- Nike has signed Jason Day, the current top-ranked golfer in the world and winner of the 2015 PGA Championship, to a multi-year apparel and shoe deal — an announcement which comes several months after the sports gear goliath said it would stop making golf equipment, such as clubs and balls.
- The new endorsement deal, while just officially announced by Nike, reportedly was common knowledge within the pro golf community for several months.
- The 28-year-old Australian, who now lives in Ohio, will first wear Nike gear this week at the Tournament of Champions in Kapalua, HI. Day previously had worn clothing and shoes from Adidas Golf, and will continue to use TaylorMade golf clubs, balls and other equipment on the course.
Nike decided to exit the golf equipment business at a time when the sport's popularity has been on the wane, along with the fortunes of retailers and other brands (such as Golfsmith) that had bet big on it. Yet Nike isn't completely giving up on golf, and we're getting a glimpse on where it's re-training its focus.
Day isn't the only golfer in the Nike stable, which also includes Rory McIlroy and some older guy trying to make a comeback named Tiger Woods. So, Nike has the current No. 1 golfer in the world wearing its clothes and golf shoes, as well a very recent No. 1 golfer who many in the sport believe will return to than ranking, and a long-ago No. 1 who should provide the sport's most compelling and watchable narrative in the coming year. While Nike isn't going to make golf equipment anymore, it's not exactly going to disappear from major televised golf tournaments this year.
Nike has been under increasing pressure from the likes of Adidas, Under Armour and Fanatics, and has yielded some market ground to those brands, especially among younger consumers. Cornering the endorsement market for golf apparel and shoes may not help it fight off the competition for those consumers, especially in the U.S. market.
Still, this signing shows some nice follow-through by Nike, which is managing to stay in front of golf-loving consumers by focusing on what it does best — shoes and clothes — instead of forcing money and energy into a golf equipment market that wasn't panning out for it.