A Chronological Look at the History of Nike Golf
Nike jumped into the golf industry back in 1984, developing its first line of golf shoes, but didn’t get into the hard goods (clubs, balls and bags) side of the industry for another 14 years. While it seems like ages ago that Tiger Woods said, “Hello, world,” and did commercials with a talking headcover, in reality Nike Golf has only existed for about 15 years, never really catching on in any single category aside from shoes and apparel.
Here’s a look as some of the brand’s ups and downs.
- Nike introduces its first golf shoes.
- Seve Ballesteros and Curtis Strange sign endorsement deals with Nike, officially carrying the Swoosh into the world of professional golf.
- Strange wins back-to-back U.S. Opens with Nike shoes and apparel.
- The Hogan Tour becomes the Nike Tour.
- Tiger Woods signs a five-year, $40 million endorsement deal with Nike, an unprecedented contract for a golfer. Tiger says, “Hello World,” in his official press conference, beginning his reign as one of the most popular athletes in the world.
- Woods wins the Masters by 12 shots wearing what would become his signature red Nike shirt, black hat and black pants. He plays a Titleist ball and Cobra driver, among other things, but no actual Nike gear.
- Nike introduces its first line of golf balls, the Nike Precision Tour Control, Spin Control, Distance Control and Precision Control.
- Nike develops the Tour Accuracy golf ball.
- Tiger’s juggling ball commercial hits TV screens, bringing more attention to the brand and the new line of Nike golf balls.
- Glen Day wins the MCI Heritage Classic, the first Tour win for a Nike golf ball. (Nike Precision Spin Control)
- Paul Azinger wins the Sony Open using the Tour Accuracy golf ball.
- Woods puts the Tour Accuracy ball in play in May for the first time, winning the Memorial later that month and officially announcing his switch from Titleist to Nike. He wins his next four majors to complete the “Tiger Slam.”
- NikeGolf.com is launched.
- Nike purchases Tom Stites’ Fort Worth area company, Impact Golf, and names Stites as director of product creation for golf clubs.
- Nike introduces the Power Distance golf ball.
- David Duval becomes the first player to win a Tour event — and a major — with Nike clubs, when he claims the British Open with forged blades.
- Tiger Woods’s Tour Accuracy TW ball is made available to retail and Woods signs a reported five-year, $100 million extension.
- Nike debuts its first line of clubs — forged irons, wedges and a titanium driver — at the PGA Merchandise Show, and ships its first clubs to retail in February.
- David Duval’s Tour Accuracy DD golf ball is released to the public.
- Nike opens “The Oven” in Fort Worth, Texas.
- Tiger Woods puts a full bag of Nike clubs in play for the first time and wins the WGC-AMEX in Ireland.
- Nike signs then-world No. 3 Grace Park to a multi-year deal, its first female player.
- Nike introduces the Mojo and TA2 Tour Accuracy golf balls.
- Bo Van Pelt wins the Nationwide Tour’s Omaha Classic and becomes the first player to win using a Nike putter.
- Newly minted Callaway endorser Phil Mickelson makes news by saying he’s surprised Tiger can do so well with inferior equipment, a jab at Nike’s clubs and golf balls.
- Nike introduces the Ignite driver.
- Nike introduces its first line of game-improvement clubs with the Slingshot irons and CPR hybrids. For the mid-level player it unveils the Pro Combo irons.
- Nike introduces the One Black and One Gold golf balls.
- A new TV ad campaign centered on Tiger Woods’ headcover, “Frank,” is rolled out.
- Grace Park wins the Kraft Nabisco, capturing her first LPGA major and the first for Nike Golf.
- Nike introduces the SasQuatch driver and Nike One Platinum golf ball.
- Nike signs 16-year-old Michelle Wie and launches the Nike Precision Power Distance – “Power Lady,” its first ball specifically for women.
- Up-and-comer Anthony Kim is added to the stable of young, talented Tour players.
- Nike leads the Tour in driver, irons and fairway wood wins with 16 wins by 9 separate players.
- Tiger Woods signs a contract extension for an undisclosed amount of money.
- Nike unveils the first square driver, the Sumo2, to mixed reviews. The design is supposed to provide the ultimate in high MOI forgiveness but produces too much spin to compete in the distance game.
- Nike develops the IC putter, which is engineered to help golfers better align their putts.
- Nike signs then world No. 2 Suzann Pettersen and Charl Schwartzel.
- The Victory Red line makes its debut with three sets of irons.
- Nike athletes Trevor Immelman, Tiger Woods and Stewart Cink finish 1-2-3 at the Masters.
- Cindy Davis replaces Bob Wood as the president of Nike Golf.
- Nike athletes combine to win 23 tournaments: 11 PGA Tour, eight international, two LPGA and two PGA Tour Champions.
- The Nike SQ Dymo STR8-FIT enters the market as the first diver with a fully adjustable shaft/head combination. (Closely followed by the TaylorMade R9)
- The 20XI golf ball is debuted.
- Charl Schwartzel wins the Masters using all Nike equipment
- Rory McIlroy signs a massive, $200 million contract with Nike and becomes the future of the brand.
- Nike introduces the Victory Red driver, which features a red crown.
- Tiger Woods wins the WGC-Bridgestone, his last title with Nike golf equipment.
- Nike introduces the RZN golf ball line.
- Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy work together to design the blade version of the Vapor Irons.
- Michelle Wie wins the U.S. Women’s Open for her first major championship.
- Rory McIlroy wins the British Open and PGA Championship using all Nike equipment and switches to their latest driver, the Vapor Fly (blue crown) between the PGA Championship and Ryder Cup.
- Cindy Davis leaves Nike Golf.
- Nike launches the Counterflex putter series, featuring a movable weight system inside the grip.
- Nike Golf signs a number of young, new players including Tony Finau and Brooks Koepka to begin the season.
- On Aug. 3 it announces that it will no longer produce clubs, golf balls, or golf bags.