Nike announced on Wednesday that it will transition out of the golf equipment business, another sign that the sport is failing to draw new participants.
The company said in a statement that it will “accelerate innovation” in its golf footwear and apparel business. At the same time, it will move away from selling equipment for the pastime, including clubs, balls, and bags.
Nike golf gear rocketed in popularity in the late 1990s and the 2000s, thanks to the dominance of Tiger Woods, whom Nike sponsors, but the segment has also declined alongside Woods’ personal and professional struggles. It was Nike’s worst-performing division last year, with sales of $706 million.
“We’re committed to being the undisputed leader in golf footwear and apparel,” Trevor Edwards, president of Nike Brand, said in the statement. “We will achieve this by investing in performance innovation for athletes and delivering sustainable profitable growth for Nike Golf.”
A steep decline in participation rates among younger generations, namely millennials, has dogged golf and the retailers that sell its apparel and gear. The number of people playing golf in the United States, which accounts for about half the global golf market, has shrunk from nearly 30 million in 2000 to an estimated 23 million, according to Reuters.
Nike rival Adidas—which has been on a roll of late, having raised its 2016 guidance for a fourth time in July—reported a rare piece of good news for the golf industry on Thursday. It said revenues at its golf business rose 7% in the second quarter, buoyed by double-digit growth at the TaylorMade golf brand. That’s notable since Adidas announced in May that it, too, was getting out of the golf business to focus on sneakers. It’s looking for a buyer for the unit.
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