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Rumor: Rory to join Nike? Five reasons it could happen



GolfWRX is member published and that means you can join and share your opinions. Last week a member started a rumor that he heard Rory McIlroy is headed to Nike Golf for 250 million dollars over 10 years. Click here to see that post in the forums.

As the friendship between Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods has flourished in recent weeks, so too have the rumors on GolfWRX that McIlroy will join Woods as a Nike Golf athlete next year.

Imagine Woods and McIlroy playing together in the final pairing of The Masters, both sporting Nike swooshes. While the scenario seemed impossible when Woods was the only golfer who enjoyed major media coverage, McIlroy’s dominating performances in the 2011 U.S. Open and the 2012 PGA Championship have brought him to a level of stardom that only Woods can best.

McIlroy currently has an apparel deal with Oakley and is a brand ambassador for Titleist/Footjoy and Jumeriah Hotels & Resorts — a Dubai-based international luxury hotel chain. But all of these deals were signed before McIlroy vaulted to stardom, which means that he and his management company may be looking to cash in on his increased value.

While it is only a rumor for now, a McIlroy-Nike Golf partnership makes sense for both parties. Here are five reasons why we might see McIlroy make a move to Nike Golf in the near future:

No. 1: Nike Golf needs another top-ranked golfer

Unfortunately for Woods and Nike Golf, it’s not 2008 anymore. Woods is no longer an unrivaled force in golf and his continued injury problems put the length of his legendary career in jeopardy. And while Woods is still easily the most popular golfer on the planet, his scandal has hurt his popularity. More importantly it has also seemed to shake the confidence that earned him 14 major championship titles.

Of Nike Golf’s 12 current PGA Tour athletes, only two players are ranked in the top 50 in the Official Golf World Rankings — Woods (No. 3) and Carl Pettersson (No. 32). You have to go all the way to the No. 110 in the OGWR to find the next top Nike Golf athlete on the PGA Tour, Paul Casey, who has made just two cuts this year. To be fair, Nike also sponsors European Tour members Charl Schwartzel (No. 24), Francesco Molinari (No. 25) and Simon Dyson (No. 48), but they are players are unlikely to impact apparel and equipment sales in the way McIlroy could.

No. 2: Global sports stardom

Name a Titleist-sponsored golfer who has risen to global sports stardom? I’ll wait.

Titleist is seen as an equipment brand for the elite player, a market where the company leads the industry. Few products receive as much buzz on GolfWRX as Scotty Cameron putters and Vokey wedges, and with ProV1 and ProV1X Titleist can also lay claim as the undisputed golf ball champion of the world. But it is not a brand that can lead to global sports stardom, a practice Nike has written the book on.

We love Titleist Brand Ambassador Adam Scott, but he’s no Phil Mickelson. He’s not even Ernie Els. McIlroy has the potential to be bigger than both Mickelson and Els. And while he’ll probably never be Lebron James or Dwayne Wade, with Nike and mentor Woods he can certainly be marketed in a similar way as Nike’s biggest star in tennis, Roger Federer.

No. 3: Commercials

Remember the Nike Golf Anthony Kim 20Xi golf ball commercials? They were beautiful while they lasted.

Kim has fallen off the face of the golf world since winning the 2010 Shell Houston Open. Because of injuries to his elbow, wrist and thumb, the one-time golf phenomenon earned less than $34,000 in 10 events in 2012, and he was forced to go under the knife in July after injuring his achilles tendon while sprinting.

A marketing campaign of Woods and Kim was obviously from the get go — at one time they were two of the most energetic, entertaining athletes in golf. But a Woods-McIlroy TV spot would be even better, and would likely rival the Tiger-Frank commercials that became instant classics. Combine Woods’ pedigree and sense of humor with McIlroy’s youth, honestly and charm and you have a hit, folks.

No. 4: Products that match

Nike Golf markets its tour players as athletes, not golfers. McIlroy’s physique and unbelievable clubhead speed gel perfectly with the company’s image. He’s also a natural fit to be dressed head to toe in Nike Golf’s athlete-minded golf apparel.

As far as golf equipment, McIlroy uses a bag full of clubs that are very similar to what Woods uses. He prefers blade irons, one of Nike Golf’s most highly acclaimed products. Nike Golf also convinced Woods, one of the best putters and wedge players of all time, to switch to its wedges and putter, as well its driver and fairway woods. For the right amount of money Nike could probably convince McIlroy to do the same.

No.5: McIlroy has changed courses before

McIlroy surprised many when he jumped ship from Chubby Chandler’s ISM sports management agency in favor of the Dublin-based Horizon Sport Management group in Nov. 2011. Chandler managed one of McIlroy’s childhood heros, Darren Clarke, as well as friend Lee Westwood, making the decision to leave even tougher on McIlroy. But McIlroy said he felt Chandler was leading him “down the wrong path.”

McIlroy always wanted to play the PGA Tour, but under the guidance of Chandler and Westwood the Northern Irishman did not join the Tour in 2011 and skipped The Players Championship that year in favor of the Volvo World Match Play Championship in Spain. McIlroy later said that he regretted not joining the PGA Tour and skipping The Players.

