Justin Rose is on the brink of making the biggest move of his career if reports from The Sun, The Irish Times, and MorningRead.com are to be believed. Rose, a career-long TaylorMade staffer, is reportedly leaving the OEM for Japanese luxury equipment brand Honma Golf.
Rose, who’s been with TaylorMade for the last 20 years, recently regained the World No. 1 ranking with his win at the Turkish Airlines Open last week. With rumors swirling about his possible equipment change, Rose only fanned the billowing flames by saying, “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.”
GolfDigest.com’s Mike Stachura connected the dots between former familiar faces at TaylorMade who have found new homes at Honma. Former TaylorMade president and CEO Mike King was recently brought on at Honma as a consultant, but Stachura reports that it is widely believed his role will include heading up the Japanese company’s operations in North America.
Justin Rose is reportedly set to depart TaylorMade and sign a new equipment deal in January with Honma Golf. What the deal could mean for both brands. https://t.co/7SlrRyqYtz pic.twitter.com/QN9NJn3neR
— Jonathan Wall (@jonathanrwall) November 7, 2018
“In his new position with Honma, King has brought with him several former top TaylorMade employees, including Jeff Letorneau as chief operating officer, as well as bringing in former TaylorMade executive vice president John Kawaja as a consultant,” Stachura wrote. “Tom Cismoski, who spent nearly 24 years at TaylorMade, is Honma’s senior vice president of sales in North America.”
Another big reason that TaylorMade has reportedly decided not to renew Rose’s contract at the end of the year is in large part due to the success Rose has had with the brand. At 38 years old, Rose is No. 1 in the world rankings, the FedEx Cup champion and the reigning Olympic gold medalist; a résumé will command a high price in the open market and TaylorMade, who was recently sold off by Adidas, is already chock-full of big-name, big-money deals.
Among TaylorMade’s staffers are former world no. 1s Tiger Woods, Rory McIlroy, Dustin Johnson and Rose’s biggest contender for the No. 1 spot, Brooks Kopeka.
Honma has transitioned from a boutique, luxury brand to a more established player in the golf equipment world thanks to a shift in its business model following Chinese businessman Liu Jianguo’s purchase of the company in 2010. Liu wanted to expand the brand from an exorbitant luxury club maker to a global player in the golf space, which he’s done by increasing club sales over the last four years to nearly $250 million.