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

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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 GolfWRX.com. 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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60 Comments

60 Comments

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  2. xorisszdiegr

    Mar 28, 2013 at 7:19 pm

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  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.
    Cheers,
    S

  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).

    Cheers!

  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

    Yeti,
    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 breakdown of NCAA golf’s 2018 early-signing period

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With the early-signing period for college golf ending about a week ago, I wanted to examine the numbers and see how they compared to last years. As you may remember, I reported last year that the average National Junior Golf Score Board (NJGS) ranking for a player that signed at a Division One Institution was 365. Likewise, the average NJGS for Power 5 Conference School was 114, while 52 percent of signees where from in-state. This year during the early signing period there were 173 players who signed at D1 schools. Of these the average NJGS for all division one signees was 262.6. The average for the Power 5 Conference signees was 113.76 and again 51 percent of players signed from in-state.

An important question is “what do we know about the 263-ranked player in NJGS (the average rank for D1)?” At the end of the signing period, this player was Ben Woodruff. The native of Huntersille, NC signed to play in-state for the University of North Carolina Charlotte. According to NJGS, Ben played 9 events with one top-5 finish, an overall rank of 507 and a scoring differential of .35. Historically, we see that the average Division One player has a scoring differential very close to .5 or better.

For the second consecutive year, the number one player chose a non-power 5 Conference school; Ben Wong decided to play his college golf for Coach Enloe at Southern Methodist University (SMU), located in Dallas, Texas. This means, Wong a native of Spring, Texas (a northern suburb of Houston) will be playing college golf about 3 hours north. He will also be joined by NJGS second-ranked player Noah Goodwin, giving SMU a formidable pair of recruits! Florida, Louisiana State University, Pepperdine, North Carolina and Texas also all nabbed two players each from the top 25 in their class, while UCLA grabbed three!

Among the most interesting trends in recruiting is the preference for college coaches to recruit “in-state” players. Over the past two years, the number of “in-state” signees have remained about 50 percent. This number, in my opinion, is based largely on limited recruiting budgets; less than 20 percent of schools have major recruiting budgets. Instead many coaches rely on recruiting budgets of a couple thousand dollars, which is not going to “travel” well.

It is also interesting to note that of the signees for Division I listed on NJGS, only 24 of 197 players where international. This means that international players make up 12 percent of the signees. This number is steady from the previous data collect. Of these players, Wake Forest signed players ranked 305 ad 702 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings (WAGR), while UAB signed a player ranked 2476, Iowa State a player ranked 1098, UTEP a player ranked 2132 (also 325 in NJGS), Western Carolina a player ranked 3699, Stanford a player ranked 208, Arizona a player ranked 141, Colorado a player ranked 754 and 1050, Louisiana Monroe a player ranked 1524, Washington State a player ranked 3251, Northwestern a player ranked 332, Oregon a player ranked 527 and 2229 (also 291 in NJGS), VCU a player ranked 3216 (also 168 in NJGS) and George Washington a player ranked 2851 (also 276 in NJGS). The average WARG for these players is 1,558.5 (please note these represent their current WAGR rankings).

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Podcasts

Jason Day’s performance coach, Jason Goldsmith, joins the 19th hole

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In this episode of the 19th Hole, Jason Goldsmith of FocusBand talks about how the breakthrough technology has helped PGA Tour stars Jason Day and Justin Rose to major wins. Also, host Michael Williams gives his take on Tiger Woods’ return to golf.

Click here to listen on iTunes!

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Courses

Ari’s Course Reviews: Oakmont Country Club

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Editor’s Note: Ari Techner is a well-traveled, golf-course connoisseur who’s setting out to review the best golf courses in the world. The views and opinions expressed in these reviews are his own. 

Oakmont Country Club. The name alone strikes fear into the heart of any mortal golfer. Oakmont has a reputation for difficulty unmatched in the golf world; it’s fear forged in the public’s eye while watching best players in the world struggle during the U.S. Open every 10-plus years or so. There is a notion that Oakmont could hold a U.S. Open just about any day of the year. This is not a course that needs to be tweaked from its daily setup to test the best in the world.

All that said, a close look at the course reveals that there is so much more to Oakmont than just difficulty. Since around 1950, MANY courses have been built with the dilebrate intention of holding a U.S. Open. Most, if not all, of these courses are filled with water hazards, extremely long holes and very little variety. Oakmont is the exact opposite of that, and this is what is at the core of its greatness.

A view from the ninth fairway

Oakmont Country Club first opened in 1903 and was designed by Henry Fownes, who built it because he felt the other courses around Pittsburgh were not difficult enough. The course was constantly tweaked in the early years by Fownes and his son William. Both Fownes were accomplished players with William winning the U.S. Amateur in 1910 and serving as the playing captain of the first U.S. Walker Cup team in 1922.

Trees, or no trees?

