Will Tiger Woods sink Nike Golf?

By: May 25, 2014

I have just heard a rumour that Tiger Woods might not be able to continue to play as a professional golfer due to his injuries. This is why I thought to analyze a little bit the brand Tiger Woods and Tiger Woods' relationship with the golf industry and Nike Golf.

Tiger Woods entered to our lives and to the golf industy in 1997. His talent and success changed a lot what we think about golf as a sport and as a source of business and revenue. In addition to this, I think Tiger Woods became a role-model for many African-Americans, but it is another issue.

Tiger Woods' victories helped to increase revenues of many parties in the golf industry. I would start with 4 main players: TV Channels (e.g. CBS, ESPN), PGA, golf clubs and Nike Golf.

Media – TV Channels

Either you like Tiger Woods or not, the stats shows below, people love to watch his play. This was good for many parties (tv channels (e.g. GRP prices), PGA, golf clubs and sponsorship deals).



As Tiger Woods is forced to take his health condition really seriously and misses important games, viewership of golf programs (negative impact on TV ratings) is declining and sponsorship deals are in danger (both TV and golf course/club). 

Just an example:

ESPN said that without Tiger Woods in the field, the ratings fell from 2.8 million viewers (2.0 rating) in 2013 to 2.0 million viewers (1.5 rating) in 2014. Thursday's (April 10) rating was down more than 50% from the record 4.2 million people who watched the Friday broadcast of the 2013 Masters.

Secondary ticket seller TiqIQ reported about 66% drop in the entry price for the first day of the Masters versus 2013. Stubhub reported something similar: ticket prices fell by 20% the day after Tiger Woods' announcement.

Golf clubs 

Tiger Woods achieved quite a lot in the last 17 years, except one thing, to convince people to play more golf (see stats below). Yes, one thing is to watch golf and another is to play actually. As Tiger Woods is close to exit the golf competitions, golf clubs should look for a new source of revenue to recoup the missing incomes (sponsorship deals and their pricing, ticket and merchandising sales, ticket prices, hospitality tents etc.).

Will Phil Mickelson, Adam Scott, Bubba Watson or Henrik Stenson be able to fill the empty space that will arise after Tiger Woods? How much should we wait for the next Tiger Woods calibered professional golfer? 

No Time for Tee

I think it was great mistake of the golf industry to build their business almost solely on a single golf player. Or is this also the output of Tiger Woods' game? What is the secret of Tiger Woods that others do not have (beside his technique)? 

Nike Golf

When Tiger Woods switched his endorsed golf balls from the Titleist brand to Nike Golf in 2000, Nike Golf's market share went from 0.9% to 4% in 6 months. I think if today Nike Golf is among the TOP3 golf club brands, it is thanks to Tiger Woods. None of the other Nike Golf Team members contributed to the success of the Nike Golf brand and sales.

It seems to me, after a while Nike Golf focused almost solely on Tiger Woods until 2012 when they signed a contract with Rory McIlroy. This was a slight understanding that there should be life in the post-Tiger Woods era as well. Unfortunately this recognition came a little bit late.

See how Tiger Woods' game is influencing on Nike Golf share prices.The share price fell immediately as Tiger Woods announced that he will not play…

Tiger Woods brand equity


Tiger Woods

Based on the influence on the golf industry (TV rating, sponsorships, share prices etc.) we can say Tiger Woods as a brand is still strong even after his private life scandal in 2009. I made a quick brand equity analysis by Y&R's Brand Equity Valuator. I came to the conclusion that the Tiger Woods brand is still in the best place with high Esteem, Knowledge, Differentiation and Relevance.

At the same time we can expect that Tiger Woods' marketability and relevance will be less good as today. I am really curious what will Tiger Woods achieve in golf course architecture and design. Will he be able to exploit his brand equity and golf success in golf course architecture as much as Jack Nicklaus?