There are hurdles to McIlroy migrating from his current sponsors, such as the length of his current contracts, but just like a round of golf can quickly change its course, so too can endorsement deals on the PGA Tour. Consider Rickie Fowler’s move from Titleist to Cobra-Puma last year. Fowler completely altered the direction of the former Acushnet-owned brand, making them a serious player among the major OEMs. McIlroy could take a brand like Nike Golf, a company that started out much like Cobra-Puma in its infancy, and grow it to the level of a company like TaylorMade-Adidas with the help of Woods.

Agree? Disagree? Leave your comments here, or in the “Tour/Pre-release forum.”

You can follow Zak on Twitter @ZakKoz or GolfWRX @GolfWRX.

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Zak is the Editor-in-Chief of He's been a part of the company since 2011, when he was hired to lead GolfWRX's Editorial Department. Zak developed GolfWRX's Featured Writer Program, which supports aspiring writers and golf industry professionals. He played college golf at the University of Richmond (Go Spiders!) and still likes to compete in tournaments. You can follow Zak on Twitter @ZakKoz, where he's happy to discuss his game and all the cool stuff that's part of his job.



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  2. xorisszdiegr

    Mar 28, 2013 at 7:19 pm


  3. tony

    Mar 8, 2013 at 9:16 am

    I think PHIL got it right when he said “all those years ago”, if Tiger was to play with decent equipment, just think how good he would really be. It will destroy McIlroys game using Nike clubs.

  4. deano

    Jan 14, 2013 at 11:33 am

    Titleist clubs seem to have worked well for steve stricker!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. Ron Faldo

    Dec 12, 2012 at 11:40 pm

    Team Nike for Rory, Nick Watney…and a few other players to be named later. He will still win with Nike clubs and they will have the most technologically advanced driver on the market in 2013. Schwartzel just demolished Asia with “inferior clubs” that Phil jealous Mickelson is referring to. Watch Nike explode in 2013 with wins all over the PGA Tour…..

  6. schellbomber

    Nov 28, 2012 at 9:10 pm

    that will be legit if he goes to nike!

  7. calvin

    Oct 26, 2012 at 6:27 pm

    Since when does Woods have a sense of humor?

  8. Eugene

    Oct 22, 2012 at 7:54 pm

    Marc V …where did u here this ..I for one hope it is a done deal!

  9. Marc V.

    Oct 22, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    Wow, don’t some of you look just rediculous! “Rors” (like you say Jordan, are you all his good friends) just announced this morning that he will be signing a deal with NIKE GOLF in the range of the 10 million (according to SportsCenter). Rory wants SO much to be like Tiger Woods, of course he went with Nike. Shame on all of you for thinking you know something about the golf business…. fools.

  10. Steve Wright

    Oct 18, 2012 at 8:38 am

    I hear that to be true this week, Taylormade offered him a deal over the Olympics when Dustin, Justin and Sergio were hitting balls in the Thames but Nike have blown their deal….rumour is its excess of $30 Million a year

  11. Jordan

    Oct 18, 2012 at 1:33 am

    I love it how some of you are calling Rory “Rors” like you are best friends. Do you guys kick it at his house and talk about future plans and contracts? Hit up the bumper cars? You guys make me laugh. “Rors wouldn’t do that”. Oh..okay? Text him and tell him what we’re saying, k? Haha

    As for the contract goes, that would be awesome. Suck for Titleist. But imagine the marketing Nike could have. Imagine a “RM” forged blade? No, wait, a “Rors” forged blade. Yup. Sold! Haha

  12. Todd

    Oct 10, 2012 at 2:22 pm

    You can’t keep arguing, and throwing out different reasons why it won’t happen and that it isn’t going to happen. But I GUARANTEE you, he signs with Nike within the next year (probably sooner than later). Got word from our Nike reps in the area where they produce all Nike tour clubs.

  13. Adder

    Oct 9, 2012 at 6:36 pm

    When Rors was with ISM there was talk that Taylor Made & Nike were in a bidding war to sign Rors. But having resigned with Titleist it wont happen for another 2.5 years at least. So no Rors will not be playing Nike next year.

    • Ron Faldo

      Dec 12, 2012 at 11:42 pm

      You can eat those words now…..salt, pepper, ketchup?

  14. mike felt

    Sep 23, 2012 at 9:27 am

    Rory is a fine young man and has made good choices during his young career. I hope he’s not going to change because of the large monies that have ruined all sports today.

  15. JakeAzgolf

    Sep 21, 2012 at 12:11 am

    Nike has way to much money to spend now, after the jersey switch for the NFL also. i wouldnt be surprised if the bought canada and called it Northern Nike!!!!

    • Joel

      Feb 1, 2013 at 12:38 pm

      As a canadian, and a Nike fan, using nike irons in my bag, and nike shoes on the track, (best track spike in the world barre none) I would be fine with this, so long as they gave me a discount on gear.

  16. Sebastian

    Sep 19, 2012 at 10:01 pm

    That must be the reason why the Florida resident has broken the 18 Major record…

  17. Jayrock72

    Sep 18, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    Method putters are the finest craftsmanship the putter Market can offer. I’ve had many scottys and now am the happiest I’ve ever been using the method 001. Class

  18. jamrock

    Sep 17, 2012 at 9:05 pm

    I have a been loyal Nike fan for the past 8 years fsince my first set of pro combos. I currently play the vr pro limited, Dymo 3 wood and Vr pro ltd 5 wood with VR forged irons and wedges.To each his own but how can you have an educated opnion on something if you have never tried it.

