In 1996, Tiger Woods signed a deal with Nike for an estimated $40 million, changing golf forever. Since then, the man’s cosign has been the Swoosh’s biggest asset when it comes to selling golf apparel, clubs (back when Nike still made them), and shoes—and anyone in second isn’t even close. So imagine the crowd’s surprise when Tiger pulled up yesterday to Augusta National Golf Club ahead of the Masters wearing a pair of FootJoy spikes.
The shoes in question are the called the Packard—a traditional-looking golf style that represents a return to the classics after years of hybridized sneakers-with-soft-spikes dominance. They’re reminiscent of older Nike styles Tiger used to rock on the regular, before his signature line became overrun with Zoom and Free Run soles. And despite their hard-bottom influence, they come lined with ultra-supple leather and feature a cushion-y footbed that allows you to channel old-school golfers like Arnold and Jack (and even ‘90s-era Tiger)—without compromising on comfort.
Earlier this morning, Nike issued the following statement, a hearty (if opaque) “Welcome Back!” that seems to indicate Tiger opted for a non-Swoosh style due to his specific needs following numerous injuries and surgeries, and not some sort of simmering beef with his Portland-based partners:
“Like golf fans around the world, we are delighted to see Tiger back on the course. He is an incredible athlete, and it is phenomenal to see him returning to the game at this level. His story continues to transcend sport and inspire us all. As he continues his return, we will work with him to meet his new needs.”
But until that includes a new Nike silhouette that suits Tiger’s evolving demands on the course, expect to see the Packard at local munis and country clubs a lot this season.