Nike Golf: Profile of the (Former) Golf Club Maker and Its History

Company Still Makes Accessories, but Nike Golf No Longer Exists

Detail of a golf ball full of Nike Golf clubs on the pro tour
The Nike 'Swoosh' always identified Nike Golf equipment. Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Nike Golf was a division of Nike, Inc., that operated as a separate business unit within the larger company.

But Nike Golf announced in mid-2016 that it was leaving the golf equipment business: Nike Golf drivers, irons, putters, balls and other equipment will no longer be made. Nike remained in the footwear and apparel spaces, however.

That larger company, Nike, Inc., traces it origins to 1964, and became known as Nike in 1978. In 1986, Nike began making golf shoes. But despite the fact that Nike had endorsement deals with some pro golfers (Curtis Strange and Peter Jacobsen chiefly) to wear its shoes, the Nike golf shoes of that era were not well-regarded by consumers and didn't sell well.

Nike muddled along in golf with shoes and apparel, not making much of a mark, until it finally made some noise in 1996. That's when Nike signed a young golfer who had just turned pro — Tiger Woods — to a then-staggering contract: five years and $40 million. The company did this despite not having any golf balls or golf clubs for Woods to play.

The company's investors did not react well to the Woods signing: Nike stock fell by 5-percent in the immediate aftermath of the announcement (which took place at the Greater Milwaukee Open).

Nike Golf, as a business unit within Nike Inc., was established in 1998. Only in 2000 did Woods begin using any Nike Golf equipment in tournament play, starting with the Tour Accuracy TW golf ball. The Tour Accuracy golf ball was Nike Golf's first success with consumers, too, its sales driven in part by the famous commercial featuring Woods bouncing the ball off the face of an iron.

In 2001, Nike Golf hired Tom Stites to design its first golf club launches, which came in 2002.

Stites had worked at the Ben Hogan Company as an engineer, and had run his own boutique club company called Impact Golf Technologies. The first Nike Golf club to reach the market was the Pro Combo set of forged irons.

After that, Nike Golf grew fairly quickly, and Woods (along with other company endorsees) eventually filled his bag with Nike Golf products.

Nike Golf's ensuing innovations included the Sumo2 driver released in early 2007, one of the first square drivers to reach the market or make an impact in the game. Nike Golf was also an early adapter of the geometric, super-high-MOI mallet putters, and its hybrids gained acclaim, as well.

Golf Equipment Still Sold By Nike

Nike only got out of the golf clubs and balls business in 2016. It did not entirely leave the golf retail space.

Today, the golf section of the Nike website ( still spotlights a large array of golf accessories. Nike is chiefly known today for its golf shoes and golf apparel, and it makes other accessories, too. The additional accessories include such things at hap, caps and belts.

The company also still has a stable of professional golfers on the payroll as endorsers of and wearers of its shoes and apparel.