I don't believe becoming invisible in the market place (for any duration) is a viable solution... I'm guessing that whatever investment Nike made with Tiger has netted them a considerable profit tenfold over the years. McIlroy - who knows... obviously it wouldn't hurt if he were to get his act together and win big tournaments again, for sure, but I still doubt they'll do away with soliciting high-profile athletes to pitch their product, no matter which sport it is. And for what it's worth - when Nike signed McIlroy to that lucrative deal - people were like, Oh my God... I can't believe they paid him that much money, can't believe that he's leaving Titleist... well, the very next season, after he adjusted to the new equipment he signed his life over for - he won several times, two of them majors. No company worth the ink on its corporate letterhead considers the downtimes, however inevitable they truly are.
But getting back to Nike...
They, along with just about every other company, are now dealing with the collateral damage that was left in the wake of two things: (1) the global recession, and (2) TaylorMade's flawed, incredibly nearsighted business plan of saturating the marketplace and thereby decreasing demand. No one held a gun to the heads of these other equipment CEO's and forced them to follow TaylorMade's lead, but they felt obligated, pressured, to at least make an attempt to stay relevant and increase product cycles. Some (like PING) understood their situation within the marketplace and hedged their bets somewhat, also understanding that it's still a niche marketplace and they didn't need to assume enormous risks with being something they weren't. They've maintained steady growth and popularity over the years, because of their niche marketshare, and sticking with what has always worked. Then again, outside of a few apparel items and bags - they've not really had to worry about losing investments beyond what they're most known for. The same cannot be said about Callaway, Acushnet, Nike or TaylorMade. Their operations are much larger in scope, and as a result they've incurred a lot more instability in the marketplace.
In a way, TaylorMade is basically the Lehman Brothers disaster of today's golf equipment industry. Their utter greed and negligence in wanting to put other competitors financially out of reach essentially created this industry-wide problem today that has caused the demise of several used-to-be quality equipment companies. Those companies have been sold and made smaller economically-based alternatives, but for all intents and purposes they no longer exist.
What we see happening now is something that most of us predicted several years ago... this isn't the end times, golf isn't drying up simply because the demand isn't what it used to be. It's simply a correction taking place that many of us felt would happen long before now. And quite frankly that correctional period is long from over, and companies like Nike are starting to get the memo.