While the speculation heats up about what Rory McIlroy, and to a lesser extent Tiger Woods, will put in their bags post Nike Golf, people need to remember that the field isn’t as wide open as it seems.
Off the top, the Titleist parent Acushnet Company seems a logical landing choice for each, but McIlroy and Woods each have done stints with the brand, and Acushnet CEO Wally Uihlein generally doesn’t take players back into the fold. He could make exceptions for McIlroy and perhaps even Woods, whose playing future is undetermined, but not nearly at the money each has been paid by Nike Golf.
The Acushnet Co. also is in the midst of preparing its IPO, which could make it hesitant to sign big deals with McIlroy and/or Woods until after IPO. On the other hand, signing McIlroy could be another carrot that attracts investors to the IPO.
TaylorMade? Maybe for McIlroy, but TaylorMade parent adidas Group has been trying to sell the equipment company for the better part of the past year. Given that, TaylorMade might not be in position to bring on another high-price contract.
Callaway Golf? The company has made great strides under CEO Chip Brewer, but it already has a big dog in Phil Mickelson. McIlroy, in particular, likely would be seeking Phil-like money, which I’m not sure Callaway would be willing to pay. The flip side is that McIlroy would be great successor to a 46-year-old Mickelson in the Callaway stable.
Ping Golf? No equipment company has had greater success the past couple of years than Ping, but neither McIlroy nor Woods fit the company’s conservative culture.
Want a wild card? Try Parson Extreme Golf. PXG owner Bob Parsons has the cash and claims he has the technology. If he really wants to prove the latter – and shake up the golf industry – he should sign McIlroy.