Course Maintenance Update - Monday 6th April

Golf Club and Facility Guidance (COVID-19)
Last guidance issued: Monday 6 April 2020

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This advisory contains:

  • ·             Update on Essential Turf Maintenance Exemption Request
  • ·             General Guidance for Golf Clubs and Facilities
  • ·             COVID–19 Government Financial Support Package
  • Essential Turf Maintenance Exemption Request

Sadly, the government is still considering our application for exemption for essential golf course maintenance.

We are working as hard as we can on this matter and continue to receive feedback that a decision will be made soon. While we remain hopeful the right decision will be made in the near future, we understand this matter is causing much angst and frustration throughout the sector.

***** We now invite you to use your voice and support the advocacy. Please contact your local media, your local MP and write to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE). *****

By way of background, the New Zealand Golf advocacy messages relevant to clubs and facilities are below. Use these and your own perspective to let as many people as possible know about the impacts and financial implications that will occur through the inability to undertake sensible and essential turf maintenance during the lock down period.

Your Local MP:
MBIE email address:

Background to New Zealand Golfs Advocacy Work

The first thing to note is that the MBIE have determined that turf maintenance it is not an essential service.

What New Zealand Golf has been doing is working through the Minister of Sport and Finance to gain an exemption to this ruling. Sport NZ are actively supporting this advocacy work and we have ensured they and the Ministry have all the arguments, logic and evidence in front of them.

There have been several papers presented – a summary of the key messages that are relevant for clubs and facilities is included below for your reference. These messages have been supported with various policy and practice suggestions plus advice and guidance documents from the NZ Sports Turf Institute, the R&A, the USGA and various other international organisations.

Key Messages – Critical Maintenance Exemption Request

  1. As a sector, golf employs over 2,000 people, had more than 6,000 volunteers, and contributes more than a billion dollars to the national economy each year.
  2. As a sport, golf makes a significant contribution to the health and wellbeing of its participants, increases the social connectivity of communities and improves provides important education and life values outcomes for young people.
  3. New Zealand has in excess of 400 golf courses, facilities and venues.
  4. These facilities all feature fine turf that has been developed and enhanced over a significant period.
  5. Investment into development of these facilities often runs into the tens of millions per facility, with much more collectively invested on an annual basis to maintain.
  6. All operations and play at New Zealand Golf courses, facilities and venues has now ceased for the COVID-19 shutdown period.
  7. While the playing of golf is non-essential during this crisis, if critical parts of golf facilities (putting greens) do not receive some basic maintenance over the shutdown period, the task of repatriating to current conditions may not be achievable nor affordable for a great number of clubs.
  8. While growth on most of the grass surfaces can be brought back under control after a period of non-maintenance, on fine turf surfaces (putting greens) that will be a difficult and protracted process. There is also a high risk of catastrophic turf death on putting greens due to disease, insect activity and lack of water. If this occurs the consequences will be very long term as we are going into winter which means that repair and recovery will be delayed for many months by slow growth. 
  9. We request a critical exemption that permits the essential maintenance of golf facilities to be undertaken while strictly following the Ministry of Health hygiene practices and stringent social distancing.

Please be in touch with us if you would like any more information on our advocacy work.

General Guidance

New Zealand is now at COVID-19 Alert Level 4.

This means New Zealanders not working in essential services must stay at home and stop all interactions with others outside of your household. This is a major step for the country however eradicating this disease is vital to protect people’s health and ensure our health system can cope and look after New Zealanders who become sick.

The move to Alert Level 4 has major consequences for the golf sector. From Wednesday 25 March at 11.59pm, all operations at golf clubs must cease for at least four weeks.

This means all golf courses, practice facilities, clubhouses, pro shops, bar, function and catering facilities must now be closed. While this a major move for the country, the government is trying to save lives and we urge the golf sector to do all we can to play our part.

Regarding the maintenance of golf clubs and facilities during the four-week shut down period, we are working with the government (with the support of Sport NZ) to seek urgent and critical advice. We believe that if golf courses/facilities are not maintained to at least a basic standard over the next four weeks, the task of repatriating to current conditions may not be achievable nor affordable for a great number of clubs.

New Zealand Golf will continue to communicate any updates through our website, social platforms and via direct correspondence.

Other Advice for Golf Clubs/Facilities

New Zealand Golf Operations
Essential New Zealand Golf services will remain in place over the next four weeks however our office is now closed. All events have been cancelled or postponed through until at least 10 May. Click Here to view more details.

Social Connection for Club Members
Many golfers rely on the social connection at their golf club as a normal and essential part of everyday life. Clubs might consider offering a telephone service where members, particularly elder members, can check in and connect.

COVID–19 Government Financial Support Package
If your golf club, facility or business has been adversely affected by COVID-19 you may be eligible for financial support.

The best source of information on the support available is at this link:

As a final thought, please look after yourselves and your families – life will return to normal but for now it’s home time. As a golf sector its important to be positive and all stay connected as much as we can. Golf will be important to so many New Zealanders once we emerge from this current crisis.

Kind regards,

Dean Murphy
Chief Executive
New Zealand Golf | +64 (0)21 222 8951