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Coronavirus Virus and the devastating effect it could have on Golf

Last week the LPGA Tour announced that the Blue Bay golf event planned for March had been cancelled over concerns regarding the coronavirus. It is likely that the European Tour will follow suit and be forced into cancelling the Volvo China Open which is scheduled to be played at the end of April.

Whilst cancelling events impacts golfers at the highest level of the game this will be nothing compared with the disruption the golf industry will feel if problems continue in China. Many of the clubs, bags, shoes and apparel that we all use are manufactured in China. Club production is centered around the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou and I have already learnt that one leading factory there has been forced to cancel production as staff are unable to return to the area after Chinese New Year celebrations. With the Chinese government enforcing nationwide travel bans it is hard to see a positive short term outcome to alleviate the problem. Without staff the factories cannot produce the products needed to service the major golf markets in Europe and North America.

Normal club golfers will not notice any impact in the first part of the year but they will certainly do so in the second and third quarter where planned shipments from China will not have been able to be delivered on schedule. The options for many of the leading golf companies is exceptionally limited as the technical expertise and machinery needed to produce a driver for example may only be available in China, Taiwan or Vietnam. If production runs in Taiwan or Vietnam are fully booked, how quickly can a company look at another option to satisfy their order books. This is an issue that you are going to hear a lot more about in the months to come and we can only hope it does not impact the golf industry in the serious way that it could.