It's a question on many golf-lovers' lips: 'What will happen to the greens during the lockdown?'

The Country's Jamie Mackay caught up with Dunedin-born New Zealand professional golfer Greg Turner to find out what damage could be done if greens are left untended for four weeks.

"The greens specifically can be a really big problem" said Turner.

"They grow quite quickly, and the pests and fungus can come in relatively quickly - nobody [normally] notices them because the greenskeepers are keeping an eye on it usually. They're out there mowing greens every few days - if something arrives, they deal with it quickly, it never becomes a problem.


"You leave it for a month or more and the problem can be catastrophic as far as greens are concerned.

"Greens are to golf courses what faces are to portraits really. Without your greens, you really don't have a golf course."

And the problem goes beyond functionality to one of overall survivability.

"There's a lot of golf courses ... that are working on the smell of an oily rag really, and the sort of damage that can accrue over this might be enough to tip them over completely and that would be a tragic consequence - and in my opinion an unnecessary one."

Turner believes the idea that a greenskeeper working alone mowing important surfaces a couple of times a week poses a risk, "is a bit fanciful really."

Once the lockdown is over, the ability for golf clubs to be operational is vital for elderly, in particular, Turner claims. The Government's official Covid-19 advisory website

"Exercise and recreation [are] really important. Golf's the biggest participant sport in the country ... there's over 600,000 New Zealanders that play golf. A lot of them, too, would be in that elder age bracket. The two things that determine long-term health when you're elderly are exercise and socialising. That's what golf provides for a lot of those people in their 60s, 70s and 80s. Take that away, and the consequences are dire."


As such, Turner is calling on the nation's golfers to speak up and advocate for the sport.

Greg Turner teeing off at the BMW New Zealand Open at Clearwater Golf Club in 2012. Photo / File
Greg Turner teeing off at the BMW New Zealand Open at Clearwater Golf Club in 2012. Photo / File

"I know New Zealand golf is advocating pretty hard to government to try and get an exception and hopefully there will be some success, but I guess the more golfers that can be part of that by making it clear to their local politicians... the more people that are making those noises, the better."

"You know, we're not saying 'just open up the golf courses carte blanche and let us go play,' what we're saying is 'look, maybe you haven't thought through the consequences of not allowing just basic maintenance to carry on. [The status quo] will be devastating for a lot of places, and I'm sure that nobody wants that to happen."

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