Tiger Woods’ comeback great for golf business

When Tiger Woods won the Masters in April, it solidified a stunning comeback for the golf legend — and it made the sellers of clubs, balls and other equipment very happy as well.

Now, the golf industry is hoping that Tiger’s resurgence will continue at the US Open championship in Pebble Beach this weekend.

“It’s been a terrific start to the year with Tiger winning at the Masters. Any time you see a transcendent athlete complete a comeback story the way he did, it lit up the world in a way only he could,” said David Abeles, CEO of golf equipment company TaylorMade, in an interview with CNN Business.

TaylorMade, which was once part of Adidas, is now a private company. Adidas sold TaylorMade to private equity firm KPS Capital Partners in 2017 for $425 million.

The company doesn’t disclose specific sales figures. But Abeles said that the company is seeing strong demand for its products in the United States, Canada, Japan and Korea so far this year.

And he thinks that the continued success of Tiger Woods, as well as popular champion golfers such as Brooks Koepka, Rory McIlroy and Dustin Johnson, should give the whole industry a boost. All four use TaylorMade clubs.

“There is a lot of energy in the sport right now. That energy breeds interest and, hopefully, participation,” Abeles said. “Our equipment business is very strong.”

The Tiger Woods comeback is helping publicly traded golf companies, too.

Shares of Callaway Golf, the maker of Big Bertha clubs, and Acushnet, which sells Titleist balls, drivers and other golf gear, each rose more than 1% the day after Tiger’s Masters victory. Tiger Woods does not endorse either company, though.

Nike, which makes Tiger Woods golf apparel, rose as well following Tiger’s Masters win.

Nike and Callaway Golf were not available for comment about any Tiger bump. Acushnet declined to comment.

‘Great moment for the game’

But Acushnet president and CEO David Maher talked about Tiger during his company’s most recent earnings conference call in May — just a few weeks after Tiger’s win in Augusta.

“Of course, Tiger’s Masters victory was a great moment for the game as it catapulted golf to center stage of the sports landscape,” Maher said. He added that Tiger’s win “helped to fuel enthusiasm for the game and business of golf.”

Callaway CEO Chip Brewer had this to say after the company reported its latest earnings, also in May.

“Tiger Woods is very good for the game. There are a lot of young players out there. The National Golf Foundation has reported for the first time in a long time increased participation and interest,” Brewer said. “So it’s in a healthy spot right now.”

And Nike, which stuck with Tiger Woods as an endorser following his 2009 sex scandal and numerous injuries in the past decade, put out a sentimental ad right after his Masters win.

The commercial showed his many career highlights, including a famous clip of Tiger as a young kid boasting that he’d one day top the record for majors wins held by Jack Nicklaus. Tiger now has won 15 Grand Slam tournaments. Nicklaus has 18.

A win on the greens at Pebble Beach this weekend would move Tiger ever so closer to passing the Golden Bear — and could mean even more green for golf companies benefiting from his amazing comeback.