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It may have taken Nike some time to get into the golf market but there is little doubt now that the swoosh has arrived and is here to stay. It is, of course, Nike’s good fortune that the dominant player of the era endorses their products but despite Tiger Wood’s marketing profile, Nike Golf has made an incredible impact in a relatively short space of time.
We need only look back a decade or so to see Nike as, essentially, a complete novice in the golfing world. It’s true that this was a novice with the incredible power and experience of Nike’s global domination of the sportswear market behind it but us golfer’s are a fairly loyal bunch and the kind of market penetration that Nike demands was always going to be difficult to achieve.
Nike Golf can now boast it is the undisputed market leader of golfing clothes, whilst Nike drivers, Nike irons and Nike golf balls are steadily carving out a large and loyal share of a truly global market.
Nike golf equipmentA large part of that success is down to Tiger Woods, another in a line of athletes like Michael Jordan who have become synonymous with a range of Nike equipment. It is hardly a surprise to learn that Nike have honoured Tiger by calling a building at their headquarters after him.
Tiger signed for Nike in 1996 and now exclusively wears Nike golf apparel and uses a Nike driver, Nike fairway woods, Nike irons and Nike wedges and has even used a Nike putter in a major.
In January 2013, Nike made a splash, signing world No.1 Rory McIlroy to a multi-year deal. Along with a host of other top, young signings, McIlroy's contact meant he would be wearing a swoosh on his clubs, shoes, apparel, ball and hat.
The incredible brand awareness that Nike Golf can bring to any new venture coupled with their reputation for excellence in other sporting arenas has been brilliantly harnessed to shake up the world of golf. That Nike’s attitude to advancing golf club technology can be somewhat unorthodox is undeniable but the effect the company is having is proof that Nike is cracking the market.
Square Nike drivers and oversized Nike irons were originally dismissed, but many of those sneering rivals are now following in Nike’s wake. Nike may be rowdy newcomers to a game that has so often set its stall on staid, tried and tested methods, but the company with the Swoosh has proved to be a trendsetter.
When Nike began to compete in the sportswear market one of its unique selling points was that it democratised sports by allowing everyone to access the very best equipment. This company creed has extended to Nike Golf where their clubs appeal to the mass market of aspiring club golfers rather than elite who make up such a slight, if vocal, slice of the market.
Many of those who criticise Nike’s golfing output would seem to disregard the most salient fact: In 2001 Nike did not make golf clubs, but by 2008 the number one golfer in the world used a Nike driver, Nike fairway woods, Nike irons, Nike wedges and Nike golf balls. As well as multiple major winners, the victorious 2008 American Ryder Cup team wore items of golf clothing manufactured exclusively for the event by Nike. That is phenomenal progress.
With more and more players, from the world number one to the junior golfer who has only just taken up the game, choosing Nike golf clothes, Nike golf clubs and Nike golf balls, it is clear that the swoosh is going to have a massive impact on the Royal and Ancient game for quite some time to come.