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Nike opts out of golf-equipment market

It’s the second major sporting goods maker to review its golf business.

Another nail in golf’s coffin came as sporting goods behemoth Nike opted to stop selling golf equipment. It’s the second major sporting goods maker to review its golf business.

Nike, the world’s largest sportswear maker, said it would stop selling golf equipment, including clubs, golf balls and bags.

Golf and boating have shared some similar challenges — an aging customer base, difficulty expanding a customer base beyond white males, the need for good weather, and reliance on lots of water. Both grapple with affordability, competition for people’s time, and lack of understanding of etiquette and rules. Yet, despite its national TV campaign with the tagline “There’s a lot to love about golf,” people who tried golf did not stay with the sport.

Nike told The New York Times this week it would accelerate innovation in its golf footwear and apparel business and on partnering with more golfers.

Adidas said in May it would sell the bulk of its loss-making golf business, hurt by waning interest in the sport, especially in the United States.

The number of people playing golf in the United States has fallen sharply after peaking in 2000, when Tiger Woods was in his prime.

For Nike, the problem is particularly acute.

A Nike-sponsored golfer hasn't won a major golf tournament in the prior eight championships, according to ESPN.

Nike is also facing stiff competition from smaller domestic rival Under Armour Inc., which has successfully lured top sports personalities to endorse its brands.

Sales in the golf business fell 8 percent to $706 million in Nike's latest financial year that ended May 31. It is one of the company's smallest businesses, contributing about 3 percent to its total revenue.

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