    I also saw comments on “Chasing the Money”. I would like to know what they would do if someone offered you 3 or 4 times their salary to try something diffrerent? Say no. I am not working for money. These make their living playing golf and have to make the best financial decision for them.

    JUST ENJOY THE RIDE!! The equipment with he top brands offer the same quality

  19. Sean

    Sep 16, 2012 at 4:01 pm

    In regards to the people thinking that Nike golf equipment is garbage, Nike has 2 of the top 3 forgers in the world. Number one being of course Mr Miura. David Franklin is a close second, but has nowhere near the publicity Miura has gotten, given Miura created his own business.

  20. Sean

    Sep 16, 2012 at 3:42 pm

    I agree with this article, titliest has not sponsored athletes or golfers for that matter that has even come close to the level of global stardom that Nike has produced for its athletes. For example, Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, Roger Federer, Bo Jackson, Lance Armstrong, Etc
    Titliest?…….Mind still draws a blank. Plus Titliest has no where close to the kind of money Nike is willing pay its athletes. If the rumor of 250 million for 10 years is correct for Rory, he would be stupid not to say yes.

  21. Tyson

    Sep 16, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    If you ACTUALLY think Tiger uses anything but Nike clubs (i.e. cloned titty or mizzy clubs) then you haven’t a clue. I’ve even heard people say his putter isn’t a method, its a painted scotty. LOL you guys are clowns.

  22. Sebastian

    Sep 15, 2012 at 8:29 pm

    He must have been two years old at that time…

  23. Adam

    Sep 15, 2012 at 8:21 pm

    It’s no secret that Rory tried to get a contract with Nike before he was good and they turned him down.

  24. Zach

    Sep 15, 2012 at 10:05 am

    In regards to number 4 and Nike convincing Tiger to use their wedges and putter. Im not one to think equipment makes people better or worse its more swing and technique but Tiger use to be the best putter, mayb ever, and one of the best wedge players, after switching to nike garbage, his putter and wedge game has been aweful. most likely whats keeping him from playing Tiger like golf. The method putter is better for slow greens and long, slow strokes which is obvious by Tigers lack of making putts. His firm stroke and aggressive speed dont match up with the method putter. When it comes to wedges and putters Scotty and Vokey are the best,

  25. chazz

    Sep 15, 2012 at 2:48 am

    I have to agree with Andrew, Nike clubs have come a long way and after playing with a few, i wouldn’t mind putting them in play. Honestly, Nike started off with such a bad reputation among lower handicap players that people still assume Nike clubs are garbage. Just because Nike invests more than the next brand in marketing their equipment does not automatically mean they lack in performance.

  26. Sebastian

    Sep 14, 2012 at 10:14 pm

    Dear Andrew, I did not intend to say that Titleist clubs are for everybody. My old 681’s have been with me since I was 15 and I still can find a chik hotter than them (not to mention my fellow club members). I do find enlightning your post. It quite confirms my point.

  27. Andrew

    Sep 14, 2012 at 4:55 pm

    Sebastian…you obviously must be an expert in everything. I am a 2 handicap player and play with nike forged irons as well as the VR 3 wood. I play Ping Anser Driver. The feel on the irons are completely different. I’ve played Titleist 690’s and also AP1’s…Nike are just as forgiving and make me a better golfer.
    Maybe you should play a few rounds before you blow your wad on something you clearly don’t understand.

    Rory is a phenominal talent and should stick to his roots. If he wants to get paid for it, why not? He’s clearly the next generation of greatness for the world of golf.

  28. Sebastian

    Sep 13, 2012 at 9:07 pm

    No, Chazz. I quite agree with you.

    I just intended to make a point on what I consider to be important in deciding which clubs I play (i.e. performance, performance, performance) and what I just consider rubbish (i.e. advertising and endorsements).


  29. gmacguy

    Sep 13, 2012 at 7:11 pm

    It would be a smart move for Nike to sign up Rory. After all, they have Kobe and Lebron on the same ticket. Nike would love to stick it to Oakley too. Adidas/TM may be a player in this game. Notice who his girlfriend plays for. Maybe Nike should sign up both!

  30. Sebastian

    Sep 13, 2012 at 6:56 am

    C’mon! TW uses a cloned Titleist set (with the Nike stamp, of course, BUT they are still a cloned Titleist set) and his fortune with the money-maker club has gone anywhere south since he stoped using his long-mate Scotty’s newport 2…
    In the past, Tiger dominated the game because of his putting and, ABOVE ALL, because of the aura of superiority he used to take to the course (both of them, have been long lost in the mists of time…). All in all, I don’t know a single golfer with a one-digit handicap that would spend a dollar on Nike clubs (or balls), even if TW, Rors, the Queen of England, his mom and mistress, all together, would ask him to give them a try…

    • Ron Faldo

      Dec 12, 2012 at 11:53 pm

      Arizona teaching professional, all Nike in my bag, strong 3 handicap and they are as good as anything on the market. Only thing that has come close is my Ben Hogan Apex blades, ’99 edition. Of course shaft changes on the woods and 2 iron. Nike started out rough but has the cash in excess to be the top club manufacturer if they wanted to….best driver of 2013… Nike Covert. Shwartzel just destroyed Asia with all Nike clubs…..

