Nike have announced they are pulling out of the golf equipment business to focus solely on footwear and apparel.

Their golf clubs are used by Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Michelle Wie and dozens of other leading player but the brand say the market-place is too challenging.

The news follows Adidas’ decision to sell off the golf arm of their business with TaylorMade being put up for sale.

Nike joined the top table of the golf equipment industry when they signed Tiger Woods in 1996. He went on to win 14 Majors wearing their apparel and shoes – he put a Nike golf ball into play in 2000 and gradually started switching from Titleist to Nike club in 2003.

McIlroy signed a 10-year deal in 2013 and added two Major titles using clubs such as the Covert and Vapor drivers.

South African Charl Schwartzel won the 2011 Masters using Nike equipment but perhaps the writing was on the wall when he signed with PXG days before the start of the Open Championship at Royal Troon.

The loss of form from Tiger Woods may have paid a part in Nike’s disappointing sales which saw an 8 percent drop last year to $706m – the third year of declining sales.

Tiger Woods

McIlroy, and the Nike brand, have now gone two calendar years without winning a Major.

Nike still intend to “partner with more of the world’s best golfers” as they look to accelerate the apparel and footwear side of the business.

“We’re committed to being the undisputed leader in golf footwear and apparel,” said Trevor Edwards, president of Nike Brand.

“We will achieve this by investing in performance innovation for athletes and delivering sustainable profitable growth for Nike Golf.

“Athletes like Tiger, Rory and Michelle drive tremendous energy for the game and inspire consumers worldwide,” says Daric Ashford, President of Nike Golf.

“Over the past year the MM Fly Blade Polo, the Flyknit Chukka and Air Zoom 90 have all connected strongly with golfers. We’ll continue to ignite excitement with our athletes and deliver the best of Nike for the game.”