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GOLF & COVID-19: Updated 24 March

Posted by: on 23 March 2020

Canterbury Golf are using guidance provided by NZ Golf that they have sought from the Ministry of Health and  Sport NZ on the COVID-19 situation.

Statement from NZ Golf - 23 March 2020 (Click here to go to the NZ Golf website story)

Following the Prime Ministers announcement that we are currently at Alert Level 3 and preparing to move to Alert Level 4 on Wednesday, we have been urgently reviewing what this now means for the golf sector.

What is clear is that all clubhouses, pro shops, bar, function and catering facilities must now close for four weeks from Wednesday of this week.

We understand there are many other questions to be answered and to assist, we are working with Sport NZ and the government to seek urgent and critical advice on two matters:

Golf Course Activity

The government advice today is that walking, exercising and enjoying nature is permissible at Alert Level 4, providing that all hygiene practices and 2 metre distancing is maintained. The question we have asked is ‘Does this mean people can play golf as long as they follow the guidelines?

 Golf Course Maintenance

We are seeking to understand whether golf courses can maintain skeleton staff/volunteers to maintain their facilities, even at a basic level, during the next four weeks provided they work as individuals, follow all hygiene practices and maintain 2 metre distancing. We understand the consequences of not maintaining golf facilities for four weeks are enormous so we are seeking urgent advice on this matter.

 Clearly this is an unprecedented time for the country and our government agencies have many matters to manage. We have asked for advice as soon as possible and will in turn immediately share this with the sector once received.

I will try to answer all specific queries as soon as possible however note we have received over a hundred queries this afternoon alone and it may be a few hours before we can get back to all messages.

Further advice to be shared as soon as we have it.

Dean Murphy, CE, NZ Golf

Statement from NZ Golf - 20 March 2020 (Click here to go to the NZ Golf website story)

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.

At the outset, it is important to keep in mind that golf is a sport that enriches the lives of New Zealanders through its social, health and wellbeing benefits. It is a sport enjoyed by New Zealanders throughout the country on beautiful, open and spacious landscapes.

While golf remains open for play and accessible during these challenging times, there are many serious matters for the golf sector to consider. 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 also cancelled or postponed all upcoming events through until at least 10 May 2020. Click here to view the full details.

New Zealand Golf remains committed to helping our golfing community adapt to the necessary changes and for golfers to continue to play the game in a safe environment and according to government and public health guidelines. The pace of change and the constant updating of government and medical advice means that a continual process of re-assessment of decisions and guidelines must be undertaken.

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

Away from golf, it is vital that everyone continues to follow best practice when it comes to dealing with the current outbreak of coronavirus.

For the best general information, please visit the Ministry of Health website:

 Guidance for Golf Clubs, Facilities and Golfers 

Golf clubs, facilities and golfers must take appropriate steps to make sure they minimise the risk of infection from the COVID-19 virus. 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.

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. 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.

Playing of Golf
In general, golf is a healthy pursuit played in the open air.

The sport remains open and accessible. Golfers can still play and enjoy their golf while acting within the government guidelines issued.

The risk to players, who are of good health and not classed in a vulnerable age category, is smaller than most other sports provided the expert advice is followed.

The vast majority of golfers can continue to play at your facility.

 Golf facilities must however be mindful of the older age profile of their membership and understand that it is only prudent to implement sensible policies to limit the potential spread of any outbreak.

The government has directed all gatherings or events where 500 or more people are together in one place outdoors, or 100 people indoors, at one time should be cancelled.

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. New Zealand Golf suggests that golf clubs and facilities err on the side of caution and carefully consider whether running events or gatherings of any size is essential at this time. Clubs should also carefully consider if it is possible and appropriate to run club competitions and matches in line with current government guidance on social gathering and social distancing.

These are unprecedented and extremely tough times for golf, but we would ask all our clubs and golfers to adopt a common-sense approach. If you are continuing to hosting small events, 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 travelling internationally in the past 21 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 (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 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. This is particularly relevant for golf as:

  1. A high percentage of participants may fall into an age bracket that put them at greater risk of contracting the virus.
  2. A number of participants may have underlying medical conditions that also puts them at greater risk of contracting the virus.
  3. Many participants travel extensively; they could unknowingly be carrying the virus.
  4. Club and facility staff interact often interact with large numbers of participants in a single day.

Specific Operational Advice:
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:

Prior to Golf

  • Asking members and guests to staying away from the club if they are unwell.
  • Asking members and guests to stay away from the club if they have been travelling internationally in the past 21 days.