  31. chazz

    Sep 13, 2012 at 5:13 am

    and Kenny Perry?? seriously?

  32. chazz

    Sep 13, 2012 at 5:12 am

    seriously, all this talk about Rory not performing well with nike clubs is garbage. Obviously these guys can get whatever they want and are not using the same clubs you and I buy off the rack. I’m not a Nike fanboy or even a Tiger fanboy, but how many tournaments and majors has Tiger won using Nike equipment?? and the inconsistency in his game right now is obviously not the equipment. Even Phil switched and is still winning. You can’t bring guys like camillo and graeme in the same conversation because they dont have the same talent as Rory. There are tons of other factors you have to consider when a player switches brands and fails to live up to expectations….think about it, money perhaps?? you just land a huge million dollar contract and just maybe you get complacent. is that possible?? yes. This might even be a better explanation rather than the “blame it on the equipment.” and it might be a huge factor as to why global elite players continue to do well and others do not. Their pure passion for the game and their determination to be the best. And does Rory possess these qualities?? I think yes.

  33. bravesgolf

    Sep 13, 2012 at 4:16 am

    Hey John. Thanks, I used to follow the Atlanta braves a while back (not as much now) so it’s a name I’ve used for forums and ebay for quite some time now. I guess I was just thinking that non golfers (no matter the country) would more than likely know Tiger Woods more than any other golfer (possibly more than any other athlete). That’s what I took from the article as meaning global star. I think lot’s of golf fans from all around the world would know the top USPGA golfers (NW, JD, BH and WS are all at the top of course) but if you asked non golfers as well, I think Tiger Woods would be one of the very few (if not the only one) that people would recognise. Having said all of that, GO PHIL (from Australia!) for the Fedex cup!

  34. pooch

    Sep 12, 2012 at 5:49 pm

    Worst idea in the world is to change clubs after you’ve won several majors. I remember Kenny Perry warning all young players “chasing money isn’t worth losing your game”

  35. memphisunited

    Sep 12, 2012 at 10:13 am

    Switching equipment companies hasn’t seemed to work very well for most players lately. Graeme McDowell switched after the US Open and he didn’t have much success afterward. I think Rory should take note before making a jump. It may come down to legacy or quick cash…which one does he want?

  36. Sebastian

    Sep 11, 2012 at 11:30 pm

    Nike manufactures cheap clubs for sunday golfers (alleged “1 digit handicapers” who would not break 90 if they would play in greens other than those parking lot-size greens they are used to play). Nike could very well use McIlroy or Woods to market its products, but they will remain cheap OTC products that, at best, last barely more than a summer affair…

  37. Big O Rick

    Sep 11, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    I bet Tiger would give anything to be putting with a Scotty Cameron right now. Putting is about the only thing that hasn’t come back for him. I may be crazy but I just see Rors being a little more loyal a kid and not as much a money grubber. That set up seems to be working just fine fo him now and I am sure Titeleist will make it worth his while to keep their name on his bag.

  38. Ryan

    Sep 11, 2012 at 12:38 am

    Why would you have the best year of your career and jump ship to, as Phil called it, “inferior equipment.” Where did this story come from, ESPN?

  39. Underpar

    Sep 10, 2012 at 10:56 pm

    I just wanna say that people that think nike dosent care as much for its golf division last year they have injected more money in the driver that callaway as put in there full line of club so for sure nike as the money ans they will sign rory if they think its worth it. And by the way nike blades are the best blade on tour right now you just have to try it to know it( if you are a good golfer for sure)

    Nice article zak!

  40. Chico

    Sep 10, 2012 at 10:22 pm

    Rory and Tiger = Nike a major player in the golf industry!

  41. Stephen

    Sep 10, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    Rory with Nike Golf=$$$$$ for Nike Golf.

  42. Tyler

    Sep 10, 2012 at 10:08 am

    If Rory has any aspirations of beating Jack’s (or possibly Tiger’s) record for major championships, he’d better stick with a golf equipment company that just does golf equipment. My guess is that Nike could care less about their golf division. I’m sure they make 5x more money on soccer equipment than golf equipment and not to mention they have to pay a huge chunk to Tiger. I think if Rory goes to Nike we’ll know he’s lost sight of beating Jack’s record and is more focused on money. That will be a sad day!

  43. cyrus681

    Sep 10, 2012 at 8:16 am

    Although I agree with some of your personal theorem, it still has plenty of holes. For #1- #3, the spending prowess of Nike is unmatched at a level that none of Rory’s current endorsers can see or sniff…their company ideology is different. Just like the Yankees organization, Nike will pursue a candidate that will best promote their brand. Rory is the hands-down chosen one. TMAG and NIKE will always have that battle, which Nike seems to win a majority of the time…biggest example was the big Wie-zer. In hindsight the ROI isn’t enough to break even…if only her parents would let go.

    As far as Tiger having to share the throne with Nike, it’s too easy to forget the Tiger-Duval era, because people dwell on David’s fall from immortality. Tiger has shown that he enjoys the friendly rivalry, and he tends to protect players within his inner circle. You cannot look past the benefits of a Tiger mentorship for Rory. I believe Rory can do perfectly fine co-existing with the media, as he has a different personality than Woods. , but there is so much he could benefit from the business perspective. Nike has written the book in marketing athletes, and is a perfect conduit for any player to be idolized in a legendary stature. G-Mac can give advise him all he wants but he’s never been at the Tiger level…the only best advice he can provide is that Rory stay true to himself…which I hope he does.

