Otago Polytechnic

Sports Turf programme (Level 4)


Central Otago

18 months full-time

On campus and practical work experience placements

February 2019
until start date

Sports turf professionals are in high demand, both here and overseas, for the management and maintenance of golf courses, cricket wickets, sports fields and artificial turf among others.

This is the only full-time Sports Turf programme on offer in New Zealand and provides an even balance of theoretical and practical studies. Benefit from our close proximity to world-class sports venues, as well as the outdoor training area that has been established specifically to cater for this qualification. With motivation and hard work, you will have the opportunity to build important relationships, gain further hands-on experience and participate in a skill development placement at a top sporting venue in New Zealand.

Upon successful completion, you will graduate with a New Zealand Certificate in Horticulture Services (Level 4) (Sports Turf). 

From 2019, we will also be offering the New Zealand Certificate in Horticulture Services (Level 5) (Sports Turf)*. This programme is worth 85 credits and will take an additional one semester to complete. 

*subject to final approval  

Skills required
  • Physical fitness
  • Planning and organisational skills
  • Good communication skills.
Entry requirements
  • Open entry.
  • International students will be individually assessed to ensure you are ready for this study. 
  • If English is not your first language, you must demonstrate English language skills equivalent to an IELTS overall band score (academic) of 5.5, with no band score less than 5.0.
Additional documentation

You must supply certified copies of proof of identify, academic records, proof of residency (where appropriate) and a curriculum vitae.

Selection procedure

Applicants will be selected according to the entry criteria. If the number of applications exceeds the number of places available, applicants will be placed on a waiting list in the order they were received.

Additional costs/requirements

During your internship placement in the second year, it is your responsibility to organise accommodation and transport, although your employer will try and help you. It is important that you hold a current driving licence and have your own work boots and overalls.

Further study options

Expand your knowledge further with the New Zealand Certificate in Horticulture Services (Level 5) (Sports Turf)* in 2019 and then the New Zealand Certificate in Sports Turf (Level 6) avalable through the Primary Industry Training Organisation.

Programme specific risks

These include risks associated with agrichemicals, heat, cold, noise, lifting, machinery and potential allergens. You will be given more detailed information during the programme.  

You will study

The courses within this programme have been designed to ensure you gain the skills to ensure excellent employment outcomes for a range of turf facilities. There are no elective courses.

Your workload

Theory and practical classes will take up three days a week from 9am-3pm. You will also have two days a week of work experience during the growing season. In Year One there will be a full-time work experience placement in October and November. Year Two begins with a work experience placement from February to April. You will then return to the campus and complete the programme in late June. Generally, these days will reflect industry needs and will therefore run from 8am-5pm. You will also have assessment and study work to complete. 

Qualification structure 

Course Title




Foundation Sports Turf Skills


Turf Machinery, Equipment and Tools




Sports Turf Health and Weeds 


Irrigation and Drainage 


Turf Plant Science 


Soils and Fertility


 Annual Planning for Sports Turf


Year one compulsory totals




Advanced Maintenance of Sports Turf 


Advanced Sports Turf Machinery 


The Turf Supervisor 


Sports Turf Development


Year two totals




Additional optional courses


Demonstrate knowledge of pruning and training amenity trees and shrubs


Maintain amenity trees and shrubs


Demonstrate knowledge of the Approved Code of Practice relating to chainsaw use


Demonstrate basic chainsaw operation


Demonstrate knowledge of the maintenance of cricket blocks


Plant and care for trees, shrubs and climbing plants


Demonstrate knowledge of the maintenance of a sports field


Drive a 2 wheel drive tractor with an attached implement on undulating terrain


Drive a 4 wheel drive tractor with an attached implement on undulating terrain


Ride a quad bike on flat terrain in the workplace


Demonstrate knowledge of the safe operation of a quad bike


Ride a quad bike on hilly terrain


Student loans/allowances

Student loans and allowances are for domestic students only. For information about student loans and allowances please visit the Studylink website. It is important to apply for your student loan/allowance at the same time as you apply for this programme, due to the length of time Studylink take to process. Loan/allowance applications can be cancelled at any time if you decide to withdraw your programme application or if it is unsuccessful. 

Recognition of prior learning

If you have extensive knowledge and skills due to practical experience in this area, enquire about our recognition of prior learning process at Capable NZ. You may have already gained credits towards this qualification. 


While every effort is made to ensure that this sheet is accurate, Otago Polytechnic reserves the right to amend, alter or withdraw any of the contained information. The fees shown in this document are indicative ONLY. Both domestic and international fees are subject to change and are dependent on the development and implementation of Government policies. Please note that additional fees may from time to time be required for external examination, NZQA fees and/or additional material fees.

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