Brooks Koepka was the lightning rod for an equipment trend that’s become far more commonplace in the last few years. We’re talking about equipment free agency — a route most of the top players in the world would have never considered until Nike exited the hard-goods space at the end of 2016.
The Swoosh’s move set in motion a chain of events that saw a handful of players eschew endorsement dollars to play what they wanted, including Koepka, Francesco Molinari and Patrick Reed. All three would go on to win majors during the 2018 season, ensuring a clean sweep for the untethered gear trio.
Most of Nike’s former equipment staffers have since gone on to sign club (and ball) deals elsewhere, but a few have chosen to continue on without a guaranteed paycheck coming from the hard-goods side. Of all the equipment free agents currently in the space, Koepka remains the top dog.
From a financial standpoint, the 30-year-old is leaving somewhere in the neighborhood of $3 to $7 million, excluding the hat, on the table by not signing a club and ball deal. It’s head-spinning guaranteed money when you consider nothing is guaranteed on the course. Even with a potential financial windfall just a signature away, Koepka has remained unswerving in his belief that free agency is the best route for his game.
He reiterated that thought during a social media Q&A on girlfriend Jenna Sims’ Instagram account. Asked what he liked most about playing without an equipment deal, Koepka kept it short and sweet.
“The freedom,” he said. “I get to play whatever I want. I get to play whatever company might be the best for me. I get to try everybody’s new stuff and I don’t have to be tied down or locked down.”
Koepka also doesn’t have to mention brands by name, as evidenced by his decision to not clarify the name of the driver he was using during a post-round presser. “They don’t pay me, so I’m not mentioning their name,” he said.
The formula has worked well for Koepka, and based on his recent responses, he doesn’t appear to be changing his mind anytime soon. In the four-time major winner’s case, you can’t put a price on the freedom to play what you want.