    Asia IS the new world golf platform. Nike is a US firm, but it holds a large stake in Asia for promoting “athletes” and their gear, especially in Basketball. It may not hold a large piece of the market share in golf equipment, but with a Rory and Tiger tandem, they can gain tremendous respectability in Asia…and THAT is one reason they can afford to invest a large amount in swaying Rory to the “dark side”.

  44. GN

    Sep 10, 2012 at 7:42 am

    Re: 5 why it won’t happen
    I think you assume too much. Nike is one of the best marketing companies the world has ever seen. Their calendar is projected out at least 10 years from now. Not present tense or…….when was Tiger’s last major?

    That’s the difference between Rory and someone like you. You’ll see Rory as the new Tiger after he wins a couple more majors, but to do what Rory has already done, I’m betting Rory has been believing that he’s the best for over five years now. I’d wager that Rory doesn’t think or believe he is second fiddle to Tiger or anyone else. He is kicking Tiger’s butt on a regular basis now. Yeah they’re buds, so Rors maybe thinks, ‘if this old cat wants to lay and go down peacefully so be it. I’ll just kick his @%% with a smile on my face like I do everyone else.” Rory is classy guy opposite his new pal. Facebook it people the Tiger era is coming to a end. That’s great, time to move on, the future is bright.

  45. Yeti

    Sep 9, 2012 at 10:53 pm

    And I’ll give you 5 reasons why it won’t happen.
    1) TIGER – just because they have exceled in a few rounds played together and appear to be friends – Tiger does not want anyone and I mean anyone encrouching on his turf. At Nike its Tiger and then all the B list stars. Tiger does not want that to change for oh say the next 10 years. And Nike does not want to rock the boat with Tiger – they know he is and will remain the face of its golf dept for many years to come – hence sticking with him through the scandal.
    2) Rory – Rory wants to be the big fish thats why he changed agents and its why he won’t go to Nike – in Oregon and at the Oven he will always be second fiddle to Tiger and thats not gonna change until he wins another 4 or 5 majors or Tiger falls out of the top 10 golfers in the world. Rory is #1 at Titleist and would be #2 at Nike – I don’t think the kid wants to be #2 anywhere – not on a leaderboard or in the world rankings and not at a golf company.
    3) Contracts – Rory hasn’t changed any of his major sponsors since moving to Horizon – why? He is under contract with everyone (Titleist, Dubai, Oakley) and Nike would have to out pay collectively for all of Rory’s sponsorship space since Nike does not allow its athletes to sport any other logos (bags not included). Thats gonna be expensive and the golf market is too small for Nike to pump $$ into marketing both Tiger and Rory – something would have to give.
    4) Rory has been playing fantastic golf for the last couple of seasons so why mess with success on the course. Sure he’s made changes outside the ropes – but he hasn’t changed a thing when it comes to playing the game. Equipment is the same, caddie is the same, swing coach is the same. There’s a long list of guys who switched gear only to struggle to regain form – all Rory has to do is ask his buddy GMac about that.
    5) The furture for Rory is in Asia – unlike for Jack and Arnold there will be no money to be made for Rory in buidling golf courses. His long term earning potential lies in marketing goods and services – particularily in the worlds growing markets in Asia. And guess where Titleist’s parent company Fila is located? Thats right Asia – Korea to be exact. Sure Nike has a presence there but it is and always will be a US firm.

  46. john

    Sep 9, 2012 at 2:24 am

    bravesgolf i like the name. but as to the descussion we are both right. while simpson, hass, duffner may not be well known by people in the nfl comunity or nba. or for even that manner they may not be house hold names. but who really is. there are several pro athealetes that are not “house hold” but Global is diffrent. and on this i can speak. I live in japan and play golf with japanese people who do know these names. and many of these people can name more golfers than any other popular u.s. sports stars. so its all in how catigorize it.

  47. MarltonPro

    Sep 8, 2012 at 11:53 pm

    Agree with Tiger pairing ,and molding him to follow in Tiger’s footsteps with Nike, and help from the greatest this era whether you like him or not would literally make him explode….EVERYWHERE. It would do massive amounts for his “marketability” (made that word up) and pockets world wide. Nike is recognized all over the world, and I’m sure a huge percentage of people think tiger when they think Nike. I’m sorry, and love titleist, not one Nike piece of equipment in my bag (def some apparel), and I love acushnet, but they could never match what Nike could do for Rory if it comes down to dollars in cents. This is all just my opinion, but Zak (writer) makes sense, and I actually hope for his sake and amount of talent he does it. Ask ten random people if they know Rory. Do the same with tiger…(even before the off-course contraversy). Then do it again 2-3 years from now after being with Nike. Best for Rory. And yes, it’s about money, and not one person would turn down redicilous amounts of loot, or strippers…..;)jk

    *He and tiger work well together
    *Nice piece Zak

  48. bravesgolf

    Sep 8, 2012 at 11:19 pm

    Zac is talking about global stardom, not golf stardom. I can’t stand Tiger Woods but he is a global star. My wife knows nothing about golf but she knows who Tiger Woods is. She wouldn’t have a clue who Webb Simpson, Nick Watney, Jason Dufner or Bill Haas are. C’mon John, they are top players on the PGA tour, but global stars, give me a break!

