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Volume 20 No. 42
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Game Changers: Cindy Davis

Davis keeps the bib that her father wore when he caddied for her at the 1983 U.S. Women’s Open. The time with her dad is one of her most cherished memories.
Cindy Davis
Nike Golf

Cindy Davis in 2005 boldly called Nike the company that’s the future of golf. The Nike Golf president isn’t backing away from that claim a bit.

“Whatever category Nike enters, we bring a ton of energy and innovation,” Davis said. “You can see the evolution of golfers becoming athletes, and Nike has had a lot to do with golf becoming more of an athletic endeavor. I think we’re on the path to becoming the outright leader in this category. We’ve got great stories to tell.”

Davis’ story is one that isn’t told often enough. Since joining the company in 2005, she has led the Nike division through periods of slumping golf participation and the Tiger Woods scandal, global expansion of the game, and new corporate relationships with Lucas Glover and Anthony Kim. She has led the charge to bring new materials and performance wear into Nike’s apparel line.

And when it comes time to test the equipment, Davis, a former Furman University golfer, is quick to grab a club.

“I play golf, I love golf,” she said. “It’s important to stay connected to the sport.”

— Michael Smith
  • First job: Territory representative for Hallmark Cards.
  • Crowning professional achievement: Turning a small business (Arnold Palmer Golf Co.) around and selling it to the benefit of investors and high-profile namesakes.
  • In 10 words or less, how would you describe your management style?: Transparent, collaborative, strategic, disciplined and heartful.
  • Person who had the biggest influence on your career in sports: Charlie Mechem, former LPGA commissioner and adviser to Arnold Palmer, who has been a constant mentor and guiding influence throughout my career.
  • Woman in sports business you’d most like to meet: Pat Summitt, University of Tennessee women’s basketball coach, because of her focus and intensity.
  • The biggest challenge I face working in the sports business is …: Changing the status quo.
  • Ten years from now, I hope to be …: Able to say that I’m still learning.


“I have the utmost respect for her heart and determination. She has been a game-changer in a male-dominated field and has earned the respect of the entire industry.”

  • Mark Steinberg, partner, Excel Sports Management