Tiger is back as the hottest property in golf and he has not even picked up a club and swung it in a competitive round! Wow, that is marketing power! The entire world is abuzz with Tigers announcement that he will “hopefully” return to competitive golf at the Safeway Open in October. With Nike withdrawing from the golf equipment race, who will get Tiger’s endorsement? E. Michael Johnson and Mike Stachura of Golf Digest give us their 6 questions on Tiger and his possible choice of new equipment. I’m giving away a 3 day school at the Mel Sole Golf School, to the first correct guess of which EquipCo that signs Tiger! Just post your comments below and I will award the prize the day of this eagerly awaited news!
With the news that Tiger Woods is hoping to return to competitive golf in October, there remains the lingering issue of what clubs he’ll play now that Nike has announced it is his exiting the equipment business.
1. Is Tiger obligated to use Nike equipment when he returns?
Not even close. In fact, he’s not obligated to use any of it. Woods, like other Nike staff players, is essentially an equipment free agent, able to play any clubs or ball he chooses (although in order to keep his Nike contract intact, Woods must wear the company’s hat, apparel and footwear). That doesn’t mean that all of a sudden his bag is going to be filled with non-swooshed products. Since Nike’s announcement that it was exiting the equipment arena, some of its players have slowly begun making the transition to other equipment—although none has made a wholesale change. Rather it’s been dipping the toes in the equipment waters with a club here and there so far. Rory McIlroy changed to a Scotty Cameron by Titleist putter as has Brooks Koepka. Russell Henley and Jamie Lovemark each changed to Titleist’s Pro V1x golf ball, with Lovemark also playing a TaylorMade M2 driver.
2. What are the odds that Tiger signs a new equipment deal by the time he returns?
You have to look at this question from multiple directions. First, his deal with Nike to wear its apparel and shoes hasn’t changed (and it’s believed to be a figure higher than any other current player’s deal), so financially it would be silly for Tiger to enter into a deal that would force him to walk away from the Nike contract, which is set to expire at the end of 2018. Second and conversely, equipment companies that might be pursuing a club or ball deal with Tiger Woods might find themselves a little hamstrung in that Tiger might agree to use their clubs but he’ll be doing so wearing Nike’s swoosh from head to toe, with no other logos showing. Third, he’s planning to test the competitive waters for the first time in over a year after using and testing only Nike clubs precisely tuned to his peculiar swing tendencies for the last decade-plus. A wholesale equipment change brought on by a new contract signed in the next month seems about as likely as Tiger playing the Ryder Cup as a warmup event. Plain and simple, it’s hard to see how now would be the time to make that kind of change.
3. Yeah, but if he does, who are the contenders?
The number of golf equipment companies who might be in a position to pursue Tiger’s asking price on the equipment side is likely limited to Callaway, TaylorMade, Titleist and wild card PXG. Callaway has its old horse Hall of Famer already in Phil Mickelson, TaylorMade is in the midst of a reorganization and likely sale that surely will limit its marketing spend and clearly will be focused on finding money—the kind of money Tiger Woods might be seeking—to pay the likes of Jason Day and/or Dustin Johnson and/or Justin Rose. Titleist? Titleist sued Nike after Tiger’s infamous hackey-sack commercial, when Tiger at the time had contracts with both Nike and Titleist. While those scars have healed, Titleist doesn’t have a track record of signing older players who haven’t been playing their clubs for a while. PXG? Not likely. Company founder Bob Parsons, who indicated he was interested in Rory McIlroy, told Golf Digest last month, “There’s no doubt that Tiger has been an icon in the game, that no one has done as much for golf as anyone in history and he’s highly respected for that, but I don’t know that his game is what it once was.” Which perhaps leads us to one final point: He’s ranked No. 711 in the world, hasn’t played a “full” season in three years, is coming off three back surgeries and the last equipment company he had a contract with just got out of the business. Is this really how you would want to spend some serious marketing dollars?
To see the rest of the questions about Tiger and his equipment, go here!
Source : E. Michael Johnson Mike Stachura Golf Digest
Pictures : Golf Digest