A Government decision to allow greenkeepers and bowling club curators to mow turf could have saved both sports millions of dollars.

And according to Ōtaki Golf Course superintendent Jamie Lamplough, the 11th hour decision last week allowing him to attend to his "children" came just in the nick of time.

Lamplough is so passionate about his work he tells people he had 18 children.

He said he was one of hundreds of greenkeepers at golf courses and bowling clubs around the country fearing for their beloved grass would be ruined by the Level Four lockdown.


The decision allowing them to be classed as essential workers could have saved the sport millions of dollars and would have saved some courses from extinction, he said.

"It was just in time," he said.

"It's essential maintenance. We're not cutting every day, maybe three of four times a week, and just getting the dew off every morning."

Lamplough said just he and one other off-sider were working hard to save greens - which could cost as much as $1 million to replace on some courses - before the damage was irreversible.

"It's ensuring their survival and keeping them to a playable standard."

The pair were working well away from each other and obeying all the quarantine and hygiene rules.

"He's not sitting on my lap that's for sure," he said.

Lamplough had made an inspired decision the day prior to lockdown to apply an environmentally-friendly fungicide to the greens, which in hindsight was a master stroke.


It meant they had fared better than would have otherwise been the case due to the weeks of inattention.

As it was the height of the greens, which was normally kept little more than 3mm, had ballooned to 8mm.

His relief at being able to tend to the greens and fairways was echoed by his peers throughout the country that belonged to the New Zealand Golf Course Superintendents Association.

Allowing greenkeepers to perform essential maintenance came with a stern warning from NZGCSA President Steve Hodson though, who called for strict obedience to the rules.

"We have been given dispensation to perform urgent and essential turf maintenance on our golf courses, with the expectation that our turf maintenance is minimised throughout this Alert Level 4," he said.

"So, the responsibility falls to each site to ensure these guidelines are adhered to and that maintenance work performed meets these guidelines."

"Clearly any project work or the use of outside contractors does not conform with the guidelines provided and can therefore not happen. Clearly working bees do not fall within the guidelines either."

"We have been given the opportunity to return to work after much negotiating and I would not like to see the selfish actions of any of members completing work outside of these guidelines and compromising our continuation of doing essential turf maintenance."

Meanwhile, Levin Central Bowling Club president Viv Hudson said their club had two natural greens that needed to be tended to regularly with maintenance to prevent them going sour.

Hudson said she welcomed the decision to allow their solitary greenkeeper to perform the bare minimum required to keep the greens alive.