Even if his equipment contract with Nike was still valid (which it isn't because of Nike's withdrawal from the equipment business), it still wouldn't be illegal. He'd just have to either have Nike work some magic and put the swoosh on the gear he wanted (it was rumored for a long time that Bridgestone actually made the balls for Nike tour pros) or pay some sort of fine specified in the contract. That said, Nike definitely wouldn't be happy if he broke the terms of the contract, but he is safe to play whatever equipment he chooses so long as it's TM now, since he chose to sign with them after Nike stopped producing equipment.
I wonder what the terms of the contracts looked like and whether Nike had to buy out the remaining equipment contracts for their tour professionals like Rory and Tiger.
The are by Definition, Immovable Obstructions. It needs a declaration by the Committee to make them an IPC
From England Golf:
4. Immovable Obstructions (Rule 24–2) include: a) All artificially surfaced roads and paths on the course, including those covered with wood chips. All other paths and tracks are integral parts of the course. b) White lined areas adjoining any immovable obstruction are part of the obstruction and not ground under repair. c) Stone-filled drainage ditches or channels. d) Sleepers, steps or wooden boards within bunkers.
Played a round at Pebble Beach and Muirfield Village on the simulator last weekend. Low winds and gimme on the green. Shot +2 and +1. Even assuming I add on another 14 to 16 strokes, am happy to have played bogey golf on those courses. Was beaming the rest of the day post that
He played Nike gear right up until they announced they were getting out of the golf equipment business. The other equipment mentioned was from when he was an amateur and when he turned pro before Nike made clubs. His first equipment deal was with Titleist, but there was some lag time between turning pro until Titleist made him clubs to play.
Matsuyama, Spieth and DJ all winning in consecutive weeks is creating a lot of drama heading into the Masters, not to mention Justin Thomas emerging as a contender with his terrific play. Already three wins for Thomas in the wrap-around 2017 season!
You have to consider those four the big favourites....though there's also McIlroy going for the career grand slam, Day looking to contend again (though this could be a 'lost to swing changes' kind of year for him), Fowler looking to break through with a major, plus old standbys like Mickelson or Westwood likely to be buzzing around the leaderboard again. Maybe we'll see Langer turn some heads again, or Couples once again be in the mix heading into the weekend.
In short, this is promising to be a terrific Masters, even if/when Tiger has to WD again.