a lifetime. Golf affects a wider scope than the typical,
normal, Nike sports, where people become fans and not participants. Nike Golf will try to appeal
to everyone, from kids who are just picking up a club for the very first time, all the way up to 70-
and 80-year-olds who are playing golf in their retirement.
While Nike has become a major part of American culture, there is international strength
in the Nike brand. According to one Nike press release, worldwide orders for Nike products are
up 6%. This is an opportunity because it means Nike can expand globally and depend less on the
American market for its successes or failures. Nike Golf enjoys a significant advantage in
emerging Asian markets, thanks to its parent‟s vast global retail experience in other sports. While
some competitors still are trying to figure out how golf retail will evolve in China, Nike Golf is
building its own channel there. Currently in China there are more than 70 stores selling only
Nike Golf merchandise up and running. Nike Golf sees the U.S. as being such a saturated
market, but the Nike brand has so much room to grow around the world.
Nike Golf‟s massive Web site will prove to be an opportunity for Nike golf consumers to
get up-to-date news coverage and to buy into the online purchasing market. It is one of the most
comprehensive and interactive sites on the Internet. Nike golf should be able to capitalize on its
Web site and emphasize those issues that Nike publics would not otherwise be exposed to by
Nike Inc. doesn‟t disclose financial details of its golf division, but analysts say its annual
revenues exceed $600 million, trailing only heavyweights Acushnet Co., Taylor Made-Adidas
and Callaway. Those entities own multiple golf brands, as opposed to Nike‟s one, and each
company generates more than $1 billion annually. Nike Golf competes with Callaway,
Adidas/Taylor Made and Titleist (Acushnet Co.) on a larger scale. Nike currently has 5.4 percent
of the market but its still behind market leaders such as Taylor Made and Callaway Golf. On a
smaller scale Nike Golf competitors include Ping Golf, Macgregor Golf, and Srixon.
In our current economic standing the retail sector is becoming price competitive. This
ultimately means that consumers are shopping around for a better deal. So if one store charges a
price for a pair of sports shoes, the consumer could go to the store along the street to compare
prices for the exactly the same item, and buy the cheaper of the two. Such consumer price
sensitivity is a potential external threat to Nike. Also financial crisis may lead to job shortages in
a number of Nike Golf factories especially the Tigard Facility in Oregon.
Nike like other companies has a marketing development plan for many of their products.
A great example of this is the way they market their Nike Golf Sneakers. As mentioned
previously, their endorsement deal with Tiger Woods has truly helped build their brand,
especially in the golf segment. The Air Zoom TW 2009 are the sneakers Tiger Woods markets.
These sneakers are both marketed to adults as well as the youth. Although the same sneaker is
marketed to two different demographics is they are marketed differently.
Nike markets their older demographic by showing the sneaker on their website with a full
description of all the features the sneaker provides and how it can help your game on the green.
Nike knows that adults are not always interested in what a celebrity is wearing. They know that
adults are more interested in how the product will function and how it will benefit them.
The way they market the same sneaker to the youth on the website is less detailed. In fact
there is no description of the sneaker just a simple sentence, “Be like Tiger”. Nike knows that
younger kids are more impressionable. Every young child that is interested in golf knows who
Tiger Woods is and most likely looks up to him as a role model. When they see or hear that
Tiger Woods wears the sneaker, they want to wear the sneaker too; whether its because they
believe it will improve their game or just because they think its “cool” the point is they want it.
Recently Nike Golf has introduced a new line of golf balls, specifically made for the
golfer‟s skills. The “ONE” golf balls were tested at the PGA Tour by athletes. The “ONE: Tour”
golf ball was made for “ultimate performance”. The ball features a softer outer cover which
allows for workability around the green. The “ONE: Tour D” golf ball is meant for “maximum
distance”. This ball is meant for the golfers that are trying to launch the ball as far as possible.
The “ONE: Vapor” ball is meant for “distance and control”. This ball was specifically made for
According to the Nike Product Development (NPD) Group, the percentage of people who
are interested in “going green” has risen by 300% since 2003. Nike is aware that they must
change along with their consumers demands. Last summer for the 2008 Olympics held in
Beijing, China, Nike designed and made the United States of America‟s track uniforms from
recycled Coca-Cola bottles.
On October 28, 2008 Nike announced that they will be launching their “Nike
Considered” products. The “Nike Considered” products would be part of Nikes new plan to go
green. Their products would be made with efficient designs which means, that the design would
use less material. Instead of using toxic chemicals, they will use adhesives made from water and
use sustainable items for example cork, organic cotton, etc… The “Nike Considered” products
will have the same prices as the products Nike offers in their stores now.
Nike has set a goal for themselves to get their “Nike Considered” products out in the next
few years. The first “green” product Nike will be launching by 2011 are their shoes, by 2015
Nike‟s clothing apparels will be launched and by 2020 all of Nike‟s equipment will be made
from recyclables (e.g. balls, gloves, backpacks etc.)
Nike went on to endorse more athletes after Tiger. In 2005 they signed Michelle Wie, the
then golf phenomenon. She was 15 and turning pro when Nike gave her $20 million dollar, 4-
year deal. This deal shed light on women‟s golf. As of this year they have almost 20 golf
endorsements including pros from men‟s and women‟s golf including Trevor Immelman, Stewart
Cink and Justin Leonard. As they embark on their expansion into Asia they recently signed
Anthony Kim. The 23-year old is setting new records (11 birdies in one day, an official Masters
record) and just turned professional in 2006. His two year deal ended in 2008 but Nike agreed
on principle for a new deal. With many comparing Anthony to Tiger seems like Nike may have
its hands on another great.
Nike Golf shocked the industry by competing in a completely radical new way.
Everything they did, as with their parent company, was meant to be new and completely
different. In such a traditional sport it was never heard of. In the midst of all their seeming
success there were many critics. No other brand had gone through as much ridicule from
competitors as Nike Golf had. The late Ely Callaway once dismissed Nike Golf‟s manufacturing
capability, saying it did nothing more than stamp swooshes on the inventions of others. Many
people suggest that such disdain is rooted in jealousy of Nike‟s resources and a belief the
company has bought its seat at the industry table rather than earned it. Others speculate the
contempt masks a fear of what the outsider actually might achieve. Many traditionalists even
swear they will never buy Nike brand equipment. But the company looks to produce the
unconventional and not just fit in. Nike Golf president Bob Woods dismisses such notions
conforming. “The minute we try to appeal to every single person out there or even care what they
say, all respect, we‟re dead,” Wood says. “It‟s not how you can run your business.”
Alienating the Establishment isn‟t a road often traveled by golf entrepreneurs, which
underscores again just how different Nike Golf is. The company‟s unconventional products may
not appeal to the current avid golfer demographic, let alone render obsolete the sport‟s enduring
staples, but if they linger long enough they might morph the perception of normal. That‟s what
Nike Golf is banking on.
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