Nike Gives Up on Golf Equipmentby and
Company had suffered years of declining sales in category
Move deals fresh blow to sport hurt by slowing participation
The company will shift away from the golf clubs, balls and bags most notably championed by Tiger Woods, but it will continue selling footwear and apparel for the sport, according to a statement Wednesday. Sales at the Nike Golf division fell 8.2 percent to $706 million in the fiscal year that ended in May, making it the company’s worst performing major category.
Nike built its golf business around the stardom of Woods, who helped draw interest to the sport in the late 1990s and early 2000s. But the athlete took a break from golf after a car accident outside his Florida home in 2009 led to an admission of marital infidelity. He returned to the sport but never regained his earlier dominance.
Woods, 40, has used Nike equipment, and the company sells a clothing line under his name. The Beaverton, Oregon-based company said on Wednesday it will continue to innovate in apparel and shoes. But golf’s appeal has slumped in recent years, especially among many millennials.
Golf ranked as Nike’s smallest category last year, below action sports, women’s training and other segments. Sales of the division have fallen for three straight years.
“We’re committed to being the undisputed leader in golf footwear and apparel,” said Trevor Edwards, president of the Nike brand. “We will achieve this by investing in performance innovation for athletes and delivering sustainable profitable growth for Nike Golf.”
Adidas AG, Nike’s biggest rival, also is shifting away from golf. The company has been seeking buyers for the bulk of its golf business, including TaylorMade and Adams clubs. The operations have been a drag on Adidas’s profit.