Does Nike Have Best Tour Players?
By Kickntrue on 10/6/09
Nike started with Tiger and has been fighting for respect in the golf community as a major player. Are they finally there? Even before this year- you look at the list of Nike players after Tiger and the pickings were pretty slim. After major victories this year by Stewart Cink and Lucas Glover along with dominance on the LPGA by Suzann Pettersen you realize their stable is getting pretty substantial, at least in the winners circle. Sure you could argue that they just pay the most- but these people are playing their equipment too, not just wearing a hat.
Tiger Woods gives Nike the big name but I'll take Nike's mixed 8-man tournament team against any other manufacturers.
And that is leaving these names off the list:
I guess the real question isn't who they have playing their equipment though, it's if they've won over your approval and notice when buying clubs. do you consider Nike the same as you would TaylorMade or Callaway when looking at drivers or irons? Does it matter what peice of equipment you are buying when you decide on brands? For instance- would you buy a Nike driver, but never a set of Nike irons?
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As a company, they are up there with Callaway, Taylormade, etc. However, I will add that I don't believe any of these are any better than Maltby, Hierko, and other component mfg. So, yeah I am that guy that refuses to believe there is anything magical about a Scotty Cameron putter, but I digress. To answer the question, I do think Nike has the best staff of players.... for now.
I had a choice between the Nike, Taylormade and Callaway irons...I opted for the Nike irons. If it wasn't for the fact that the Nike Sumo driver caused me to slice more than normal, I may have ended up getting it as well as a set of woods (ended up with a Taylormade Burner driver & Cobra woods)
I am not an expert but I am pretty sure those irons Tiger plays with cost a pretty penny for even Nike R&D to figure out and I am sure there aren't more than a couple sets in the world. I am also sure they were molded from an already existing product not manufactured by Nike. As an athlete imagine Nike coming to you and saying we will give you millions to play wear Nike clothing and play Nike equipment. Even if it wasn't the best would you turn it down? For a larger percentage of the golf industry Nike is still second class to Callaway and Taylor Made.
There is no denying that Tiger has brought the swoosh a higher profile on the golf scene, and a lot of golfers buy Nike equipment just because it is associated with him. I wear Nike Air Zoom Pro S shoes because I found them at a great price, and I use a Nike OZ#1 putter because it was within my budget and it felt right when I was sizing up for a new blade. I personally am not brand oriented when looking for clubs or clothing, it's all down to value and what's right for me.
My next purchase will probably be a new driver and 3,5 woods and I will consider any brand within my budget as long as the loft and flex I need is available and the feel is right when I swing them. Visual impact is a secondary concern, with brand name further down the list of importance. However, I would only consider buying an established brand name, I have noticed low level feedback on budget brands like Texan Classics offering poor build quality.
Okay- I got bored so I took the top 50 players according to the world golf rankings and looked them up. It started out as a game to see how many I could guess but I was only able to get about half of them without research. Two guys are still a mystery- Jeev Milkha Singh(48) who appears to play Callaway but is not listed as a staff player on their site and Martin Kaymer(12) was formerly w/ Titleist but not I couldn't find info on his current deal. Here's the results..
Taylormade- 9 players
Titleist- 8 players
Nike- 7 players
Callaway- 5 players
Cleveland- 4 players
Cobra- 4 players
Ping- 4 players
Srixon- 4 players
Mizuno- 2 players
Wilson- 1 player
Yonex- 1 player
Taylormade- Perry(6), Garcia(8), O'Hair(14), Goosen(21), Yang(30), Weir(31), D. Johnson(41), Sabbatini(45), Verplank(50)
Titleist- Stricker(3), Z. Johnson(18), McIlroy(19), Karlsson(24), Fisher(26), Watney(34), Curtis(36), Hansen(42)
Nike- Woods(1), Casey(4), Cink(13), Glover(17), Kim(22), Leonard(38), Dyson(44)
Callaway- Mickelson(2), Els(23), Wilson(35), Quiros(47), McDowell(49)
Cleveland- V. Singh(15), Toms(29), Kjeldsen(33), Fdez-Castano(46)
Cobra- Ogilvy(10), Villegas(16), Poulter (20)
Ping- Westwood(11), Mahan(25), Cabrera(28), Jiminez(40)
Srixon- Stenson(5), Furyk(9), Allenby(32), Clark(37)
Mizuno- Donald(27), Gay(39)
I know looking at just the top 50 is an arbitrary number but I thought it would paint a good picture.
My analysis only considered the type of clubs and not the type of balls these guys play. For example, a guy like Harrington plays Titleist balls but Wilson irons.
I'm still not certain about the answer but a good case can be made for Nike. They've got 8 of the top 50 including the #1 player and 4 of the top 20.
Sorry- Meant to say 7 of the top 50 for Nike. Also, Cobra has 3 and not 4 as I indicated above.
Tim Horan says:
If their product was cr#p the players wouldn't use them. Are they the best? I doubt it. (but I think that Nike have benefitted from TW and others in product development). Do they offer the best $deal$ to staff players? They must do. All Nike staff players are in for the whole nine yards...clothes, gloves, bag, balls, shoes... all of it! I think though TW gets a waiver on his putter and Nike won't be selling many putters.
I don't choose my equipment by brand. I choose teh equipment that will help me most. I use now Nike irons, but the woods are from Callaway and Taylermade. The Brand isn't importent.
Even though a player has a sponsorship deal with one company, if you check out golf.com, you can usually "see" what's really in their bag, and it's not always full of that one company. I think the company's will bend on certain clubs, as long as they get the maximum exposure. Let's face it, one iron set looks very much like any other. If Tiger or Phil wanted to play Cobra irons for some reason, as long as they were still wearing the Nike/Callaway clothing, and swing the company driver, how will we, watching on TV, really know?
That being said, I don't think you can determine which company has the best stable of players because they all play using different equipment. Most of the players seem to have at least one "prototype" club in their bag that no one else has.
Personally, I put Nike in the same category as Sony. Big name, huge brand recognition, decent product, but no longer at the front of technology.
I don't pay too much attention to who is playing what brand for one reason and one reason only. The equipment these pros are playing is NOT what you are going to get off the shelf. Its all been custom tweaked for THEM and no one else. Buying a certain club because a certain guy uses it would be like buying and eating an apple simply because you saw someone eating a cantelope!!!!!!!
Id rate them: Titleist, Taylormade, Callaway, Ping, Nike. As far as best staff, hard to say but if i had to choose i wuold pick Team Tiger 9 times out of 10. Really though if you can swing'em consistenly it doesnt matter what you play. remember its never the clubs or balls fault, its you!
Matt Otskey says:
I have my Nike Forged Blades and I absolutely love them. I've tried some Taylormade blades, and just didn't seem to like them a whole lot. However, I don' think I could ever see myself buying a Nike wedge or Driver or wood... maybe a putter.
i have a Nike 3 wood and 52 degree wedge. i got them because they felt good when i swung them and their prices are usually a little cheaper than the other companies. i have mixed bag of clubs ranging from Ping to Titleist, so no, i don't pay attention to brand but i won't be the first to go out and by a HIPPO driver.
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