Coronavirus: PM Jacinda Ardern answers NZ golfing legend Sir Bob Charles' plea

Former British Open champion Sir Bob Charles joined a chorus of golfers wanting greenkeepers to be given 'essential work' status during the lockdown, so they could save their greens from dying. 

After calls went unheard for two weeks, NZ's greatest golfer put out a plea to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

"I'd like to see a little dispensation for superintendents," he told Newshub. "Just one man coming out on the golf course... and keeping the greens mown regularly."

And late Thursday, Sir Bob had reason to celebrate, after Sport and Recreation Minister Grant Robertson confirmed that urgent turf management would soon be allowed.

"The criteria and conditions under which this maintenance can go ahead are being urgently developed by the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment," Robertson said.

"I understand the implications if the maintenance does not occur regularly, including for community organisations, which is why we have moved quickly on these decisions.

The news comes as a welcome relief to NZ Greenkeepers boss Dean Murphy.

"Some courses could've had damage that was really expensive to fix," Murphy told Newshub. "That could've really contributed to the finish of some golf clubs."

Titirangi golf club manager Richard Nauck said three weeks without maintenance on the greens, in particular, had done some damage.

"It's where the fungus has been able to get in over the past few weeks," Nauck told Newshub. "We just have to see how much that's progressed and how quickly we can rest it."

But at least now there's some light at the end of the fairway and Sir Bob Charles couldn't be happier.

"On behalf of all green superintendents around the country, I say thank you, Prime Minister," he said. "We appreciate you thinking of us and acting on our behalf.

"Thank you very much."

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