Unlike other years, contract
landscape little changed in ’ 12
Haas, simpson, maHan, Jiménez and otHers stick witH tHeir 2011 equipment manufacturers;
cHanged marketplace and individual comfort levels partly explain ‘quiet’ off-season
equipment company contracts are a time-honored tradition in professional golf. Yet unlike Gene Sarazen, who signed with Wilson
Golf in 1923 and stayed with the company
until his death in 1999 (his tenure marking the longest endorsement contract in
professional sports), today’s players tend
to switch hats and bats more frequently.
Unlike recent years, however, when
several big-name players chased the
money and changed companies, late 2011
saw less movement and several marquee
players opted to re-up with their current
companies instead of changing teams.
Among the bigger names staying put
were Bill Haas and Webb Simpson (with
Titleist); Hunter Mahan, Miguel Angel
Jiménez and Mark Wilson (Ping); Brandt
Snedeker (Bridgestone, after speculation he was close
to a deal with TaylorMade); and Jhonattan Vegas (who
was said to be going to Callaway but re-signed with Nike).
Some top LPGA players also likely will stand pat as it is
expected Yani Tseng and Brittany Lincicome will remain
with Adams Golf.
The reasons for maintaining the status quo are multiple
(and, often, individual). Jiménez has been with Ping for 25
years and enjoys a comfort level with his equipment and
Titleist since turning professional in
2004. The marketplace too has helped
curb movement. The combination of
companies spending less freely on
players combined with the large purses
available on the course has kept both
companies and players from taking
Of course, there have been some
examples of players who have changed
and done OK. Phil Mickelson ditched
If history holds, they won’t be logo-less for long. N
Webb Simpson noted that he “put the clubs in the closet” for a few weeks during the winter, but the rest clearly didn’t
help his driver. Simpson, a two-time PGA Tour winner in 2011, has used a Titleist 909D3 for some time. However, after
seeing a few of his drives come up shorter than expected during Saturday’s second round of the Hyundai T of C,
Simpson suspected the face of his 10.5-degree driver might have cracked either during the round or perhaps even late
last season. After conferring with caddie Paul Tesori, Webb opted to put his backup 909D3 into service. Simpson’s call
to the bullpen worked out as he shot a four-under-par 69.
Although not a frequent occurrence, cracked drivers are not a rarity on tour. However, when the damage occurs in
Hawaii (where there are no tour vans on hand), it’s harder to get replacement clubs. In Simpson’s case, fortunately,
Titleist was able to quickly ship a new backup to Oahu where he was to tee it up in the Sony Open.