Sport New Zealand has released guidelines as to what will and will not be allowed under Alert Level 3 starting on Tuesday and yes golf can be played with some restrictions.
The Sport New Zealand website melted down as Kiwis scrambled to find out whether they will be able to play sport, including golf, under Alert Level 3, after the Minister for Sport said to go to the website for information. But the Ministry seemed to drop the ball, not having the details ready until 70 minutes later.
Alert Level 3 for Golf – Specific Operational Guidance
At Alert Level Three, limited playing of golf can be undertaken. Whether a golf course opens for play is entirely a decision for each golf course to make.
Exercise and recreation is an important part of maintaining our health and wellbeing however we must continue to be aware the playing of golf presents a very high risk of transmission if we come into contact with others, use or touch common equipment or surfaces, or need rescuing or medical care.
The most important principle is to stay safe and to stay physically distant from people outside of your bubble. The health, safety and wellbeing of your staff, members, golf participants and the wider community is of paramount importance.
Golf can therefore be played at Alert Level 3 so long as it does not involve interacting with other people outside of your bubble.
If your decide to open your course for play, you must do so under the following operational guidelines:
1. A COVID-19 safety plan must be in place, including risk controls for any staff that may be on site (see note below).
2. Players must adhere to regional travel restrictions. Players can only travel within their region, and across a regional boundary if it is in their local area.
3. All players must be registered to enable contract tracing if required (see New Zealand Golf’s earlier guidance on contract tracing templates and our mobile app technology to support).
4. Golf courses must be able to control access to the facility and advanced tee booking procedures must be in place (online, phone, text etc). This is to ensure there is no opportunity for players to congregate.
5. Golfers must arrive ready to play and leave the facility immediately after play.
6. Play is only possible for those playing alone or playing with others from within their bubble. Do not arrange to meet anyone else to play.
7. At risk players (such as those over 70) may need to take extra measures to protect themselves. The Ministry of Health are developing further guidelines for at risk groups.
8. All clubhouse, pro shop, changing room, toilets and any other facility at the golf course must be closed to players and visitors (only available to be accessed and used by essential staff on site).
9. If retail, merchandise or takeaway food and beverages are to be provided, purchase and delivery must be completely contactless and observe 2 metre distancing. Players cannot enter premises.
10. Scorecards cannot be physically issued prior to play nor returned after play. No scores will be accepted by the NZG handicapping system at Alert Level 3.
11. An appropriate interval between tee times must be observed to ensure distancing between groups is maintained. A 6 minute interval between solo players is recommended. An interval of 10 minutes between groups that have two of more players is recommended. Golf courses might like to consider specific times of each day for groups of different sizes.
12. Players must maintain a minimum distance of at least two metres between themselves and other players on course who are not in their bubble.
13. Shotgun or multiple tee starts should be avoided in order to stop the congregation of players.
14. Driving ranges and other practice or warm up facilities must be set up to ensure minimum 2 metre distancing between players. If driving ranges are used, appropriate ball and surface sterilising must take place.
15. Equipment cannot be shared. If golf carts are to be used, they can only be used by people inside the same bubble. Golf carts and trundlers must be completely cleaned and sterilised after each use.
16. All pins must be removed from practice putting greens.
17. All pins / flagsticks are to be removed from the course and we suggest the hole is cut in the centre of the green. The cup should be slightly raised or placed upside down.
18. All bunker rakes must be removed from the course.
19. All drinking fountains, ball washers, shared sunscreen stations and on course toilets must be closed.
20. Any staff who are on site should be provided with any appropriate personal protection equipment to ensure they can remain healthy and safe. No physical interaction between any essential staff and players can occur.
During the daily all of Government briefing at The Beehive in Wellington, Minister for Sport Grant Robertson said the public should check the Sport NZ’s website for more details, but there was nothing there, and nothing appeared until just after 2pm.
It seems that on one hand the Minister knew what was going on but on the other hand his ministry had no idea that he would be telling the country to go to the website at 1pm.
This followed the delay of the announcement that was supposed to be finalised at the end of Wednesday but then late in the evening the sport community were told the guidelines would not be released until Friday.
More to come.