McIlroy is TaylorMade Solution for Golf Club Manufacturer
Post by Sports Writer Derek Clements
We keep having it rammed down our throats that golf is in dire straits. Try telling that to Rory McIlroy whom, it has just been announced, has signed a contract worth a mouthwatering £77m to use TaylorMade clubs. This, we would remind you, is on top of the 10-year extension to his Nike clothing deal that is worth twice that sum.
And no sooner had we digested that news than we were told that Adidas has sold TaylorMade, Adams Golf and Ashworth Golf to KPS Capital Partners LP for $425m. Dire straits? No money in golf? It doesn't sound like it, does it? KPS Capital is a private equity firm based in New York. It manages approximately $5.3 billion in assets across a variety of industries, so it is safe to assume that the people who run it know what they are doing.
David Shapiro, a managing partner of KPS, clearly believes that TaylorMade is going to be a serious asset to his company's portfolio. "TaylorMade is one of the preeminent golf equipment brands worldwide, with leading-edge products that consistently provide consumers a distinct performance advantage over the competition," he said. "The combination of this iconic brand and KPS' track record of working constructively with talented management teams to make businesses better will provide the ideal foundation for TaylorMade's future growth."
The news was announced on the eve of the Players Championship at Sawgrass, which will be McIlroy's first tournament as a married man. And it confirms McIlroy's status as one of the most marketable individuals in global sport. It should come as no surprise to learn that this is TaylorMade's biggest deal with any golfer.
“I tested different combinations, a lot of different stuff, and I came to the conclusion that this was the best way forward for me to try and improve, try and win more, try to get back to world No1, try to win more majors,” McIlroy said. “So I’m really excited about that. I tested quite a few balls and the one that I landed on was really it; the ball was what led me to this point because it is the best ball I’ve ever hit. Then it was just about trying to match everything up to that.” That ball is, of course, a TaylorMade.
McIlroy spent the early part of this year alternating between TaylorMade and Callaway clubs. He also played with a Titleist ball but that was never a long-term solution after the four-time major champion complained about its performance during The Masters in April, even though almost every other leading golfer on the planet uses Titleist ProV1 or ProV1+. The Northern Irishman will use TaylorMade M2 woods, prototype blade irons and the TP5x ball.
The Northern Irishman joins Dustin Johnson and Jason Day in using TaylorMade clubs. And it does raise some interesting questions, the first being: how on earth can TaylorMade (or any other manufacturer for that matter) possibly hope to recoup the vast sums of money being paid out to the likes of McIlroy, Johnson, Day, Justin Rose and Masters champion Sergio Garcia at a time when club sales are falling and the game is meant to be in decline?
McIlroy also has contracts with, among others, Omega, Bose and Up per Deck, and replaced Tiger Woods as the face of Electronic Arts' golf video game.
Sawgrass marks McIlroy’s first start since marriage. “It was obviously the best weekend of my life and hopefully the best weekend of [McIlroy’s wife] Erica’s, as well,” he added. “We tried to keep it as private as possible. It was between our friends and families and we didn’t really want anything else. It was a weekend of celebrations.”
Ahead of the Players Championship, Danny Willett also confirmed a parting of the way with long-time caddie and close friend Jonathan Smart, who departed after the first round of the recent RBC Heritage following a row between the pair. Sam Haywood, who was Willett’s best man, will caddie for the 2016 Masters champion this week.
“It was tricky,” said Willett. “It is a shame how things went; we have only spoken in little bits. I think it needs time to settle down. There is almost no point in talking straightaway because you might say something that is irretrievable. We have just kind of left it. I think I need to find a way to freshen things up."
Willett has endured a miserable run since his Masters victory. Hopefully, this will trigger a revival in his fortunes.
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