The 18th tee

The course was extremely influential in the development of early golf courses in America. It was equally influential in future years by setting trends that have changed the way many other courses have evolved. When Oakmont opened, it was built in an open field and had no trees on the course, adding to the links-like flavor that Fownes wanted from his visits overseas. In the 1950s (after all the Fownes had left the club) Oakmont added thousands of non-native trees to line the corridors of the holes, a look that was a heavy trend of the time. This work was mostly done by Robert Trent Jones, who also modified the bunkers to fit more of his style of the time.

The course continued to evolve over the years with the bunkers being restored by Tom Fazio… but the trees remained. In preparation for the 2008 U.S. Open, Oakmont cut down thousands of trees, returning the course to its open, windswept origins. This was very controversial among the members, and much of the work was done in the middle of the night in the off-season so as not to cause a big stir. After 2008, thousands more trees have been cut down, opening all of the amazing long views across the property. You can see almost every hole on the property from just about every spot on the course. Oakmont was the first course to embrace this massive tree removal and it has turned into a trend with hundreds of classic courses removing their non-native trees and going back to their more open original layouts.

Oakmont is the only course that Fownes designed and I believe that contributes greatly to its uniqueness. Fownes’ version of difficulty did not include artificial water hazards, out of bounds or excessive bunkering fronting greens, and it did not rely simply on longer-than-average holes to challenge the golfer. Instead, it has an amazingly varied mix of holes that challenge the golfer in a variety of ways both mentally and physically. Overall, the course requires you to be a straight driver of the ball, a good iron player and to have a deft short game and putting touch. You also need to be able to think your way around the course while you execute the shots you choose at a high level.

A good variety

Oakmont has its share of length with long par 4s, such as hole Nos. 1, 10, 15 and 18, the monster par-5 12th and long par 3s such as Nos. 8 and 16.  What sets the course apart to me, however, are the short holes and the holes that require strategic decision-making off the tee. These include short par 4s such Nos. 2, 11 and 17 and mid-length par 4s including Nos. 5 and 14.  These holes can be just as difficult as the long ones, and they require a completely different skill set.  The short par-3 13th and short par-5 9th (plays as a par 4 for the U.S. Open) round out what is an amazing set of shorter holes.

A view of the ninth fairway from across the Pennsylvania Turnpike

The course uses the natural movement of the site very well and has a tight, extremely walkable routing despite being bisected by the Pennsylvania Turnpike at the bottom of the hill in the middle of the property. I particularly love the fallaway greens at 1, 10, 12, and to a lesser degree 3 and 15 where the front of the green is higher than the back. This is a unique look that you do not see in the USA very often. Without the little backboard that a back-to-front sloping green provides, you must hit the ball solid or execute a well played run-up shot to hold the green. The short par 4s temp the long hitter just enough to make them think about hitting driver, but wayward shots are punished enough to make most think twice. The 17th, at a little under 300 yards, could be the hardest hole on the course, and yet it is definitely drivable for the right player who hits a great drive. The small and extremely narrow green requires a short shot be hit the perfect distance if you decide to lay up to the right down the fairway. Hit it even a little short and you end up in the aptly named “Big Mouth” bunker which is extremely deep. Hit it a hair long or with not enough spin to hold the green and you end up rolling over the green into one of a few smaller bunkers. Carry the bunkers on the left side off the tee into the sliver of fairway up by the green and you have a short, open shot from a much better angle into the fatter part of the green. Such risk/reward and great use of angles is paramount to Oakmont’s genius.

Green complexes are…complex

The green on the 18th hole

Oakmont also sports one of the best sets of greens anywhere in the world.  They are all heavily contoured and very challenging, yet playable. You can certainly make putts out there if you are putting well, but get on the wrong side of the hole and you are left with an extremely difficult, but rarely impossible 2 putt. They are also very unique due to Fownes only designing one course, as they do not look like any other classic course; they have a feel all their own. They are mostly open in front, coming from the correct angle, and they have many squarish edges. They also cut the tight fringe far back into the fairway, which aids in run-up shots; it also gives a great look where the green and the fairway blend together seamlessly.

The bunkering is also very unique and very special… and they are true hazards. Find yourself in a fairway bunker off the tee, and you are likely wedging out without much of any chance of reaching the greens. The green-side bunkers are fearsome, very deep and difficult. The construction of the bunkers is unique too — most of them have very steep and tall faces that were built up in the line of play. Oakmont is also home to one of the most famous bunkers in golf; the “Church Pews” bunkers — a large, long rectangular bunker between the fairways of holes 3 and 4 with strips of grass in the middle like the pews in a church. There is also a smaller “Church Pews” bunker left of the fairway off the tee on hole 15. Hit it into one of these two bunkers and good luck finding a descent lie.

Ari’s last word

All-in-all, along with being one of the hardest courses in the world, Oakmont is also one of the best courses in the world. It is hard enough to challenge even the best players in the world day-in and day-out, but it can easily be played by a 15-handicap without losing a ball. It is extremely unique and varied and requires you to use every club in your bag along with your brain to be successful. Add that to a club that has as much history as any other in the county, and Oakmont is one of golf’s incredibly special places.

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19th Hole

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