Nike is getting out of the golf equipment business, a surprising announcement made Wednesday that's sure to send Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, and other players searching for new clubs and golf balls. Nike said it would stop making clubs, golf balls, and golf bags, instead devoting its resources to shoes and apparel, long its strength in the golf marketplace, the AP reports. Nike didn't say how the move would affect its golf equipment staff, either the reps on tour or in Fort Worth, Texas, where the clubs were made. Woods has been with Nike since he turned pro in 1996 with a "Hello, World" ad, and he remains the most famous figure among Nike golfers.
Mark Steinberg, Woods' agent at Excel Sports Management, says Woods will remain "the iconic ambassador" for Nike Golf, just with a smaller group of products, noting, "It just means he'll likely have some different equipment in the bag, whether that's tomorrow, next month, or a year from now." Woods began promoting the shoes and apparel when he turned pro, then switched to the Nike golf ball (which Bridgestone manufactured) in 2000 in Germany. He changed to the Nike irons at the American Express Championship in 2002, then gradually added the fairway metal, the driver, and, finally, the putter in 2010. During those changes, Phil Mickelson caused a stir when he told Golf Magazine Woods had "inferior" clubs. (Read more Nike stories.)