Tiger Woods Launches Apparel Line, Eyeing IP Empire

By: Michael Cunningham 

Tiger Woods is undoubtedly the dominant force in the world of golf. Over his career, Woods has claimed 82 PGA Tour wins, a record he shares with Sam Snead.[1] Additionally, Woods tops the all-time PGA Tour earnings list at more than $120 million, spent a staggering 683 consecutive weeks ranked World No. 1, captured 15 major wins, and accomplished countless other achievements. [2];[3];[4] 48-year-old Woods now only plays a handful of events each year and has not tasted victory since his famous renaissance in 2018-19, culminating in his fifth Masters Tournament win.[5] Despite this, scores of fans eagerly tune in each time Tiger tees it up, hoping to witness some of the magic that he has so often produced over the years.[6]

Woods’ dominance on the course is matched perhaps only by his influence off it. As NBC on-course analyst Roger Maltbie put it, when it comes to golf, “[Tiger] doesn’t just move the needle, he is the needle.”[7] Alan Shipnuck, writing for Golf Digest in 2022, boldly claimed that no one in the history of sport has moved the needle like Woods.[8] This popularity fueled Tiger Woods’ success off the course. Forbes reported that Woods’ net worth had surpassed $1 billion for the first time in June 2022.[9]

Notably, however, less than 10% of Woods’ net worth came from golf earnings.[10] Instead, the vast majority of his wealth came from massive endorsement deals with over a dozen brands, including Gatorade, Monster Energy, TaylorMade, Rolex, and most notably, Nike.[11] These endorsements show just how powerful Tiger’s influence is. Despite golf being far from the most popular sport in the world, Woods held the top spot in Forbes’ highest-paid athletes list for ten consecutive years from 2002 to 2011.[12] Although Woods only played in two PGA Tour tournaments in 2023, he managed to be named the 16th best-paid athlete of the year due to his estimated $60 million in off-course earnings.[13] Tiger Woods is still the driving force of golf; fans and sponsors are far more interested in what he does any other player.[14]

Utilizing this popularity, Tiger Woods has made a move into the apparel world. For 27 years, Woods donned the Nike swoosh on the course.[15] The two became an iconic pair to the point where it was hard to envision one without the other.[16] However, in January 2024, Woods announced that he would be ending his near-30-year partnership with Nike, leaving many wondering what would be next for the golf icon.[17] This question was promptly answered in February 2024 with the announcement of Woods’ own lifestyle and apparel brand, aptly named “Sun Day Red.”[18] Sun Day Red was created in conjunction with TaylorMade, Woods’ club sponsor.[19]

When considering Tiger Woods’ venture into the apparel world, one cannot help but think of Air Jordan. It may seem foolish to compare Sun Day Red, a brand yet to formally launch, with Air Jordan, one of the most valuable apparel brands in the world, particularly given that early feedback regarding Woods’ brand has been mixed. [20];[21] However, each is an apparel brand created by the most popular athlete in their sport and backed by one of the most prominent companies in their respective spaces (Nike and TaylorMade).[22] The Jordan Brand took hold of the basketball shoe market immediately, and its success has only grown. In its most recent annual report, Nike reported a staggering $6.6 billion in annual wholesale revenue for the Jordan Brand.[23]

Sun Day Red products will officially hit stores on May 1, 2024.[24] While it remains to be seen how successful Sun Day Red will be, it has the potential to be reminiscent of Jordan’s brand, even if it cannot match it. Woods’ vice-grip on the golf world and immense popularity even beyond it provides the foundation for an intellectual property empire similar to that of the Jordan Brand. In the coming years, do not be surprised if you see numerous professional golfers sponsored by Woods’ brand, if a family member is wearing a Sun Day Red quarter-zip, or if the local high school golf team’s jerseys are carrying the distinctive tiger-shaped logo.

[1] Andrew Both, Woods and Snead tied with 82 PGA Tour wins, but no comparison, says former commissioner, Reuters (Jan. 20, 2020), https://www.reuters.com/article/idUSKBN1ZJ1H6/.

[2] See PGA Tour, Tiger Woods, https://www.pgatour.com/player/08793/tiger-woods (last visited Mar. 5, 2024).

