COVID-19: Government Dragging the Chain on Maintenance Exemption Request

golf course maintenance plea to government

Heading towards the middle of the COVUD-19 Level 4, 28 day lockdown period in New Zealand and the Government is still considering the industry’s plea to rank turf maintenance as an essential service.

In a statement on Monday, New Zealand Golf said they are working as hard as they 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,” NZ Golf statement said.

“The first thing to note is that the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (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. 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.”

As their advocacy continues, NZ Golf are asking members of the NZ Golf community to voice and support the attempts to change the ruling.

“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).

“The New Zealand Golf advocacy messages relevant to clubs and facilities are listed 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.”

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.

To be a part of the advocacy contact your local MP here and email the MBIE here.

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