There are uncertain times ahead for the sport, from the tours cancelling events to clubs across the world closing. But what’s it like to part of the golf equipment industry as the coronavirus crisis deepens? We sat down with Stephanie Zinser, UK managing partner at Lynx Golf, to get the insider’s perspective…
Overall as a business are you able to continue to offer your normal service?
So far, so good. We have a very dedicated team of Lynxsters here who are still manning the office and are able to make and dispatch all our orders, including custom fit. We will have to see what happens over the next few days and weeks as I am sure some are bound to become infected with Covid-19, but we are keeping our paws crossed that we can keep going for everyone’s benefit.
You mention custom fitting there. This is a time of year when many golfers have fittings booked. Will these be running as usual?
We will undoubtedly have been affected, although none of our custom fit bookings made until this point have cancelled to my knowledge. We are making sure that our custom fit team do not see anyone unless they are well, and they certainly wouldn’t see any customers if they aren’t 100 per cent to their knowledge either. We all have to be thoughtful and mature about things.
How will it affect your staff and are you taking any new measures with staff working arrangements?
We currently have a mix of working from home, distancing between those working at the office, and gloves and lots of hand washing. We are lucky that we have four premises, two in which we can scatter our staff around, so nobody is bumping into anyone really. The team has got their ‘war effort’ spirit going, and even though some of our pre-books have sadly, and understandably, had to delay, we are using our time to gear up so that we can really motor once we get the all-clear from the situation as regards the virus spread slowing down or ceasing.
In terms of stock do you have enough in or will you have to start looking at new avenues to get parts in?
We are in good shape. We always get our yearly stock in early, and we haven’t been caught out so far, either with what happened in mainland China, nor on this side.
Do you see this affecting your ability to put out clubs this season or keep stocks at the normal level?
We are fine, the only thing we would not be able to cope with is unprecedented demand, which of course we always hope will happen. In fairness, our new Junior Ai range is proving extremely popular – as we think it should be! – but we forecast well and should be all over it if anything starts running low.
Are all your stock lines in a similar position or is there a shortage of any items in particular?
We are strong across the board, thankfully. I can’t take the credit for that – it’s a whole team effort.
How are your pros and stockists coping and what are they saying to you?
I think this is going to hit pros hard. They have had a dreadful year, first with the rain and now this. Inevitably we have had some pre-book delays, but we will always work with our pros to make sure they have as much support from us as possible.
What do you think they need to do in the coming weeks?
I keep saying that golf clubs need to forget anything social at golf clubs for the meantime, and try to concentrate on being able to keep their courses open for those that can get out and want to play.
Run a skeleton staff, keep the courses open, and make sensible adjustments – flag-in policies, distancing, perhaps consider one-person-per buggy as an option at reduced rates for those who can’t walk, increase the time between tee times so you prevent people bunching up on the course.
For many – and I think this could be a long haul – getting out to play a round of golf may be the one thing that keeps them sane and gets them a round of fresh air as well as golf over the next few months. This could drag into the summer, and people will be going stir crazy.
There is no point trying to offer a full-service golf club if by having your bars and clubhouse open, all your staff go down with Covid-19. People need to think through the ramifications of all of this and plan accordingly. In many ways, golf is lucky as it is one of the few sports you can play without being in close contact. Judicious use of sanitisers and disinfecting wipes could be a godsend!
Do you have any messages for the golfing population as a whole?
Be kind, and be sensible, as well as being hygienic. Everyone is at risk, and some more than others. Don’t act in the way you would if you were trying not to catch it – act as you would if you were trying not to spread it. 2020 will be a year to remember, that’s for sure.
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