"So why have NIKE stopped selling equipment?"
Well, a Nike insider have whispered to us that they are sick and tired of pushing the boundaries of what is or is not legal and have opted for closing down the equipment division all together. The R&A have shut down so many of Nike’s research and developments drivers that they are sick of asking.
Seems extreme? Not really. When you consider how many companies are out there competing for the same market share, it actually makes sense. In terms of the global scene, Nike are late comers. Arriving in 1997, the global golfing market was already 80% taken by the big guys. Taylormade, Titleist, Callaway and Ping have the market share and there is little room for any other company to force themselves into an already over populated scene.
The 20% that is left is taken up by many companies. All of them fighting to keep their heads above water. Quality companies like Srixon, Muira, PXG, Mizuno, Cobra, Wilson, Adams, and Bridgestrone all fight to take share of the remaining market, but none are really taking over from the big 4. Little wonder that a company that prides themselves on apparel is backing away from that overcrowded market.
Nike instead are devoting their resources to making themselves No.1 in apparel and footwear. It is where their heart always lived really. They only got into the equipment market on the back of Tiger Woods. For a while, it was very easy to ride along with Tiger, but the recent years have seen a decline. Rory McIlroy was seen as the guy who would revive the brand, but it just has not eventuated. It is strange to me as the equipment Nike have been producing has been top notch. Good enough to sneak a few products into my bag, and I don’t give up those spots lightly. Recently the world number 1 Jason Day has signed with Nike as an apparel ambassador. This will mean he will be wearing Nike from top to toe on tour. Caps, shirts and shoes all will sport the swoosh although his equipment will stay TaylorMade. Nike will pay him a handsome sum of $10 million a year to do this. They seem very serious in dominating this market.
I put many different drivers through their paces when I was in the market for a new one. The Nike Vapor was not only the straightest driver I hit, but in recent times, the longest as well. A rare combination that even now, amazes the people I play golf with. The Titleist and Taylormade players are all taken back when I push the Nike yards past them and in the middle of the fairway. Something that never ceases to make me laugh. Only a few days ago, playing with a much taller gent than myself, he was so amazed that he just “had to” hit my driver for himself. When he hit it 20 metres past his Titleist, he was silent. The silence I have been hearing from just about everybody who hits my driver. Just why has everybody ignored this equipment for so long?
Well, it’s because it only really got good recently. The earlier VR models were horrible looking and probably put a lot of traditionalists off. Most likely ignoring anything Nike produced after that. A shame really, because the early stuff was good. Slingshot irons were ahead of their time and people seemed to gravitate to Nike when they became available. The ease of use of the Slingshot even prompted players to include a 3 or 4 iron in their blade sets to make sure the long irons performed to their best. The next few models though were nothing to write home about. It was only when the newer models like vapor and pro combo made their appearance. That people started to take notice of Nike irons again.
Now, just as we are starting to notice of them, they will be gone. Who knows if they will return? If Tiger will regain his dominance and kick Nike into a new equipment revolution? If Rory will continue to build into what we expect him to be? One thing is for sure with me, my Nike driver will continue to find fairways easily and people will continue to ask if they can “please give it a go.”
So, no more balls, bags and clubs. Not that anybody will miss the ball, as I have never really met anybody that plays it. I tried again and again to sell it to customers only to have them tell me “pro v please.” Well, what can you do? That’s a bit of the golfing world in a nutshell. No matter how much technology you put into making something better, stronger and faster. The average golfer will not stray from what he knows. Unfortunately for Nike, they were just a little late starting up.