At the Golf Facility/Club

  • Curtailing all indoor, social aspects of club/facility life.
  • Asking all members, guests and staff to regularly wash 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.
  • Asking golf club staff and volunteers – while taking precautions for their own health such as wearing protective gloves – to carry out regular cleaning of surfaces and door handles used by patrons. Where possible doors should be left ajar.
  • Removing all shared food items/menus.
  • Avoiding cash transactions and encouraging card payments.
  • To minimise social contact, closing locker rooms and changing facilities.
  • Offer a takeaway service for food to minimise the need for social contact.
  • Where possible, limiting person-to-person contact.

 On the Golf Course/Practice Areas

  • Implementing a minimum 10-minute interval between tee times.
  • Asking golfers to maintain a minimum distance of two metres between themselves and playing partners. Take care to adhere to this on teeing grounds and greens is particularly important.
  • Removing shotgun and multiple tee starts.
  • Asking golfers to consider playing in smaller groupings – i.e two balls – to assist with social distancing
  • Ensuring golf carts are for solo use only and cleaned after every outing.
  • Ensuring golfers only use their own trolley and clean it after every round
  • Adjusting common courtesies – handshakes and embraces in accordance with the accepted etiquette of the game – are to be avoided. Offering a thumbs up or some other form of friendly greeting should be used as an alternative
  • Cease holding group coaching sessions and carefully considered individual coaching based on expert advice on social distancing
  • Reviewing how practice balls are dispensed and cleaned.
  • Removing the pins from practice putting greens.
  • Removing bunker rakes from the course.
  • Closing drinking fountains.
  • Removing shared sunscreen stations.
  • Closing ball washers.

 Rules of Golf Modifications

New Zealand Golf has received a large number of enquiries from our golf clubs regarding the Rules of Golf and the continued playing of golf during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The R&A has provided guidance to New Zealand Golf on this matter and we have now developed a range of options that your club should consider adopting. These modified rules promote more hygienic practices at golf clubs around scorecards, the hole, the flag stick and bunker rakes.

We understand that the culture in New Zealand is to return all of our scores for handicapping and we would like that to be able to continue during this unprecedented time. These Local Rule options are temporary and are related to COVID-19 concerns. The modifications are for handicapping purposes rather than for competitive play.

They modifications to be used by clubs until New Zealand Golf advises otherwise.


If you have any questions please on this Rules of Golf guidance, please contact Dave Mangan on

COVID–19 Government Financial Support Package

What it means for Golf.

If your golf club, facility or business has been adversely affected by COVID-19 you may be eligible for financial aid. Below is an outline of the type of support, links to guidelines, criteria and the required application forms for your club.

Wage Subsidy

What is it?

Support for your business if you're impacted by COVID-19 and face laying off staff or reducing their hours because of COVID-19.

  • Lump sum payment based on each staff employed. Support is available for a period covering 12 weeks for entities which have suffered or are projected to suffer at least a 30% decline in revenue compared to last year for any month between January 2020 and the end of the scheme in June 2020. Wage subsidy carries employment conditions.
  • Click here for the Wage Subsidy factsheet.

 Who can get it?

If you're an employer, contractor, sole trader or self-employed, you may qualify to get the COVID-19 wage subsidy.

Leave Payment

What is it?

The COVID-19 Leave Payment will be available for 8 weeks from 17 March 2020. Employers will be able to apply for this more than once. It will be paid to employers who have eligible employees and they must pass the payment onto their employees in full. If you have employees that:

  • need to self-isolate in line with Ministry of Health Guidelines and have registered as needing to self-isolate with Healthline, cannot work from home and their self-isolation is not because they left NZ since the travel restrictions on 16 March 2020 and have since returned or
  • cannot work because the person has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or
  • cannot work because they are caring for dependents who are required to self-isolate or who are sick with COVID-19,

then you may be eligible.

Who can get it?

If you're an employer, contractor, sole trader or self-employed, you may qualify to get the COVID-19 Leave Payment.

Click here for the Leave Payment Factsheet.

Click here for the Work and Income COVID – 19 Employer Support website.

Business Tax Changes

To those golf clubs, facilities and business owners that are tax paying entities several changes have been announced that may provide support to your business.

 These changes include:

  • Reintroducing depreciation on commercial and industrial buildings
  • Increased threshold for immediate deductions for low value assets
  • Fewer small businesses having to pay provisional tax
  • Writing off interest on some late payment of tax

To understand these changes in greater depth, please see the link below and consult with your accountant and/or financial advisor.

Click here for further details.

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

Contact Us

Phone: (03) 359 4000


Physical Address:
375 McLeans Island Road, Harewood

Postal Address:
P.O Box 39014, Harewood, Christchurch 8545

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