What Was the Nike Tour in Golf?

Golfer Stewart Cink playing in the 1996 US Open
David Cannon/Getty Images

"Nike Tour" was the name of the PGA Tour's developmental tour — what today is called the Korn Ferry our — for about a half-dozen years in the early part of that tour's existence.

The feeder tour for the PGA Tour went by the name "Nike Tour" beginning in 1993 and continuing through 1999, at which time a new title sponsor took over and the tour changed names.

The tour's original title sponsor was Ben Hogan Golf, and the tour was called the Ben Hogan Tour. Nike replaced Hogan as the title sponsor. Later, Nike itself was replaced as the title sponsor by Buy.com, and the tour then became known as the Buy.com Tour.

Key Takeaways

  • The Nike Tour still exists today, but under the name Korn Ferry Tour. It is the second-highest golf tour based in the United States for men.
  • The tour was named Nike Tour for seven seasons in the 1990s.
  • Nike Inc. was the company whose name was used in Nike Tour; Nike Golf did not yet exist when the tour had that name.

The Nike Tour Was the Second-Level Tour in USA Men's Golf

As noted, the Nike Tour was the developmental tour, or "feeder tour," of the PGA Tour. The PGA Tour is the pinnacle in men's golf; the Nike Tour was the second-highest in the pecking order of men's golf tours based in the United States.

As the PGA Tour's official developmental tour, the Nike Tour awarded PGA Tour membership to its top finishers. A second-level golf tour is akin to a Triple-A baseball team whose best players get called up to the major leagues.

Nike Tour's Sponsor Was Not Nike Golf

The title sponsor of the Nike Tour was not Nike Golf, however; it was Nike, Inc. Nike Golf did not yet exist in 1993, the year the name "Nike Tour" came into existence. Nike Inc. did not make golf clubs or golf balls at that point, only golf shoes and golf apparel.

Nike launched its Nike Golf division only after signing Tiger Woods to an endorsement deal in 1996. (In 2016, Nike announced it was leaving the golf club business.)

Nike Tour's Players of the Year

Who were the Players of the Year on the tour during the years it was named the Nike Tour? Here is the list for those years:

  • 1993 — Sean Murphy
  • 1994 — Chris Perry
  • 1995 — Jerry Kelly
  • 1996 — Stewart Cink
  • 1997 — Chris Smith
  • 1998 — Bob Burns
  • 1999 — Carl Paulson

Nike Tour Still Exists — Only the Name Has Changed

The PGA Tour's developmental tour is still going strong and more entrenched than ever as one of the next-highest tours in men's golf. After Nike dropped its sponsorship of the tour, Buy.com took over. Nationwide Insurance followed, and Web.com came after Nationwide. In 2019, the consulting firm Korn Ferry took over as the tour's title sponsor. Title sponsors come and go, obviously, and, therefore, the tour's name occasionally changes. For more about the tour's history, see the Korn Ferry Tour profile page.