Balala seeks to chip in yet another victory

Nyali Golf Club top amateur, Adel Balala emerges from the 18-hole bunker during Kenya Amateur Strokeplay Championship enroute to winning the tournament at 7-under edging out Michael Karanga of Kiambu Golf Club who returned 5-under at the par-73, Nakuru Golf Club, October 24, 2021. [Mose Sammy, Standard]

Kenya’s top-ranked amateur golfer Adel Balala will lead over 50 players in this year’s 2021 Coast Open “Barry Cup” Golf Championship that begin on Saturday at the Par 71 Sea-Link Mombasa Golf course.

The two-day 36 holes strokes play championship, which is in the 16th leg of the ongoing Kenya Amateur Golf championship Calendar of events, began at Sigona on January 23.

It is organised by the Kenya Golf Union (KGU) where golfers earn points as they seek to grab tickets to the 2022 Magical Kenya Open.

The 22-year-old Nyali golfer, who has qualified for the 2022 Magical Kenya Open, will be seeking to complete yet another victory after his triumph in Nakuru during the Strokes play championship.

Other top contenders in the tournament, which ends on Sunday, include John Lejirma (Railways), Juma Kevin (Royal), Victor Chesumei (Golf Park) and Sammy Mulama (Golf Park).

They will compete against locals drawn from the home club, Nyali, Leisure,Vipingo and Malindi.

This is the 101th edition of the championship at the club that has attracted amateurs across the country with handicaps 12 and below.

The tournament, which will be played under the prevailing Covid-19 safety health protocols, is being sponsored jointly by Kenya Ports Authority, ABSA, Empire Kenya, Kericho Gold and friends of the Captain.

Club chairman Ken Mwangi said the management has worked tirelessly to ensure the success of the event and assured golfers that the course was at its best condition.

His captain Lawrence Odhiambo said the club was ready to host the championship, adding that golfers should expect challenges around the course, especially with the current strong winds from the nearby Indian Ocean, which could affect swings.

“Despite having sent invites to golfers from Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda, they did not confirm participation for this year’s event, but we have received massive support from home amateurs,” said Odhiambo.

Since the championships' inception in 1913, it remains the premier golfing event in the country held under the auspices of the Kenya Golf Union (KGU).

Club records indicate that the first Barry cup Championship took place over the Christmas weekend of 1913 and was won by Percy Barry, who donated the cup to the club.

Barry was the founder member and first honoree Treasurer of Mombasa Golf Club.

The Championship has since been played at the club house except for 1940-1945, during the Second World War.

The Cup was originally intended to become the winner’s property, if won thrice by the same person, but after golfer A.J.Borland won it three times in 1932-1934, some club committee members changed and suggested the trophy be held in perpetuity as a challenge scratch trophy to commemorate Barry’s outstanding services to the club.

Some of the winners from Coast Region include Musa Odada in 2004, Bob Davidson in 1987, Daniel Nduva in 2013 and Mathew Wahome in 2015.

Mombasa Golf Club has one of the oldest courses in Kenya and the length of the front nine holes, which measure 2,888 yards, is the most interesting to play.

From Mombasa, the next leg will be at Eldoret (November 6-7), Kakamega (Novermber 13-14), Railways (November 20-21), Nyanza (November 20-21), Royal (November 27-28) and finally at Nyali Golf and Country Club from December 11-12, where the golfer of the year will be named.

Meanwhile, Justice Philip Waki will lead a team of over 100 golfers on Saturday for the Machakos School Golf day tournament.

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