Cape golf team starts spring practice

March 9, 2018

Spring practices for the Cape Henlopen High School athletics program were permitted to begin March 1, but that’s not when the Vikings golf team met to begin their new season.

What would have been the point trying to hit balls in the teeth of yet another nasty nor’easter? Instead, the Vikings started their season at Rehoboth Beach Country Club March 5 to see if they could improve on last year’s 14-2 record.

Head golf coach Chris Krueger is helped again this year by assistant coaches Samantha Purple and RBCC senior assistant golf pro George Bushby.

I met Krueger and some of his golfers on a cold, blustery Tuesday afternoon, the second day of practice, with overcast skies and a biting wind off Rehoboth Bay. It was just like every other start to a Vikings golf season.

Krueger hopes his team will be able to match last year’s ninth-place finish in the state championship, and maybe do even better. Downstate public school golf teams face a stiff challenge from upstate prep and private schools, so Cape has its work cut out for it.

Nolan Brown, Kyle Monigle and Michael Bollig are among the returning regular varsity players, along with Dane Palmer, Saxon Kalb, Reed Jones, Maddie McGreevy and Ben Skelley.

The rest of the Vikings include Anthony Koot, Clay Burbage, Nick Vitolo, Cole Quillen, Brandon Harp and Brett Townsend.

The 2018 season begins with two away matches, starting with Lake Forest at Rookery North Thursday, March 22, followed by a Tuesday, March 27 match against traditional powerhouse Caesar Rodney at Wild Quail Country Club. The Vikings’ first home match is against Polytech Thursday, March 29, at Rehoboth Beach CC.

Lynx returns to the USA

The number of golf club companies declined in recent years from a mixture of closings and consolidations. Golf retail outlets also had their troubles, with Golfsmith perhaps one of the largest examples nationwide. The company went bankrupt a few years ago, and its spacious store near the Christiana Mall in the Wilmington suburbs went dark.

Dick’s Sporting Goods acquired some of Golfsmith’s assets during the bankruptcy proceedings, including the U.S. trademark rights to Lynx Golf, a formerly popular brand in the early 1990s. Fred Couples won the Masters using Lynx clubs in 1992, and Ernie Els also used the company’s clubs in winning the 1994 U.S. Open.

Golfsmith sold the Lynx brand as one of its product lines, at a relatively low price point. Those years did not help the brand maintain its reputation, however.

In 2011, the Lynx trademark rights for the United Kingdom were licensed to Charles Claire LLP, a family-owned business located near London. Steven Elford and his wife Claire Zinser then obtained the European rights to the brand in 2013, and successfully revived the clubs’ fortunes in England and 14 other European countries.

More recently, Dick’s sold the British company the global Lynx trademarks, and Elford and Zinser brought their new product lines to the 2018 PGA Merchandise Show.

Elford is happy with his company’s efforts to expand its products’ reach, not only to the U.S., but also Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, China and India. “We know that if we look after the customer, the money will follow,” he said during my Demo Day interview with him. Elford recognized that their efforts in the U.S. will be a bit of a challenge, given the impact on the brand during Golfsmith’s ownership, but he remained hopeful.

The company’s primary sales in Great Britain are from green grass shops, and Elford expects the return to the U.S. will also focus on those outlets. “We’ll have to feel the market as we go,” he said.

The new club lines are designed and assembled at the Lynx headquarters in Weybridge, Surrey. Several lines carry some very familiar names, such as Black Cat and Predator clubs for men, and the Crystal and Tigress clubs for women.

Of the Lynx clubs I looked at during Demo Day, I was most impressed with the Prowler VT Irons. The back of the club looks just like a muscle-back iron suitable for scratch golfers, but the irons are actually hollow. As with other cavity-back irons, the weight is redistributed within the club to promote more forgiveness from mishits. Elford said they normally sell the irons as a 5-iron through pitching wedge set, but both 3- and 4-irons are available.

I also spoke with company representative Duncan Swash. His father Harold created the popular Yes putter designs, among several others. Swash spoke proudly of his father’s accomplishments, which also included a putting school attended by many European tour stars. Swash also said Lynx has continued its relationship with several tour players, including Dame Laura Davies.

Since the show, Lynx added 2017 Senior LPGA Champion Trish Johnson to its endorsement team. An eight-time Solheim Cup veteran, Johnson will be playing the Prowler irons and Parallax woods on the Legends Tour as well as the inaugural U.S. Women’s Senior Open later this year.