  49. Surlyn

    Sep 8, 2012 at 10:02 pm

    I think you’re onto something here. Rory is too big to be repping a hotel chain in Dubai.

  50. Trey

    Sep 8, 2012 at 4:31 pm

    I like Rory in Titleist more.

  51. bob

    Sep 8, 2012 at 3:16 pm

    ^ You sound very intelligent. Not.

  52. Chris

    Sep 8, 2012 at 10:55 am

    Really good article, I love how people post comments that try to make themselves look better – get over it.

    The author mentioned CS being ranked number 24 you clown.

  53. AC McGaha

    Sep 8, 2012 at 9:25 am

    Yeah, that was a great move for Duval…oh, wait…

  54. john

    Sep 8, 2012 at 7:46 am

    “Name a Titleist-sponsored golfer who has risen to global sports stardom? I’ll wait.”

    Tiger woods started as a Titleist player.
    Phil Mickelson played for titleist
    Ricky Fowler was titleist you mentioned it your self.
    Bill hass
    webb simpson
    nick watney all titleist players
    jason duffner as well.

    Look at ricky’s new clubs how much do you think Cobra payed to use a titleist iron with cobra stamped on it

    Tiger changed putters mostlikly becouse of his contract and is fall in stock value. i bet if nike didn’t pressure him he would still be using a scotty.

  55. Mark

    Sep 7, 2012 at 6:59 pm

    “Nike Golf markets its tour players as athletes, not golfers”. Look at Carl Pettersson, he is the picture of athleticism.

  56. Glenn Racz

    Sep 7, 2012 at 6:11 pm

    I believe Charl Schwartzel is a head to toe Nike player and is ranked 24th in the OWGR

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Opinion & Analysis

A new NCAA transfer rule gets passed… and college coaches are NOT happy



New rules just keep on coming from the NCAA; college coaches are not happy about this one.

In a summer of block buster coaching changes, the NCAA has done its best to stay atop the news cycle by making some significant changes, which will impact the recruitment process. In an article two months ago entitled “The effect the NCAA’s new recruiting rules will have on college golf,” I spoke to college coaches about a new rule, which will not allow unofficial or official visits until September 1 of the players Junior Year. To go along with this rule, the NCAA has also put in place a new recruiting calendar which will limit the sum of the days of off campus recruiting between a head and assistant coach to 45 days starting August 1, 2018.

The 45-day rule will have several potential impacts for both recruits and assistant coaches. For recruits, it is likely that after a couple (2-3) evaluations, coaches will make offers and ask for speed responses to ensure they are not missing out on other options. I also think you will see far less assistant coaches recruiting, which ultimately hurts their opportunities to learn the art of recruitment.

The new transfer rule

In the past, players were subject to asking their present institution for either permission to contact other schools regarding transfer, or a full release.

Now, starting October 15, players can simply inform their institution of their intensions to leave and then start contacting other schools to find an opportunity. This is a drastic shift in policy, so I decided to poll college coaches to get their reactions.

The poll was conducted anonymously via Survey Monkey. Participation was optional and included 6 questions:

  1. New NCAA Legislation will allow players to transfer without a release starting October 2018. Do you support this rule change?
  2. Do you believe that this rule will have APR implications?
  3. Who do you think will benefit most from this rule?
  4. What are the benefits of allowing students to transfer without a release? What are the potential harms?
  5. New NCAA Legislation will make December a dead period for recruiting off campus. Do you support this legislation?
  6. What implications do you see for this rule?

In all, 62 Division I golf coaches responded, or about 10 percent of all Division I coaches in Men’s and Women’s Golf. The results show that 81.25 percent of DI coaches said that they do NOT support the rule change for transfers.

Also, 90 percent of coaches polled believe that the rule will have APR implications. APR is Academic Progress Rate which holds institutions accountable for the academic progress of their student-athletes through a team-based metric that accounts for the eligibility and retention of each student-athlete for each academic term.

The APR is calculated as follows:

  • Each student-athlete receiving athletically related financial aid earns one point for staying in school and one point for being academically eligible.
  • A team’s total points are divided by points possible and then multiplied by 1,000 to equal the team’s Academic Progress Rate.
  • In addition to a team’s current-year APR, its rolling four-year APR is also used to determine accountability.

Teams must earn a four-year average APR of 930 to compete in championships.

While the APR is intended as an incentive-based approach, it does come with a progression of penalties for teams that under-perform academically over time.

The first penalty level limits teams to 16 hours of practice per week over five days (as opposed to 20 over six days), with the lost four hours to be replaced with academic activities.

A second level adds additional practice and competition reductions, either in the traditional or non-championship season, to the first-level penalties. The third level, where teams could remain until their rate improves, includes a menu of possible penalties, including coaching suspensions, financial aid reductions and restricted NCAA membership.

Clearly coaches are not happy about the move and feel that the rule unfairly benefits both the student athletes and major conference schools, who may have a swell of calls around middle of October as Student athletes play great fall golf and look to transfer. Although coaches are unhappy about the new rule, it is very difficult to predict what direct impact the rule will have on teams; coaches are extremely smart and understand recruiting and development within the frame work of college better than anyone can imagine. As a result, I think coaches will react in many ways which are impossible to predict.

