New Zealand’s premier golf event has been cancelled for next year due to Covid-19 but, ironically, the pandemic is having a positive impact on the game overall here.
The NZ Open announced it has been cancelled for 2021 due to the coronavirus but NZ Golf chief executive Dean Murphy says it’s not all bad news.
“A few months ago, everyone was really worried about the impact on sport for Covid and what would happen coming out the back of lockdown,” Murphy said.
“But it’s awesome to see golf thriving.”
Thriving is a strong but fitting description with membership increases approaching 10 per cent while rounds being played are up nearly 40 per cent this year.
Murphy says the numbers are largely due to people being stuck here or returning from living overseas.
“What we've really seen, the big uptick, is people who are returning to the game, those who were out of it for a while, spent lockdown at home and just decided to get back into golf.”
It's forcing some clubs to create a waiting list or reluctantly turn potential members away entirely.
“One of the things we're dealing with at the moment is capacity and getting people onto golf courses and you add all the international travellers into that and it makes it harder again,” Murphy said.
“It’s a really high class headache to have, right?”
The higher participation numbers are having a domino effect too with more people on course meaning more equipment flying out the doors at golf retailers.
David Feeney from The Clubroom in Auckland said they’re selling far more gear than they even would at Christmas.
“We needed to be [selling a lot], obviously, when we couldn't do anything in lockdown,” Feeney said.
“But it's awesome.”
The challenge for people like Feeney and his team now is feeding demand, especially when the equipment's coming from countries in lockdown.
“The factories overseas, they just have skeleton staff so they can't actually produce it to the demand that's needed,” Feeney added.