Tiger Woods, one of the most iconic and successful golfers of all time, worth $1.1 billion, may be ending his long-standing partnership with Nike, the global sports apparel giant. Woods has been wearing Nike shoes and clothing since 1996, when he signed a groundbreaking deal worth $40 million over five years. According to reports, he has renewed his contract several times, most recently in 2013 for a reported $200 million over 10 years.
However, Woods has not been seen wearing the Nike logo in his recent appearances, such as the Hero World Challenge in December 2023. Instead, he has opted for FootJoy, a brand that specializes in golf shoes and gloves. Woods first switched to FootJoy at the 2022 Masters, citing his ankle injury as the reason. But even after recovering from his injury, he has stuck with FootJoy, raising questions about his future with Nike.
According to multiple sources, Nike plans to outsource its golf business to Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), which means it will no longer produce its golf equipment and apparel. This could explain why Nike has not released any new golf shoes for Woods, despite announcing plans to work on them in 2019. It could also mean that Nike may not be interested in renewing its contract with Woods, which is set to expire this year.
If Woods and Nike part ways, what are the possible options for the 15-time major champion? Here are some potential scenarios:
Woods could sign a full partnership deal with FootJoy, the brand that he has been wearing lately. FootJoy is a well-established and respected name in the golf industry, with a history dating back to 1857. It is presently owned by Acushnet Holdings Corporation, which also owns Titleist and Scotty Cameron, two of the leading golf equipment brands.
Offering Woods an exclusive partnership if it wants to expand its apparel business beyond shoes and gloves will be a plus, as it has a roster of prominent golfers associated with it.
Woods could also sign a partnership deal with TaylorMade, the brand that has been producing his golf clubs since 2017. Being one of the top golf equipment manufacturers in the world and having a close relationship with Woods, using Woods as the face of their brand will be a great advantage. They have also collaborated with Woods to design the P-7TW, his own irons, which he used to win his 15th major, the 2019 Masters.
Woods could also explore other brands, such as Adidas, Puma, and Under Armour, or even create his own. Though these brands may not have as much reach as Nike, FootJoy, or TaylorMade in the golf market, they could benefit from having Woods as the face of their brand. In another light, Woods already has his own logo, the TW, which he uses for his foundation and his golf course design company. He could use this, along with his popularity and influence, to create his own brand, similar to what Michael Jordan did with Jordan Brand. By doing so, he could launch his own brand, which could appeal to his fans and followers.
Despite his age, injuries, and various controversies surrounding him, Woods remains one of the most marketable and influential athletes in the world, so whatever his decision is, he will still have a number of potential partners. According to Forbes, Woods earned $60 million from endorsements and appearances in 2023, making him the sixteenth highest-paid athlete in the world. His sponsors, which include Monster Energy, Bridgestone Golf, and Upper Deck, have also enjoyed a huge return on their investment, especially after his comeback win at the 2019 Masters.
Woods has a unique story of triumph and resilience that aligns with millions of people, not just golfers. He is not just a golfer but an icon, and with his influence, he has the power to boost the image of any brand that he associates with. So whether he stays with Nike or moves on to a new partner, he continues to make an impact.