New Zealand Golf has for some time been closely monitoring the very concerning COVID-19 outbreak with the guidance of the Ministry of Health, Sport NZ, HPSNZ and the Auckland City Council.

The current operating environment is unlike anything experienced before in New Zealand and it is a fast-moving and constantly changing situation. This fluidity is possibly the most significant challenge as we look ahead.

There are many matters to consider for the golf sector and we are very conscious that the global COVID-19 situation is raising unprecedented concerns for golf clubs specifically related to the viability of remaining open and/or running events and functions.

New Zealand Golf itself has implemented several measures related to business operations and has cancelled or postponed all upcoming events. Full details on these measures below.

Golf Clubs and Facilities The start of this week has seen significant developments in the Government’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The speed with which measures are being introduced both locally and internationally to reduce the spread of COVID-19 necessitates that clubs and facilities review current operating procedures.

It is our view that clubs and facilities should be prudent and take early action, ahead of what may well be an inevitable and wider spread of this virus.

At this current point in time, operating normally is entirely possible however very careful thought needs to be given to the running of events, functions or the provision of playing opportunities where groups of people are in attendance. As golf is largely an outdoor actively and there is plenty of space to roam, the daily playing of our sport should not be affected however this may change in the near future.

New border measures were put in place as of Monday, March 16. Most travellers arriving in New Zealand are now required to self-isolate for 14 days. The Government is providing advice for travellers on this requirement.

Furthermore, there has been a directive that mass public gatherings of 500 people or more, should be cancelled. The definition of this includes sports matches. Detailed advice on this requirement can be accessed here.

Even if you as a club or facility do not hold mass events, it is natural that your focus will be on any environment in which people come together to practice, play or compete, and you may be considering whether or not to cancel or postpone these occasions.

At this stage there is no necessity to cancel any event below 500 people, however guidelines for smaller gatherings are expected to be available from the government shortly. New Zealand Golf does suggest that golf clubs err on the side of caution and carefully consider whether running events or gatherings of any size is essential at this time.

If you are hosting an event, you should focus on:

  1. Advising any staff, volunteers and guests not to attend if they are feeling unwell.

  2. Advising any staff, volunteers and guests not to attend if they have been to any country except those listed in Category 2 (excluding airport transit) in the past 14 days.

  3. Briefing the event staff on how to practice good hygiene and making it easy for staff and attendees to practice good hygiene.

The health and safety of all those involved in the event – including employees, athletes, spectators and volunteers – should be of primary importance. The Ministry of Health is your best source of information on COVID-19 prevention and this should be read in conjunction with the advice on who should not attend events of any size, and minimising risk at events.

Again, the number one priority at all times should be to consider the health, safety and wellbeing of your staff, members, golf participants and the wider community. With that in mind, there are several steps we believe golf clubs and facilities should consider immediately (see below). This is particularly relevant for golf as:

1. A high percentage of your members may fall into an age bracket that put them at greater risk of contracting the virus.

2. A number of members may have underlying medical conditions that also puts them at greater risk of contracting the virus.

3. Many club members travel extensively; they could unknowingly be carrying the virus.

4. Club staff interact often interact with large numbers of members in a single day.

Health and safety must take priority over any other consideration.

For now, restrictions do not prevent clubs from operating their facilities, however we suggest clubs and facilities consider the following:

Asking members and guests to staying away from the club if they are experiencing flu like symptoms.
Asking members and guests to staying away from the club if they have been travelling internationally in the past 14 days.
Regularly washing hands with soap (recommended) or an antibacterial wash.
Placing hand sanitisers in prominent areas and requesting that members and guests utilise these regularly whilst on the premises.
Implementing a minimum 10 minute interval between tee times.
Asking players to not remove the pin when putting.
Removing the pins from practice putting greens.
Removing bunker rakes from the course.
Closing drinking fountains.
Removing shared sun screen stations.
Closing ball washers.
Removing all shared food items/menus.
Cleaning all surfaces at the club or facility regularly.
Where possible, limiting person-to-person contact.

This information is being updated each day as new advice and guidance from the government and others is released.