Greenkeepers back to work between showers

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Island Park greenkeeper Michael Minty gets to work on the 17th tee at Island Park yesterday. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH

The man upstairs had the biggest say yesterday.

After waiting and watching the grass grow and the greens get thicker, course superintendents and greenkeepers got out and amongst it yesterday.

Golf courses had not been given an exemption in the first 19 days of the lockdown, so no maintenance could be done on the courses. That had led to worries about the state of the courses and fears some of the damage to the grass and greens could be irreversible.

But the Government decided to allow maintenance to be done starting from yesterday.

The only problem was the heavens opened and the weather did not play ball. It rained on and off in Dunedin and throughout Otago and Southland, making any work tough.

Otago Golf Club course superintendent Craig Parata managed to mow a couple of fairways and the number four green, but it was hard to duck out in the wet and cold weather.

He said the course was in not bad condition but it was just a case of maintaining it, and it was lucky it was not in the middle of spring.

He had wiped down all equipment he was using and sanitised it. He was working on his own yesterday.

Island Park greenkeeper Michael Minty was out and about in between the showers, trying to get the grass cut after a few weeks away.

Other courses were also being worked on, although a full day of work could not be done because of the wet weather.

The new rules limited work by ground staff to just stopping the degradation of the turf and plants. Records had to be kept of staff working and staff had to limit interaction. Physical distancing was also imposed.

The exemption was for golf clubs, bowls clubs, nationally-recognised turfs and nurseries, but not driving ranges and mini putt courses.

Also excluded from upkeep were school sports fields, recreational grounds not used for national events, fields used for casual recreational activity, sports club fields that do not host national events, or general use green spaces.

Otago Daily Times