[3] Jeff Kimber, 20 Incredible Tiger Woods Records, Golf Monthly (Aug. 15, 2022), https://www.golfmonthly.com/features/20-incredible-tiger-woods-records.

[4] Wynne Davis, Tiger Woods Wins His 5th Masters Title, Marking A Career Comeback, NPR (Apr. 14, 2019), https://www.npr.org/2019/04/14/713280877/tiger-woods-wins-his-5th-masters-title-marking-a-career-comeback.

[5] See PGA Tour, supra note 2.

[6] See The First Call Inbox, Tiger Woods still moves the needle, The First Call (Nov. 26, 2023), https://www.firstcallgolf.com/the-first-call-inbox/feature/2023-11-26/tiger-woods-still-moves-the-needle.

[7] Paul Newberry, Column: Tiger Woods is back, and golf is better for it, AP (Sept. 23, 2018), https://apnews.com/general-news-9170277a98ee46ff9e0419894682c195.

[8] Alan Shipnuck, Does Tiger move the needle more than any athlete, ever?, Golf Digest (Apr. 5, 2022), https://www.golfdigest.com/story/ask-alan-shipnuck-tiger-woods-masters-phil-mickelson-jordan-spieth-champions-dinner.

[9] Matt Craig, Tiger Woods Officially A Billionaire, No Thanks To The Saudis, Forbes (June 10, 2022), https://www.forbes.com/sites/mattcraig/2022/06/10/tiger-woods-officially-a-billionaire-no-thanks-to-the-saudis/?sh=d2deada03d5d.

[10] Id.

[11] Id.

[12] Id.

[13] Brett Knight et al., The World’s Highest-Paid Athletes, Forbes (May 16, 2023), https://www.forbes.com/lists/athletes/?sh=42f5b90c5b7e.

[14] See Shipnuck, supra note 8.

[15] Hunter Schwarz, Tiger Woods’s new, post-Nike apparel line taps into the power of a personal brand, Fast Company (Feb. 14, 2024), https://www.fastcompany.com/91028653/tiger-woods-new-post-nike-apparel-line-taps-into-the-power-of-a-personal-brand.

[16] See James Colgan, ‘Another chapter’: Tiger Woods’ Nike partnership ends with cryptic announcement, Golf.com (Jan. 8, 2024), https://golf.com/news/tiger-woods-cryptic-nike-announcement/.

[17] Id.

[18] Rob Wile, Tiger Woods unveils new lifestyle brand and clothing line after Nike split, NBC News (Feb. 13, 2024), https://www.nbcnews.com/business/business-news/tiger-woods-new-clothing-line-after-nike-split-rcna138585.

[19] Jack Hirsch, ‘A new chapter’: Tiger Woods unveils new logo, apparel brand ahead of PGA Tour return, Golf.com (Feb. 12, 2024), https://golf.com/news/tiger-woods-unveils-new-logo-apparel-brand/.

[20] See Justin Birnbaum, Michael Jordan Is Now Worth $3 Billion And Joins The Forbes 400, Forbes (Oct. 2, 2023), https://www.forbes.com/sites/justinbirnbaum/2023/10/02/michael-jordan-joins-forbes-400-worth-3-billion/?sh=60bb653c7f1a.

[21] See Mark Harris, Reactions Pour In For Tiger Woods’ New Apparel Brand Sun Day Red, And They’re Not Exactly Great, Outkick (Feb. 13, 2024), https://www.outkick.com/sports/tiger-woods-apparel-brand-sun-day-red-first-look-reactions.

[22] See JD Style, The History of Air Jordan, JD Sports, https://blog.jdsports.com/air-jordan-history/ (last visited Mar. 5. 2024).

[23] Id.

[24] Pat Benson, Tiger Woods & TaylorMade Officially Unveil Sun Day Red, Sports Illustrated (Feb. 13, 2024), https://www.si.com/fannation/sneakers/news/tiger-woods-taylormade-officially-unveil-sun-day-red#:~:text=Sun%20Day%20Red%20will%20launch,the%20United%20States%20and%20Canada.