NZ golf courses need work

NZ golf courses need work

A multi-million dollar investment is needed to upgrade New Zealand’s ageing golf course infrastructure to attract more high net worth tourists – according to an industry expert.

According to latest industry figures, around 61,000 international visitors play golf in New Zealand annually – contributing over $425 million to the economy with over 80% of golf tourism spend on accommodation, dining, shopping, travel and other forms of entertainment. As a sector, golf employs 2000 Kiwis and is the most popular club-based sport for adults with 500,000 golfers.

Kristine Kerr, director of Kura Golf Course Design, a golf course architect who has worked on the design of around 40 courses, says golf tourism to New Zealand pre-Covid was growing with New Zealand being viewed as an extremely desirable destination for high net worth international visitors.

She says although we have the second highest number of golf courses per capita in the world, many of them are in need of a major upgrade to increase their appeal to this segment of tourists – once the borders reopen.

‘While New Zealand has an incredible legacy asset with the sheer number of golf courses available to us and the ease of access in metro centres, the reality is they were not built to a current modern standard and fall short of the expectations of premium international tourists.

‘One of the key issues we face with these courses is that in terms of interest and design they don’t compete well with either historic links style courses, or modern courses that have been designed by professional golf course architects. Many New Zealand courses tend to have less challenging routing, strategies and features than newer courses – which makes them less interesting to tourists.’

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