Golf is a popular fast growing sport on the African continent, particularly Kenya. The early European settlers keen on the game left behind a legacy of beautiful and distinctive courses. In some cases, golf even preceded the clubhouses and was considered vital to the small communities they served.
Kenya has 40 golf courses-more than any other African country except South Africa. And the balmy climate of Kenya could have been made specifically for the game. In fact, Kenya has all the right ingredients to rival the Mediterranean as a winter golf destination.
According to a report published by Technavio.com, Global Golf Tourism Market 2017 – 2021, the global golf tourism market in 2016 totalled a huge $22.92 billion (Sh2.3 trillion) and from their research, this market will total $44.6 billion (Sh4.46 trillion). Interestingly, 71.4 per cent of the 2016 revenues were generated by domestic tourism, a statistic that should catch the eye of the golf administrators across Africa and Kenya. Is your golf club doing enough to attract domestic golf tourists?
What has and what will continue to contribute to this growth according to Technavio.com, are four major factors which are:
The growing number of golf courses worldwide.
Association initiatives and sponsorship deals.
Launch of low-cost airlines
The growing popularity of professional golf tournaments.
Locally a young Kenyan entrepreneur is on the move to promote the golf sport among Kenyan youth.
Kamau Nyabwengi is the Co-Founder of the Young Entrepreneurs Network (YEN) Africa- a networking platform that connects young entrepreneurs to the knowledge, resources and social capital for business success. The Start-up also runs the YEN Golf Program that enables young Entrepreneurs and professionals to learn how to play golf as they forge networks for their respective businesses and industries. He shades light on the growth of the golf sport among Kenyans, YEN Africa’s plans of making Kenya a golf tourist destination and also promote the game among the youth: He spoke Rading Biko, Standard Digital Writer.
Golf is a game considered for the rich and wealthy in the society, what is your opinion on this notion?
The misconception about golf being a sport for the rich elites probably comes from the fact that the early British settlers bestowed golf upon us. Even after Kenya got independence, golf and golf courses were seen as colonial relics and this notion has prevailed over the years. Most people think that you have to pay hefty fees to join a club and own expensive equipment to play golf. What they do not know is that with the equivalent of what they pay for a Gym membership (assuming an average monthly subscription of Sh 10,000) they can access membership in some of the best golf courses in Kenya, which would include gym subscription, golf, and other facilities. Golf courses also have the equipment for hire so beginners do not have to own them as they learn how to play.
How are you promoting golf game among the youth in Kenya?
First, we want to demystify the sport by creating more awareness about the sport, overcoming the misconceptions and making it accessible to the youths from all walks of life. We are also about identifying the local talent and grooming it from a young age so that future international tournaments are not the preserve of pot-bellied old-timers only. Finally, we are keen to enhance networking amongst young golfers for peer-to-peer mentorship in the sport and for building synergies in business.
Let us talk about the golf-training program that you run, what does it comprise of?
YEN Golf is a training program that enables young entrepreneurs and professionals to learn how to play golf as they network and have fun. The program is conducted by one of the best pro golfers in Kenya at the Windsor Golf & Country Club every Sunday afternoon. The training comprises of eight sessions, which include technical sessions on how to swing, use different clubs and the techniques of playing in the different parts of the course. The training culminates into a mini-tournament where the participants get to test out the skills learned in a real game situation with fellow beginners at the game. We provide the golf equipment during the training and for practice before or after the sessions with the pro-coach on Sundays.
What prompted the idea to venture into the golf training especially among the youth?
For us it came naturally- Young Entrepreneurs Network (YEN) Africa is a platform that connects young innovative entrepreneurs to impact Africa. We do this through events and programs that are geared towards linking young entrepreneurs to the knowledge, resources and social capital required to succeed in business. Golf being a sport known for enhancing networking was relevant for us as a means to bring together young entrepreneurs in an interesting activity that would enable them to grow their ventures through business synergy and peer-to-peer mentorship.
How many youths have you trained so far and how do you charge per session?
We have so far trained close to 100 young entrepreneurs and professionals. For us ‘Young’ means young in age, young in the business and young at heart. The youngest participant so far was 19 years while the oldest was 58 years old.
The program is conducted in Cohorts, each Cohort has a maximum of 12 participants. We are currently recruiting for the 9th Cohort which will start on the 28th of this month-April and go on for the next 8 weeks- we have a few slots remaining. After a Cohort graduate ,they are added up to an Alumni group for more opportunities to play and develop their skills in the game and also for purposes of networking for business with fellow young entrepreneurs and professionals.
The cost of the training is Sh 15,000, which covers for the sessions and the kits provided during the training.
How does this program benefit young entrepreneurs or professionals who go through the training sessions?
Besides learning how to play golf through the training sessions and tournaments, the YEN Golf program is also about networking for business synergy and peer-to-peer mentorship. We enhance this aspect through a signature networking model called ‘The Experiment’ - a sort of an AA for entrepreneurs where they diagnose each other's businesses or career challenges and offer solutions. This is done occasionally after the training sessions. We also bring in successful entrepreneurs and corporate leaders who play golf to share their experiences on the course and in business with the participants.
What plans do you have in the future?
We intend to have the program rolled out in other locations first around Nairobi then across the country and regionally to enable more young entrepreneurs and professionals to learn how to play as they network and have fun. We are also looking to do more tournaments in partnership with golf courses and corporate organizations. Ultimately we would love to have some of our grandaunts play and win in prestigious golf tournaments like the Kenya Open.
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