BACK AT WORK: Whakatane Golf Club manager Tukai Ellis works on a fairway on Wednesday. He is pleased to be allowed back on the course to do some work and hopes course might be able to open again soon. Photo Troy Baker D9800-09

EASTERN Bay green keepers are finally allowed back to work.

A government decision last week has allowed the groundsman at golf clubs around the country to return to work this week to help save their clubs from being in serious trouble due to dying greens.

Clubs throughout the Eastern Bay are incredibly fortunate as a long spell of dry weather and the odd bit of heavy rain has meant the condition of the main areas of the courses aren’t as bad as they may be in other parts of New Zealand.

“We’re incredibly lucky here that the weather has been on our side,” Whakatane Golf Club manager Tukai Ellis said. “It has meant things like the greens haven’t grown as quick as they were expected to at this time of year.

”I did a bit of work on the greens just before the lockdown and fortunately now that has paid off, meaning they are still in reasonable condition.”

With Ellis living so close, it means the Whakatane club is in reasonable shape.

“Fortunately, I live pretty much on site and have been pottering away doing a few things as it is part of my bubble. But now it’s nice to be able to concentrate a bit more on the course and hopefully have it looking good before too long.”

He’s also been a club manager for several years now and knew he had to do a bit of extra work on the course in advance in case some restrictions were put in place.

Ellis is thankful he did that and his decision to spray fungicides and give the greens a lot of aeration has paid off.

His main focus is on getting the course ready so it can open as quickly as possible once the club is given the all clear and the lockdown is lifted.

“I would like to think we could have the course in good condition and open in under two weeks, now that I can gradually do bits on it.”

However, Ellis did acknowledge there would still be hiccups.

“I won’t be out there every single day as the club is still closed and we aren’t getting any income. It costs a bit to get petrol for the mowers and all that, so I will be doing what I can without requiring constant trips for petrol as the income isn’t there to pay for it.”

Ellis said the likes of the fairways and rough around the course might be a touch longer than normal due to only using the mower when required but it wouldn’t be a major.

“Once things are up and running, we’d quickly have them lowered easily enough.”

He’s hopeful that if the lockdown level is lowered, they may see some action back on the golf course before too long.

“It would be nice.”

Work is back underway at Ohope Golf Club as well as Opotiki Golf Club, Kawerau Golf Club and Te Teko Golf Club, with the good weather likely to have left them in better than expected condition.