TaylorMade hit the headlines hard last week with the confirmation of an agreed sale of the golf equipment business to KPS Capital Partners, and then there was the little matter of a certain Rory McIlroy, after much speculation, finally signing on the dotted line.
With two of top four players in the world game already on TaylorMade’s books, in Dustin Johnson and Jason Day, a triumvirate was complete with the stellar signature of the former world number one. A $100M deal has been thrashed out for McIlroy to use the California-based manufacturer’s balls, clubs and bags for the next ten years.
Have a look at Rory’s ceremonial club/bag switch below:
So why go all-in with this decade-long TaylorMade gig?
Well, the decision will not have been taken lightly. McIlroy has been surveying his options since Nike’s widely reported exit from the golf equipment business back in August 2016. He was expected to settle on a preferred club sponsor sooner rather than later and, as you would expect, TaylorMade were right at the head of the list of potential suitors.
Speaking about his decision to sign with TaylorMade during last week’s Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass the Northern Irishman said, “I tested different combinations, a lot of different stuff, and I came to the conclusion that that was the best way forward for me to try and improve, try and win more, try to get back to world number one, try to win more majors”.
Then, as already alluded to above, we have the fact that two guys have been looking down on every other golfer for the majority of the last two years in the Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR) – D. Johnson and Day. Rory has not held the top position since September 2015.
Both have been using TaylorMade equipment since their Tour debuts and, in that time, have enjoyed multiple Tour wins, major success and the ultimate accolade of becoming world number one. Surely a ringing endorsement if ever there was one.
In reality though, it seems a simple case of McIlroy having tried all of the available equipment on the market and choosing the manufacturer who could give him the best and most consistent numbers.
Numbers, for example, like hitting a 300 yard 1-iron which we mere mortals can but dream of.
Looking at the length of the contract, it is all about stability for Rory. Settling into newly-married life, and while in his peak years for winning further major honours, he needs a trustworthy manufacturer to give him the weaponry to challenge as consistently as his talent suggests he should.
A long-term deal seems to fit quite well right now.
A deal ‘TaylorMade’ for major success?
From the manufacturer’s perspective, this can only be seen as a positive move. Having three of the current top four players in world golf locked into long-term deals, and with the Spanish duo of the vastly talented Jon Rahm and 2017 Masters champion Sergio Garcia on the books, sees their brand at the very forefront of the global game.
As for Rory, only time will tell whether it’s the right move. What is clear is that the 28-year old believes he has never felt this excited about golf equipment in his 10 years on Tour to date.
As with many of the world’s best golfers, his main focus is majors and a return to the top of the OWGR. If this deal works out for the four-time major winner, having the right equipment in the bag will go a long way to helping achieve just that.
Having $10M topping up his bank balance every year will be quite nice too.
What do you think? Was this all about the money for Rory or is this more of a strategic choice for him?