By Matthew Bagdat
Sports Business Editor
The sport of golf finally made its return on the Olympic Stage in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. However, despite something that would increase its popularity around the world, major companies such as Nike and Adidas have been struggling.
Arguably the two biggest companies in all of sporting equipment, Nike and Adidas are exiting the golf club industry. One reason behind their struggles in the fact that the number of golfers in the United States, their biggest market, has declined.
The United States alone makes up for half of the world’s players and courses. According to BBC, the number of players has decreased by 6 million: from 30 million in 2005 to 24 million currently.
This has certainly hurt these companies. As more affordable sports such as basketball and football continue to become more popular in the United States, brands such as Nike and Adidas are looking to cut costs in their lower-producing products such as golf equipment, in an effort to increase funds to their most popular product lines.
Nike sponsors big-name golfers such as Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy and Michelle Wie. They have been competing in a difficult market since 1999, and their best earnings came when Woods was at the top of the sport. He was their most marketable name, and his lack of victories of late have had a negative impact on Nike’s sales. The company says it will keep its primary focus on golf shoes and apparel. This means McIlroy, Wie, and other golfers will have to find a different company for clubs.
Adidas will take a similar strategy as Nike, as they will be looking to improve their golf-apparel, but not their equipment. Big name brands such as TaylorMade and Adams belong to Adidas, but the company is looking to sell them. Like Nike, the company is relatively new, having been launched in 1997. They face the same problem as Nike, as they have simply not produced enough due to the shrinking market.
This means that a brand such as Callaway, which according to CNBC, already first in the U.S. market share for clubs, will further continue its success in the golf industry.
According to CNBC, they generated $844 million in revenue this past year. It will also provide opportunities for some smaller companies to make a breakthrough. The market is changing, and some of the biggest names in Golf will need new sponsors.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, September 13th print edition.
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