It’s tough going out there

THESE are trying times for all us, in all spheres of life. And for those smaller businesses in the golf industry, they are that little more difficult.

But just as we soldiered on and made our way through 2020, so too has the resilience been carried into this year.

The challenges it has brought with it are no different than that of last year, perhaps only to varying degrees, depending on which state you are in. But overall, the hardships persist.

Notwithstanding all this, there are some fine examples of adaptability and innovation that have shone through the grey skies of the pandemic – some of which could be used as a learning curve for others.

In an interview with TeeUp, VK Golf director Sanjay Anil shared some of their experience on how they got through 2020 and what makes them tick now as we roll on into the year ahead.

“First off, 2020 took everyone by surprise because no one saw the pandemic coming. But soon after, there was an air of relief for some of us as many golfers were already into the digitalisation era.

“This made the move to a more robust online operation a lot more accessible. And we found that as time went by there was an acceleration in the movement of our golf equipment and accessories.

“In fact, we say that the year 2020 was a tremendous year – one never experienced in terms of a sudden surge in sales.

“There were several reasons attached to why this happened, ” said Anil. “Golf course traffic was huge – the fairways were packed because of the game’s appeal as a healthy activity and one that has the capacity to serve as safe recreation too.

“You can imagine that as more courses across the nation were re-opened with a pent-up demand among golfers to get out and play, so too did clubs enjoy good patronage.

“Overall, the golf industry withstood the Covid-19 impact better than most other sports disciplines. “Essentially, there was a grabbing of a bigger piece of the pie among the recreational and sports options available.

“What the pandemic also did was also make us more resilient and better prepared for what we can expect in the year to come.

“If we could safely get over the current lockdown, ” said Anil, “I think things could get better. With more events on the golf courses, the sales of new equipment would increase and so too would the apparel market benefit.

“Prior to the new movement control order (MCO) we had forecast positives for 2021 with revenue expansion programmes expected to be put in place after March 2021. There were smashing expectations for many players in the industry, ” said Anil, who added that now was a case of waiting to see how long the present restrictions would last.

He said the new norms of business and the standard operation Procedures (SOPs) had become part and parcel of how 2021 is expected to unfold.

“Curbless pick-ups, door to door delivery, anywhere anytime, new digitalisation processes for sales and marketing, inventory and warehousing, employees’ management, etc. will become an everyday thing, if it hasn’t already, ” he added.

‘That is just the way thing are and I think they will be like that for a long time, or at least in the foreseeable future, ” said Anil.

Over the past two weeks we reported on the views of some of the leaders in the Malaysian and Singaporean golf industries and what they thought of how 2021 might turn out.

In general, the views expressed were positive.

But further afield things do not look quite the same, at least not for the PGA Tour China Series.

In a recent communiqué from the US PGA Tour they said the China Series would not be held this year.

“Because of the pandemic and the uncertainty of the situation in Asia at this time, the PGA Tour Series-China will not be conducting a season in 2021.

“During the year, Series officials will discuss ways of returning to competitive golf and look forward to returning to a full schedule of events in 2022.

“We remain committed to the region and want to do everything we can to give competitive opportunities for players in Asia and from the Pacific Rim, ” said PGA Tour Series-China executive director, Greg Carlson.

“We are trying to pursue other opportunities for our players to play in 2021. We will also take this pause and evaluate what we might be able to do in 2022.”