Pitching Tiger Woods on a new apparel brand — on his turf

If there’s one thing David Abeles has learned from his years working with Tiger Woods, you don’t want to be late to a meeting. Even getting there a few minutes early isn’t advised if you want to put your best foot forward with the 15-time major winner. And that’s for a standard meeting.

The pressure to arrive early gets cranked up a few more notches when you’re trying to sell Woods on a new apparel brand. This was the scenario Abeles faced following several months of discussions with Woods that centered around the idea of the two parties linking up to create Sun Day Red.

“Our dream was always if we could get him to play TaylorMade,” said TaylorMade president and CEO David Abeles. “Over time the question became: Could you imagine if he was fully committed across all categories of the company? If there was a day he wouldn’t don Nike and go with a brand we co-authored together. How amazing would that be?”

TaylorMade was close to making the dream a reality, but Woods wanted to meet in person, so TaylorMade sent a four-person contingent to Jupiter, Florida, to close the deal. The group included Abeles, who readied the team for a meeting on Woods’ turf — inside a boardroom at his offices. This was the epitome of a home game.

“Tiger and I have had a nice relationship since 2017, but to say that I wasn’t anxious and excited and, to some degree, nervous presenting this concept to him, I would be lying to you,” Abeles said. “It was that important to me. I believed it was that important to Tiger.”

But back to Woods’ punctuality for a moment. As Abeles began to notice from his time with the 48-year-old, big meetings mean an early arrival.

“With Tiger, he doesn’t show up on time, he shows up 10 minutes early,” Abeles said. “And at times, he shows up 30 minutes early.”

Not wanting to cut things close, Abeles and the rest of TaylorMade’s contingent showed up an hour early, just to make sure they beat him to the boardroom. The early arrival paid dividends.

“Once he sat down and everyone settled in, I’ll never forget the words I shared with him,” Abeles said, “which was that we wanted to build something that was so incredibly special that resonated with Tiger as an athlete and person. That ultimately shares the inspiration you provided all of us as golfers around the world.”

From that point forward, Woods was locked in. TaylorMade shared a deck featuring multiple logo iterations and the name for the brand: Sun Day Red.

Tiger Woods speaks to the crowd as he launches his new apparel line.
Tiger Woods speaks to the crowd as he launches his new apparel line. GOLF

“What we loved about Sun Day Red was certainly it tied to Tiger’s legacy on Sunday and what he wore,” Abeles said. “It had a purpose and meaning to us all. We play golf in the sun and do it every day of the week — not just Sunday. And the red is the significant color and association with Tiger.”

Abeles believed Tiger was on board with the concept, but it wasn’t until he uttered four words that he knew the two sides were aligned.

“At the end of the presentation, he said something so eloquent in such a simple way, that we need we had the capability and consent to move forward,” Abeles said. “Tiger said, ‘You guys get me.’ That was the validation that we understood what was important to Tiger.”

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Jonathan Wall

Golf.com Editor

Jonathan Wall is GOLF Magazine and GOLF.com’s Managing Editor for Equipment. Prior to joining the staff at the end of 2018, he spent 6 years covering equipment for the PGA Tour. He can be reached at jonathan.wall@golf.com.