The survey also asked, “new NCAA Legislation will make December a dead period for recruiting off campus. Do you support this legislation?” For this, coaches were more divided with 45 percent in favor of the rule, and 55 percent not.

Although coaches supported the legislation, many (41/62) suggested that it would potentially hurt international recruiting at tournaments like Doral and the Orange Bowl and they had, in the past, used December as a time to recruit.

As we move forward with these changes, here are some potential things that recruits, and their families should consider, including consequences of the rules:

  1. With a limit of 45 days and these transfer rules, it is likely that coaches will be doing significantly more investigation into a player’s personalities and family situation to make sure they know what they are getting.
  2. Coaches may also start skipping over better players in favor of kids they think will be a good fit and are likely to stay
  3. Rosters may get bigger, as coaches are trying to have larger numbers to potentially offset transfers

Unfortunately, we enter a new era of rules at the worst time; we have never had a more competent and deep group of college coaches, the clear majority of whom are tremendous stewards of the game. Hopefully this rule will have insignificant effect on the continued growth of college golf but only time will tell.

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Opinion & Analysis

Is golf actually a team sport?



Do a little research on the top PGA Tour players, and what you’ll see is that most (if not all of them) employ a team of diverse professionals that support their efforts to perform on the golf course. Take two-time major champion Zach Johnson; he has a team that includes a caddie, a swing instructor, a sports psychologist, a physiotherapist, an agent, a statistician, a spiritual mentor, a financial adviser… and of course his wife.

“I know this seems like a lot, and maybe even too much,” Johnson readily admitted. “But each individual has their place. Each place is different in its role and capacity. In order for me to practice, work out and just play golf, I need these individuals along the way. There is a freedom that comes with having such a great group that allows me to just play.”

My best guess is that Zach Johnson commits hundreds of thousands of dollars each year to this team, and I assume most players on the leading professional tours are making significant investments in their “teams.” There are three questions that jump out at this point. First, is a team necessary? Second, how can anyone compete without one? And third, how to pay for it?

From the club player to the collegiate player to the aspiring/touring professional, everyone can benefit from a team that offers individual instruction, support, guidance, and encouragement. Such a team, however, needs to be credible, timely, beneficial and affordable.

To be affordable, serious golfers should build their team one piece at a time. The obvious first choice is a swing coach. Golf swing coaches charge from $100-$1,500 per hour. The cost explains why players have historically been responsible for their own practice. The next piece, which is a newly developing trend, should be a performance coach who specializes in the supervision of practice, training and tournament preparation. Performance coaching on-site fees range from $200 to $3,000 per day.

So is team support essential for a player to be as good as he/she can be? My research says it is. When a player schedules a practice session, that session is usually based on what the player likes to do or wants to do. “Best Practices” utilized by world-class athletes suggest strongly that great progress in training always occurs when someone other than the player writes, administers and supervises the programs and sessions. The team approach says the player should focus on what needs to be done. Sometimes what the player wants to do and the things needed to be done are the same thing; sometimes they aren’t.

Now for the question of how to pay for it all. Wealthy players, or those with substantial or institutional support, have access to what they need or want… whatever the cost. If you use an on-site coach, teacher or other professional you will be paying for blocks of time. Fees can be hourly, weekly, monthly, yearly or lifetime arrangements based upon several factors. If your coach of choice is not local, you can also incur travel and per diem expenses. The process of paying for someone’s time can really add up. You can review what I charge for various services that require my attendance at

For those of you who don’t have easy access to on-site expertise or don’t want to incur the expense, I want to offer an approach that business, industry, colleges/universities and entrepreneurs are turning to: “Distance Coaching.” Distance learning is made possible through modern technology. In today’s world, expertise can be delivered using FaceTime, Skype, texting, email and (old fashion) phone calls. Textbooks, videos, specific programs and workbooks can be accessed from anywhere at any time by anyone with a desire to do so… and who knows what’s coming in the future. Through Distance Coaching, individuals can employ professional expertise on an as-needed basis without incurring huge costs or expenses.

The primary team expenses that can be avoided are those associated with face-to-face, on-site visits or experiences. Distance Coaching brings whatever any player needs, wants or desires within financial reach. For example, a player in Australia can walk onto the practice ground and have that day’s practice schedule delivered to a personal device by his/her performance coach. The player then forwards the results of that session back to the coach — let’s say in Memphis, Tennessee. The player is then free to move onto other activities knowing that the performance, training and preparation process is engaged and functioning. In the same vein, that same player in Australia may have moved into learning mode and he/she is now recording the golf swing and is sending it to the swing teacher of choice for analysis and comment.

So what is the cost of Distance Coaching? Teachers, trainers and coaches set their own fees based upon their business plan. Some require membership, partnership or some other form of commitment. For example, I offer free performance coaching with the purchase of one of my books or programs, as do others. Where face-to-face, on-site fees for performance coaching is available for $200 a day, the same expertise from the same coach can cost as little as $50 a month using the distance format, tools and technology. I highly recommend that players responsibly research the options available to them and then build the best team that fits their games, desires and goals. I’m happy to forward a guide of what to look for in a performance coach; just ask for it at

Back to Zach Johnson; he recently admitted that his lack of recent success could be traced to his lack of focus and practice discipline. Additional, he concedes that he has been practicing the wrong things. “It goes back to the basics,” he said. “I have to do what I do well. Truth be told, what I’m practicing now is more on my strengths than my weaknesses.”

