Golfers Flock to the Fairways


By Will Johnston

Taranaki golfers wasted no time getting back on to their courses once the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions ended. In fact, figures show that participation numbers increased.

 Golf courses, with their wide-open spaces, meant the sport was one of the first to be given the green light and statistics from the Taranaki Golf Association showed more people than ever took the opportunity to play. There was an overall increase in memberships by 3% between January and July 2020 with a 40% increase in rounds played across June and July. This was up by 16 per cent on last year.

While not every club has enjoyed a membership increase since December 2019, Taranaki Golf executive officer Nick Northam was very pleased with the overall performance.

“More noticeable is the increase in rounds played. This has been due to the combination of members playing more regularly and more casual golfers playing the game, some for the first time, and others rediscovering the sport.”

Northam said there was no doubt golf fared much better than other sports during Alert Level 3 and 2.

“It was one of the few sportspeople were able to play and numerous clubs gained new members as a result.”

The largest membership increase seen since the start of the year was seen at the Pungarehu and Fitzroy Golf Clubs with a 31 per cent and 18 per cent increase, respectively.

The Manaia Golf Club saw the biggest increase in rounds played, up by 55 per cent in June and nearly 31 percent in July.

New Plymouth had an increase of 22 per cent in June followed by nearly 40 per cent in July. Westown’s rounds grew by 14 per cent and 18 per cent across the two-month period.

Winter is usually the quiet period for golf so Northam was hopeful the numbers would remain positive.

“With spring approaching, it will be interesting to see if the recent increase in membership and number of rounds of golf being played will be sustained or even continue to grow.”

Nationally, participation levels are also up with a 4 per cent increase of memberships and an 11 per cent increase in rounds played.

Northam said golf gave people the opportunity to get outside and enjoy all the benefits the game brought.

“Taranaki Golf is heartened by golf’s increased popularity in recent times and is confident its renaissance will continue over the coming years,” he said.

There would be trials for golf competitions scheduled for the coming weeks but if the Auckland Covid situation increased, it would have a carry-over effect, Northam said.