Nike just signalled the end of golf

Rory McIlroyAndrew Redington/GettyRory McIlroy, decked out in Nike gear.

Nike is ending its golf equipment business, as the sport fails to connect with millennials.

On Wednesday, the athletic apparel brand announced that it will transition out of selling golf clubs, balls, and bags. The company will, however, continue to sell golf footwear and apparel.

The news comes after a rough patch for Nike golfers, as well as a decline in interest in the golf industry as a whole.

“From the golf industry statistics, we know that rounds are down. We know that millennials are not picking up the game, and boomers are ageing out. The game is in decline,” Matt Powell of industry-research firm NPD explained in a video in July.

Nike built its modern golf business on Tiger Wood’s success, signing the young superstar in 1996, when he was just 20. Wood’s Nike shirts became iconic, eventually spawning Nike’s Tiger Woods apparel collection.

More recently, Michelle Wie and Rory McIlroy have become the some of the most recognisable faces of Nike golf.

“Athletes like Tiger, Rory and Michelle drive tremendous energy for the game and inspire consumers worldwide,” Daric Ashford, president of Nike Golf, said in a statement that emphasised Nike’s innovation on its apparel business.

Meanwhile, Nike rival Under Armour is increasingly competing for Nike’s customers and moving into the golf apparel business. The rising sports apparel and footwear company introduced its first line of golf shoes in March, part of a more subtle strategy for entering the golf business than Nike’s flashy, superstar-centric approach that, ultimately, failed to win over many golfers shopping for gear.

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