Is a used set of golf clubs worth $1.2 billion? What if it came with Callaway Golf (NYSE:ELY) in its entirety? That's what Callaway management has to ponder. But with that buyout bid on the table, the company has decided to make things interesting. It is opening up the bidding process.

Yesterday, Callaway announced that it was exploring "strategic alternatives" at this "opportune time" to "increase shareholder value." In plain speak, Callaway is merely asking if anybody is interested in topping the $1.2 billion offer.

This could get interesting. Yes, the golf club, ball and apparel specialist has had it pretty rough lately. The company and its stock were trailblazers through the early 1990s when its oversized Big Bertha clubs were all the rage, but that kind of heady growth proved unsustainable. Then again, this is a great brand and a respectable business.

Who will dive into the fray? Nike (NYSE:NKE) may be the sexy name on the suitor shortlist, but it's also the least likely. However, the killer brand could do some pretty sweet things with Callaway if it set its mind to it. It's not mere coincidence that Nike has counted on star golfer Tiger Woods to help it gain a foothold in the older golf aficionado market. Scoring Callaway would take it just that much closer to the green. Tune in to Nike's quarterly earnings conference call on Monday -- someone is bound to ask about Callaway.

A more logical buyer would be a company like Fortune Brands (NYSE:FO), the company behind the popular Titleist golf balls and FootJoy golf shoes. It may not even be a public company at all. Rival TaylorMade, or another enterprising private equity firm that feels that Callaway could be turned around and sold later at a profit, may be ready to jump into the game. But while a bidding war may sound exciting, Callaway investors need to be realistic. Even if other parties submit competitive bids, Callaway's recent shortcomings will keep the prices in check.

Some other links to tee off from:

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz can play a mean round of Glow Golf. Once the sun shines and the holes get distant on a real course, his game falls apart. He does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story. The Fool has a disclosure policy. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.