The inaugural 2022 New Zealand Golf Industry Council (NZGIC) Golf Matters’ Conference and Expo, held at Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre, was dubbed ‘ground-breaking and an outstanding success’ by attendees.
Supported by ChristchurchNZ and Tourism New Zealand Business Events, the three-day event attracted 300 delegates from all over New Zealand to Christchurch to share best practice, innovation and knowledge.
The programme focused on the conference themes of inclusion and accessibility, highlighting a sport that reflects the diversity of New Zealand’s communities, with programmes focused on female, youth and Māori pathways.
An integral part of the event was a golf trade show, held in Te Pae’s exhibition hall. Delegates also enjoyed field trips to key Canterbury courses, and the event concluded with a golf day at Harewood Course.
With over 40 golf clubs within driving distance of Christchurch and close to 400 golf courses and facilities across the country, New Zealand is one of the most accessible places in the world to play golf.
Enriching Communities Through Golf
Awarded Golf Club of the Year at Golf Matters 2022, Geraldine Golf Club is a small rural club, two hours south of Christchurch, enriching the lives of its community through golf.
It is an example of the many clubs taking the lead in growing female and young people participation. The award acknowledged its initiatives with She Loves Golf, Future Girls Learn and Play Junior Golf programmes and the club’s community engagement.
Geraldine Club Services Manager, Chris Phillips says sustainability is all about changing perceptions of golf to attract young people and reflect changes in society.
Geraldine Club Services Manager - Chris Phillips
Golf can be played by anyone, regardless of their age, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, culture or ability, and we want everyone in our community to enjoy the benefits of golf,”
“Golf can be played by anyone, regardless of their age, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, culture or ability, and we want everyone in our community to enjoy the benefits of golf,” he says.
“We are changing to a gender-neutral club, there will be no men’s and women’s tees. We’re encouraging junior members to play, and we’re working with professionals to teach golf in local primary schools. We also offer free after-school coaching for keen young golfers to inspire a lifelong love of the game.”
Geraldine Secondary School is attracting international students too and the nearby Golf Club is a big drawcard – the opportunity of a beautiful South Island course, golf coaching and fostering social connections.
Making Golf Accessible And Enjoyable For Everyone
Golf New Zealand is creating opportunities for young people and adults with a range of disabilities and impairments across New Zealand to start, progress and play in a way that is meaningful to them.
James Gribble, who became a paraplegic after an accident in 2008, is the founder of Empower Golf which supports people with disabilities to access and play the game. His Paragolfer device, debuted at the Golf Matters Expo, allows the user to replicate a full golfing experience including negotiating any golf terrain, accessing some bunkers, and travelling on and off the green without damaging the surface.
“The Paragolfer is a truly life changing device for those with disabilities,” he says.
In partnership with Power Turf New Zealand, based in Canterbury, Empower Golf is now raising funds to establish several accessible facilities across the country which will have adaptive equipment like the paragolfer, and ongoing programmes for people with disabilities.
The next Golf Matters Conference and Expo is expected to attract international delegates too, with up to 500 expected to attend in 2024.