Zach Johnson has a great team, but as he concedes, he still needs to put in the work.

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Opinion & Analysis

What is “feel” in putting… and how do you get it?



You’re playing a course for the first time, so you arrive an hour early to warm-up. You make your way toward the practice green and you see a sign at the first tee that reads, “GREEN SPEED TODAY 11.”  That brings up two issues:

  1. How did they arrive at that number?
  2. How is that information valuable to me?

How did they arrive at that number?

They used what’s known as a stimpmeter — a device that’s used to measure the speed of a green. With a stimpmeter, the green’s surface is tested by rolling a ball down the 30-inch ramp that is tilted downward at a 20-degree angle. The number of feet the ball rolls after leaving the ramp is an indication of the green’s speed. The green-speed test is conducted on a flat surface. A total of three balls are rolled in three different directions. The three balls must then finish within eight inches of each other for the test to be valid.

For example, if the ball is rolled down the ramp and were to stop at 8 feet, the green would be running at an “8.” Were the ball to roll down the ramp and stop at 12 feet, the green would be running at a “12.”

Stimpmeter history

The stimpmeter was invented by Edward S. Stimpson, Sr., a Massachusetts State Amateur Champion and former Harvard Golf Team Captain. After attending the 1935 U.S. Open at Oakmont, he saw the need for a universal testing device after watching Gene Sarazen, who was at the top of his game, putt a ball off the green. He was of the opinion that the greens were unreasonably fast, but he had no way to prove it — thus the motivation for creating the invention.

The device is now used by superintendents to make sure all of their greens are rolling close to the same speed. This ensures that golfers are not guessing from one putt to another if a green is fast or slow based on the way it is maintained. The device is also used by tournament officials who want to make sure that green speed is not too severe.

Do Stimp readings matter for my game?

Not very much. That piece of abstract knowledge is of little value until you can translate it into your own personal feel for the speed of the putt. There is a method that will allow you to turn green speed into a legitimate feel, however, and you don’t even need a stimpmeter or a stimp reading to do it. I call it “Setting Your Own Stimpmeter.”

Before we get to how to do it, the first step is to determine if the putting green is the same speed as the greens on the course. The best source of information in this regard are the professionals working in the golf shop. They will be happy to share this information with you. You only need to ask. Assuming that the speed of the putting green is close to the speed of the greens on the course, you are ready to begin setting your own stimpmeter. This is done by inputting data into your neuromuscular system by rolling putts and visually observing the outcome.

Contrary to what most golfers believe, a golfer’s feel for distance is based in the eyes — not in the hands, which only records tactile information. It’s just like basketball. On the court, you look at the distance to the hoop and respond accordingly. While you would feel the ball in your hands, it doesn’t play a role in determining the proper distance to the hoop. Based on what you saw with your eyes, you would access the data that had been previously inputted through shooting practice.

Setting your own Stimpmeter

  1. Start by finding a location on the putting green that is flat and roughly 15 feet away from the fringe.
  2. Using five balls, start rolling putts one at a time toward the fringe. The objective is to roll them just hard enough for them to finish against the edge.
  3. You may be short of the fringe or long, but it is important that you do not judge the outcome— just observe, because the feel for distance is visually based.
  4. You should not try and judge the feel of the putt with your hands or any other part of your body. You can only process information in one sensory system at a time — that should be the eyes.
  5. You should continue to roll balls until you’ve reach the point that most of them are consistently finishing against the fringe. Once you can do that, you have successfully set you stimpmeter.

The key to the entire process is allowing yourself to make a subconscious connection between what your eyes have observed and the associated outcome. You must then trust what you have learned at a sub-conscious level. A conscious attempt to produce a given outcome will short-circuit the system. When it comes to judging speed, you must be prepared to surrender your conscious mind to your sub-conscious mind, which is infinitely wiser and more capable of calculating speed. Want proof? Work through the steps I’ve outlined below. .

  1. After having loaded the data as described in the exercise above, pace off a 25-foot putt.
  2. Using the same five balls, putt to the hole as you would normally using your conscious mind to control the outcome.
  3. Mark the location of the five balls with a tee pushing them down until they are level with the surface of the green.
  4. Allow your eyes to work slowly from the ball to the hole while clearing your conscious mind of any thought.
  5. Using the same five balls, putt to the hole allowing your subconscious mind to control the outcome.
  6. Compare the proximity of the five putts that you just hit to those marked with a tee. What do you observe?

Did you have trouble clearing your mind of any conscious thought? Assuming that your conscious mind intruded at any point, the outcome would be negatively affected. You should then repeat the exercise but this time, emptying your mind of any thought. You will have mastered the technique when you are able to quiet your conscious mind and allow your subconscious to take over.

This technique will improve your proximity to the hole on longer putts. And you know what that means? Fewer three-putts!

Editor’s Note: Rod Lindenberg has authored a book entitled “The Three-Putt Solution”  that is now available through Amazon. 

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19th Hole