Tour Pro shares the inner workings of gear deals. There are 3 snack bars here

Michael Kim shared his thoughts on a topic that’s rarely discussed: How do gear deals actually work at the tour level?

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In 2013, Rory McIlroy signed a mega deal with Nike Golf for a stunning figure. The numbers $100 million and $200 million were thrown around – but no one knew secureoutside of McIlroy’s team and the Swoosh.

The deal reaffirmed what has become increasingly clear in recent years: equipment deals are shrouded in secrecy.

For some reason, equipment manufacturers have been reticent to offer financial terms when deals have been announced, leaving us to wonder and guess what a ball-only deal or a full bag deal would be worth could.

Enter tour professional Michael Kim, who recently provided some much-needed clarity. The former PGA Tour winner uses his Social media account to answer questions from followers and provide insider insights on a variety of topics, including how gear deals work on tour.

Below you will find the three most interesting findings Kim’s recent social media post on the subject.

Short and sweet

Unless you’re Rory or someone at the top of professional golf, don’t expect an equipment contract to last longer than 1-3 years.

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If the words “multi-year contract” are mentioned in a new contract, do not assume that it is for a term of more than two to three years. When his agent negotiates a new contract, Kim said it usually takes about one to three years.

“Because you have to earn your card each time [year] “On tour, there are generally no long-term contracts (unless you’re a well-known guy),” Kim said. “Often the upfront price is lower, but the bonus is bigger if you get into the top 70 or 50 [in the FedEx Cup] (performance based).”

The only exception to the rule would be someone in the top tier of professional golf — think Rory, Rahm and Scheffler — but even then, there’s no guarantee that equipment companies and players will want to go beyond a third year.

No free ride

A PGA Tour card no longer guarantees you a gear deal.

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Kim confirmed something I’ve believed for five years: equipment deals are no longer a guarantee if you make it to the top tier of professional golf.

“Companies are also much more selective about the players they sign,” he said. “In the 2000s, if you had a PGA Tour card you were guaranteed a deal. Now you either have to be in the top 75 or be a young man with potential. That’s why there are a lot more free agents these days.”

As brands add social media influencers to the “Tour” stable, the share of gear advertising on the PGA Tour has shrunk significantly. Manufacturers still see value in having a group of pros pushing their product, but it is no longer necessary to sign every available free agent to a deal just to get the driver or the iron.

As tournament funds continue to increase, don’t be surprised if the number of equipment offerings continues to decline. For both sides, it’s important to find the right fit and be selective.

Take it or leave it

Scheffler’s TaylorMade offering includes the driver that has become almost mandatory these days.

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For professionals considering a gear deal, the days of picking the best number for a wood-only and/or iron-only deal are long gone.

As the number of deals shrinks, the balance of power has shifted back in favor of the device maker. In other words, if you want a deal, you have to be willing to play with at least 10 clubs of one brand. And the driver is an absolute must.

“Drivers and woods are a must on a 10-12 club requirement contract,” said Kim. “In the past, you could do a mix-and-match deal where it was just the timbers with one company and the wedges with another company. But these days companies are really pushing to produce the full bag (13 including driver) and the ball.”

Looking to overhaul your bag for 2023? Find a suitable location near you at True Spec Golf.

J Wall

Jonathan Wall Publisher

Jonathan Wall is GOLF Magazine and managing equipment editor at Before joining the team in late 2018, he spent six years working on equipment for the PGA Tour. He can be reached at Tour Pro shares the inner workings of gear deals. There are 3 snack bars here

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