You may not recognise his face, but Tom Stites may be the biggest name at Nike Golf other than Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy.
Stites has been one of the most influential names in golf equipment over the past decade. After twelve years with Nike Golf, serving most recently as chief club designer, Stites has retired.
Tom was previously the club designer at Ben Hogan Golf, and even had his own boutique-style golf company called Impact Golf Technologies. But when Nike approached him in 2001, he jumped ship and jumped started Nike's entry into the golf equipment market.
Nike Golf launched their first club, the Nike Pro Combo irons
, in 2002. Since then Stites has been a part of each and every club they have produced. Every club in Tiger Woods' bag was designed, made and launched under the watchful eye of Tom Stites.
Some of his most notable clubs have included: the Nike SQ Sumo2 driver
(one of the first square drivers in the market), the Victory Red TW Blade irons
(designed to match Tiger's irons) and Tiger's latest driver, the Nike VR_S Covert Tour
We heard from Nike's Senior Direction of Global Golf Club Business, Rob Arluna, about Stites.
"Tom has retired, but is serving as a consultant. He wants to spend more time with his family and wants to concentrate on all of our important projects moving forward."
"He is Nike Golf's "Chief Imagineer" and will be working on future projects. These are our biggest ideas and he will be working on them." said Arluna. "He will maintain a Nike office at The Oven, but won't be involved in day-do-day operations."
With big shoes to fill, Nike Golf will look to Nate Radcliffe. Formerly with Cleveland Golf, Radcliffe joined Nike last year and will be Nike's director of engineering for golf clubs.
As always, to keep up to date with all the latest Nike Golf equipment news, visit our exclusive Nike Golf Zone